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Robert Carr Use Audits to Answer Strategic Value Questions

by Robert Carr, Carr Marketing Communications

August 2006

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“What are we doing and why are we doing it?”

How many times does that question come up when senior management begins reviewing an organization’s marketing communications function?

Why does it always seem to coincide with a change in either senior management responsible for the function or in the staff manager for marketing communications?

One of most effective ways to answer this question, while also providing a strong sense of accountability and demonstrating the value of the function, is to conduct a marketing communications audit.

Qualities of An Effective Audit

Good audits follow a process that allows for a timely review of current activities, determines how they fit in with the company’s overall business goals and objectives, and produces concrete recommendations on possible future actions to enhance marketing communications results and effectiveness.

An audit provides a solid snapshot in time – not a comprehensive strategic plan -- of where you are today. It identifies critical issues within the components of planning, organization, purpose and key messages that are either helping or hindering your company.

Briefly, the standard process for a professional audit includes:

1. Collecting information on current communications activities, and reviewing:

  • Any previous research, including market audience surveys
  • Past marketing and advertising materials
  • Past news releases
  • Previous media stories
  • Web site
  • Advertising and Promotions

2. Analyzing current activities based on these criteria: 

  • Goals, objectives, strategies and measurement of marketing communications efforts
  • Alignment of marketing communications to corporate strategic goals and objectives
  • Audiences we should reach
  • Effectiveness of marketing communications (what messages are being heard, understood and acted upon)
  • ROI on marketing communications
  • Channels used to communicate and market to key audiences
  • Flow of marketing communications information internally and then externally (including obstacles and barriers)
  • Organizational structure for marketing communications

3. Providing Audit Recommendations:

  • Based on the analysis, recommendations would be offered to change or adjust short-term marketing strategies and tactics relating to the organization, personnel, goals and objectives, desired outcomes and evaluation methods
  • Recommendations would also be offered on using the audit findings as a springboard to developing long-term marketing strategies and tactics.

Once this audit is completed, senior and staff management will have a clearer idea of what the marketing communications function is doing and why it is being done.

Added Value

The bonus value will be in knowing where the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are within the marketing communications function so the company will be better able to use marketing communications as a critical component in future corporate-wide strategic plans.


Robert P. Carr, MBA, APR is president of Carr Marketing Communications Inc., an independent, award-winning firm of experienced strategic planning, branding and public relations consultants helping senior business leaders to build and protect long-term brand value. He is a sought-after speaker and presenter and teaches graduate courses in marketing research and strategic marketing management.  

Email: rcarr@carrmarketing.com
Company Profile: Carr Marketing Communications
Company URL: http://www.carrmarketing.com


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