THE MARKETING AUDIT PROCESS
How is a marketing Audit conducted?
We recommend that the following simple three-step procedure be followed when carrying out a marketing audit.
Setting the Objectives and Scope
The first step calls for a meeting between the student (the auditor) and a company officer(s) to explore the nature of the marketing operations and the potential value of the marketing audit. If the company officer is convinced of the potential benefits of the marketing audit, he and the auditor (student) will then work an agreement on the objectives, coverage, depth, data sources, report format, and the time period of the audit. A questionnaire covering the entire scope will then be developed ready for the next stage
Gathering the Data
The bulk of an auditor’s time is spent in gathering data. Although we talk of a single auditor, an auditing team is usually involved when the project is large. A detailed plan as to who is to be interviewed, by whom, the questions to be asked, the time and place of contact, and so on, have to be carefully prepared so that auditing time and cost are kept to a minimum. Daily reports of the interviews are to be written up and reviewed so that the individual or team can spot new areas requiring exploration while data are still being gathered.
The cardinal rule in data collection is not to rely solely for data and opinion on those being audited. Customers often turn out to be the key group to interview. Many companies do not really understand how their customers see them and their competitors, nor do they fully understand customer needs.
Preparing and Presenting the Report
The marketing auditor (or student) will be developing tentative conclusions as the data comes in. It is a sound procedure for him to meet once or twice with the company officer before the data collection ends to outline some initial findings to see what reactions and suggestions they produce.
When the data gathering phase is over, the student/marketing auditor may need to prepare notes for a visual and verbal presentation to the company officer or the small group with whom he/she worked. The presentation will largely consist of restating the objectives, showing the main findings, and presenting the major recommendations. Then, the student/auditor is ready to write the final report (six page analysis), which is largely a matter of putting the visual and verbal material into a good written communication.
In some cases the company officer(s) will ask the student/auditor to present the report to other groups in the company. If the report calls for deep debate and action, the various groups hearing the report should organise into subcommittees to do follow-up work with another meeting to take place some weeks later. The most valuable part of the marketing audit often lies not so much in the auditor’s specific recommendations but in the process that the managers of the company begin to go through to assimilate, debate, and develop their own concept of the needed marketing action.
MARKETING AUDIT PROCEDURE FOR AN INSIDE AUDIT
Companies that conduct internal marketing audits show interesting variations from the procedures just outlined. International Telephone and Telegraph, for example, has a history of forming corporate teams and sending them into weak divisions to do a complete business audit, with a heavy emphasis on the marketing component. Some teams stay on the job, often taking over the management.
General Electric’s corporate consulting division offers help to various divisions on their marketing problems. One of its services is a marketing audit in the sense of a broad, independent, systematic look at the marketing picture in a division. However, the corporate consulting division gets few requests for a marketing audit as such. Most of the requests are for specific marketing studies or problem-solving assistance.
COMPONENTS OF THE MARKETING AUDIT
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