Generally, firms dedicate considerable resources to their marketing activities such as campaigns, propositions, channels and customers. Such discretionary costs could optimise the interaction with customers and improve profitability which maximises the return on marketing investment. However, the market environment and the chance factors can possibly influence results.
Therefore a marketing effectiveness audit can be carried out in order to analyse and interpret all effects of the firms’ marketing functions. Such an audit will feature a roadmap for further improvements.
Management and staff have to recognise the primacy of knowing their customers. Are they capable of identifying between different promising segments? Some managers tend to over concentrate on certain factors and ignore their customers’ philosophy. Certain managers are sales-oriented as they strive to sell anything. Others may be driven by cost efficiencies as they place undue emphasis on price as a determinant of demand. Technology-oriented managers leverage their firms’ profile through digital marketing and social media. However, in business, it’s all about people interacting with people.
All marketing functions should revolve around the customer needs. Ideally, each employee must meet and exceed the customers’ expectations. Integrated organisations are effective in their total quality management, as they are characterised by effective channels of communication.
Free flowing information must be in place, particularly between different operating divisions. Information communicated by one division may be critical to the operation of another and may affect the action taken by that division. Two way communication systems must exist all the way up from the lowest to the senior ranks.
This sort of flexibility will allow organisations to deliver an excellent customer service. As a result, customers will perceive businesses as caring organisations rather than soulless bureaucracies. Arguably, employees may affect customers’ perceptions of their products or services.
Customer satisfaction is everybody’s responsibility. The most successful businesses in the future will be those who offer a total quality, customer service product.
Enterprises need to have up-to-date information on their targeted markets. They need to know what customers need and want, all the time. The first step of anticipating customer needs is to watch what is happening. Businesses require timely and specific data relating to their provision of customer service.
Marketing plans should be reviewed regularly to reflect the latest consumer attitudes and trends. The plans may need to be revisited to deal with problems and contingencies, should they occur.
Relevant resources should be allocated in certain operational areas to carry out marketing activities, successfully. Adequate human resources must be carefully recruited, assigned, trained and nurtured. Employees can be effective only if they are deployed in the right areas. Different marketing strategies necessitate managers with relevant interpersonal skills.
Businesses must recognise that various marketing activities must be allocated appropriate finances if they are to achieve the desired results. Checking marketing performance against “smart” targets may involve qualitative assessments and checklists for continuous improvements.
Key performance indicators examine customer complaints, customer satisfaction surveys and the like.
This contribution raises awareness about the purpose of marketing effectiveness audits as systematic examinations of the businesses’ marketing activities. It is important for any organisations to carry out periodic reviews of their modus operandi as objectives and strategies are quickly outdated in today’s turbulent environment. Marketing audits help businesses to sample the effectiveness of their marketing activities as they indicate the strengths and weaknesses. Such audits will inevitably help to maximise returns on marketing investments by focusing on commercially successful activities and aligning appropriate resources to them. They lead to cost reductions by reallocating marketing investment away from ineffective activity. Audits provide a snapshot of how effective processes and systems are. In addition, the marketing effectiveness audit provides a course of action for further improvement. It creates a prioritised roadmap of activities to improve efficiency and effectiveness of marketing plans.
Mark Camilleri lectures at MCAST and the University of Malta.