March and April are here again and that means one of life’s sure things is making its yearly arrival. That’s right, it’s time to file your taxes. You, like most business owners, spend countless man-hours combing through expenses and income statements in order to file your taxes and once filed, you hope to avoid an IRS audit.
While IRS audits can be a headache that can cost your business, similar strategies can be applied to other aspects of your company to gain a better understanding of your efforts.
Take, for example, your marketing efforts. Every year, business owners add more marketing campaigns, cut back on others and try new strategies. Over time, you can sometimes lose focus of your overall marketing objectives, and perhaps even lose sight of several tactics that may have been abandoned.[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Out of Office:" subscribe_button="Sign Me Up"]
This can be damaging to your brand. For instance, take a business that started a blog in 2012, but the person managing the blog has since been promoted or moved on. That blog may still exist, but hasn’t been updated in years. Perhaps a potential customer stumbles upon that blog in 2015 and assumes that your business is either lazy or no longer in operation. This may not be the case with everyone, but no small business wants to lose customers by not staying on top of current trends.
This is why I perform a “Signature Brand Audit” with every new business I work with. Much like an IRS audit, we start by going through all of your marketing efforts in order to create a clear, overall picture of everything you are planning. Unlike an IRS audit, the goal is to save your small business time and money in the long run.
I suggest that you take a similar approach for your business this tax season and review your current and future marketing endeavors with these elements in mind:
- Clear marketing goals and objectives
Set clear goals and objectives when you audit your marketing efforts so you can easily prioritize what helps you achieve them in the most efficient manner possible. Determine which marketing strategies are returning the most ROI and focus your efforts in order to drive successful campaigns in the future.
- Ideal Target Market
You want to keep your target market in mind at all times because they will be the key demographic of all your marketing efforts. Try to think about who your best customers are, how they came to your business, and why they work with you.
You may even want to create full personas of your ideal customers. A persona is almost like a roleplaying exercise; where you try to visualize your target audience and place yourself in their shoes in order to truly understand your consumers. If you can gain a better understanding of what really makes these customers tick, you can more effectively market to them.
Consider the overall costs of your marketing efforts, both financially and in man-hours. You may be able to identify where you are overspending, and what could be more effective for the price. This shouldn’t be the end-all be-all deciding factor in your audit, but it is important to consider when optimizing for future projects and campaigns.
With those elements, you can get a clear overall picture of your marketing plan. A brand audit will help you visualize what works, what doesn’t, and what you can improve or eliminate. It is an incredibly valuable practice. Auditing your marketing strategy can save you and your business vital time – time that could be better spent on filing your taxes!
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.