We audited ourselves and this is what we found

If you own a business, there’s no doubt you know how important it is to keep your finances under control; particularly when there is always a risk of being audited. Those dreaded men and women in their suits coming in, looking through every single little detail, every single invoice you’ve ever sent, every single receipt… it’s a great way to know (or find out) how your business is really doing in the grand scheme of things.

And let me tell you, marketing is no different.

If you wake up on a Monday morning, head into the office, and you’re 100% confident the marketing you’re doing for your business is so spot on, it would pass any auditor’s test … then don’t bother reading the rest of this article.

But if you head in to work to start the week, and you’re not really sure what’s going to happen over the next few days (ie. Will you get customer’s coming through your door? Will you have enough sales every day to pay all the salaries?), then an “audit” could actually come in very helpful so you can see where you’re at, and where you can improve.

It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, or over-prepared, and when it comes to marketing your business. Essentially, you’re grabbing the bull by the horns – and you can either ride it through every hump and bump; or fall. But you have to be gloves-on, ready.

I was recently considering where marketing is at with The Marketing Project – honestly, even marketers get too busy for marketing (ourselves). And it’s helpful to at least know we’re practicing what we preach (or are we?); so I thought I’d do my own audit on where things stand.

Here are some of the things I looked at:

  1. The visual design of the website. Is it consistent? Does our brand stand out, and does it properly reflect what we want the business to portray?
  2. The content we’re sending out to clients and potential clients. Does it all adhere to our brand story?
  3. Marketing activity. Are we doing the right types of marketing to suit the objectives of our business and our marketing plan?
  4. Our plan. Are we sticking to our 3 month and 12 month goals?
  5. Could we be doing any better with particular aspects of our marketing?

Now, I have to be honest with you. There were many things I found that I really liked. BUT there were some I didn’t. Considering we spend all of our time helping other businesses succeed in their own marketing, and actually, as a result of this; we had some actions of our own that had slipped through the net. We’ve been so busy looking after everyone else, that we overlooked some of our own things and there were some marketing pieces we’d used ourselves that I wasn’t proud of.

So what did I do?

  1. I researched my target audience (again) to ensure we were still focusing on the right people.
  2. I put my marketing first. I prioritised it as though I was doing the work for a client.
  3. I went back and took a look at my branding and messaging to ensure there was consistency throughout.
  4. I opened up my Marketing Plan and made some reviews, updating the information to reflect my business and marketing goals, which had changed over time.
  5. I built a new website.

What I’m trying to say it that it’s never too late. I might be a marketing professional, but I’m no different to my clients when it comes to implementation. Life gets busy and we spend so much time working for others, we forget to take care of ourselves.

It is time consuming.

It can be frustrating.

But it’s also worth it!

Marketing you’re proud of doesn’t happen by accident; and if you want to see results, you need to make sure you’re on the right path. If you think your marketing might be falling to the wayside, take the time to carry out your own “audit”; and if you’ve done something amazing this week to help your business succeed, let me know. I’d love to see it.

How to Research Your B2B Audience

When it comes to your B2B audience, it’s important that you stay in sync with their needs and preferences. Unfortunately: you’re not psychic (or if you are, you are probably using your abilities for something greater)… the good news though, is that you don’t actually have to be.

You don’t need to pay a fortune (or tell someone’s fortune) to get to know your audience. In other words, you don’t need a massive marketing research department to do the research for you. It’s actually a LOT easier than you think and simply comes from utilising the people you already have.

So if you want the inside scoop on your B2B audience, try implementing some of the following actions:

  1. Send your existing customers an email survey. Better still, give them some sort of incentive to complete it. People don’t do much for free these days, but they LOVE to win stuff! Got a sample product you were sent from a supplier? Give it away as a prize – and everyone who sends a survey goes in the draw to win.
  2. Post a survey onto your social media channels and in LinkedIn groups and ask those who respond to share their comments directly in the post. It’s a great way to keep track of the responses.
  3. Give your customers a call! Sure, it might seem a little old fashioned picking up a phone and talking to someone (I can almost hear you gasp), but it actually works. Your customers are more likely to share invaluable information if they’re talking directly to you, so get some questions together and get talking.
  4. Use your sales team to gather information. Sales reps aren’t just there to make money, they are your front-line assets and using their abilities can be a highly positive experience. Get the sales team to ask customers a few simple questions whenever they liaise with them; and then have them write down the responses for you. Get them to make it part of the conversation rather than an actual interrogation.
  5. Read any inquiries you receive via email and phone and keep an eye out for common questions, complaints or information requests. Doing this will help you find out if there are gaps in your current service or product. If more than one person complains about a single aspect, you know it’s time to do something about it. For every 2 people who officially complain, there are 5 more out there thinking it. You’ll also be able to use this data to create new opportunities.
  6. Keep an eye on upcoming trends and changes in your customer’s preferences by joining industry associations. You’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest expert advice and articles. And considering some of this information is only available to members, signing up is a good idea to stay informed.
  7. Stalk your competitors… in a perfectly legal sense, of course. Check out their websites, social media, etc; and find out what they are talking and writing about. If they know what they’re doing, they’ll be doing it right – so with any luck, you’ll learn something new about your audience.
  8. Read books or academic journals. Head to your local library and check out some of the academic research that has been completed in your field. You might even find scholarly articles that include demographic information about your B2B audience.
  9. Use Google AdWords planner to research the general search terms your target audience are using.
  10. Get some of your actual customers together for a focus group. Set an agenda and have a list of discussion topics so you don’t head off track. These customers might be able to tell you some new wants or needs you weren’t aware of.

There’s no doubt that finding out who your B2B audience really are, is imperative to marketing success. Research doesn’t have to be an expensive process that breaks the budget; and as we’ve mentioned there are plenty of other ways you can leverage the resources you have already. Give them a try and let us know how you go. We’d love to hear if they did, or didn’t, work for you.