So, we’ve covered the ‘why bother’ and we’ve covered Clarity of Purpose, Stakeholder Analysis and Competitor Analysis. You might feel that this is enough to be going on with for now, but there is one massive area that we think you should include in your Marketing & Business Development Audit… and that’s…
A word of warning… this isn’t a 101 on how to manage budgets for marketing.
What are we looking for?
The biggest mistake firms make is running marketing budgets that have little or no link to strategic governance matters. In fact, we’d argue that this is worse that not setting a budget for marketing at all. That’s why this section isn’t so much about reviewing WHAT you’ve spent (and plan to) but WHY.
Being able to report on marketing and demonstrate a link between money spent and instruction is the ideal situation. Yet, all too often budgets are set by allocating a certain amount for ‘types’ of activity (PR, events, SEO, PPC etc) without any real idea of what you plan to do, at that point. While it might not be 100% possible 100% of the time budgets should be linked to your overall marketing strategy, through your tactical plan, and thereby your organisational strategy.
Questions to ask to review financial matters
Here are some of the questions you might want to ask:
- How are budgets set? Are they mapped to reality (like the example above) or ‘finger in the air’? What needs to change?
- How is the budget divided down to show use of funds in different areas?
- How accurate is our forecasting and budget-setting? Are we regularly over- or under-spending?
- How do we monitor expenditure? Do we use codes that correspond to strategic plans/relevant areas? Do we monitor and check accuracy?
- What percentage of the budget is spent on different areas of the marketing mix? How does this percentage correspond to known enquiry generation sources?
- What percentage of the budget is spent on personnel within the team? And what percentage on outsourced support?
- How is expenditure agreed and approved?
- What’s our relationship with suppliers? Do we pay on time?
- How do we manage procurement and quotes?
- Do we measure the ROI from all expenditure? How is this reported? Do we know what works best and what doesn’t (average income per £ spent)?Do we ever change anything during the year because of this?
- How successful is our budgeting (planning and delivery)?
Even if you don’t have a marketing budget, and so provide limited answers to the questions above, this list will prove helpful in working out what to do next. Which brings us on to our last topic…
The temptation at the end of a review process is to write all the findings up into a massive report. Providing the evidence to support any recommendations is essential… but you do need to make the recommendations first, and in plain English. And, particularly if you’re doing it for your own reading, you’ll be interested most of all in practical action points and the ‘what next’.
We always include the following at the start of our reports:
- A summary of the research that was done (and what each aimed to investigate)
- A summary of the key areas for activity and change – a narrative, your opinion
- Top ten most important actions required, as a result of the audit – a list
- A R(ed), A(mber), G(reen) report on all of the areas of study, with associated actions. This is presented as a table with three columns (examples included):
The most important thing is that you have been able to show, through your final report, what needs to be done, why and how, as well as how you’re going to report on progress. This might be as simple as just adding a ‘progress’ column to your RAG report… You might have totally rewritten your marketing plan and budget… or written one for the first time! Whatever the output from the Marketing & Business Development Audit… now it’s time to start on those improvements and take action. After all, what use is the report if you don’t do anything with it?
At ELE Global we offer the following fixed fee audits for smaller firms:
- All marketing & business development (our most popular review)
- Client care and relationship management
- Digital marketing and social media
- PR and thought leadership
- Business development (sales)
Whatever we find we’ll write it all up with a R(ed) A(mber) G(reen) report, showing the ‘hot list’ of things you need to do next. The results are presented in plain English and a way that you can ‘pick up and work with’. For more information about our audits and work supporting smaller firms, click here.