First, let me say that I realize not every business or individual is going through a slow period. Not everyone is relaxing and enjoying time with family, just waiting for things to get back to normal.
As if any of us know what normal will look like in six months, a year, or five years.
For those going through a difficult time – physically, psychologically, financially – you’re not alone.
Personally, my loved ones are healthy and safe, although we had a major scare with a close family member who has recovered from COVID-19.
Professionally, my business has taken it on the chin since mid-March with a bunch of clients suspending my services. For now, I’m keeping my head above water. Barely.
Given the circumstances, I’ll take it.
That said, this crisis will pass. I’m confident that many businesses can eventually rebuild and recover. In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of some rare downtime to prepare for an eventual uptick in business.
I thought I’d share the details of my own stay-at-home, DIY marketing audit, which I realized was long overdue. You might want to take some of the same steps if you’re fortunate enough to have a little time on your hands.
Why Every Organization Needs a Marketing Audit
Unless you have a startup or your organization has gone through a complete rebranding, you’ve probably taken a piecemeal approach to creating or updating various marketing platforms and channels.
As time passes and the business grows and evolves, you might add or remove products, services, and capabilities. You might increase or decrease staff. On your website, you might add or remove forms, plugins, and other bells and whistles.
As you make changes, things can get overlooked. Stuff can stop functioning properly. Mistakes happen.
That’s why every business and nonprofit should go through every marketing tool in the shed at some point to identify errors and areas for improvement and make the necessary updates.
Marketing Platforms and Channels to Audit
This will vary depending on your industry or the type of organization you have. Law firms, restaurants, financial planners, contractors, and website developers are probably marketing themselves differently. If you have a physical or online presence somewhere, anywhere, you should take a close look at each area and make sure it’s up to snuff.
These marketing platforms and channels include but are not limited to:
- The company website
- Social media brand pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.)
- Business and individual profiles (LinkedIn, Google My Business, chambers of commerce, professional associations, networking groups, etc.)
- Email templates (blogs, newsletters, sales, etc.)
- Email signatures
- Sales presentations and sell sheets
- Business cards
Don’t forget about those online profiles or accounts you created because they were free. You figured, “Why not? Can’t hurt.”
Google your business name to see just how extensive your online presence is. Unless those platforms shut down, your information is still there. It’s searchable. And if you haven’t been back to those platforms since you created your profile or account, there’s a good chance they need to be updated.
For example, I created a profile on Alignable a few years ago. Why not? Can’t hurt, right?
I admit that I didn’t put as much effort as I should have into that profile or the platform in general. When I took a closer look, I learned that some of my best referral sources, according to my profile, were hobby shops and toy stores. One of my core services was public relations.
I’d love to work with hobby shops and toy stores, but I never have. I write press releases, but I don’t offer public relations as a service.
This was embarrassing. And it could have been costing me business.
I don’t know how many people find me through Alignable, but when I Googled my business name, my Alignable profile was third in organic search results, below my website and LinkedIn profile, above my Princeton Mercer Chamber listing, and to the left of my Google My Business profile (not pictured).
Long story short, I fixed this problem immediately. It took me about 10 minutes. And it could help me generate some business leads.
What You Should Be Checking
Are your business name, logo, and tag line current?
Is basic information – phone number, email, address, hours of operation – current and accurate? I’ve been burned several times when visiting retail businesses because they hadn’t updated their business hours from season to season.
Are team bios and headshots current?
Are your products and services current, accurate, and clearly communicated? I don’t know how many times a client has said to me, “Oh, we don’t even do that anymore.”
Are your messaging and imagery current and consistent across all platforms? For example, if you updated your website last year, did you update LinkedIn and Facebook with similar messaging and imagery?
Is your mobile-responsive website displaying as it should?
- How does each page of your website look on your desktop monitor? On a split-screen? On your tablet and smartphone? In portrait and landscape orientations?
- Is the font too small or too big?
- Are any images or graphics clipped or distorted?
- Are certain areas awkwardly overlapping where they shouldn’t (like text over an image)?
- Is navigation clunky?
Does your messaging speak to the needs of your ideal client? Is it written in everyday, conversational language that the average person can understand? Are you telling your story and communicating who you are as an organization? Are you giving people compelling reasons to do business with you?
Do your calls-to-action tell people exactly what they should do next and remind them how they’ll benefit by taking that action?
Are all contact and registration forms, as well as the automated emails that follow, functioning properly? When was the last time you tested them? What do those emails say?
Are all links working? Does each one take you to a secure website?
Are videos and animations working? How is the video quality? How is the audio quality? Audio quality is often overlooked in videos.
Are website plugins functioning properly? Are they still being updated? When I updated my website last year, I discovered the social sharing plugin I was using hadn’t been updated in two years, which is why people couldn’t share my blogs on Facebook.
Are there any lingering negative reviews that need a response on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other platforms? Have you made it a standard part of your business process to request reviews?
Do portfolio items, work samples, case studies, success stories, and white papers reflect your current capabilities? Is it time to freshen up these areas with more recent content?
Fixing the Problem
The vast majority of these and other issues can be fixed in a matter of minutes.
Some will take time and money to address properly. I’m not suggesting that you need to do everything at once, especially under current circumstances.
What I would suggest is that you prioritize the updates to your marketing strategy and gather as much information as you can, both internally and externally. Assemble a team to manage and execute these updates. Then create a plan with a realistic timeline and costs.
If you’re going through a slow period, I know how much it sucks. Trust me. I’m in the same boat. But we can only control what we can control. I loathe clichés, but this one is true.
Marketing often gets pushed to the backburner because you’re too busy with other things. That’s not an issue for the time being.
Why not take advantage of this temporary downtime?
By identifying errors and areas of need, addressing these issues, and getting your marketing house in order, you can put your company in a position to accelerate its recovery when the time comes.
If you think your marketing would benefit from a fresh perspective, let’s talk. If the solutions you need aren’t in my wheelhouse, I’m sure I know someone who can help. I’m very fortunate to have a network of marketing professionals who I collaborate with on a regular basis, and I’m always happy to share those resources. Contact me to get the ball rolling.