Marketing Planning & Reporting

A Simple 7-Step Marketing Audit for Small Businesses

marketing audit

When was the last time you checked up on your marketing? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of your small business. But in order to make sure everything is still up-to-date and working, you should conduct a marketing audit at least once a year.

There are 7 key areas you should cover when auditing your small business marketing. When doing this, have a close look at your current and past campaigns and write down everything you notice. This will help with keeping your marketing – and your small business – buzzing!

Step #1: Branding

To get started with your marketing audit, have a look at your branding. For example, take all your marketing materials, website(s) and social media profiles and compare their design as well as their content:

  • Are you presenting yourself to the market in a consistent manner?
  • Is your brand represented in the same way on all platforms?
  • And how about the content, are you clear about what you do over all your communications?

Why this is important

To raise brand awareness (and for people to remember you in their moment of need) it is vital to be recognisable and distinctive over all possible mediums and channels.

For example, people should find you easily on Twitter based on your profile on other social media platforms. Your logo and brand design should be the beacon to guide them. I talk in detail about how to create a strong brand in this post here.

When it comes to your message, it’s important that people know what you are offering and what you stand for, or they might choose your competition over you.

Find out how to determine if your small business branding is in need of an update.

Step #2: Competition

Photo by Julia Larson via Pexels

Speaking of which: While you’re looking at how your small business presents itself to the world, check out your competition. If you compare your brand design and marketing content to theirs:

  • Do you stand out?
  • Are you offering something they don’t?
  • Is it appealing to a different audience?
  • How does your offer look next to theirs?

Why this is important

When conducting your small business marketing audit, it’s important to keep an eye on the changes in the marketplace you’re competing in.

Having a distinct profile, or being known for something, is the greatest advantage your small business can get. So make sure you stay on top of it.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a successful brand or business idea has been copied by the competition. And suddenly your business looks like everyone else.

Step #3: Monitoring

Another important step in your marketing audit is marketing analytics. Have a look at your marketing activities of the past 12 months and see what worked and what didn’t:

  • How much money did you invest?
  • How many sales did you generate?
  • Was the timing right and the offer compelling enough?
  • If it didn’t work, have you asked why people weren’t interested?

Why this is important

Knowing the reasons why one marketing campaign was a success and another one a failure is a great help for your future marketing.

It gives you more control over the outcome of your marketing investments. And it teaches you a lot about your ideal client‘s behaviour.

So make sure to track the results of your small business marketing. This will help you to learn from the past and improve your marketing when necessary.

Step #4: Retaining customers

Photo by Kanawa_Studio from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro

This step in your marketing audit is all about communication with your customers. If you have a closer look at everything you use to keep in touch with existing customers (e.g. emails, newsletters, flyers, brochures, mail shots):

Why this is important

Tapping into the potential of existing clients is a great way to grow your small business – regardless if you’re focused on retention or referrals.

It’s also a lot cheaper to generate business from existing contacts rather than having to attract new clients to your small business.

So if they have something good to say about you, make sure you’re using this to achieve your goals and grow your small business.

Step #5: Processes

Your marketing output is obviously very important when it comes to your small business marketing audit. But your internal workflows and processes are just as important. To get started, have a look at how your marketing gets done:

  • Who creates marketing activities and what steps are usually taken?
  • What is the allocated time and budget for that and who makes the decisions?
  • How could improve things to save time and money?

Why this is important

Even if you do everything in-house, you need resources to market your small business. In order to make the best of yours, introduce transparent processes and responsibilities to your marketing.

Make sure you and your team have a clear path ahead of you, from brainstorming ideas to implementing your marketing activities.

Include your staff in your decision-making and use their knowledge and experience with your customers and products. Your team can be a great asset to your small business marketing.

Find out more about why your staff should be part of your small business marketing strategy.

Step #6: Feedback

Photo by Warchi from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro

It is easy to get lost in our little bubble of small business madness. But listening to your customers and clients is an important thing to improve your small business.

Get started by collecting all existing customer feedback and talking to everyone who has contact with clients and customers:

  • What do they love about you?
  • What could you do better?
  • Why do they miss?

Why this is important

Business is constantly evolving: Your target audience’s behaviour changes, competitors up their game… No matter what happens, be ready to react as quickly as possible and keep up with the market.

And the best source for ideas for improvements or new products is your existing client base. And it makes sense to listen to them. In the end, whatever you do, they need to like, need or want it.

So no need to make up things out of thin air. Your small business depends on your customers and clients, listen to them.

Step #7: Try something new

When auditing your small business marketing, think about the future as well:

  • Is there anything new you could try?
  • Do you know of another business you could collaborate with?
  • Is there a new market you can explore?

Don’t just do business as usual, try something new every year and mix it up.

Why this is important

Like all things, marketing can go stale. Also, only because it worked in the past, it won’t work forever. That’s why auditing your marketing is so important.

If you want to see better results, you can improve your existing marketing strategy. And you can try out new things and add some fresh air to the mix.

Be creative and don’t be afraid of the trial-and-error approach: It’s the best tool you have to grow your small business.


If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it
Your Small Business Marketing Plan: What is it, Why Do You Need it & How Do You Get One?
How to Find Out If Your Marketing Is Working – Marketing Analytics for Small Businesses
8 Great USP Examples for Your Small Business

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.