Posted on October 22, 2015
by admin on News
The Mechanics of a Professional, Objective Communications Audit
Download The mechanics of a good objective Communications Audit
By Rodger Roeser
It’s that time of the year where it’s smartest to sit back and review the work you’ve done over the course of the past 12 months. How did your team perform, how did you perform and how did your marketing perform are three big questions that are perfect to answer and address during the month of December. It’s called a communications audit, and it may the wisest task you take on this year to ensure you have a more successful, more rewarding and more profitable next year.
The basics of a communications audit are pretty simple – you need to gather up all the communications activities you did over the course of the year. From ads to press announcements to letters to collateral to web statistics – everything that was communicated either externally, if this is an external communications audit, or internally if it’s an internal audit. Once you have all the “stuff,” what we like to do is either spread across a conference table or post it to a wall so you can take a step back and review on first blush the general look, feel and presence of the “stuff.” As you have a vision in your mind as what this should communicate overall, take a look and see if you feel is conveys that idea or that brand. If so, check off the ‘look/feel’ box.
Next, review the copywriting and verbiage being used in things such as ad copy, sales letters, press announcements and collateral. Does it come from a singular and branded voice, or does it feel disjointed and penned by several writers. This can be exceptionally challenging when different folks in different departments or varying agencies are putting items together without consideration of the entirety of the branded conversation. While good communications can certainly have some degree of variance, you want your materials to be consistent throughout in tone and feel. Are the materials conveying the thoughts and concepts you want them to convey, are they portraying your business in the light you wish it to be conveyed, and does it help foster engagement and truly share a story.
After you’ve reviewed tone of voice and tone of look, now you need to look at your metrics. Assuming you had a marketing plan for the year (you didn’t have a marketing plan, well, that’s another article but you need to do this to start making your plan for next year) now you can begin the measurement of how things actually functioned. Look at increases in web traffic, social media voice, articles published, interviews conducted, sales leads generated, impressions and so on and so forth – whatever key performance indicators (KPIs) were important for you and your business to measure. My favorite, most often overlooked KPI is overall sales – did they increase? If not, what the hell is marketing doing? Right? These metrics take on a variety of forms and can be broad or incredibly granular depending on the program, product, service or goal. For example, let’s assume you wanted to measure the increase in sales of windshield washer fluid. Assuming you had a campaign to push said sales, it’s relatively simple to have benchmarked current sales, then after the campaign gauge those numbers and divide it by marketing investment. Or, on a much broader scale, if you’re looking towards increase web traffic, what percentage did that go up based on general branding and awareness activity.
Now, if all this sounds like a lot of extra work, well – it is and it isn’t. But, I’m a firm believe that you “can’t manage what you can’t measure” so having a tight communications audit is a critical, but sadly often overlooked aspect, of a good marketing plan and a good marketing leader. It’s important to have the numbers, it’s critical to look at what is and what isn’t working. Is your internal team coming up with good ideas and strategies that are helping to achieve goals, or are they simply executing random tactics as they come up. Is your agency working with you to proactively drive business success, or are they simply executing tactics. And, if they’re simply executing tactics (assuming they’re your tactics you’re directing them to execute) are you measuring them against your goals?
And, are you able to do so objectively. Can your CMO or marketing directly truly share when something is not working well, or spend is too high or simply not producing. Sadly, in some internal situations, the fox is guarding the hen house when reporting results, so keep an objective third party in mind that has the ability and expertise to perform a comprehensive communications audit to keep your marketing and your results on track – while also looking at other opportunities that may be a significantly better investment based on the goals and results you seek.
About the Author
Rodger Roeser is the CEO of Greater Cincinnati’s premier professional services branding and marketing firm The Eisen Agency. Roeser is an award winning television, radio and print journalist, and an award winning public relations and marketing executive. He can be reached at RRoeser@TheEisenAgency.com.