A major marketing audit has five basic steps. Before you start, I want to encourage you to set aside a few uninterrupted days—no appointments, no distractions and no interruptions. Do a digital detox. Have an out-of-office message for your email and avoid social media altogether. The more you focus your energy and brainpower on your audit and marketing plan, the more chances you’ll have for success in the coming year.
Here’s a simplified guide for a marketing audit that will capitalize on your wins and help avoid losses in the future:
Step 1: Take inventory of last year’s successes and failures.
You have an entire year’s worth of data and information to draw from. Use it! Start with a gut check. Of all of your marketing efforts, what do you think worked and what do you think flopped? Mark them off: yes or no.
Now, check your gut against the numbers.
For social media, go to Insights (Facebook’s analytics) and look at your year’s top posts. What posts tended to do well and what do they have in common—video, longer captions, or something else? What content caught attention—details, behind-the-scenes, or even selfies? These are the successes you want to replicate. Flops determine which content to drop from your repertoire.
Next, check Google Analytics. What sent the most traffic? Which sources generated the most leads or sales on your website? What pages and blog posts were the most popular and kept people reading? Now you know which sources and pages perform best, what to promote on your website, and which channels to use.
Pro Tip: After analyzing the hard numbers, take stock of your emotional investments. Did you enjoy your marketing work last year? As a creative entrepreneur, if you hate a specific marketing tactic or a certain platform, it won’t bring out your best efforts—instead, outsource these tasks and get them off your plate!
If the numbers don’t support a certain approach or platform, consider dropping it for something you enjoy. Remember, you don’t have to use every single medium available—struggling with marketing you despise isn’t a good use of your time and resources.
Step 2: Audit your profiles.
Auditing your profiles is like editing your wardrobe—throw out tired, worn, and outdated items and fill the gaps with fresh ideas! You should audit social media bios and profiles, directory listings or advertisements on websites or blogs, and your website’s About page. Be up-to-date with your most recent work, profile pictures, awards, speaking engagements—anything you want to brag about or share with potential clients.
Step 3: Get your calendar in order.
Before you launch into next year’s ad plans, check how your time is blocked out. There are two types of events you want to enter into your marketing calendar:
Your busy times: Put all major events and busy times on your calendar, then plan to either frontload your work to meet deadlines or hire help during those periods. Also add the following to your calendar:
- Personal time, like vacations, holidays, and travel.
- Business commitments, conferences, new product or service launches, and most importantly, your most demanding work periods, whether that’s wedding season for event professionals or holidays for product-based creative entrepreneurs.
Seasonal themes and messages: Trends around spring, summer, winter, or fall. These may include:
- Holidays, both major (Christmas, Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, etc) and offbeat (National Donut Day, Friendship Day, and #OptOutside.) For quirky Holidays, check out Holiday Insights.
- Business promotions, including your business’s birthday, milestones, and events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday.
Step 4: Create your budget.
Social media and directory listings especially have become “pay to play”, so it’s crucial to allocate money toward marketing. Even blogs that publish real weddings for free will ask for payment from vendors who routinely submit to them (yes, they are tracking). Determine how much you can allocate each month to paid ads, boosted posts, marketing consultants, and freelancers.
Step 5: Set new goals.
Now that you’ve followed the first four steps, it’s time to set your goals. Use your metrics from the previous year to create attainable objectives that help grow your business without being overambitious.
For example, if you booked three clients last January, consider trying to get five this year. If last July’s revenue was $7,000, aim for $8,000 this year. Similarly, if your Instagram audience grew by 100 followers per month last year, try to raise that number to 125 or 150 this year.
A good audit is invaluable! Refreshing your marketing plan can be intense work, but don’t squander the wealth of information you’ve collected from all of last year’s efforts by skipping this task. Knowing where you’ve been and where you need to go makes planning not only easier, but so much more productive and effective.