While many businesses are gearing up to enter Q2, many nonprofits (and municipalities) are headed straight for Q4 – the infamous year-end – Aa time to evaluate what worked well during the past year and how marketing can be improved during the year ahead. Regardless of whether your organization is embarking upon Q2 or Q4, taking the time to identify the marketing strategies and tactics that are making the biggest impact on the bottom line is critical. One way to identify which marketing channels are most effective for achieving your organization’s goals is to conduct an annual marketing audit. Why an audit? Because effective marketing programs aren’t run in silos – they are carefully planned and evaluated against quantifiable metrics, such as revenue generated, new donors secured, grant funding won and the list goes on. Here are three ways an annual marketing audit can help strengthen your brand:
Consistency of messaging
As organizations grow, and new products and services are added, the mission, vision and key message points that were once considered ‘on brand’ may become obsolete. Common areas where this occurs are references to company size, growth objectives, industries and geographic areas served. For nonprofits who receive grant funding specific to certain areas of work, it is particularly important that the key messages used directly reflect these areas of work. While there will be key elements in recent messaging to preserve, there will undoubtedly be new elements to add and old elements to remove.
Where do you start when it’s time to audit your marketing messages? By aggregating brand collateral, culling through your online marketing channels (think websites, social media platforms, AdWords program, etc.) and pulling together everything from capabilities presentations to sales decks. Keep in mind it isn’t just about the branded materials being pushed out by your organization. It’s also about the individual materials sales representatives and C-suite leaders are using to represent and market the brand.
An on-point image
Sadly, it doesn’t take long for the imagery used on a website or in brand collateral to become outdated. Whether you are a commercial developer who has ground-breaking photos strewn across its website or a nonprofit with photos from an organizational milestone peppered throughout print collateral, you’ll want to take a careful look at brand imagery when going through your annual marketing audit. Fortunately, in an increasingly digital world, updating photography is often an easy process. Focus on high-quality photos that demonstrate impact as well as images that help to define not only what you do, but who you are and what it is like to work alongside your team.
Data-driven sales strategies
How many times do prospects and leads ask for case studies that show how your organization has helped similar outfits to achieve meaningful results? While no two companies or causes are exactly alike, these stories are powerful tools for setting and managing expectations. And, while some case studies will remain relevant for years, the ways success is measured often changes as new companies and causes gain access to new performance metrics and as new tactics for achieving these successes come into play. As you audit your marketing materials, keep an eye out for opportunities to let data inform the strategy. This may entail focusing more on a specific product or service, lasering in on a given vertical market and/or shifting your geographic focus. Remember, the more you are able to quantify/prove success, the easier it is to build trust among prospects and convert them into clients or donors.
While conducting a marketing audit can be a time-intensive process, it is key to ensuring all marketing materials are on-message, on-brand and supporting the company or cause’s current needs. As you embark upon your marketing audit, focus on making refinements that will enhance ROI and set your organization apart from the competition.