Marketing Communications Audit – What is It, and Why is it Necessary?

As a product manager or marketing director a key responsibility is to develop and implement an effective marketing communications strategy. One place to start is with a communications audit.

An audit is a review of all current marketing and other communications vehicles to answer some basic questions:

o What are we saying about our company/brand/products?
o Is the message consistent across formats and audiences?
o How are we presenting the information?
o Who are we talking to?

The results of the audit should help clarify the communications strategy and provide a framework for future projects.

The simplest way to begin is to gather all existing materials and lay them out on a big conference table. Materials would include product and corporate brochures, product packaging, business cards and letterhead, annual reports, advertisements, direct mail pieces, investor kits, and website screen shots. Even things like internal memos, press releases, promotional items, company t-shirts or hats, and PowerPoint templates should be included.

Once everything is laid out, some basic questions can be answered. First, do all the items look like they are from the same company? Is there some consistency in layout, use of color, and fonts?

Second, is the company positioning clear? In other words, if you asked several people to review a number of your communications and tell you what they perceived to be the company mission or value offering, would the answers be consistent? Or would it depend on what pieces were reviewed?

Third, what are the key messages that are being communicated? Are those messages coherent, or fragmented? Are the messages consistent with your intent?

For many businesses, the answers to these questions are not encouraging. Fragmentation and inconsistency are common, especially as an organization grows and as communications responsibility becomes dispersed.

Unless there is someone within the company charged with maintaining an overall vision, and empowered to enforce guidelines and standards, it is often unavoidable that the communications water gets muddied.

Some may say, “So what?” There is a feeling that as long as each entity within the firm is communicating effectively with its own constituency, there shouldn’t be a problem except for marketing purists. The fallacy with this argument becomes obvious once you begin talking to various stakeholders within the organization, as well as customers and investors who are either getting the wrong message, or aren’t sure about what the message is in the first place.

The communications audit is really only the first step. Understanding the impact your messages are having requires research, and developing a process for ongoing review and implementation integrity requires dedication.

It’s one thing to give lip service to communications consistency, but quite another to put in place the means to make it happen. By regularly reviewing your communication strategy, and evaluating your materials to ensure they are meeting your goals, you will improve message clarity and better meet the needs of your customers, investors, and employees.

Understanding Full Service Internet Marketing Services

Deciding to promote your business online is one that is taken lightly. Thousands of companies compete online on a daily basis. This opportunity has opened up doors for all sized companies in all industries, giving you the freedom to trade on a global scale.

While having a website designed, adding some products and information is great, it isn’t quite enough to ensure that your customer base sees your company among the hundreds of other companies around the world offering the same products or services. You need to focus heavily on your internet marketing to ensure that your online presence is enough to help your business grow moving forward, help you achieve online success and become a dominating competitor.

This means that you should consider a full service internet marketing service. Unless you have hours of time on your hands each day to focus on your online marketing efforts, hiring a professional company can give you the time and freedom you need to focus on the day to day running of your business while the service provider will focus on growing your business in an online environment.

The first thing you will find a full service internet marketing services provider will do is focus on your website. They need to ensure that it is optimized for your particular target audience. They should provide a complete website analysis, providing you with reports on what needs changing, what is working and possibly even, what pages to include to help you grow moving forward.

They will focus on SEO, search engine optimization, this will include local SEO where they will ensure that your address appears on each and every one of your web pages. Local SEO has become a valuable marketing tool and you need to follow the SEO guidelines to ensure that Google notices your company to help push you to the top of search engine results.

From here the full service internet marketing services provider will focus on all your on page optimization. This is your actual web pages. They will conduct a thorough analysis to ensure that you are using the right keywords to reach your target audience. They will also ensure the web pages you provide are valuable and give your customers the information they need.

The next step is focusing on your off page optimization, this includes your press releases, articles, blogs and more. The company should assist you with these marketing initiatives, helping you increase online brand visibility and direct your customers back to your website, where hopefully you will start seeing an increase in revenue moving forward.

Any reputable full service internet marketing services provider will ensure that they do a through keyword analysis for your particular company. Keywords are used in all online marketing and are focused on words used by your potential customers. The service provider will identify works that are most commonly used in search engines and then use these words to help promote your business in the future.

It is important to note that internet marketing is not an overnight success. You can’t hire a full service internet marketing company to handle your online reputation and expect to wake up tomorrow morning and be the first name you see when you search for a product or service that you supply. This process takes time and requires constant work and monitoring, but over time you will start to see an improvement as you make your way up the ranks to enjoy success in the long run.

In addition to the services listed above, your full service internet marketing provider should also provide you with a complete competitor analysis, they should assist you with your social media efforts and they should protect your online reputation at all times.

Internet Marketing Services: What Should You Engage In?

For those new to building businesses online or taking a traditional business to online, internet marketing is equivalent to a mythical beast of elusive nature. Building a website alone is complicated enough even with a web designer working on it, but now internet marketing? Search engine optimization? Social media marketing? Videos? Podcasting? Wait, will the list ever end?

Such as the perplexing questions one will have in her mind if she is not familiar with internet marketing at all. It gets worse when so-called gurus try to bombard with pitches on their services which deliver the world only at cost of $998.238 to make sure you generate $1234.5678 in net revenue a week from your website. With things like this, internet marketing can’t be legit, right?

Fortunately internet marketing is a real deal. A bona fide set of methods which you can use together with traditional marketing strategies to maximize your revenue and deliver cost-effective messages to widest audience possible. But if you are completely baffled about all internet marketing mumbo-jumbo, then you will need to know what internet marketing services you should pursue. Without knowing what will fit your needs and your target market, you will just be wasting your money.

“Know Thy Market, First”

Internet marketing is just like any regular marketing, it deals with people – individuals who have problems and want to solve those by buying your products and services. It only uses Internet to deliver your marketing messages and information to people in your target market plus more. Nothing magical or confusing here.

If you have decided to engage in internet marketing services, you absolutely must know about your customers. You have to know where they go, what they like, what their demographics and sociographics profiles are, which websites they usually go, what social networks they are, what time they are mostly active online, where they are looking for your products, what influence their decisions and… well, you get the picture.

Without knowing your customers, you cannot target and direct any of your marketing efforts, be it traditional or online, to be efficient and effective.

Now that it is clear you need to know about your market first, let’s get down to details about internet marketing services.

“Search Engine Optimization”

Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is a process to push your website to be in top 10 spots of first page in search engines when people search for related terms to your business. 90% of internet users use search engines to find information they want. And most of them pay attention only to top 10 results. If your website is in there, you are guaranteed to gain a lot of visitors. This kind of ranking is something you cannot buy. It is a process which an internet marketing professional can help you with.

“Email Marketing”

No, not those spam mails we all hate. There are truly legitimate ways to use email as a marketing tool without being annoying or sending spams. Internet marketing professionals can help you build a list of email newsletter subscribers who are willingly giving their contacts to you to send them emails, and also help you to run regular email newsletter to keep your subscribers updated about whatever information you want them to know. It is similar to warm-approach in traditional marketing.

“Videos Distribution”

Very high percentage of today’s internet usage is in videos. YouTube, Vimeo and alike are very popular for several reasons. It is undeniable that people tend to pay more attention to video contents than texts. Online marketing experts can help you create suitable videos for your business and rank them in search engines, along with distributing those using social networks to attract maximum eyeballs. And speaking of which…

“Social Networks”

Basically social networks are where people hang out online to talk about their interests, daily happenings, post photos they shot or like, share information, news and gossips and generally doing social activities. We all have one. It is pretty certain you know what Facebook is.

Marketers can tap into these social networks to actually increase brand awareness, brand exposure and increase revenues. You need to find if your target market is suitable for which social networking platform. Chances are, you will find them on one or another. Online marketers can help you build campaigns to reach out to them with suitable messages without trying to sell too much.

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