That’s not to say that you’re definitely lacking something, but…let’s face it, there’s nearly always room for improvement, and quite often marketing organizations are missing something that’s pretty important.

Findings of marketing audits commonly show that organizations typically lack a truly strategic approach in their marketing.  The 1989 reprint and review of the original article (The Marketing Audit Comes of Age, Philip Kotler, William T. Gregor, and William H. Rodgers III) shows the top 10 findings of marketing audits, but below are a selected few, backing up the commonly known hunch that we tend to fall back to natural tendencies of jumping to tactics without having the foundation of a real compass.  While the world has changed drastically since this article, it’s amazing how these findings still ring true, even today Just a few include:

  • Lack of a marketing planning process
  • Failing to invest in the future, particularly in human resources
  • An organizational structure that is incompatible with the marketing strategy
  • Tendency to view marketing as only advertising or sales
  • Narrow, short-term view of advertising and promotion

While the word “audit” may have some negative connotations thanks to the IRS, don’t be afraid. In this case, the goals are to step back, look at your marketing organization as a whole, and make better decisions thanks to the process.

Insights for Strategic Marketing

So where do you begin?

An internal assessment is one of the very first high-level steps in the marketing planning process, a step that shouldn’t be taken for granted and should be periodically readdressed given the underlying assumption that organizations constantly change just as markets do.

For a marketing executive, an audit of the macro-organization (e.g. financial status, strategic plan, key initiatives, other functional department goals, etc.) as it affects the internal marketing organization’s planning and decision making is certainly an important part of the assessment.

But what do we do with the marketing organization itself as part of our internal assessment?

Why not perform a marketing organization audit – a relatively little-known, little-espoused tool?  This is a tool for conducting a broad evaluation that helps understand not only performance, but also yields key insights for future planning.  Of course, resulting insights are information- and data-driven, and it is largely a qualitative assessment.  Particular areas of interest examined include:  marketing objectives and strategy; marketing organization (structure and people); marketing systems (processes, procedures, etc.); and marketing performance … Doesn’t this sound at least a little like the classic management functions of planning, organizing and controlling?  In addition, individual marketing mix functions are examined to ensure objectives are aligned with both internal strategy and external market needs, and that all variables work effectively, interrelated to each other.


So, let’s begin to think strategically and consider a marketing organization audit – one of the first steps to actually being strategic.  Some literature shows there are some types of organizations that are especially in need of such an audit.  Is yours one?