Sometimes businesses and organizations know exactly which strategies, tools, and tactics will help move the needle, but more often, it’s not so clear. So how do marketers determine what’s right for their clients, business, or organization? That’s where a marketing audit comes in.

A marketing audit is a comprehensive review of an organization’s materials, messaging, audiences, and competitors using internal, external, and third-party research.

The result: a deep understanding of key buyer personas and recommendations for a strategic path toward achieving clear marketing and communications goals.

5 Signs it’s Time for a Marketing Audit

An audit is typically the first step in working with new clients. However, we strongly recommend clients regularly perform an audit, especially when these common red flags indicate it’s time.

  1. Expansion – Before you expand into a new market area, launch a new product or service, or target a new customer demographic, start with an audit. You may know why you moved to a new area or created a new product, but until you develop buyer personas, you won’t know what messages or channels will be most successful in marketing to your ideal customer.
  2. Your goals and objectives aren’t clear. The marketing team is often tasked with everything from generating awareness and website traffic to securing leads to help the sales team generate revenue. Without concrete goals and objectives in place, it’s impossible to move the needle for your organization. An audit will help clarify your customer buying journey and establish clear, measurable objectives to help achieve marketing and business goals.
  3. What’s working and what’s not? – You’ve invested in everything from paid ads to social media and blogging. You have a fancy CRM, sponsor community events, or attend industry trade shows. Sales are up, so something must be working, you’re just not sure what it is. An audit will assess performance across a variety of channels and investments to determine what’s effective. That way, instead of spreading your budget too thin, your team can focus more on what’s working and change what’s not.
  4. You’re not reaching your marketing/sales goals. Even the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition. You may have clear and concrete SMART marketing goals, but somehow your execution (strategies and tactics) is missing the mark. A marketing audit will help assess why you’re not reaching your goals – which could be anything from unclear messaging to the wrong marketing tactics. We’ve even uncovered some clients who were targeting the wrong audience altogether based on their specific products and services.
  5. Determining and reporting ROI – It’s budget season, and the CEO is asking what you spent the budget on and what the return is. Or maybe you just need a better reporting structure to justify budget increases. A marketing audit will help not only determine which tactics are working, but also help put systems in place to measure and report tangible returns.

You wouldn’t make a presentation to your boss without doing your homework first. Before you invest in a different approach, pursue a new target audience, or try to justify budget increases, rely on research by considering a marketing audit.

Laura Elizabeth Saunders is a PR and content marketing strategist at The Hodges Partnership. An original version of this article was recently published on the Gong Blog.