Step 1: Audit Yourself

by Sean O’Bryan

Note: An audit of your marketing plan is an important first step in an extremely successful 8-step strategy to marketing small businesses we have developed at Think Street.  It doesn’t matter if you are a 40-year-old business with 100 employees or an Etsy shop that you run out of your spare bedroom – the steps and methods are the same.  

Before you can properly engage in developing a plan, you have to ask yourself some tough questions:

  1. What is your current marketing plan?
  2. What are you spending annually on marketing?
  3. What are your logo and colors? Are they identifiable?
  4. How do you market to your existing customers?
  5. Do you have current printed materials that showcase your business?
  6. Do you have professional photographs of your business, your product or services, and your staff?
  7. Do you utilize video in marketing your business?
  8. Is your website maintained in-house, or is out-dated and unusable?
  9. What about Social Media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter?
  10. Do you post specials and videos or pictures promoting your business?
  11. Do your best customers, family and friends share your company’s accomplishments?
  12. Can new customers find you on Google or the internet?
  13. Do you use Google Ad Words? Does it work?
  14. Do you have a weekly or monthly marketing meeting with your staff to discuss promoting your business?
  15. What are your competitors doing to steal your customers?

Are You Following Your Marketing Plan?

The truth is, most small businesses may do 1 or 2 of these things – but fail miserably when it comes to following a marketing plan. And why should you? You started a business to do what you do best, whether that is repairing cars, doing eye exams, or providing veterinary services. But understand that most small business owners are lousy at marketing – because they fail to understand it is about telling the world you are a rock star.

Marketing Plans

You need a Strategy.

Most small business owners are lousy at marketing – because they fail to understand it is about telling the world you are a rock star.

So here are the steps you need to take to audit your small business right now. First, examine last year’s books and this year’s budget – and find out exactly what you are spending on marketing.

Next, answer each one of the 15 questions in the first paragraph on this page. Be honest and write down your answers. The answers to these questions will be the basis of a new chapter in your business.

“Even though a new customer might tell you they found you because of a recommendation or they drove by your store — they checked you out online and most likely on the phone in their pocket before they ever walked into your store.”

Once you have had an honest examination of where things are at – then take some time, and place yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer for your company. For example, let’s say you are an electrician – and you are in the market for a whole house generator. Take your phone and do a search for “electricians near me.” Obviously modify this to reflect the product or service your business offers.

How Does Your Business Compare?

Can you find yourself? What are your customer’s choices? Take the time to go to each website offered by your competitors. Who has the best website and best online reviews? Can you find your business? How does your company compare to others in the eyes of a new customer?

Understand this: Even though a new customer might tell you they found you because of a recommendation or they drove by your store — they checked you out online and most likely on the phone in their pocket before they ever walked into your store. This is how consumers make choices today. It doesn’t matter if they are young or old, rich, or live modest lives. They look you up and kick the tires. What are you offering them?

This is what this whole audit thing is about — taking the time to examine and do some soul searching on what and where you are spending your advertising dollars – and how effective that money is in today’s marketplace. Things have dramatically changed. Has your business kept up?

Sean O’Bryan is the owner of Think Street Media, LLC, a Michigan marketing agency. He has practiced estate planning law for 30 years and has helped hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses succeed through creative marketing strategies.

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