In an earlier blog, we talked about the importance of knowing who your customer is and forming a strong marketing strategy around that knowledge. To gain that information, it is important for hospitality businesses to carry out a marketing audit, however we know that for some this might seem a daunting prospect. For those people, we’ve put together some guidance on carrying out an audit: What is it? Why would you need to do one? What’s included in it?
A marketing audit examines a company’s marketing environment, its strengths and weaknesses alongside its objectives, current strategy, and activities. The end result should be a clear view of the business that enables a clear and intelligent marketing strategy to be created. Even if a business has a marketing strategy in place, an audit should be carried out at regular intervals in order to address changes in the market or company itself. The hospitality industry changes rapidly, new competitors enter the market and leave it, fresh, game-changing technologies are introduced and customer habits vary. Regular audits mean these changes aren’t missed.
Put simply, the goal of a marketing audit is to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can identify areas for improvement.
It can be tough admitting that your business has weaknesses but remember, an acknowledged weakness is a powerful tool which, turned around, can propel you forward; in order to progress, you need to know where you are before you can plot a route to victory. Of course, being clear on your strengths is also vital when planning how to build upon success; in such a competitive marketplace, knowing your USP is essential for attracting custom.
The answer to this will change depending on how sophisticated your existing marketing strategy is. As more tools, tactics and techniques are employed, the detail with which the audit is carried out will increase. For now, if we assume that your marketing strategy is in its early stages, then the areas we would recommend you review include:
Who are you, where do you fit in the current market, who are your competitors and what do you offer that is different? What’s your unique identifier, your brand and personality? How is your internal communication in comparison to your external? Are you the owner of an independent restaurant surrounded by chains? Perhaps you have a coffee shop in an area with similar stores?
To fully understand yourself, you need to understand how you compare to the competition. Consider your levels of service alongside theirs, how much do they charge and how does the quality of their product compare? What’s their website ranking, how many social followers do they have and why do you think that is? Test out their venue – if it’s a bar, order a drink. How long did it take to arrive, what was the price point compared to yours? How did it taste and are other people in the bar seeming to enjoy themselves?
Estimate the size and growth of your market and any relevant market trends, such as industry developments, introduction of new technology, new products or any increase in spending by competitors. Take online and mobile ordering for example: the use of pre-ordering platforms has really taken off in the last eighteen months, it improves customer experience and plays to the consumer’s love of digital technology. By adopting a pre-ordering platform now, you have the opportunity to put yourself ahead of the competition, or to catch up if they’re already there.
Look also to identify and describe your company’s current customers, who are they, what challenges do they face and why might they like you? Do they like quirky food and drink or would they prefer a more traditional offering?
Taking all above points into account, complete a SWOT Analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. Then set out to block the threats, work on your weaknesses, cultivate your strengths and take advantage of your business’ opportunities.
Conducting a marketing audit on a regular basis (at least once a year) is a learning experience that helps you maximise your marketing investment, making you focus on the activities that work best for you. Of course, once you’ve conducted the research, you need to use that information to build a strategy, capitalising on your strengths and neutralising weaknesses. This will be the key to creating a plan for long term sustainable growth.
Most important, build a list of prioritised follow-up steps. We have now created a marketing audit template that covers each of these points in greater detail. Visit our Resource Centre page to download this.
Click here to see the next topic in our marketing series and to sign up for notifications. If you need help marketing your online or mobile ordering platform, contact us and we’ll get in touch shortly. We offer marketing support as part of our customer service and will be happy to talk you through any challenges you might have as well as providing advice and strategy and answering your questions.