How A Small Business Brand Audit Will Help Put Marketing Dollars To Good Use
Between running a business, managing employees, and nurturing customer relationships, you have a lot of balls in the air.
When you’re this busy, the first ball to drop is usually the marketing ball. Your social media marketing retainer is on autopay, you’ve completely forgotten about that ad in a local magazine that’s been running for a year, and you keep pushing “measure content marketing ROI” down on your to-do list. Marketing is “happening”, but your current plan is not generating results. Sound familiar?
Throwing money in general marketing buckets without true research and strategy is a painful waste of hard-earned money. You know that, we know that, so how do you prevent this from happening in the new year? It’s tempting to study other brands and copy their tactics. While there’s value in studying your competitors (we’ll get to that later) copy and pasting their strategy could lead to inauthentic branding that confuses or repels your audience.
So what’s a brand to do? Do what anyone would do in a time of disappointment: get some clarity. Without a clear sense of brand clarity, your marketing budget lacks direction and intention.
So review your messaging and content. Find out how your landing pages are ranking on search engines. Dive into your customer data. Figure out how the hell your social media marketing budget climbed to five digits without any return. Shed the dead weight and faulty strategies.
Look for patterns in brand behavior and identify which patterns burn up your budget, inflate unsubscribes, and cause crickets across content marketing channels. When that work is done, then (and only then!) you can create a new plan of action.
If you’re ready and willing to create an authentic, strategic brand marketing game plan, then you’re ready to take the first step with a brand audit.
A Small Business Brand Audit
You should know your brand better than anyone, so do you? Do you know what your brand should be doing, and the best practices to follow to make the most of your time, energy and budget?
If you’re feeling disconnected from your brand or like you’re going through the motions, then it might be time to reconsider how well you really know your brand before jumping into your next marketing strategy.
Pick apart the pieces, look under all the small business rugs, and even bring in an expert. It’s time to assess your brand with a small business brand audit, or what we like to call a Brand Scan.
Brand Audit Explained
The truth shouldn’t hurt, it should help. A Brand Scan (or a small business brand audit) lays out the full and honest truth. It’s not a diagnosis of what’s going wrong with your brand, think of it in terms of a healthy checkup for your business—maybe you’ll even get a lollipop afterward like you do at a doctor’s checkup.
A small business brand audit is designed to thoroughly assess your brand and all of its components—communications, strategies, execution, competition, and audience. The cold honest truth will come out through many brand audit questions because that’s what it takes to make profitable changes.
There’s a whole lot of stuff to comb through—small business marketing budget statistics and competitive analyses don’t come quickly, but they’re certainly worth it. While a Brand Scan can be a lengthy process, you’ll be able to mine data you didn’t even realize you had. This data is valuable, and can and will inform dormant components of your brand.
Luckily, it’s the perfect time of year to scan. Brand Scans should be conducted toward the end of each year, or right before a new marketing strategy gets underway.
Let’s get to scanning so 2020 can be your year!
What’s In A Brand Scan?
Small business brand audits will help define a clear direction your brand should take, but specifically, what does a Brand Scan consist of?
We break each Brand Scan into the following five components:
An analysis of your audience will not only categorize your consumers into specific groups of people but will also identify what each of those groups is looking for from a brand like yours. Understanding your audience’s behavior, motivations and interests puts you in an excellent position to tailor content and target marketing to specifically fit the needs of those individuals.
What does the long-term outlook look like for your industry? Let’s say you’re a natural dog food company. The dog food industry is expected to really shift into natural pet food because consumers are sick of giving their pets processed meals. This is important to be aware of so your brand can capitalize on ‘natural’ as much as possible in order to attract those new, interested customers. Some industry trends will be massive–like the natural pet food shift–while others will be more subtle. With adequate research, you can gauge the pulse of all trends and determine which ones are worth adapting for.
You might be fairly in-tune with what your competitors are up to from a generalized point of view, but have you dug into the specifics of what is working for them and what is not? These specifics can come in many forms—the design of their website, color choices, the strategy behind their social media posts, and how they respond to timely news and politics. There’s quality information you can take and use for your own brand based on what’s working for your competitors and what’s missing the mark.
Like we said before, throwing money in general directions and hoping it creates return isn’t an effective strategy. Analyzing your marketing spend will help define which of those efforts are working and which are not. For example, if your TV ads aren’t producing many conversions but email marketing is up to 25%, your marketing spend should be focused around email marketing—the thing that’s raking in the most money. As for the other channels, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and determine what is standing in the way of a healthy ROI. It could be that your strategy is not accounting for customer purchasing behaviors, or maybe a technical issue is causing people to drop off like flies. The only way to know is by researching it.
Messaging and Content
Nothing is more important than maintaining authenticity in your branding. And if your brand’s voice is inconsistent, that’s a sure sign that you’re not speaking to your audience authentically. Combing through your messaging and content will define whether or not your brand is:
- Consistently delivering valuable, relevant content to your audience
- Using the same voice and tone across all channels, from social media to employee onboarding materials
- Communicating the “why” of your brand in creative, compelling content
How A Brand Scan Can Save Your Business Money
A Brand Scan is an investment, but in the end, it’s sure to save your brand quite a bit of money. What worked in 2019? And what didn’t? After going through the brand audit checklist, you’ll be able to see exactly where your marketing dollars are going and adjust your efforts based on those results.
Let’s walk through an example:
You’re envious of one of your competitors because they have over 10K followers on Instagram, while your social media only accounts for 250 followers. You made it your goal in 2019 to gain as many social media followers as you could because, as far as you know, the more people that follow your brand, the greater ROI you’ll see.
So there you go, spending thousands of dollars on Facebook ads and hours upon hours putting all of your focus into social media, only to uncover some interesting information from the Brand Scan.
Turns out, your competition gets little-to-no engagement on social media and their social media ROI is lower than low—as is yours at the end of the year. Where your money really came in throughout the year was from your blogs. Your customers loved the value you produced for them and trusted that your brand could provide them with the information they were looking for. Once they trusted you and your value, they were more interested in purchasing.
Imagine how many more customers you could have attracted and how many more transactions you would have seen come through if you would have put all the time, effort, and money from social media into creating high-quality blog content.
Based on these results from the Brand Scan, you can adjust your marketing strategies in the new year to align with what’s showing the most success. And good thing too. Could you imagine spending the same energy and money on social media in 2020 just to find the same old results?
The Grand Ol’ Takeaway
Auditing, scanning, whatever you want to call it, it’s time to get clear on the direction your brand should be heading in the new year. In the time you’ve spent weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a brand audit, your brand could have already been scanned.
You need clarity before you can move forward (and spend more money), so do just do it already—invest in that clarity with a Brand Scan. 2020 will be so good, you’ll be itching to comb through your brand again and set up for a knockout 2021.