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Developing a Winning Marketing Audit
By Arnold Sanow   Printer Friendly Version

Before investing time and money into various marketing strategies, it's essential to complete a marketing audit to better understand yourself and your customers. Too many times we make arbitrary decisions without any solid marketing information. The results can be disastrous. To enhance your marketing prowess, answer the following questions.

  1. What business am I really in? If you think you are just competing against other travel agencies, then you may be losing business and missing valuable opportunities. In reality, you are really in a number of businesses, ranging from entertainment to education. For example, Sandy Elson of Pyramid Travel in Bethesda, Maryland realized that she was competing against people spending their time to get education and training. Realizing this, she called my office and developed a program to offer, "cruise and learn" seminars to reach this education market.
  2. Where can I diversify? Everytime a customer does business with you; there is an opportunity to offer them additional services and products. Through subcontracting and strategic alliances, you can offer these products and services without spending a lot of money or time. As in the example above, Sandy offered all the travel arrangements and I provided the seminars a win/win strategic alliance.
  3. What is the perceived quality of the service or merchandise I sell? People buy for their reasons, not ours. Although we may feel that we have a high-quality product or service, the customer is the one who really defines quality. Remember the saying, "To sell Jack Jones, what Jack Jones buys, you need to see Jack Jones through Jack Jones eyes. The quality of the feast is determined by the consumer, not he chef." Always look at everything you offer from the customer's perspective.
  4. What kind of image do I want to project? The marketing term positioning means how you want your product or service to be seen in the eyes of the consumer. Depending on the image you want, all your marketing efforts should focus on this marketing strategy.
  5. How do I compare with the competition? You need to know your competition to determine where you have the advantages, to know why and how they are better and to copy success. Make sure you review your competition in relation to product/service characteristics, price, promotion strategies, place, packaging and personnel.
  6. What benefits do I offer my customers? In other words, what can your clients save, gain, accomplish or avoid by using your product or service.
  7. Who are my customers? There is no issue more important to you than knowing your customers. Most people try to be everything to everyone. This dilutes our marketing messages as well as our time and money. We need to focus on the 20% of our customers who will give us 80% of our income.
  8. Why do they buy from me? There is one main reason why people buy from us. This is known as your Unique Selling Advantage. What are you doing differently from all the other competitors?

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