The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Ever Had A Marketing Audit?

By Brian H Meredith

From the NZBusiness"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published April 2003  

It is a fact that, every week in New Zealand, around $20 million is spent on Marketing. Both above and below the line, inside and outside the organisation, this level of investment in the development and protection of markets and customers continues week in, week out.

Its a lot of money, right?

It's money that is carefully invested, right?

It's money that, given all the sophisticated research and measurement tools available to marketeers today, is meticulously monitored and tracked in terms of the job it is supposed to do and the extent to which it is doing that job. Right?


You may be staggered to learn (as I have most certainly been) that virtually none of that expenditure is ever subjected to critical, external and independent review! For some extraordinary reason, it is virtually unheard of for organisations to commission any kind of audit of their Marketing activities and expenditures.

Marketing, as a vital management tool in New Zealand, has undergone some significant change and development in recent years.

Life used to be so simple.

We operated in a small, well established and, mature marketplace where, for a variety of reasons (one of which was the regulation of many of our biggest and most important markets) the business of identifying, creating and fulfilling customer needs was pretty straightforward.

Many major markets in New Zealand were dominated by one major player (remember the white goods market just a few years ago?!) who would enjoy almost monopolistic status with market shares quoted in numbers that, compared to other developed economies, were nothing short of extraordinary. It was not uncommon for the major player in a marketplace to enjoy market shares of anything between 50-90% - figures only dreamed of elsewhere in the world. In the UK, Cadbury would, I am sure, have killed to gain an extra point of share from its main competitor in the chocolate countline sector, for example.

Certainly, the business of Marketing was fairly simple in that environment. There was little need to develop sophisticated market segmentation techniques, little need to use research extensively to seek to identify finer points of consumer needs, wants or behaviour. The term "Psychographics" was often thought to mean drawings done by lunatics!

And as for advertising activity - couldn't have been easier. Imagine the simple, uncomplicated and uncluttered life of the simple Media Planner or Buyer - two television networks, both state owned and operated, doing business together as an absolute monopoly.

Remember the days of TVNZ "rationing" its airtime?

Called "Store Fronts", it set out to listen to what the buyer wanted before telling them what they could actually have! Primetime was pretty much tied up by the Top Ten agencies and accounts were known to move from smaller agencies just to stand a chance of getting a prime time spot or two.

Sounds hard to believe and yet it was happening just several years ago.

If you did manage to put together a worthwhile schedule (perhaps with the odd spot in the News?) then you might back it up with a few dollars in NZ Woman's Weekly and maybe some strips in The Listener. After that, pretty much all that was left was a bit of radio but it was expensive to get any kind of effective R&F.

Well, a few years and a healthy dose of "Rogernomics", Privatisation, Deregulation and Corporatisation later, things have changed out of all recognition.

Markets are competitive like never before. The media environment now offers more real choice than ever before. Market shares are being quoted in more realistic numbers and the customer is now definitely KING! (No more Cheese, Biscuits and Orange Juice on Air New Zealand - thank you from the bottom of my heart Fluffy!!)

Virtually every domestic market has become increasingly competitive, leading to high levels of segmentation (new word in New Zealand marketing!) and, in the worst cases, damaging fragmentation (but don't worry, the free market generates that and takes care of it in its own way - bit like mother nature really)

The media environment has changed out of all recognition to the point where the days of the media bunny are almost gone and the new breed of Media Planner and Buyer have their skills tested like never before.

As this trend continues to accelerate (as it undoubtedly will) the entire business of Marketing is becoming ever more critical and ever more sophisticated. It's made harder by the fact that many organisations frequently struggle to find the right quality of Marketing professionals to join their teams and the level of skills necessary to maintain a competitive edge is ever more daunting.

Finally, whilst it still may be prudent to develop Business and Strategic Plans to provide, say, a five year picture, your Marketing Plan had better be flexible enough to change a heck of a lot more rapidly than that or, frankly, you're done for!

The "new" marketing requires sufficient flexibility to respond to what we see today, by tomorrow. Next month may be too late - next year certainly will be!

We are now well into the "nanosecond nineties"! (To quote a little known American Wise Man).

O.K. I hear you asking. That's great, I understand all that. But what's your point?

The Point, as you so incisively put it, is that the rapid growth in marketing investment and sophistication has not, thus far at least, been matched by a desire to make sure, on a planned and regular basis, that we are in fact doing the right things in the right way.

As the pace and complexities of Marketing Planning increases, the risk of losing track of the fundamentals also increases.

There is an entirely understandable, albeit highly undesirable, tendency to "get on with it - just do it!"

Let's check that I'm making sense - When did you last give your Marketing a thorough "road test"? When did you last say, to an independent expert "I'm investing squillions of bucks Marketing my product but, to be frank, I need to be sure that I am talking to the right people, about the right product, with the right message and in the most cost efficient manner possible" ?

Sure, you've probably got all kinds of methods, models and analysis tools in-house and, of course,  they should not be underestimated in the contribution they make towards keeping you on track.

But, using the "woods for the trees" analogy (and mixing my metaphors) wouldn't it be great if the "Marketing Doctor" could give the patient a thorough check-up and, perhaps, suggest some life-style improvements to help you live a wee bit better and a wee bit longer?

As the pressure on the Marketing Dollar becomes ever greater, whilst the perfect, loyal customer becomes ever more elusive, I wonder why we haven't yet thought to see whether someone might just be able to give us the once over and declare our Marketing State of Health, "A1"?

Or, even better, diagnose the potential for a, say, 5% efficiency gain on our $5 million marketing overhead?

Worth thinking about, eh?


If you would like to talk to us about how a Marketing Audit can add significant value to your business, contact Brian H Meredith for a no obligation, exploratory chat. He'll even shout the coffee!



Let us know your thoughts
Captcha Image