First off, don’t click away just because I said audit! It’s not that kind of audit but performing a marketing or brand audit does take some attention to detail. According to the Small Business Administration, since the onset of the COVID pandemic, small business has taken a 15% hit which continues to grow. The bureau of labor statistics stated that this number is the largest decline in the history of the data series. Worse yet, small businesses with less than 49 employees have suffered the brunt of the effects, with a decline of 21.5 percent.
Yes, there is a lot of gloom and doom, but let’s focus on the positives. First off, you aren’t someone to just stand by and watch. Small business owners are action-oriented people and the best part is that it is a competitive advantage! As a small business owner, it’s easier for you to pivot quickly. Small business is the rabbit in the woods; it can change direction pretty quickly to avoid predators. Secondly, you can be creative. As a small business owner, you have held many hats and multitasked juggling various areas of your business in the past, so to have an idea, test it and implement it, your action-orientation and creativity will help you navigate at a much faster pace than a larger competitor which has board meetings, executive meetings, shareholders, layoffs, bureaucracy, etc. things which slow them down.
There are a few baseline strategies that will help you to connect the dots with your business to adjust to the chaos of 2020. From a marketing audit to a brand audit, together creating a SWOT analysis, you can multi-task your current state, future state, and start creating the bridge to survival. So, let’s start with the marketing audit.
Marketing for your organization requires alignment throughout your organization in order to provide a consistent product and service which lives up to the message you are sending to the world. A marketing audit, therefore, provides a comprehensive evaluation of your company, the marketing environment, your strategies, tactics, objectives and can determine a plan of action to improve your marketing performance. Think of this as a bit of self-evaluation, looking internally at your strengths and weaknesses. What do you do well, what areas of your business excel versus what areas of your business need some extra attention?
Conversely, a brand audit is more focused on potential opportunities and threats. A brand audit is an external focused evaluation to determine what customers think of your brand, how your brand compares to competitors in your category and how aligned your current messaging, position, and marketing strategy is to your customer perceptions. Brand audits uncover your opportunities and potential threats in the marketplace. Conducting a brand audit can help you to evaluate your current marketing strategy and make adjustments as needed to minimize weaknesses and threats and take advantage of your opportunities and strengths. A brand audit can help you evaluate your brand story and make sure it is still relevant.
So, did you read anything between the lines? Yes, it is SWOT it looks like! Surely you have heard of a SWOT analysis. A highly referenced business term, the SWOT analysis is a strategic planning process to help support the decision-making process. Evaluating what you do well and not so well, the SWOT analysis can be used to minimize risks and maximize potential advantages for success.
Using your marketing audit and brand audit together to build your SWOT and help you make more strategic decisions may be just what you need to survive this year. Yes, it is SWOT it is, so why not use your downtime strategically evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats in the marketplace. Trying to make sense of the madness, maybe just the thing that has your limbic brain, the part of your brain that deals with emotions and memory, spinning. However, now’s the time to let your prefrontal cortex take control to harmonize and support your decision-making abilities.
According to an article by Christopher Bergen in Psychology Today, the brain has multiple areas that work together in the decision-making process. Decision-making is in the locus of control. As a small business owner, you can and you have likely changed your mind before. Even when you’re stuck in a rut or crisis like COVID, a change of attitude and decision-making can turn your life around. Taking the time to be mindful of your current business, can provide the space needed to transmit the true “neuroeconomic” costs and help you make smarter decisions. Next week, we’ll look at modern, hi-tech ways to build greater brand equity.