Do you have an internal written audit that looks at every aspect of your marketing, sets goals for each and clearly outlines what must be done to reach these goals?

Regardless of whether an internal marketing audit has ever been produced in the past, it is a good idea for the directors of sales or general managers (in cases where a sales department doesn't exist) to complete a marketing audit as part of their preparation for the writing of their next annual marketing plans.

An outline

Here's an outline of a typical audit I use for studies of this type:

  • Product — strengths and weaknesses and recommendations

  • Competition — strengths and weaknesses versus your product by market segment

  • Marketplace — what's happening that is affecting or will affect business negatively and positively

  • Business status and trends

  • Positioning of product

  • Rates and rate strategies

  • Marketing priorities

  • Market segments solicited, special packages/plans and strategies

  • Goals by market segment

  • Marketing organization

  • Marketing administration

    • Marketing plan

    • Standard operating procedures/policies, including yield/revenue management and attrition policies

    • Sales automation

    • Reports

    • Stock letters

  • Sales effort

    • Proactive sales time

    • Assignments of accounts and number of accounts

    • Prospecting effort for new business training

    • Goals

    • Incentive system

  • E-marketing

  • Global distribution systems

  • Media advertising

  • Internal merchandising

  • Direct mail

  • Public relations

  • Marketing budget

A plan for each

In each case, I recommend that you include in the audit Present Status, Goals, and Action Steps to Reach Goals. Completion dates should be added to give the study continuing life, and review of completion dates should be part of the weekly sales meetings.

Before assigning dates, make note of the priorities to be certain they're assigned at the earliest dates.

Another recommendation is not to bite off more than you can chew. Start with priorities and add to the audit each year if you don't have the people and time to do it all. It's better to do a good job with 30 percent of the audit than to attempt to do the whole job and wind up with a poor audit.

An internal audit plays an important role in telling us where we are and where we're going, which is a first step in eliminating the anxiety that a rudderless voyage creates.

Tom McCarthy, CHME, CHA, spent half his career with Hilton and Marriott in sales, advertising and public relations and half in his own training and consulting business, Hotel Professional Education and Consulting of Falls Church, VA. He is a past president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and is a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame. He can be reached at or 703-379-4488.

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