As the old age adage goes, forewarned is forearmed. Put simply, this means that having an understanding of any potential issues upfront will give you a tactical advantage. In our terms, this will then make your marketing planning and eventual execution run a lot smoother and have greater chance of you achieving the results you need.The best way to do this is through an audit of both yours and your partner’s business as well as the wider market. Here are our top tips to do just that…

1. Build a team:

Gather a team from across all areas of your business. By gaining their input and listening to their views, you’ll be able to build a true picture of what is really happening and more easily identify your business’ strengths and weaknesses.

2. Hold a brainstorming workshop:

Hold an open session with all of your team members to collate information and share knowledge. Work to an agenda to ensure you discuss all the different elements that you want to cover in your audit.

3. Speak to your customers:

Include some of your customers in your information gathering stage and find out what makes them tick. Ask them what drives their decision-making process and what their key considerations are, which will give you a good view of the marketplace. If you can’t speak to them, consider using a quick online survey tool such as Survey Monkey or access 3rd party research undertaken in your key target markets.

4. Do a SWOT analysis:

Look at the internal and external factors that affect your business and think about how these could be overcome or exploited. A PEST analysis is also another useful methodology to use helping you to look at any macro factors which may impact your business.

5. Do some desk research:

Look around the internet and gather as many industry statistic as you can to help you get a feel for the size of the market and the available opportunity. Industry associations, government statistics and independent analyst reports are a good place to look to help you start building up a picture.

6. Collate and analyse your own business statistics:

As well as looking for industry statistics, don’t forget to look at your own. By analysing and reporting on your customer data, you can make some assumptions on market-share and find some clues on customer buying habits.

7. Be clear on your target audience:

Whilst you’re gathering your information and researching your market, make sure that you’re looking for the right thing. Be clear on who your target audience is and drill-down into specifics as much as you can to get a realistic view for your business.

8. Use a document template to collate your information:

Using a template is a great way to ensure you cover all the areas that you need and set the information out in a logical way. There are many standard templates available or you could create one of your own to cover all the areas mentioned above. You can also use your document template to frame your brainstorming session.

9. Circulate your findings for review:

When you’ve created a draft of your market audit document, circulate it to your team of colleagues for review. Ask them to give their feedback and highlight any key facts and information that’s missing and should be added into the mix.

​10. Repeat the exercise with all of your partners:

​Once you’ve completed a market audit for your own company, work with your partners to complete one for theirs. Use the same document template and formula and see how your businesses compare and where the joint opportunities lie.

Once you have all this information, you are then in the perfect position to start creating your joint marketing plan with real insight and understanding, making sure you invest your time and money – and that of your partners – in the best possible way to achieve the results your business needs.