Before You Spend Money on Marketing…Do This (Please)

I know, you hear about the latest shiny thing in marketing and want to dive right in.

It’s tempting to think that the latest thing will be the thing that finally rockets your business to the top. But without a deep understanding of your current marketing, spending on new and shiny is usually disappointing.

Can I beg you to please hit the pause button?

Wait to start on any new marketing or ad spend until you truly understand and can state the following:

  • Your most productive, profitable, and reliable source of leads
  • What it costs you to acquire a lead/prospect/client
  • Are these costs increasing/decreasing?
  • How long does it take to get a lead/prospect/client?
  • If you’re like most business owners, you probably only have a vague idea of what is working and instead rely on your “gut instinct.”

Sorry. Your gut instinct may be costing you time, money, and clients.

If you want to truly understand the best use of your resources, it’s time to do a marketing audit.

I am going to help you do a deep dive audit on your marketing.

A what? Like numbers and accounting?

Well…sort of. And yes.

My clients are surprised when this is the first part of what we do.

But before we start down the path of figuring out what we need to do, we need to figure out not only where we are, but where the holes are. The good news is that the first time is the hardest – and the most eye-opening.

I had one client whose “gut feeling” that one advertising source was too expensive turned out to be wrong. This advertising source is expensive, but the audit showed it to be their most lucrative – delivering $10-$15 in profit for every $1 they spent. The client asked for the audit because they wanted to justify ending this ad spend. Instead, they will now devote more money to this source and less to other, less-lucrative sources.

This is the time where we toss everything onto the kitchen table and sort through it all.

Get yourself a notebook, fire up a spreadsheet, and clear off your whiteboard. Time to dig in.

Let’s dive in and start at the beginning…

  • What is the product(s) or service(s)?

This is where you need to look at your product offerings. Dust out the corners. Rank them in order of most profitable to least profitable, most popular to least popular, legacy and new, growing and stagnant, future and past.

  • Are there entry-level, mid-level, and high-ticket products/services?

Do you offer different levels of different products? Do they produce different profit level? Do high-level products/services require more hands on? More resources? How many clients are you serving at each level? Is there an upgrade path?

  • What is the average client spend?

What do clients spend money on? How long are they with you? Is there a glide path to upgrades?


  • Is there a website?

Do you have a website? Is it aligned with your current products/services? Is it updated regularly? Does it convert lookers to leads? Is it fresh and appealing?

  • Are there social profiles?

Does the company (and you) have updated profiles on social media? Which social platforms are most closely aligned with your clients? Concentrate on those platforms first.

  • Is everything up to date and aligned with the current product/service?

Are products/services clearly listed? Is messaging aligned with current products/services? Is it clear who you serve?

  • Logo?

Do you have a logo? Is it consistently used across all platforms and on all collateral? Does it look updated?

  • Branding?

Have you built a recognizable brand? Is the brand tied to a product/service or to an individual? How is the brand deployed?

Client customer profile

  • Who is the customer?

Sure, you can tell me that “Chris Anders is 47 years old and has 3 kids and drives a Chevy and is interested in gaming and professional sports.” But rather than create a limited client avatar, do a deeper dive. Why is Chris interested in your product/service? Career advancement? Pride? What problem do you solve?

  • What are their demographics – age, income, location, needs?

Who is your typical client? Dig deep into who you already sell to. Who buys your entry-level product/service? Who buys your high-end offering? What similarities exist? What differences?

  • Have the demographics changed?

Have your clients changed as you have changed your offerings? Over time? What do you think caused this shift? Pricing? Positioning? Product? Brand awareness?

  • What does the client do for their customers?

Do your clients have clients of their own? Does your product/service impact your client’s bottom line? Is your product/service a profit center for your client?

  • What is the typical time from lead to customer?

From the time your client first becomes aware of you to the first time they buy, how long is the sales cycle? From first sale to upgrade?

  • What does it cost to acquire a customer?

This is often something that is guessed at – or completely unknown. Understanding this is an absolutely key indicator of where and how to proceed with your marketing. From advertising to collateral costs to time to whatever is specialized to your industry, tally up the costs and divide by number of clients.

Is this number declining or increasing?

Current marketing sources

  • Where do you currently advertise?

Industry publications, social, Adwords, print, online listings, pay for influencers, PPC. This is where your spreadsheet comes in handy to tally up the costs.

  • What is the ROI (Return on Investment) of that advertising?

What was the total spent on ads? How many clients did you get from that ad spend? How many leads? How many prospects. Sixth grade addition and division problem but for most clients this is eye-opening.

  • How do you get on the radar of your ideal client?

Where do you get most of your clients? How do they come to know you, like you, trust you? What are your client’s trusted resources for understanding your product/service? Are there other products/services that are on your client’s radar, competing with yours?

  • How long have you been using these marketing sources?

Do you have a history that you can track your results over time? Are they becoming more or less productive for you? What new sources have you tried?

  • What are all the sources of advertising and marketing?

Add these to your spreadsheet. List them all out with all pertinent details of spend, dates, and results.

Current lead sources

  • Where do leads come from now?

Advertising, social, email, website, word of mouth, industry reputation…list them all on your spreadsheet along with the numbers of leads that each source produces. Is this true across all your products/services or do some sources produce better for some of your products/services than other sources?

  • How many leads per month? Are they cyclical?

Break down the spreadsheet leads by month and over years if you have the data. Do you get more leads from some sources at different times of year? Are these lead numbers increasing or decreasing? Are some sources more productive than others?

  • What is the cost per lead?

Is your cost per lead increasing or decreasing? Is the cost per lead different for different products/services? Use the data from your spreadsheet to make these calculations.

Lead nurturing

  • How are leads nurtured?

Once someone expresses interest in you and your product/services (they become a lead), how do you turn them into prospects and then sales? What is your process?

  • Is there a customer list/email list/social list?

Are leads nurtured in some type of automated/semi-automated system? Has is been tested and updated? How are you collecting these leads? What is the typical engagement rate or open rate on your emails?

  • What is the sales funnel?

What does the sales cycle look like to your client? What steps do they go through? Is there an automated sales funnel? What does it look like? Does it take into account all your products/services or it primarily to “get people in the door”?

  • How long does it take from lead to sale?

What is the typical time between lead and sale? Does it vary based on which product/service they ultimately purchase? Has this changed over time?

Putting it all together

After digging through everything. It’s easier to see where things are – and where they are missing. While there are a lot of questions here, there may be some that are more specific to your industry or process. Going through this marketing audit should get you thinking more deeply about your particular sales cycle.

Don’t skip this process.

It is exciting to want to try “new and shiny” things, but you don’t know if the new and shiny is the answer to your problems or just a Band-Aid on a wound you don’t have.

It is critical before you start spending money and time that you understand what is working – and what is not.

Expecting to get new and better results from faulty data is a waste of efforts.

Bottom Line:

  • Put everything on a spreadsheet and work your numbers so you understand what it costs to acquire a customer.
  • Understand where your best customer leads come from and how you acquire them.
  • What collateral do you have (website, social, email lists) and is it aligned with current service/products?
  • How are leads nurtured?

I am constantly surprised by the number of clients who truly do not understand what it costs them to acquire a client. Or where most of their clients come from.

But this is critical information. Double down on what is working. Fix or ease off what is not working.

Marketing is a process.

Your “snapshot” should be done at least annually – ideally 2-3 times a year so that you can stay on top of shifts.

Has this article been helpful? Do you have questions? Happy to help you get your marketing sorted and on track.

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