When’s the last time you took inventory of all your marketing collateral? If it’s more than a year ago, you’re definitely overdue to conduct a marketing collateral audit. Doing a full audit can reduce the risk of distributing outdated content and providing your customers the wrong information. Because you can look at your marketing materials as a whole, it also gives you the opportunity to discover new ideas for content and campaigns – whether it’s filling gaps or reworking some of the materials you already have.
Conducting a collateral or product audit is beneficial not only for marketing, but for the end users who will be accessing the materials. They need to be confident that what they’re grabbing is current and accurate, and most importantly, they need to be able to easily find the piece when they need it.
Whether your collateral is stored in a folder on your computer, on a file-sharing site like Microsoft Sharepoint, or in a cloud-based platform such as a marketing resource management system (MRM), many of the same rules can apply to doing your collateral audit.
Regardless of where your collateral is stored, answer these questions about each piece to determine if you should keep, update, or toss it.
When was it last updated?
If collateral was created or updated within the last three months, it’s usually safe to assume that it’s current. Depending on your industry, internal processes and your company’s rate of change, however, collateral may need a review every 3-6 months. For some companies, it may be able to be done as infrequently as yearly. Pay particular attention to marketing campaigns that may have a shorter run time and need to have materials archived as soon as it’s complete. Also, be sure to always review any contact information that may have changed since the piece was last updated or created.
Who is using the product?
Find out if the collateral is even being used. If your materials are in an MRM, this can be as easy as pulling a report to see who has been active and which products they’ve ordered or downloaded. If collateral is stored in shared folders, it may be more of a manual project, requiring you to personally check in with your users. Know which pieces are used and for what purpose.
Do materials match current marketing initiatives?
Make sure that all marketing materials align with your sales and marketing strategy. Collateral should support current marketing campaigns and promotions. If collateral is still available to your team that supports an old initiative, be sure to retire it so that it doesn’t mistakenly get used to promote outdated offers.
Are they branded properly?
If you’ve gone through a brand refresh – even if just minor change – make sure that all pieces match the current branding. The way you present your brand is one of the most important pieces to maintain and should always be consistent. It helps build your company’s reputation and leaves a positive impression in the minds of your consumers. Ensure that all collateral meets your brand style guide.
If using an MRM or other software to manage your collateral, also consider these points for how it appears in the system and how it affects your users:
What’s the quantity of orders?
Without a software system, it would be virtually impossible to know how many times someone has accessed a file. However, in an MRM, you can easily see how many times a product has been ordered or downloaded. This can help in determining the future of the piece.
If a piece of collateral hasn’t been ordered/downloaded at all, it may be time to retire the product and reduce unnecessary clutter in your product catalog. If it’s been used only a few times or not for a while, try to find out why. It may be something obvious, like a past campaign that’s no longer running. Or, it may be that the product is not well received by a certain audience or is difficult to use. Look at ways that you can update the piece to address any issues before completely removing it from distribution.
If an item has few orders, but is necessary to keep, look at ways that it could be further streamlined, like making it a print-on-demand piece if it’s not already.
Do you have the particular collateral readily available in stock?
Review products in your MRM that rely on fulfillment. If your MRM doesn’t already track fulfillment information, be sure to have a system for managing this to avoid running short and having backorders. Also consider the timeline for how long you plan to produce and distribute the collateral. Be sure to communicate to your users when supply will no longer be available.
Does the thumbnail match the current version?
As simple as this may sound, it’s important to remember to update the thumbnail of the product whenever a product has been changed. There are many people that rely on visual cues to point them in the right direction. If they know that they’re looking for a new yellow postcard, but the thumbnail still shows the old blue postcard, they very easily can skip right over it.
Is there an accurate product description?
This is an important piece of your MRM (and will be addressed in its own separate blog article later this spring). It’s very hard for a user to tell what product they’re looking at in a thumbnail. Be sure the product description is complete and accurate, including information such as the intended use and audience of the piece and any special ordering instructions.
Is the product in the correct category?
Your product catalog should be easy to use to find things. Make sure that users will know where to find the product they need by confirming it’s in the right category.
Is pricing accurate?
If your products are in an MRM that supports printing, you’ll also want to audit prices regularly to ensure you’re providing the best value to your users. It can be easy to overlook one off changes that may occur infrequently, so reviewing them all on a regular basis can be beneficial in catching any prices that may have been missed.
Once your product audit is complete, be sure to make them easy to find in your MRM by featuring them as new or updated products. Additionally, cross promoting them alongside related content will enable your users to better find what they need. Need more ideas of how to promote you products to your users? Check out this article: New Products? 4 Ways to Make Them Known to Your Users