As I have said many times, a communication strategy is at the heart of your business. Most businesses will undertake financial audits and expenses claims audits, but how often do we audit how well we communicate with our customers?

Most businesses will have growing pains, and effective communication leads to better marketing and more traction, which ultimately helps with more sales, right? I am always amazed at the number of businesses that don’t do this. This could be a big factor in why some of those messages are not getting through to customers.

So this episode covers four reasons why I think you should undertake a communication audit of your business now, and gives you some tips on getting started.

Episode mentioned is: Episode 4.

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Full Transcript (unedited)

Hello, and welcome to this episode of Communication Strategy That Works with me, Emma Drake. Hi everyone. I hope you’re doing okay today. I wanted to talk to you today about communication audits, which sounds horribly boring, doesn’t it, but I don’t think they are. I wanted to talk to you about how they can be really effective way to help you be more strategic with your communications.

Now, as I’ve said many times on this podcast, a communication strategy is right at the very heart of your business, I believe, so most business will undertake a financial audit, an expense claims audit but how often do we audit how well we’re communicating with our customers in a growing business? My guess is not very often, right?

So most businesses will have some sort of growing pains, right? So working out how best to address these through effective communication, I believe leads to better marketing, leads to more traction, which ultimately helps with more sales, right? But I’m always amazed at the number of businesses that don’t actually do this and also, these are the same businesses that wonder why the message is not getting through and the customers maybe don’t understand what they do. So in this episode, I cover four reasons why I think you should undertake a communication audit of your business and give you some tips on getting started. So let’s dive in.

My introduction to communication audits started when I worked in corporate communications for a challenger bank in the mid ’90s. Now I remember it well for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had never completed one before and my boss at the time was really keen that I lead on this as one of my first major projects so I was properly feeling the pressure.

Secondly, when I presented my findings, I had to do this to his boss, which I didn’t know about and he was vice president of brand for this challenger bank so this was a huge deal for me as a junior member of staff. Now I still remember it distinctly, but more specifically for another reason, I gave my presentation at the exact time the first plane hit the Twin Towers (Wordl Trade Centre) on what has become one of the days I remember in my memory banks now. We walked out of the meeting room due to a commotion in the office floor and stared in absolute horror at the screen on somebody’s desk as the second plane hit.

Now, you can see why this day has become a memory for me for lots of reasons. But the final one is I actually learned a really valuable lesson that day. You see, I didn’t quite have my numbers right and I fluffed a couple of questions, which my boss at the time, he took me to one side afterwards and he said, “Emma, look, if you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up. Have the confidence to say you don’t know, and that you will come back on that point after the meeting.” Now, this has proven to be one of the most valuable pieces of advice I have had to date so thanks very much, Patrick. So here are four reasons I think you should do a communication audit.

Firstly, it’s a great basis for your communication strategy, taking stock and looking at what’s working well and what is not, it’s a really good place to start before you create or recreate your business communication strategy. It’s an opportunity to realign your communication goals with those of your business and what better time now, as we emerge from a global pandemic and people’s wants and needs have changed in terms of how they consume media and also how they want to receive information potentially? Sometimes it’s surprising when we review everything we are doing, the emails, this is everything. This is the emails, the newsletters, the case studies, merchandise, social media posts, webinars, talks, reports, mailers, press releases, image libraries, the list can be endless and it includes all of what we call the touchpoints with our customers. So even events materials, stands, email footers, every sign, banner and badge, even your logo.

So secondly, you can learn more by pausing to take stock. How many times have you gone back to a piece of communication and gone, “Oh my, what was I thinking?” Well, an audit can help you see how far you’ve come on your journey and also help you to see how much you’ve learned or you’ve improved. How much was deliberate, how much some items may have evolved over time, like a newsletter, perhaps, as you’ve gone along and you’ve grown as a business. Sometimes, we start something on a whim, don’t we, because we get asked to do it and I used to work in house so I know exactly what it’s like. I feel your pain and some of these decisions are more strategic, but some of them, we know as pet projects that get progressed and then also get shelved and we go, “Why did we do that? Whose idea was that?” So it’s a good opportunity here to list out any mistakes that stand out and what your wins were as well.

Thirdly, it’s good to get customer feedback regardless and one of the things to implement in your audit is getting customer feedback. So you can learn a lot about trends in customer behavior, what they are looking for from you and pick up some interesting insights to align along the way, which you may have been guessing at so far, actually, if you haven’t asked. The extent to which you might do this may be largely relying on the size of your organization and for example, how many customers you have, but this applies to businesses big or small here. As you know, this podcast is all about taking these big topics and breaking them down so anyone can do this, but it could involve sending out a questionnaire or doing some focus groups or both to really get some good customer insights about how your message is coming across. It might also include a staff survey if you have staff for example.

Finally, you need to prove your worth and your budget. So many teams and individuals in growing businesses have to prove their worth and I work with some companies and budgets are tight and teams are tight and they need to know if the comms is working. Well in a communication audit is one really good way of doing this. So if you have to ask for budgets or resources, if you’re listening to this and you work in a team or for a company and you need to ask someone else for the money or resource to do something, you need to be able to talk the talk and blind them with science and research data or facts about how well you’re doing, and also why you need more funding for XYZ.

Like most systems and practices in businesses, these can become out of date, tired, inefficient, and in need of a makeover and an audit is a way of unveiling these and setting the restart button for a new strategy and unveiling those practices and activities it’s time to ditch over those ones that are showing a better return for your input. So I’m a real big believer in making the most of your budget, as you’ll know if you’ve listened to this podcast for a while and having the right activities for the job in hand and it’s an important step in getting this right and not wasting time and money and effort in the process.
So I hope you enjoyed this episode on audits. One of things I would recommend is starting to track your activity as you go along if you’re thinking about doing an audit. It makes it really easy when you come back to look at what’s gone well and what hasn’t. I’ve an episode on tracking your activity. I’ll post the link to that in the show notes. I can’t quite recall it at the moment. I think it’s episode four, but I don’t want to give you the wrong episode so I’ll put it in the show notes. If you want to know more about how I could help you undertake an audit for your organization, however big or small, get in touch and let me know. My contact details are in the show notes. So I’ll say bye for now and see you next time.


So finally, thank you for listening to this episode of Communication Strategy That Works. Don’t forget to check my show notes for those links that I mentioned, and I’d really love it if you would subscribe to my podcast and leave me a review. Also if you think there’s someone that could benefit from listening to this podcast, please share this within your networks. So I’ll just say bye for now and see you next time.