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Investigating the Marketing Environment

2 months into studying with Cambridge Marketing College and one of the best bits about this internship is that I can apply the theory I’m learning to my new role at Ecoteer Responsible Travel. I absolutely loved University and my course but aside from the occasional field trip or labs, there were limited chances to actually apply the theory. One of the first topics covered in the course is marketing planning. And within this, how to do a marketing audit and investigate the marketing environment.

Having worked in marketing for the past 2 years, it’s remarkable to think I’ve never actually done a complete audit. Competitor analysis yes, but the full bigger picture? Nope. It’s easy to forget that there are so many factors that influence marketing. 

There are some great tools out there to help you complete a full marketing audit. It’s easiest to break it down into the internal and external marketing environments.

External marketing environment

The external environment itself can be split into micro and macro. The macro environment encompasses wider influences and to audit this we use a PESTER analysis. There are quite a few versions of this PEST, SLEPT, STEEPLE, but the principle remains the same. What external factors are there that may affect the business and its consumers?

PESTER is essentially a checklist to ensure you cover all bases; Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Regulatory. I certainly didn’t know anything about Malaysian politics until I began investigating Ecoteer’s environment! The important thing to remember is that you’re only looking for the most relevant factors that could potentially affect the organisation. It’s great to know all about Malaysia’s general election this year but will it affect a conservation company? Unlikely (unless there are some drastic environmental policies).

Micro environment includes customers, competitors, stakeholders and interest groups. To investigate these we can use Porters 5 forces. This includes buyers and suppliers influences and bargaining power, threats such as potential entrants and substitutes in the market, as well as existing competitor rivalry. If we want to look deeper into our stakeholders, we can also use Mendelows Matrix. This asks, who are your stakeholders? And which have the power to influence the organisation?

Internal marketing environment

The internal environment includes all elements within an organisation. Another checklist to use is the 5M’s model. Money, Manpower, Materials, Methods, Machinary (and can also include Management). This includes things like the resources available, quality of research and development, culture and values. Importantly for marketers it includes the quality of our marketing communications. The aim of this is to identify which of the internal factors are strengths which can be used to your advantage, and which are weaknesses. This leads us on to the final stage of the audit.

Summarising the audit 

So what’s the point of it all? All this information can be used to inform and influence our objectives. The best tool to summarise all the information gathered is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Most businesses will have done one of these at some point or another, but it’s important to keep this up to date and treat it as a working document.

The key take away here is that it’s all well and good completing an audit of the marketing environment, but it’s absolutely essential that you can apply this to the overall objectives of a business and particularly your marketing objectives. Ask yourself how you can use your strengths to reduce the threats?

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