Here's a quick marketing lesson. An organization's success is closely tied to its brand, and determining the public's awareness of a brand is best achieved through four measures: aided recognition, unaided recognition, aided consideration, and unaided consideration. Aided recognition measures how many people recognize a brand when it is presented to them. Unaided recognition measures how many include the brand when asked for the names of organizations that provide similar goods or services. Aided consideration measures how many say they would use the brand when it is presented as an option. Unaided consideration measures how many name the brand, unprompted, when asked where they would turn for a particular good or service.
That last measure is marketing's holy grail. When a brand achieves unaided consideration, it means people know the brand and consider it when making their choices. For example, when people shop for insurance, on average they call three companies. Insurance companies, therefore, want to be among the top three brands in unaided consideration.
Suppose a person walks into the C-suite and asks one of these four questions:
- "Have you heard of the profession of internal audit?" (recognition)
- "Which departments help organizations achieve their objectives?" (unaided recognition)
- "When you want to ensure your objectives are being met, would you turn to internal audit?" (aided consideration)
- "Who would you turn to for help in ensuring your organization's success?" (unaided consideration)
How would your internal audit department fare? Are you in the top three? Does the C-suite even know you exist and that you can help?
These are the hard questions auditors must be willing to ask. Even when we brag that our clients come to us for help, what does that really mean? Do they only come when there is potential fraud, when there is a control breakdown, or when adding internal audit to the project team seems like the friendly thing to do? That's a nice start. But we need to consider whether internal audit is top of mind for our clients and if including us in all efforts toward achieving success is second nature for them. Do they realize that the ultimate service we provide is helping the organization succeed?
We have to market ourselves, constantly pushing the value we provide. Sometimes these efforts are explicit — "Look what we've done!" Other times the approach is more subtle — providing quality that cannot be ignored. But we must ensure that everyone sees that value and becomes increasingly aware of internal audit's capabilities. We have to reach the point where we not only crack the top three, but we are far and above everyone else at the No. 1 spot.