How to Create an Advertising Plan

Businesswoman working on a whiteboard and creating an advertising plan in an office
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An advertising plan is a promotion blueprint that, when followed, provides the direction for companies and businesses to bolster sales. These blueprints create awareness in the market and might engage with an entirely new customer base. An advertising plan will ensure that your company's advertising money is spent sensibly and will reach the proper target audiences.

First Things First

However, setting a solid business plan is the first essential step for a business to undertake before they create an advertising plan. The business plan addresses all operating costs, including the budget for advertising.

There are many facets to advertising and not just a single method or cost associated with it. A realistic advertising budget needs to be created that stays within the financial boundaries of the company and still achieves the advertising goals. As part of this preplanning and business plan building, you will also identify your target customer audience.

Once the budget and target audiences have been determined, it is time to set the advertising plan. The methods chosen will depend on the funding and target audience.

Customary Approaches to Advertising

There are many ways that you can advertise your business products or services to your target audience. From traditional television and radio to billboards, to online marketing, the assortment of avenues is broad.

Print

Print advertising is on paper (ads in flyers or direct mail, pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines,) and is not known to be the most effective. This may change in today’s marketing world since the majority of companies are using online advertising, which would make any printed material stand out.

Email

Much like print, emails directly reach potential or current customers, yet it is also not known to be the most effective. With an average open rate of only a mere 20%, a company may have to pay the additional cost of hiring an outside advertising or marketing firm to purchase a mailing list.

Traditional Media

This advertising utilizes television and radio ads and can be quite costly. A company not only has to purchase the slots for television or radio, but it must also create something that highlights their services or products. If you are lucky enough to find that your preferred audience enjoys television time at home or spends significant time on the road, this could be the most beneficial forms of advertising, and worth the cost. Be wary of the technology of DVR’s, though, research shows that much of the advertising is bypassed by fast-forwarding.

Digital

Web pages can be for anything, for any type of company, and there are ads everywhere. Ads traditionally embed a link to the company web page, and positive results from this type of advertising are on the rise.

Reaching customers is the next step now that the advertising plan is set. This is the time to identify the media that will be used to support the plan. In addition, time must be invested to actually engage the plan. The final step is to assess the results, determine your conversion rate and how well, or not well, the plan worked. In order to do this, the following needs to be considered: 

Return on Expenses

Were the costs of advertising covered by the increase in sales? Did you gain a new customer base? If more money was received, assess if that increase was directly related to the advertising that was used.

Customers

Did you get new customers? And if so, how many? Were those customers retained? Did customers return?

When you can easily see that there were positive benefits to an advertising plan, it is safe to assume that the plan worked the way it was intended. On the other hand, if the business did not expand as expected, it is time to change the plan and try again.