How to Create an Advertising Plan
What is an advertising plan and how does it play into your marketing efforts? An advertising plan is a promotion blueprint that, when followed, provides the direction for companies and businesses to bolster sales, create awareness in the market, and engage with an entirely new customer base. An advertising plan will ensure that your company's money is spent sensibly and will reach the proper target audiences.
It should be noted, however, that setting a solid business plan is the first essential step as this addresses all operating costs, including a budget for advertising. As 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.
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. Here are some customary approaches:
- Print. This is on paper advertising (ads in flyers or direct mail, pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines, etc.) 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 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 they 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.