How to write a basic advertising plan
Especially in these tough economic times, effective advertising is essential to get the most bang out of your reduced advertising budget. Whatever the product you're backing is, you need to reach your customer in the best way you can with the least amount of spending. This article will give you the most basic tips to getting started with an advertising strategy, or modifying the one you already use. This article will assume that your advertising budget needs to include both the media dollars and the costs associate with the creative (ie cost of printing, cost of graphic design, cost of production for TV or radio, etc)
Budget — The first thing you need to know is how much money you have to spend. You truly can't make any other decisions until you know this. It will determine how broad your reach can be, which media you will consider using, and what you can afford to do creatively and media wise.
Audience — Next you need to know who you are trying to reach — also known as your "audience" in advertising terms, or your "customer" when talking shop. You should already have a pretty good handle on the types of people that are buying your products simply by way of being an expert in what it is that you're selling. Often times, your audience is a lot like you. Bear in mind that you should define your audience by several basic demographic factors including: gender, age, location and income level. Depending on your product, other important indicators may include race, occupation, presence of children in the home, and activities they participate in. A quick example: if you're selling a high-end dishwasher, you would do good to target women, over age 25, possibly with children, who make $50,000 plus and have expressed an interest in home appliances or decorating. Location, race and occupation aren't essential indicators in this example.
There are lots of ways you can use research to help determine who is buying your product, but experience tells me that much of it is simply common sense. You don't market Big Wheels to high-school aged boys who make $8,000 a year by putting your ad in a skateboarding magazine- you sell them to parents, moms and grandmothers who read parenting publications and websites. However, if you're a big company (chances are, you're not reading this story) and you have access to research, by all means, USE IT!
Media — Once you have your budget and audience figured out, you'll need to decide which media are the most appropriate for your product and message. Again, common sense is a huge asset here. You're not going to sell your hiking equipment buying a bunch of spots on the Jerry Springer show. But you might have some luck selling an at-home DNA test to this audience. (hardy har har)
The medium or media you choose will be determined greatly by your advertising budget. Certain media are more cost prohibitive than others — your local grocery store can't afford a TV spot to run during the Superbowl (a huge waste for a small fry anyhow), but they could certainly afford a local mailing, ad in a local paper or newsletter, or even a local TV spot. Just remember the production costs when you're considering your medium, too. Can you afford to put together a TV commercial? If you need a broadcast message, perhaps radio would be a more affordable option. If print is where you're headed, bear in mind that many publications offer in-house design services (usually for a small fee) that you might be able to take advantage of. Be sure the medium fits your message.