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Advertising Part 1 - Planning

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Traditional advertising is usually the most costly element in the marketing mix. One advantage advertising has over media relations in PR, is certainty. You book your advert, you pay your money and you know exactly when and where it will appear. However, planning is essential to maximise the return on this investment. Co-ordinating advertising with your public relations can maximise the promotional benefit from both. This information does not apply to Google Adwords which is worthy of a checklist of its own.

Ten Things You Should Do

  1. Back to basics. The business and marketing plans provide the basis for planning advertising. These tell you who you need to address, what you need to say, how frequently and what outcome you want to achieve.
  2. Make the objectives specific. Do you want adverts to sell product directly, create opportunities for sales people or resellers to close deals, generate awareness and build a brand or achieve some other change in behaviour or attitude?
  3. Define your audiences. It helps greatly, not just to characterise the people you want to talk to, but find real examples in the client population.
  4. Research the audience and test the advertising message. While the broad strategy may be clear, the more information you have the more precisely the message can be formulated and media can be selected to address the right profile. Test the message with a sample of the client population before scaling up to a full campaign.
  5. Research the media. There have never been so many communication channels. Look for media with a close fit to the target customer profile. Consider all the alternatives and how you can use other channels such as the web and PR techniques to project the message further and add value by providing more information.
  6. One advert won’t change the world. Repetition will be required to get the message across. If you can only afford one advertisement you are probably wasting your scarce budget.
  7. Budget. Include in the budget costs for creative work and final artworks. Cost the advertising space (print media), time (broadcast) or page impressions/click-throughs (web) on the basis of rate card to establish an initial budget.
  8. Negotiate cost. Most advertising rate cards are negotiable. Discounts for series bookings are commonplace and many journals will discount substantially to gain business or may offer added value as an incentive as deadlines approach.
  9. Negotiate placing. All media have key areas that command more attention. Consider carefully what material will adjoin your advertisement and where it will have most impact.
  10. Build in a response channel. Depending on the objectives of the advertising campaign, build in a feedback loop. This could be an information line, web site, coupon to take to a retailer – anything that allows the response to be quantified.

Five Things You Should Not Do

  1. Don’t advertise just because you are offered a good deal. But if the media, position and time fit you plans, then snatch their hand off.
  2. Don’t skimp on creativity and design. This is an investment, not a cost. See Advertising Part 2 – Creativity checklist.
  3. Don’t advertise without good reason. Always have specific objectives and a clear idea of the intended outcome in mind.
  4. Don’t neglect integration with other media and feedback. It is surprising how advertisements often fail to include basic information such as contact details, web addresses and so on. Big brand names may be able to get away with it but most of us can’t!
  5. Don’t advertise just because a competitor does. Let them throw their money away if they want to. Look at all the elements in the communication mix and choose channels that are the most cost effective in meeting your objectives.

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