Many organizations approach writing a marketing/advertising plan like a deer in headlights. But, it’s really not that hard! You just need to ask (and answer) the right questions.
5 key questions to help write your marketing or advertising plan
Question 1: What are our marketing and advertising objectives?
Measurable objectives are the foundation of your plan. Use your business goals to help define your marketing objectives. For example, if you want to increase revenue or sales, create a realistic marketing goal that will support this. Something like “increasing attendance by 5%” is probably realistic and achievable.
Question 2: What do we know about the audience we want to reach?
Clarifying your audience’s age ranges, gender disparity, and where they live will help you target them. Next, determine what insights you have about them—their likes, habits, lifestyles. A common method is to poll your best customers to find out why they love you and chose you over competitors. From these insights, create 3-5 compelling marketing messages for your campaign to grow awareness, interest, and sales.
Question 3: What cost-effective ways can we reach our audience, given our budget and staff resources?
Effective marketing advertising plans are “integrated”—meaning that the plans utilize a robust mix of tactics.
- Consider paid advertising, including TV spots, radio spots, print ads and/or cost-effective digital advertising such as email, digital banner ads, paid search, social media, Pandora, or other channels.
- Earned media can also be helpful for small budgets. These include public relations, media relations, emails, social media, blogs, special events, etc. It’s not paid advertising. The exposure you receive is exposure you earned.
- Also, make sure to use your website to support your plan. Add campaign key messages, especially if you plan to drive people there as part of the campaign.
When planning your paid advertising strategy, choose the right mix of channels based on these things:
- Do you have access to audience research? Use a tool like Scarborough that gives you qualitative insights into what your target audience watches, listens to, or reads most often. We often make assumptions that our customers look/think like we do, so using third-party research can help uncover behaviors about the target audience which may surprise you.
- What is the overall budget? It’s important to select the media channels that will reach your customers most often, as cost efficiently as possible. If your advertising budget won’t allow for TV advertising, digital video is still a great way reach them with them on a more limited scale.
- How much do you enjoy negotiating? Pick partners who believe in your brand and are willing to go the extra mile to help your plan be successful. The more information you can share with them, the better they can customize a package that will work for you. Media vendors are often willing to be flexible on price, or layer additional tactics into their proposal, if you ask.
When planning an earned media strategy, consider:
- Which news media will you target? Once you’ve identified the customers you want to reach, identify which arts and culture journalists, travel writers, etc. are a good fit. Use a media relations tool like Cision, or scan newspapers and magazines to find the journalists writing about topics similar to your organization.
- What topics resonate? Identify the stories your audience likes to read. Read other arts and culture news articles to see what topics have received press. Be sure your stories are relevant and timely.
- What tools will you use? A popular tool is still the email press release. You might also invite media to a performance’s opening night or to visit your museum for an exhibit opening. Have folders or flash drives of information ready for them to take home, and have key leaders at your organization available for interviews.
- How does social media play into the strategy? Social media is a cost-effective way to reach your audience. Identify which platforms you’ll focus on, and create a timeline to publish content to amplify the messages of your campaign.
Question 4. What creative assets will we need?
Determine the marketing advertising materials you need to execute your plan. For paid advertising, it may be a radio script, print ad, or an email template. For earned media, it could be a press kit or press releases.
Question 5. How often we will measure our progress?
With quantifiable objectives like attendance, web visits, sales, and downloads, you can measure and monitor your success regularly. Frequent reporting will help guide the execution of your plan. You can discontinue less effective tactics and do more of what’s working.
In summary, incorporating these 5 questions (and answers) into your planning process will result in an efficient, effective marketing/advertising plan.