Plan your advertising

While developing your marketing programs, you may have identified an opportunity or need to run an advertising campaign.

Before you start, you need to know if you’ll:

To plan your advertising campaign, follow these steps.

1. Define your objectives – your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Knowing what you want to achieve will make your advertising campaign more successful.

You may want to, for example:

  • make customers aware of a new service or a new business
  • increase sales of a particular product.

Your advertising campaign should support your marketing objectives, as set out in your marketing strategy. Outline the KPIs (measurable results) for each campaign. Examples of KPIs are:

  • number of website visitors
  • number of phone calls and email enquiries
  • number of potential leads
  • sales numbers
  • cost per acquisition.

Make sure you can track, and report on, the KPIs you choose.

Read more about tracking your digital performance.

2. Decide how much to spend – your budget

Your marketing budget should consider your business goals and how much money you have available. Your marketing plan determines how much you should spend on advertising.

As always, the right balance is essential. Remember:

  • spending too much on advertising can be risky and inefficient
  • spending too little on advertising can make your brand invisible.

View advertising as an investment. The return is not always immediate, but there are significant long-term advantages.

Keeping up with the competition

  • When deciding on a budget for advertising, also think about how much your competitors seem to be spending on advertising.
  • Also consider benchmarking your business against similar businesses in your industry.
3. Decide who you’ll target – your audience

You need to know who you’ll be targeting with your advertising campaign. Base this on your target segments.

Find out as much as you can about how your target audience uses media. This can include:

  • what they typically read, watch and listen to
  • where they go and how they get there
  • what they search for and visit online.

You might, for example, find that your potential customers:

  • read a particular magazine
  • catch a certain bus to and from work
  • are a part of the same social media group.

This will help you decide:

  • what and how you communicate—your creative approach
  • where and when you advertise—your channel selection.
4. Create your unique selling points (USP) – your messages

As part of your creative approach, you’ll need to create your unique selling points (USP). Focus on how your business is different and the unique value you deliver.

A USP is a short, snappy statement to promote your business. Think about:

  • what you offer
  • what customers want.

The catchier the better – you want your customers to remember.

Make sure all your advertising channels play their role to reinforce the messages.

USP examples

Imagine you run a boutique florist and deliver ‘the fastest local delivery at affordable prices.’ You can convey this in your advertising slogans, for example:

  • Fresh flowers, delivered fast.
  • Faster flowers, better value.

Read more about defining your value proposition and USPs.

5. Pick your type of advertising – your channels

Find the best channels for your advertising by looking at your:

  • campaign KPIs
  • target audience
  • allocated budget.

Typically, the more people who read a newspaper, watch a television show, or drive past a billboard, the higher the cost to place your advertisement. However, this also means that more potential customers will be exposed to your products and services.

Make sure the audience numbers are correct and relevant to your campaign:

  • Ask for a media kit and a rate card to help you compare the channels you are considering.
  • Check that the audience numbers are independently verified.
  • Remember, the numbers relating to your target audience is most important.

Also read about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of advertising.

6. Organise your schedule – when you advertise

As part of the campaign planning process, you need to book your media schedule – the where and the when.

You want more people in your target audience to see and hear your advertisements more often. Try to find the best balance between the:

  • total number of people who saw your advertisement – known as reach
  • number of times the advertisement is presented – known as frequency.

Keep a work-in-progress document, so you:

  • can create effective advertisements across many channels
  • have enough time to meet advertising deadlines.

Make sure you keep track of due dates to supply advertising material.

7. Review your results

In Step 1, you would have made sure that you could track, and report on, the KPIs you chose. Now you can review the information you have available to see how well your campaign worked.

The purpose of this review is to:

  • calculate your return on investment (ROI)
  • find out which advertising worked best
  • use the results to improve your future campaigns.

Find out how you can measure and analyse your advertising campaign.