In this ever-cluttered marketplace, many advertisers are making a critical mistake. They focus too heavily on budget when developing their campaigns and completely neglect something far more important: their media plan. For your campaigns to be successful and your messages to make the right impact, much thought should be given to the markets you serve and the channels you choose for delivery.
Here are five steps to effective media planning:
1. Define Your Goal
What is the goal of your particular campaign? Is it to extend your brand awareness? To announce a new product line? Promote a sale? Get people to sign up for your webinar or newsletter? Each of your ad campaigns must be assigned just one specific goal. You can’t plan media without a goal in mind.
2. Determine Your Ideal Prospect
Before you can begin to brainstorm potential media channels, you’ve first got to determine, if you don’t know already, who your ideal prospect is. Start by looking at your current customer base. Who buys from you and why do they buy from you? Which customers bring you the most business? Chances are other people like these customers would also buy from you.
Another great resource is your competition. Who are they targeting? Who’s currently buying from them? The key is to NOT target the same people, rather look for a niche market your competitors are overlooking.
And finally, analyze your own products or services with a focus on the benefits. Once you know what your benefits are, you’ll know who your product may benefit. For example, your pizza shop delivers until 10PM when everyone else stops delivering by 8PM. Your service will benefit college kids and adults getting home late from night classes.
3. Conduct the Necessary Research
Once you know your target market you’ll need to conduct the necessary research so you can determine the best channels to reach prospects. What are the most trusted media outlets in your industry? What are your prospects’ interests? How do they get their news? Which social media platforms do they prefer?
You’ll also want to review all the publications and digital channels you are considering to ascertain potential cost. For example, how large of an ad will you need to stand out in your local paper? Can you make a big impact with a half page ad, or will you need to bring out the big guns and buy a full-page full-color ad?
4. Plan Ahead for the Greatest Value
Planning your media buys well in advance will ultimately help you get better value because it will allow you to sign contracts ahead of time. Doing so offers three main cost benefits:
1. By signing frequency agreements you can often obtain discounted rates.
2. You can usually sign contracts and be able to lock in present year rates which will extend through the following year.
3. Signing contracts well in advance allows you to negotiate with digital publishers and print sales reps.
Be sure to inquire about premium positions which go fast and go early.
5. Get Some Help
At any point during your media planning if you feel overwhelmed, your best bet is to seek help from a reputable media buyer. Working with a media buyer offers multiple benefits. For starters, they generally have various programs to fit a variety of advertising goals and budgets.
Secondly, media buyers are specialists who make it their business to be efficient in market and data analysis as well as understanding the performance of all channels from outdoor to print and mobile. Media buyers also have longstanding relationships with publishers and vendors so they can effectively work on your behalf.
And finally, media buyers are able to negotiate and get the best prices for their clients because they bring so much business to vendors and sales reps. Beyond better terms and rates, buyers can often negotiate bonus media space and extended contract times.
When it comes down to it, media planning is the backbone of your entire brand message. The stronger that backbone is, the harder your campaigns will work for you, and the bigger your bottom line will be.