Advertising is one facet of a comprehensive marketing campaign. It provides a direct line of communication to your customers and prospective customers regarding your product or service.
There is little doubt that people are affected by advertising almost as soon as they are born. In fact, most people have been exposed to over two million advertising messages from birth to 21 years of age.
Advertising does the following:
- Makes customers aware of your product or service.
- Convinces customers that your company’s product or service is the best.
- Enhances the image of your company.
- Points out the need and creates a desire for your product or service.
- Announces new products or services.
- Reinforces salespeople’s messages.
- Draws customers to your business.
Develop specific goals
While these are the general objectives behind every advertising plan, you should develop specific goals based on your business plan. Those goals and objectives may be to obtain a percentage growth in sales, to attract more inquiries for sales to follow-up, or to increase in-store traffic. Your goal might even be to increase awareness of your name or to change your image.
Your goals can change as your business evolves. Here is a general outline of the goals most businesses will have at three specific stages of their development:
1. The Start-Up/Pioneering Stage: You’re new in the marketplace and you need to establish your identity. Your company needs to advertise heavily to command the consumer’s attention. If you operate a retail outlet, budget adequately for your grand opening advertising.
2. The Competitive Stage: Once you have built your identity and grabbed the consumer’s attention, or if you have jumped into a marketplace already crowded with competitors, you need to stress the differences between your business and your competitors, as well as the benefits you offer. Convince the consumers that yours is the company or product to try.
3. The Sustaining Stage: Remind consumers that you’re still in business, either with lighter levels of continuous advertising or by employing advertising at frequent intervals throughout the year. If, for example, you’ve been running a radio campaign of 24 spots per week in six-week segments, along with a half-page ad in your local newspaper every week, now is the time you can cut back your advertising expenditures to something like 18 spots per week for two weeks a month on the radio, and run your half-page ad in the newspaper only during those weeks when your radio campaign is in progress.
You can also run a smaller newspaper ad to decrease your costs, but keep in mind that you will probably incur additional one-time production charges for the smaller ad. Whatever stage your business has reached, good advertising causes action and persuades the prospective customer to try your product or service.
It is important to create a desire or need in your target audience for your product or service. This is why new ideas and companies require extensive pioneering advertising, and it explains in part why advertising expenses are higher during the first few years.
Plan your advertising campaign
When developing your advertising campaign, there are essentially four steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Market definition – Determine who your most productive audience will be in order to target your advertising more effectively. We discussed elements of market definition in the Market Research chapter.
2. Budgeting – Create a budget based upon what you can afford to spend and upon the media which will reach your target audience most effectively.
3. Media planning – Gather facts on the advertising media under consideration and determine the best way to reach your prospective customers.
4. Creative strategy – Choose the most effective message and visuals to use in your advertising campaign.
Discover your target market
Your first step in advertising is to learn as much as possible about the market you will target. Some of the questions you’ll want to answer are:
- Who are my potential customers?
- How many potential customers are there?
- Where are they located?
- Where do they now buy the products or services I want to sell them?
- Can I offer them anything they are not getting now?
- How can I persuade them to do business with me?
Taking a single message and aiming it at as many buyers as possible is not the way to reach your target audience. You need a clear understanding of your market. You need to have accurate demographic information about your potential customers, including sex, income, and occupation. Even knowing such things as hobbies and driving habits can be helpful.
You need to determine who your prime users are, where they’re located, and what media will reach them most effectively. For example, if your company sold car stereos, your target audience might consist mainly of men aged 18-34, and the best place for you to advertise might be in a magazine focusing on car stereos. You can conduct your own market research to generate demographic information, or you can hire a professional marketing firm to do it for you.
The M’s of advertising
When you plan an advertising campaign, you need to consider certain issues, sometimes referred to as the “M’s of Advertising”:
- Money – How much should you spend for a complete advertising program?
- Message – What should you say?
- Media – What advertising medium should you use?
- Motion – How should you introduce the advertising?
- Measurement – What results should you expect from the advertisement and how should you measure them?