Media Planning: Smart Choices for Your Success

Media Planning for Smarties

You say you're ready to advertise. How are you going to choose whether to place your ad in the local newspaper or a national magazine? Why not do a radio spot or place a banner ad on a related company's website? Understanding the benefits and pitfalls of these different forms of media will help you get the most out of your advertising budget.

Do you believe that simply placing an ad in the newspaper or a commercial on the radio will drive customers to purchase your product or service? Or does your business have a well-developed marketing strategy with an advertising plan for the year? An effective advertising plan will clearly identify and select the media that will provide the greatest amount of targeted exposure for your business.

Your advertising plan should answer the following questions: What are your specific marketing objectives? Who are your target markets? What media types will you use? How many placements will you buy? What is your advertising budget? How will you track the effectiveness of your advertising efforts?

The marketing strategies you implement with your advertising plan will depend on the length of time your products/services have been on the market, how you've chosen to position your business, the message you wish to send, and the media you'll use to send it. Advertising will keep your product or service in the public's eye by creating greater awareness over time. Defining your target market in terms of demographic, geographic, psychosocial characteristics will be the single most important factor in selecting which media to use. Choosing between radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and television stations, will be evident if you have defined your market well.

Savvy planners set advertising goals in terms of reach, frequency, gross rating points (GRP), and continuity. A basic knowledge of these terms will help you talk to advertising representatives and understand their media planning kits:

Reach is the number of different people or households that are exposed to your message during a specified time period.

Frequency is the number of times that your target prospects are exposed to your message.

Gross Rating Points (GRP) are a measurement that equals the reach multiplied by the average frequency. The GRP is intended to give the total impact of the media effort. Continuity relates to the scheduling or timing of the media placements.

Your overall marketing budget will determine how much you will spend on your advertising. Getting preliminary placement costs will help you estimate how much will be required to have an impact on the consumer. Like many aspects of marketing, it is not an exact science and you will have to use your judgment when it comes to developing a budget. It's always a good idea to reserve a small portion of your budget for unexpected opportunities, like a "special issue" just before an important event that you had not planned for. Scheduling the actual media placement will depend on the seasonal sales patterns of your product. Typically, advertising will run in a continuous, pulsed, or flighted schedule.

To build sales, your business has to market itself. And, since advertising is expensive, it's important to make your efforts effective. However, advertising planning can be a bigger job than most people anticipate. A marketing professional can help you to define your goals, develop your advertising plan, and place your advertising to maximize the impact and effectiveness of your message.

Here is an overview of the pros and cons of different types of media:

Newspapers

Advertising in a daily newspaper can be very effective if your product or service is relevant to most people. On the other hand, it can be a waste of advertising dollars if you are trying to reach a very specific interest group. Newspapers allow you to take advantage of current events. This is a great advantage if you're selling roses and Valentines Day is a week away, but isn't likely to be helpful if you're trying to reach a narrow niche (ex: marketing a new technology to IT managers at community hospitals). Advertisers will find an unlimited amount of print space available, but the cost is incrementally high. It doesn't pay to incorporate detailed photographs or quality color images when the newspaper printing is generally poor to medium quality.

Magazines

Magazines allow for good quality image reproduction and layout flexibility. Advertising space is usually expensive. Magazines cover hundreds of niche interest areas, so finding the right publication to reach a specific audience is easy. Magazines tend to be around for a longer time, so ads have the potential for being seen multiple times. However it is difficult to predict when the reader will actually see an ad. Deadlines for advertisements are generally a month in advance of publication, so there isn't much room for last minute changes.

Internet

Web advertising can take the form of a Web site or an ad banner on another's website. With an ad banner targeting a specific audience is a matter of finding other relevant but non-competing websites that reach the same target audience. Websites that are set up intelligently count hits and can even identify repeat traffic. It pays to study the traffic and number of hits at the different sites and make your own comparison. Ads can be interactive and quickly edited. When properly indexed and registered on search engines, advertisers can maximize the number of potential hits. The negatives are that it is difficult to gauge the impact and costs effectiveness of Internet advertising.

Radio

Radio is a great medium for targeting a concentrated geographic area and is considered to be relatively cost-effective. The various formats such as talk radio, classical, and easy listening help zero in on the demographics that match those of the targeted consumer. Advertisers can select the frequency and time of day that most closely matches the target audience's listening habits. With radio there is room for quick reaction to sudden developments like a snowstorm or a stock market crash. Since radio uses voice, the advertiser can reinforce his or her message with a voice that suits the message.

Other

Other forms of media that one might consider include direct mail, broadcast TV, cable TV, transit, and outdoor billboard advertising. If your decision seems more complex than you anticipated, consider soliciting the help of an advertising agency. An ad agency can not only help you select the most appropriate forms of media, but can develop and design ads maximize the impact of your message on your potential consumers.

Define your target audience, map out your advertising, and determine your marketing goals. Make sure you have a tracking system in place. With a carefully developed advertising plan, your business should realize a much better rate of return from all of your advertising efforts!

Wendy Maynard, your friendly marketing maven, is the owner of Kinesis. Kinesis specializes in marketing, graphic and website design, and business writing. Visit http://www.kinesisinc.com/resources/article s.html for more articles and free marketing wisdom.

You can visit her marketing blog, Kinetic Ideas at: http://www.wendy.kinesisinc.com

Want to harness the power of kinetic marketing? Sign up for Kinesis Quickies, a free bi-monthly marketing e-newsletter: http://www.news.kinesisinc.com

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