“If you build it, you may still need Google AdWords.” – Jennifer Mesenbrink
A twist on the popular movie dialogue ‘If you build it, they will come’, this quote aptly highlights the importance of advertising today. With the number of brands, products, and services being put in front of people, it’s fallacy to assume that all you need to do is have a product/service and customers will find it.
That’s why media planning for small business marketing is so important and evolving so fast today. Consumers today are being bombarded with information, products, and services from all directions – how are you going to stand out to them?
Advertising and marketing are the answer to this age-old problem: when consumers go looking for a solution to their want/need/problem relevant to them, you need to be there. This could be on Google, social media, Reddit, or even just as a question asked to Amazon’s Alexa.
And that’s where your media plan comes in – in making sure that when consumers need something relevant to the products/services you offer, your brand shows up first.
If you’ve had any exposure to the world of advertising and marketing, the word ‘media plan’ will be a part of your everyday vocabulary. But let’s start with defining what it really means.
What Is a Media Plan?
A media plan is a plan that outlines – in very specific, objective details – the details of where, when, how often, and at what budget an advertising campaign will be run. Media planning is an activity usually undertaken by an experienced media planning team, familiar not only with the profession but with each platform and the industry you work in.
A media plan takes into account factors such as your target audience, where they come from, where they spend time and what type of content draws their eyeballs on which platforms. These details influence the platforms you will choose to advertise on, how often your ad will be shown, what budget you’ll put behind the ads, and when you will show them.
All of this, represented on one excel sheet makes your ‘media plan’.
A media planner also projects campaign results and will be well-versed in optimizing the plan on the go in case those results are not being met.
What a Media Plan…
As you can see, media planning does require a fair bit of expertise and understanding – of the different advertising channels, consumer behaviors, your product/service, and how it relates to consumers. The better the base understanding and data, the sharper the media plan will be.
What You Should Know Before You Create a Media Plan for Small Business Marketing
“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Luck Gossage
Running a successful ad campaign, choosing the right platforms, and executing a perfect media plan, comes down to so much behind-the-scenes knowledge…
As we mentioned earlier, before you get down to creating an effective media plan, you need to have an understanding of certain base questions. Let’s look at what these are:
1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
Most advertising platforms – especially the digital ones – need demographic parameters such as age, location, income, etc. to better target people. But you can also target people based on their interests, the websites they visit, the places they visit, and so on.
That means you need a complete demographic and psychographic understanding of whom you want to reach out to – their age, marital status, family composition, aspirations, interests, likes, and dislikes. The more you know, the more you’re likely to reach exactly the right people who will buy from you.
2. All About Your Product/service and Competitors
You need to understand the product/service you’re selling and its intricacies inside and out – that will help you get an understanding of which platforms it will perform well on, who is looking for it, and who your competitors are in the advertising landscape.
When we talk about competitors, you need to know that your competition in advertising is not just other brands making the same product as yours – it’s other brands solving the same problem, or fulfilling the same aspirations as yours. Those are the competitors vying for your audience’s attention too!
3. What Is Your Campaign Objective?
If your brand is new on the market, you might want to aim for awareness as a goal – but make sure your company leaders and you are on the same page.
If you create a media plan aimed at increasing awareness and they’re expecting leads, you’re bound for failure whether the plan works out or not.
Besides brand awareness, some common objectives include engagement/interest and leads/conversions.
4. What Is Your Budget?
Always draw up a media plan with a budget in mind. If you have $X in hand to spend, and 3 platforms you want to begin advertising on, where would you go from there? How frequently would you need to show your ads, for how many days, etc. are questions that need to follow to build the media plan.
Without a budget, you’ll end up creating an open-ended media plan without enough accountability. Remember that you can always optimize the campaign – pause certain ads, and ramp up certain platforms, based on the performance.
5. How Long Do You Want to Run the Campaign For?
In some cases, you might have certain time constraints in hand.
For example, as a business goal, if you want to meet a certain revenue target in the next quarter, you will need a certain number of leads in a month-month and a half, depending on the duration of your sales cycle.
This duration needs to be considered when crafting the media plan, as it will impact how heavily the budget gets distributed to achieve those goals in the specified time frame.
How to Build an Effective Media Plan for Small Business Marketing
1. Choose the Right Channels
“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.” — Bryan Eisenberg
Once you’ve done your target audience and competitor research, you should have a fair idea of where your audience spends time online/offline, and which advertising channels would be best to reach them.
Of course, there are also online tools and resources that are very helpful for your small business marketing, such as Google Analytics (or any other analytics tool you have integrated into your website to understand your customers).
You can also use the tools of the platform you may plan on using for advertising, such as Facebook or Google AdWords, to corroborate your decision to use those platforms.
Of course, you should by no means consider only online platforms. Based on your product, you might also want to consider radio, OTT, billboards, and of course, influencer marketing. What it all boils down to is where your target audience is most likely to notice and pay attention to your content.
2. Plan Your Objectives
“You are everywhere, but you don’t have to be. Strategy is a decision to take a path, to say no.” — Kristina Halvorson
We’ve already spoken about how you need to have an objective in mind when you’re creating a media plan. But you might have a campaign that flows from one objective into the next over a few time segments.
For example, if you’re launching a new product, you’ll probably have a pre-launch phase where you want to create some hype and awareness, before moving into the launch phase where you’ll expect some conversions.
This doesn’t mean you’ll need two media plans, but you might want to add/subtract certain advertising channels, distribute budgets a certain way, and you’ll definitely be measuring different outcomes of success.
The more clarity you have, the easier it will be for you to split your plan and bring in a solid strategy to meet all objectives while maintaining cohesiveness through the campaign as a whole.
3. Start with a Great Template
“The things we perceive as creative brilliance are often a product of a system. “— Allen Gannett
There are plenty of media planning templates available online for free (or for the price of your contact information), so you can always pick up one of those, make modifications to have it suit your company’s requirements, and then roll from there.
Feel free to make it yours – the more you use it and the more modifications you make, the better it will cater to your exact requirements (and will eventually become a company-level process!).
If you’re an Excel whiz, you can also just create your own template. We recommend breaking it down by channel and then by time frame (week-wise, for example), adding in sections for media types, budget, and expected results. Some of the results you will want to be monitoring with your sheet include impressions, clicks/acquisitions, total cost, total revenue, and return on ad spends.
Once you have the formulae all setup, it’s a simple matter of duplicating and adapting the template for different campaigns.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to state your objective, total duration, and total budget at the start of the sheet – this sheet should be a one-stop shop for any leader wanting to understand the campaign plan.
4. Have an All-Hands Team Meeting
“Creativity without strategy is called art, creative with strategy is called advertising.” — Jef L. Richards
This is usually the responsibility of your strategy team and will be taken care of by means of a kick-off campaign meeting where you’re first given the campaign brief.
If you can, however, make it a point to be a part of consequent strategy meetings that might give you insight into the type of communication being used, how the product is going to be positioned, and so on.
These creative meetings may not seem directly relevant to your media plan, but it will inform all your homework about the target audience, the kind of messaging they will be shown, and where it stands compared to what they’re seeing from competitors.
This will indirectly play a role in the channels you choose to reach them with, and the channels that will be ideal to propagate that message.
Further, your choice of channels will also influence what the campaign execution team (copy, art, and so on) will roll out. Because consumers use different platforms to fulfill different needs/purposes, each platform warrants its own style of reaching out to consumers.
5. Run, Analyze, Optimize…
“Banners have 99 problems and a click ain’t one.” — Scott Sorokin
The role of a media planner doesn’t end once the campaign goes live. You need to keep a check on the way the budget is being spent (whether you’re getting optimum results), and which channels aren’t working for you.
9 out of 10 times, all channels won’t work out as well as you wanted them to, and a couple of them might surprise you by outperforming your projections.
You need to monitor the campaign daily along with the campaign expert (if that’s a different role in your company), so you can modify the media plan based on what’s actually getting you results and what isn’t!
The media plan, then, is constantly evolving based on the campaign performance – you need to create it, keep going back to it, change the way forward for the coming weeks, and optimize your campaign to actually achieve your results.
Now that you’re acquainted with media planning 101, getting started shouldn’t be too difficult! The most important thing is to know where you’re going…if you’re confused, or unsure about what you want the plan to look like, you’re going to end up with a half-baked plan that won’t really work for you.
If you have any specific questions that you’d like answered about creating a media plan for small business marketing, we’d be happy to help out! Simply drop a line in the comments section below.