Most small businesses advertise on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, however giving advertising some strategic thought will often benefit a business greatly. The benefits of strategic advertising might come in the form of a reduction in cost, the ability to reach the customers you want to reach and ultimately a more effective campaign.
So what does a small business have to do to create a strategic plan?
1) Firstly select a time period for the plan, for example 6 months.
2) Consider which forms of media will be the most effective in reaching your potential clients. This is the most important consideration because for example advertising on the radio when you customers read newspapers would be a waste of money.
3) Where do your customers get their information about products/services such as yours? Newspapers, bulletin boards, radio, TV, websites, magazines, signs, leaflets, social media, or other sources. List the top 5.
a) What is the cost involved in advertising on the top 5 places for your potential customers get their information? And how realistic is it to advertise there for the business? However, do not rule out something as ‘unrealistic’ until is has been thoroughly investigated.
4) Advert related decisions
a) Advert frequency: How often do you want to advertise using that medium. In the beginning this should be more frequent in order to create awareness of your business. Once awareness has been created advertising can be less frequent as it is only designed to remind your customers of your existence. The only exception to this rule is when the advert acts as a contact point, for example the yellow pages or the classifieds in some newspapers give customers information on contacting you. When your advert acts as a contact advert it is best to advertise as frequently as possible.
b) Advert message: Decide on what message you want to send to your customers. Make sure it is branded if possible and affordable.
c) Decide on the size or length of the advert. Bigger does not necessarily mean better. Frequency and message clarity is far more important.
5) Re-quote – Give your advertising consultant your planned frequency and advert and ask for a quote. The frequency of your adverting can help to decrease costs. Also ask for extras such as write up, photographs, an interview, special mention etc.
a) At this stage ask questions about coverage, peak periods, best location/time for your advert etc.
6) Adjust your plan based on the above and proceed to implement it.