How to Prepare an Advertising Plan to Avoid Wasting Your Money, Time, and Effort

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Marketing is central to the success of any business. According to a Gartner study, it is so important that companies spend about 12 percent of their annual revenues on marketing.

However, it cannot be easy to promote your brand and attract new but correct customers without a solid advertising plan.

An advertising plan is crucial to an ad campaign because it gives you the information, including the actual steps and strategies you need to make your campaign successful.

Whether you’re launching a new product or looking to amp up your sales, developing an advertising plan should be your priority, so here’s a guide on how to prepare an advertising plan.

How to Prepare an Advertising Plan

Preparing an advertising plan requires careful attention to detail, undivided attention and time, and great decision-making skills. Follow these steps on how to create an advertising plan to achieve your business goals:

1. Establish Your Marketing Goal

Every plan starts with a goal. Essentially, you need to develop realistic and measurable goals.

If you set goals that are too ambitious, you might only get frustrated in the end. Meanwhile, if your goals are too small, it may seem like you lack vision or direction.

The key is making SMART goals, which should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Let’s look at a few examples of poorly-defined goals:

  • Our goal is to increase our web visitors.
  • We need to rank 1st on Google.
  • We need to increase our sales.

You can see that they are vague and lack direction. It can be difficult to determine the steps you need to take with such poorly defined goals.

How do you turn them into SMART goals? Check out these statements below:

  • We need at least 20,000 site visitors in the next six months.
  • We want to rank No. 1 in Google for the keyword “carpet cleaning in Los Angeles”.
  • We need to increase our monthly sales by 10 percent.

See? These SMART goals are more precise and more defined.

Just by reading them, your team will already have a sense of direction as to where you want to go. At the same time, you are guided on what steps to take further.

Tip: When it comes to advertising goals, it’s better to start with numbers in mind.

2. Figure Out the Budget

Now that you’ve established your company goals, it’s time for the more difficult part: setting a budget.

A marketing budget is the amount of money you allocate for expenses related to promoting your products or services. It’s typically developed on a quarterly or annual basis.

Why do you need a detailed marketing budget? If your campaigns are not properly funded, you’re headed to many problems, such as low staffing and insufficient reach.

Having an advertising budget will allow you to align your strategies to your goals.

So, how do you develop a detailed marketing budget Check out these tips:

  • Know Your Customers 

Knowing your customers and understanding their demographic profile can help determine your advertising spend.

A good approach is to create a buyer persona, which is a fictional representation of your target audience.

To develop your buyer or audience personas, you need to gather data. How? You can survey your current customers, interview people you think might be your potential customers, and use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

We’ll dig deeper into this subject in the next sections.

Knowing your customers can determine the best type of media to use for marketing your business to them and the right approach to get their attention.

Furthermore, you will be able to determine the expected profit per dollar of your advertising spend.

  • Do the Math

The most important step when putting a budget together is deciding how much you are comfortable spending on your marketing initiatives.

According to studies, new businesses need to set aside 10% to 20% of their gross or projected income for marketing, while established businesses need to allocate 6% to 12%.

It’s also helpful to look into how much the competition spends. This is as simple as adhering to the average advertising costs per industry.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that no market is exactly the same, so marketing or advertising expenses will still vary, depending on your chosen advertising tactics.

3. Determine Your Target Audience

You need to create targeted, personalized campaigns for your customers regarding marketing efforts. And the only way to do that is to know your potential customers at a deeper level.

What is a target audience? It refers to the specific group of consumers most likely interested in your products or services.

Depending on what you sell, your target audience might be big or a smaller one called a “niche”.

A target audience centers around a specific group of people. For example, it can be “men”, “women”, “moms”, “children”, or “teens”.

Apart from the tips we mentioned earlier, below are some more tips to determine your target customer for your advertising campaign:

  • Analyze Your Customer Base

Look at who already buys your product or service.

How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? What are the platforms they use to connect to your business?

  • Conduct Market Research

Look at the trends in your niche and see where others are focusing on. Look at your competitors and determine their buyers and campaign strategies.

Market research paired with client interviews or surveys can give you better insights into what your clients want.

  • Analyze Your Customers’ Data

Your business customers’ data on hand can boost your efforts in understanding your target customer. Even something as simple as an invoice can give you insights into how your current customers interact with your business.

  • Know Their Media Preferences

This is very important when preparing an advertising plan. Complete your target audience’s profile by identifying their media preferences.

When you fully understand your target audience, you can better identify the best marketing strategies for them.

tips on how to prepare an advertising plan

4. Develop Strategies to Support Your Marketing Goals

Once you’ve taken a good look at your target audience, the next step in advertising planning is choosing the marketing strategies you want to implement.

Digital advertising comes in many forms. However, there are a few tried-and-true practices that you may consider, such as:

Social Media Advertising

Over 4.6 billion people in the world use social media, so it isn’t surprising why social media marketing is the go-to advertisement strategy of most businesses big or small.

The primary benefit of social media is it provides a platform for businesses and customers to interact directly. Both parties can ask questions, repost each other’s content, and build relationships.

Creating a social media marketing plan can be intimidating at first, but there are a few proven tips on effectively promoting your business on social networks.

  • Choose the Right Platform

The number of social media sites grows every day. However, sharing your content on the right platforms is crucial.

Conduct some research to determine what sites your audience uses the most and start your campaigns from there.

  • Drive Engagement

Strategize on campaigns that will drive the most engagements among your customers. It can include conducting games, asking questions, and sharing content your audience can relate to.

  • Build a Community

Instead of trying to get as many likes or followers as possible, focus on finding people who are interested, loyal, and engaged. They are the people who are likely to repost your content and become your customers.

Influencer Marketing

Another effective way to promote your business online is with the help of an influencer. Statistics show that 89% of businesses who use influencer marketing say that the return on investment (ROI) from this actionable marketing strategy is comparable to or better than other marketing channels.

Choosing the right influencers helps your brand develop an authentic relationship with your customers.

How do you choose the right influencers?

First of all, figure out the relevance of their content to your brand or marketing goal. Ensure that the influencer you choose adheres to your industry.

For example, if your business is interior design, collaborate with someone whose into home improvement or home organization.

You don’t have to work with some of the most expensive celebrities to promote your brand. The follower count isn’t the foremost factor to consider when choosing an influencer. It all boils down to your target audience.

If that influencer has followers that can become your customers, you’re headed on the right path.

Other Marketing Strategies

Apart from those two, other marketing strategies to consider are:

  • Content Marketing

Content marketing strategy involves creating and sharing different types of content, such as articles, videos, and podcasts, to attract and engage your customers. It helps promote brand awareness and establish your expertise.

  • SEO Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves different strategies that help your website rank higher on Google and other search engines. This includes using relevant keywords, meta descriptions, headlines, and content.

  • PPC (Pay-per-click) Marketing

This strategy involves paying an advertiser a fee every time someone clicks on the ads. The idea behind this is to “buy visits” for a specific site, generate leads, and convert leads into sales.

  • Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is any promotional activity on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Examples are MMS messaging, in-app marketing, and SMS text messaging.

A Well Thought-Off Advertisement Plan Always Matters

An effective advertising plan specifies your marketing goals and defines your target audience.

With this helpful information on preparing an advertising plan, you can easily identify the right marketing strategies that will work for your business. Don’t forget to set a timeline so you can track the progress of your advertising campaigns.

Lastly, measure your results. You can do this by selecting your metrics.

The most common metrics are brand recognition, brand awareness, and brand consideration. You can also look into your sales (whether they increased), conversion rate, social media sentiment, and impressions.

Key Takeaways

With that said, here are the top takeaways you need to remember:

  • An advertising plan is the first step to creating an effective marketing campaign.
  • When creating a plan, you need to be specific about your marketing goals.
  • Knowing your target audience is the most important piece of an advertising plan.
  • There are several marketing strategies you can use for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Which of the following is the first step in developing an advertising program?

Before you can run an advertising campaign, you must know whom you are targeting. Determining your target market is the first crucial step in developing an ad campaign.

2. What is the last step in developing an advertising campaign? 

The last step in developing an ad campaign is to measure your results.

How? There are many ways to do it. However, it’s essential to have the context to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

When you have pre-campaign metrics as a benchmark, you can determine what worked or didn’t work in your campaign. Additionally, gathering survey data provides crucial insights into the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

3. How do you write an advertising plan?

A good advertising plan includes the following sections:

  • Situation Analysis: This refers to a review of problems and opportunities.
  • Strategy Statement: This refers to the framework of your approach. Here, you clearly define your advertising goals, budget, the services or products you like to promote, a profile of your target audience, and your business’s competitive advantage.
  • Creative Plan: This part focuses on your actual advertising message.
  • Promotion Plan: Here, you identify the best way to deliver your message to your target audience.

4. What are the four types of advertising?

There are four types of advertising. They are:

  • Display Advertising: This advertising strategy involves visuals like images and videos.
  • Video Advertising: This marketing strategy uses a short and informative video to promote a product or service.
  • Mobile Advertising refers to any form of advertising appearing on mobile devices.
  • Native Advertising or Paid Content: Examples include sponsored posts on news websites, content recommendation ads, and social media ads.

5. What are the elements of an advertising plan?

Marketing strategies will vary in terms of format, but they have a common or standard goal. That is to attract and build relationships with your target audience. An advertising plan has the following essential elements:

  • Marketing goals and objectives
  • Your target audience
  • Marketing tactics
  • Timeline and budget

Uday Tank is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader. He has a wide variety of interests and enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.