Advertising these days has become more of a science than an art, and is an exercise that needs to be carefully designed and executed. To achieve your company’s marketing goals, it’s vital the media planning follows a strategic approach aimed at delivering real ROI. Certain key components are essential to a successful plan, including:

#1: Aligned Marketing and Business Objectives

Your marketing goals are governed in large part by your overall business goals, so it’s essential to view them as two pieces of the whole picture rather than independently. For most companies, the primary marketing objective is to increase sales revenue. This usually means selling more products, to both new and existing clients.

To achieve a holistic advertising strategy, take a long-term view of how your marketing goals align with your overall business objectives. Do they support your ten-year strategy, or are they geared towards short-term success only? There’s nothing wrong with having a short-term focus, as long as it’s an informed choice to do so.

#2: Audience Assessment

A thorough target market assessment based on detailed research is a priority when you’re investing marketing dollars in a media planning strategy. Define your audience clearly and divide it into narrow, niche segments. These could be based on criteria such as age, gender, income levels, the media channels they consume, or the method in which they use your product, among others. Analyze your current top customers to determine the dominant identifying criteria, because that will help to inform your selection of categories for segmentation.

#3: Coordinated Channels and Tactics

Using the correct communication channels is critical for reaching your identified target market. With prospects now personally controlling the type and frequency of the messages they consume, getting past the “gatekeeper” has become more difficult. For a strategic media planning exercise it’s important to include a mix of channels and tactics, which increases your chances of reaching your audience as well as the likelihood that they will retain the message. For example, a prospect who gets your advertising materials in his mailbox on one day, in his email inbox on the following day, and sees it on TV on the third day, has a higher percentage chance of remembering you than a prospect who gets only one of the three.

#4: Budget and Campaign Timetables

Money and time are typically the biggest constraints in media planning, and both are precious items usually in short supply. Use external analytics data to inform your strategy, for example: statistics from the Pew Research Center show 32% of all people who hold jobs use LinkedIn, while 14% of adults users online are not employed. If one of your target segments is employed adults in a certain area, the LinkedIn would be a likely channel in which to invest your adspend. Data can also provide in-depth information on the best time of day to flight ads, the number of impressions you are likely to get, and the uptake percentage you can expect as a result. Compare this with the cost of advertising to determine whether the return on your investment matches the expenditure.

#5: Measurement Criteria

Speaking of comparisons, setting measurement criteria is critical to determine whether a media planning campaign is successful. It’s not as simple as comparing overall annual marketing expenditure with new sales for the year, either. Fortunately, with the use of current technology we can now attribute increases in revenue directly to specific devices or marketing channels, which enables analysts to see what types of marketing work, the people they reach and the value they generate.

The Take-Away

As with most elements of marketing, successful media planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each advertising placement needs to be carefully targeted and tailored specifically to the unique goals of a campaign.

With access to the right data, an adequate marketing budget and the company’s long-term vision for the future, however, media planners can find the combination of media purchases you need to achieve your overall growth objectives.

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