When it comes to creating a successful advertising campaign, there’s an old saying that I like to keep in mind: The 7 P’s— Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance.
Apparently this saying comes from the British Army, but I had been under the impression that an old art director of mine coined the phrase on his own.
Whether you are preparing for actual battle or marketing your small business, the same philosophy applies — proper planning is the best way to ensure success.
Before we dig into how to properly develop an advertising campaign, let’s look at how you are most likely missing the mark.
The Most Common Marketing Mistake
We recently touched on the dangers of piecemeal marketing, but it’s worth mentioning again since it’s a trap so many people fall into.
Most small businesses are simply winging it when it comes to their marketing, purchasing ad spots here and there as their budget allows.
An example will make the point easier to grasp, so let’s say that the following represent your marketing activities for the past year:
- Several ads in the local newspaper
- Monthly social media promotions
- Print advertising in a few trade magazines
- Website banner ads — usually freebies for purchasing print advertising
- Pop-up advertising on your business website
- Rotating ad spaces on local digital billboards
This may seem like a well rounded approach to marketing your small business — iit very well could be if it’s executed with proper planning
Each time you purchase one of these advertising spaces, design services are either included in the price or are deeply discounted. It seemed natural to take advantage of such a great deal.
The problem is that your marketing efforts have actually suffered as a result
Assuming you’ve advertised in six different places in this situation, you’ve had a minimum of six different designers of varying skill levels designing your marketing.
None of these designers had any knowledge to speak of regarding your business: your goals, your target audience, your plans for the future, your style, or your message as a brand.
Under those circumstances, even the most skilled designer would fail to successfully design a piece of advertising that met your specific needs. To make matters worse, the look and feel of each ad will vary greatly.
At the end of the year, this unorganized, piece-by-piece approach to marketing would have proved highly ineffective and resulted in a much lower return on your investment than if you’d started with a well-planned campaign.
By putting together a solid plan, your advertising campaign will be setup for success. The more detailed your plan is, the better.
Here are the keys:
- Write a marketing plan
- Determine your budget
- Clearly define your audience
- Develop a clear message
- Design a consistent look
- Utilize repetition
- Hire a professional
Advertising Campaign Tip 1: Write a Marketing Plan
Writing out an in-depth marketing plan for the coming year is the best way to set your advertising campaign in motion.
This plan should outline items such as:
- Clearly stated marketing objectives
- Current marketing position
- Historical marketing data
- Reliable market research
- Concrete consumer needs
- Thorough competition analysis
- Specific marketing strategies
- Defined marketing goals
Depending on the size of your business, a rough, informal plan could still be successful, but make sure you are as specific with your goals and strategies as possible.
(Read more about goal setting and SMART goals in our earlier post.)
Advertising Campaign Tip 2: Define Your Budget
There are plenty of opinions about how much of your revenue should be budgeted for marketing efforts.
Generally speaking, newer companies need to reinvest a higher percentage of their gross revenue in advertising than older companies.
For the first five years you’re in business, between 12 to 20 percent should be put put back into your marketing efforts. Older, more established companies can scale down that amount to between 6 and 12 percent.
The amount for a new business may seem a bit high, but establishing your own brand takes a lot of effort. Consider that the following items represent the bare minimum you’ll need just to get started:
- a stellar logo
- a new website
- basic social media marketing
That list may not look like much, but if you’ve ever tried to produce any one of these items on your own, you’ve got an idea of how much effort it takes for a non-professional. Spending that much energy on basic marketing materials means taking time and resources away from doing what you do as a business — probably not the most profitable use of your valuable talents. Hiring a professional to set up your basic marketing toolkit is going to save you money.
Over time, as you connect with your audience and your brand becomes established, it will require fewer resources to reach a substantial number of potential customers.
At that point, the same established advertising budget can be allocated to specific marketing activities, such as content marketing, social media marketing, print advertising, trade shows, etc.Learn More About Custom Logo Design Services
Advertising Campaign Tip 3: Clearly Define Your Audience
As you hash out your marketing plan, the demographics and identity of your audience are going to find a little bit of definition. That said, you’re not even close to done.
You need to know exactly who your audience of potential customers are. Who you are speaking to not only influences how your advertising campaign looks, it also tells you where your audience’s attention is.
A large number of middle-aged football fans spend time on Facebook and Twitter discussing the games they’re watching — the numbers show that’s where you go to compete for their attention.
Data shows that people under 25 spend a lot of time on Snapchat, so designing custom filters for that platform would be a more wise choice to reach that demographic.
Focusing your efforts in the right area will provide a greater return on your investment, and it’s easy to miss the mark on this without proper planning.
Advertising Campaign Tip 4: Develop a Clear Message
Having a clear, consistent message throughout your marketing is essential for strengthening your brand.
The question you have to answer is simple: What do I want the customer to know? Let’s compare a couple of scenarios.
Have you ever read an advertising blog, or seen a full-page add that left you confused and with more questions than answers? That’s scenario A — remember how it made you feel.
Contrast that with scenario B — “Have a Coke and a Smile.” I bet you remember this genius marketing campaign, even though it’s over 30 years old. The message they wanted to communicate was crystal clear — Coca-cola makes your day better, so you should go buy one now. Whether you agree or disagree with that statement, there’s no ambiguity in their message, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone over 40 who doesn’t remember that campaign. It became part of our culture because it was consistent and frequently repeated.
Without a doubt, you want to imitate a marketing genius — learn to utilize the principles in scenario B (or hire a professional who knows how).
Although these scenarios are singular adds, the same rules apply for an entire advertising campaign: You need a message, and you need to repeat it often so that people identify with it.
(Learn more about clear, singular messages for individual ads.)
Advertising Campaign Tip 5: Design a Consistent Look
Developing a consistent look and feel for all of your advertising is crucial when it comes to building your brand. Having a style guide is the best way to stay on track with this, and is vital in the early stages of marketing yourself.
Whether you are running a print ad, a promotion on social media, or a direct mail piece, you want your customers to instantly recognize you.
The trick to consistency is to design your entire campaign all at once.
It may seem counterintuitive, but an entire year of advertising should be developed before deploying the first ad — and you probably need far fewer designs than you think.
Advertising Campaign Tip 6: Utilize Repetition
Think back to the Coca-cola scenario above. What did it have going for it besides clarity of message? It was everywhere.
Repetition is one of the most basic principles of marketing, and is crucial for building brand recognition.
It’s unrealistic to think that the average person will rush to purchase your products or services the first time they see your advertising. You have to get their attention often, so they know where to go when they do need what you’re offering.
That means you can stop struggling to make each piece of advertising you run unique. That’s a lot of wasted effort, and it’s a mistake people make all the time.
Truthfully speaking, a full campaign can be pulled off with only a few designs that work well together. Each piece should be resized to fit the specific media type you plan on utilizing: print, digital, social, etc.
When a customer sees the same ad in multiple places, it increases your business’s legitimacy. When very similar ads appear in both a magazine and on social media, your message is reinforced and brand identity is established in the minds of your potential customers.
Advertising Campaign Tip 7: Hire a Professional
This is where most small businesses miss the mark — best practices indicate that one designer or one creative firm should design ALL of the advertising materials for that business.
The professional you hire will need to be paid for each individual marketing piece they work on, but the cost for hiring a professional is often exaggerated, and it’s far cheaper in the long run than you taking time away from what you do best to try to manage all of your marketing yourself.
Yes, hiring a professional is an added expense upfront, but the benefit to your branding will be priceless. Still worried about the cost? Keep in mind what we said earlier — you really only need a few designs that are repeated consistently to form the material of an entire advertising campaign.
Here’s a little bit of perspective: Most business owners have no problem outsourcing their legal fees to a lawyer, and they see the merit in handing off bookkeeping and tax filing, and investment responsibilities to a financial firm — why not have a professional develop your marketing?
Thinking of designing an advertising campaign for your small business? Contact Commotion Art to get started today!Contact Commotion Art!