1. Who Is Your Target Market?
Advertising is communicating to potential customers to move them to take action. You must clearly define your target audience for your advertising to motivate action. This should include quantitative information, such as the market size, and qualitative information, such as how they currently perceive your products and services. Here are some questions you need to consider in defining your target market:
- Where does your target audience live? Should you reach them locally, regionally, nationally, or globally?
- How do they spend their time? Depending on your target audience, this might be their specific role, industry, or the leisure activities they enjoy.
- Where are they in the buyer’s journey? People in different customer journey stages need different messages, so be specific about this while defining your target audience.
- What media are they consuming? Do they watch traditional television, read print information, or participate in social media? When? How frequently? Which platforms? Knowing this information not only helps to determine which channels to use for your advertising, but it can also help when producing the ad. For example, if your audience consumes their content through streaming services, creating advertisements to use across other platforms can be beneficial.
- What does the audience think or feel about you? Are they loyal to your product or service? Or do they see your brand as comparable to others and shop based solely on the lowest price?
2. Why Are You Advertising?
Advertising objectives often focus on generating profit, making sales, and acquiring long-term customers. But there are other roles that advertising can have in your business. Consider:
- Are you running a branding campaign? Advertising to build brands may look different from advertising designed to sell products or induce product trials.
- Are you introducing a new product or service? Advertising introducing a new product or service to the market establishes how you will position your product among the competition.
- Are you advertising a sale or promotion? A short-term sale or promotion calls for a different type of advertising from longer-term objectives.
Once you know the purpose of your advertising, you can establish specific goals and key objectives. You can clearly define your single key message (in one sentence), the problems you are solving for your customer, and what action you want them to take.
3. How Much Will You Spend? What is your budget?
You don’t need a billion-dollar budget like Coco-Cola or McDonald’s to create great advertising, but you will need some money. A $20 budget just isn’t going to go very far in the world of advertising. That said, your budget should be enough to accomplish your objectives and goals.
Another way to look at this is, “How much can you risk?” While you will do everything humanly possible to make your advertising successful, there remains the possibility that your efforts will fall short. Setting your advertising budget with your goal in mind allows you to make a reasonable financial decision.
4. Where Will You Advertise?
What you know about your potential customers, business objectives, and campaign budget will lead you to optimal ad placements. First, you must decide whether you will use traditional (television, radio, direct marketing) or digital vehicles (social media, Google ads, etc.). Next, you will need to determine the specific channels or platforms you will use. And finally, choose when, how often, and at what times of day or night the advertising will be displayed.
5. What Can You Learn From Your Past Advertising?
You have heard that “those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Go back and look at the results of comparable previous ad campaigns. Replicate what has worked, and don’t repeat your mistake if you’ve tried something in a past marketing campaign that fell short of expectations. Analyze previous results to identify tactics that worked and tactics that did not work. Only then will you be able to learn from history and avoid repeating past mistakes.
6. What Impact Will This Advertising Make on Your Business?
Advertising is an iterative process wherein you cycle repeatedly through campaign planning, ad creation, ad placement, ad measurement, campaign analysis, and back again. Understanding what impact you want your ad to make and how you will measure it will be critical to know whether it is successful – or needs tweaking. Your key metrics will reflect your goals and objectives (which will drive your ad creation).
Some of the potential impacts of advertising, depending on your key objectives, include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Grow your social media followers
- Bringing in more new customers
- Increasing web traffic
- Bringing more people into your store
- Increasing sales
Most importantly, think about how you want these metrics to change after your advertising, as that may help you in creating ads that work.
7. Who Is My Competition?
Think about why your customers buy your products and services. What are the key benefits your products and services deliver to customers? Once you can answer these questions, identify the other companies that provide products and services that deliver similar benefits. Think beyond your direct competitors. Are there any companies that provide substitute products and services that deliver the same benefits as your products and services? Are there any emerging companies that may become competitors soon?
8. Do You Have the Time?
Time is money. That’s especially true in advertising. And that means that the answer to this question is closely tied to your budget and objective. You can’t just throw together a nice picture and a few words of copy and expect your advertisement to bring in business, and you want to have a well-defined timeline in place before launching your advertising.
9. Is My Company Ready For This?
This is the final question: is everyone in your company ready for the next step? All internal stakeholders must be aligned on the goals and outcomes of the advertising campaign. More importantly, they must be prepared to fulfill the campaign’s demands once it has been launched.
- Is your website user-friendly?
- Do you have enough inventory and the right processes to ramp up fulfillment?
- Can you manage the increased traffic (real or virtual)?
- Can you handle the increased workload?
- Do you have contingency plans in place for the unexpected?
If you can answer “yes,” you’re ready to go.