November and December are two big months for advertising because of the holiday sales, but they are also important months for businesses to talk advertising strategy for the New Year. How many times have you had a media sales rep contact you about placing an ad in the paper or on radio and they tell you that the rate is a special discounted rate, but you need to sign-up immediately? Hit or miss decisions of how and when to buy your advertising is not the best way to market your business. An advertising agency or specialist can help you to see the importance of advertising planning and can negotiate rates that you might not get if you try to buy media directly.

What do you need to know to develop an advertising plan? First, you need to have a marketing goal. The goal is simply what you want to accomplish or what percent increase in sales have you set for a goal. If you are unsure of what this amount is then I highly recommend working with an accountant or a business planner who can share some insight on what is a realistic goal for your business. If you have no idea of what your sales goals are it is like playing a game of baseball, but never keeping score. Yes, you will be selling, but it will be without direction and this often leads to wasted energy and money.

So, developing a strategy for your advertising needs to include who you are trying to reach, what you want to say to them, how and when you are going to reach them and why you have chosen the steps you have selected. I applaud anyone for taking steps to advertise their business, but for the businesses that want to grow faster than their competitors it requires designing and sticking to an advertising plan. Know who you are trying to reach, your target market. An advertising specialist can assist you on how to determine your target market and which media choices will reach that target audience. Television, radio, magazines, newspaper, direct mail, coupons, outdoor media which includes billboards and messages on transit transportation and the internet are all media choices for advertising, but depending on whom your target market is and your budget will help to determine which ones make the most sense for your business. Knowing when to reach that targeted audience and how to time your advertising is also very important.

The two types of advertising schedules that most people have heard of are “continuous schedule” where you choose to advertise the product throughout the year where seasonal factors or demand do not directly affect the business. An example of this could be an Insurance Agency who is open all year and is not a seasonal business. The other advertising schedule is called a “flight schedule” where the advertising is distributed unevenly throughout the year because of seasonal demand, promotions, or introducing a new product. A ski resort that is only open seasonally for a few months per year or a political candidate who is running for office would choose a flight schedule over an annual continuous schedule.

After you have completed an advertising plan it is key to have a way to measure how the plan worked. This can be difficult to measure with some forms of media, but you can do a random research sample by asking people how they heard about you or your product or you could employ the use of different phone numbers or codes on your advertisement coupons so you can track which advertising source was effective. If you do not use a coupon with your business the last way of measuring your results might be to look at the activity level before the advertising campaign and how many sales, visitors and calls increased from the previous year without advertising.

So, as you approach the holiday season and look to the New Year, be sure that your business has created an effective advertising plan that will bring you the success you deserve!

All my best to your success!

“Success wears the Purple Diamond!”