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How to create an advertising plan

Once you’ve set your marketing goals, you’re ready to create your advertising plan.

Ad budget

Start by projecting sales for the next twelve months, then allow a certain percentage of those dollars for advertising. Numbers vary, but 3-4% of sales is average. Industry associations collect this kind of information and can tell you how much businesses similar to yours spend as a percentage of sales. Schonfeld and Associates produces Ad-To-Sales Ratios, which covers hundreds of industries. See how yours rates.

Target market

Who is most likely to need the products or services that you are offering? Are they male or female? Younger or older? Married or single? What they are reading, listening to, and doing? These are all important questions to answer when trying to develop an advertising plan.

Where to advertise

Which media’s audience best matches your target market? Your current customers can provide insight into how to reach more people like them. Which radio stations do they listen to? Which newspapers and magazines do they read? Meet with as many media people as you can. They’ll have valuable information about their users’ demographics, so you can compare how their audience matches with your target group.

What to advertise

While you may be tempted to advertise items you want to get rid of, items that are desired by the greatest number of people will give you the best return on investment. More traffic through your store will mean higher overall sales and those clearance items will be more likely to sell, too.

When to advertise

It may seem logical to spend your ad budget evenly throughout the year, but this may not be the most effective method for your business. Analyze sales by month from previous years and distribute your budget accordingly. The right message to the right group in the right vehicle still needs to hit them when they’re ready to make the purchase. Once you’ve determined who your customers are, how you can best reach them, when they are most likely to need your service and how much you have to spend, you are on your way to developing an effective advertising schedule.

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