You have decided to pursue an advertising strategy. You are ready to get creative, perhaps even design an award winning campaign. Wait a minute; hold your horses.
Developing your goals, messaging (what you want to communicate about your brand/product) and target audience are all key considerations and first steps when determining if advertising is even a fit for your needs. If yes, there are even more considerations: Budget? Online? Print? E-newsletter? What sizes?!
And while intelligent, engaging creativity is certainly a key element of a sound ad campaign, the most fun, creative and interactive advertisement may be worthless if not supported by sound strategy and critical understanding of your target audience. If the message does not resonate with your target audience and align with what you are trying to communicate about a brand/product/etc, the ad could flop and cost you time and money. Make sure you are crafting messaging first that your audience will identify with before applying all of the bells and whistles.
Additionally, an effective advertising plan does not necessarily have to have a huge budget. No matter what you have to spend, the key is to assess the value of each impression by comparing media costs with the size and quality of the audience you will reach. Consider a number of options and work to develop a custom plan that reaches the best audience possible within your budget restraints. Even a small test campaign can provide valuable insight; if it drives results then consider a larger buy, but otherwise reformulate a new strategy.
Finally, keep in mind that advertising is only one component of your overall marketing plan and may not be something you need in your overall marketing strategy. An ad test as described can serve to demonstrate a particular medium’s value as part of your overall marketing strategy. Consider other options that may be a better fit to reach your target audience such as email marketing, social media marketing, public relations tactics, etc. Or consider how a successful test campaign can be extended for even larger impact.
Ultimately, a strategic approach to advertising not only maximizes your budget, but also effectively raises awareness for and confirms identity of your brand for your target audience.