Planning an advertising campaign is often a very daunting task. The advertising world is a rough and energetic one, and there is always someone willing to take your money! The following tips will help you generate a campaign from scratch, and lead you away from some of the common pitfalls that freelancers can fall into. Remember, you can’t compete with the big boys when it comes to throwing cash around – focus on your target audience and pick media that will allow you to approach them in a cost-effective manner.
1. Determine your business objectives
If you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on branding your services to be top-of-mind for customers. However, if you wish to generate revenue and new business, you may wish to push for a retail-oriented ad (ie, one that focuses on price and offerings). In either case, create some measureable objectives (See 6. Tracking) upon which to base the success or failure of your campaign.
2. Determine your budget
The size of this will determine which approach you can select. Got $1000 to spend? Focus on a guerrilla web campaign, or targeted print ads in corporate newsletters or publications. Got $100,000 to spend? Feel free to splash out on some TV, radio or mass print publications – just be aware that even $100,000 won’t get you too many spots on prime time TV.
Also, be aware that the media itself is only a part of the cost of a campaign – you also have production, artwork and printing as possible costs. And be realistic – a $50 Google adwords voucher will not deliver thousands of people to your website, especially if the keyword is hotly contested.
3. Who are your ideal customers?
If you are a local service freelancer, your ideal sphere of influence will be around your local area. If you are an online service, your influence may be widened to countrywide or even international audiences. If you are a corporate training or accounting freelancer, your focus will be on business to business channels. Who are your customers, and what do they want?
4. Keep your message SIMPLE!
The easiest way to build a message is to think:
- What can you do better than your competition?
- What are your potential customers looking for?
- How can you offer them what they need, whilst playing to your strengths?
Again, keep it simple. If you can’t explain your core concept to a friend in 10 seconds or less, it’s too complex. The average person sees over 1000 ads per day, and to break through that wall of noise, your message needs to be clear, consistent and SIMPLE. Could you imagine concentrating on all the ads you can see in one day? Your head would explode.
5. Determine your media (From step 3)
If you are our local service freelancer from the example above, a local leaflet drop or paper may be the best way to get in touch with your audience. If you are an online business, google adwords or a medium-rectangle banner on a news site might be the way to go. Also, give your campaign some frequency – consumers generally need to see an ad around 7-10 times before the offer becomes top of mind. Blowing an entire advertising budget on premium but low frequency TV ads has been the downfall of many a marketing manager.
Generally, as a rule of thumb, TV is the most expensive but has the largest reach; print media (magazines and newspapers, amongst others) allows you to target demographics quite accurately and has a scalable cost, outdoor (billboard and mobile) advertising is great for simple branding or as a reinforcement for other advertising, and online gives campaigns a significant amount of data and flexibility with tons of different ways to reach customers.
There are obviously many other forms of media to utilise than those simply listed above. Try to create more than one avenue to a customer – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
6. Track your campaigns performance
Try to place some kind of tracking mechanism within the concept. This could be a separate phone number or 1300 number, a tracking URL within an online ad, or a social media special. You could also give a special discount for those who notice the ad. The total amount of new business generated should be compared with the cost of the campaign to determine effectiveness, and the direction of your next campaign.
So, that’s it! Determine your objectives; find out what your customers really want, create a simple but memorable pitch shown in the right media for your target market, and measure the results. Good luck!