The marketing landscape is cut-throat and you need to up your game with every campaign. Therefore, every campaign you create will have to be perfect. But how can you create the perfect campaign? Every single time? There’s a secret that every marketer worth their salt swears by. And today you’ll find out what the secret ingredient is. The secret ingredient is a media plan.
What’s a media plan?
Creatives and content are very important to a successful campaign. However, planning your campaigns is just as crucial as getting your content out there. And this is where media planning comes in. If ads are the building, a media plan is the foundation. The better your foundations are, the stronger and better the building you get. Therefore, having a great media plan results in great campaign performance.
A media plan is used to answer the what, when, where, and how of a marketing strategy. You can also think of a media plan as a decision-making tool. It helps businesses communicate their offerings optimally and effectively.
A great ad set will reach the right audience, at the right time, with just the right words to convert them. A media plan will help you determine who the right audience is. Plus, what are the right time and the right words are. It will also help in determining the right platforms to reach your audiences. Plus, this data will go a long way in marketing budget allocation decisions.
A media plan is crucial to the successful execution of a marketing strategy. Therefore, you must have a media plan before publishing ads or even designing marketing strategies.
Media planner vs media buyer
A media planner and media buyer might seem similar in their job description, but they are not the same. They might even be similar in how they operate. However, they differ in what they do. There are a few differences that will help you tell them apart.
Media planners work closely with clients. They note down marketing directions given by the client. And then implement the directions in the media plan. Such instructions can include communication tone, demographics, color palette, etc. It is the media planner’s job to reach the maximum target demographic in the allocated budget. They also have to conduct research and formulate the objectives of the campaign. Plus, evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness and how you can improve it the next time.
Media buyers rarely work closely with clients. However, they work in the directions provided by the media planner. It means that they execute the plan. They identify and purchase advertisement spaces on a channel. It involves manual bidding, direct buys, and other forms of bidding and buying. It is their job to get the best ad space at the lowest cost possible.
To recap, media planners plan the what, who, how, when, and where. The media buyers implement the plan as optimally as they can.
Types of media you can use in your media plan:
There are three types of media platforms. And they are pretty easy to remember. Their classification depends on who creates it. And if the company pays for it or not, and who publishes it. It is crucial to distinguish them since it contributes to budgeting. Therefore, a better media plan by extension. Plus, it helps you evaluate your marketing efforts for each type of media and channel.
It is the media that provides paid placements to businesses. Hence, any type of marketing that a company pays for is paid marketing. These are a business’s external marketing efforts. Paid media includes branded content, display ads, and pay-per-click ads. A few examples of paid media are Google Ads, social media sponsored posts, print ads, and billboards.
It is the media channel that the company owns. It costs less than paid media since the company controls it. The best kind of media channel. However, the channels require regular updates and maintenance. Plus, audience reach is usually limited to an audience who already knows your brand. It includes company websites, blogs, organic social media posts, newsletters, etc.
You may also know it as earned content. It is the type of content or media that your company has not paid for or created. You would know it as publicity or free media. And this is a good thing, as long as it is not negative. Earned media includes social media posts made about you by anyone who is not your employee. It also involves reviews, product posts, and blogs written by other people. Earned media establishes credibility and boosts trust between the company and customers. The actions of the company result in earned media. You launch a product. And then it gets featured on the “Hot New Products” blog by a tech geek. That is earned media.
Here are the steps to create an excellent media plan:
Step 1: Market analysis and identification of target demographic
Market analysis is the first step to creating any type of marketing strategy. Why? Because you need to know what your audience wants. The key to a media plan is research. Research is the golden word that is the basis of the next steps in your media plan. Therefore, do not be stringent in the time you spend doing research. Your research should include these areas:
- Top competitors
- Your target demographic
- Platforms used by your audiences
- Market trends
Step 2: Establish an objective
What is your aim? Are you trying to boost views and engagement? Or are you trying to increase web traffic? The objectives of the media plan will determine how you create a strategy. Plus, it will make identifying the elements of your campaign easier. Try to get as specific with your objective as you can. Many media planners use the SMART framework to formulate a simple goal. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific: your goal should be clear and easily understood.
Measurable: your goals should be trackable. These goals are quantitative. Therefore, they include metrics and KPIs.
Achievable: the gold should be realistic. It is especially crucial when defining objectives at the start of media planning. It is easy to get swept up and create unattainable goals. This part of the framework is there to make sure you do not promise what you can not deliver.
Relevant: the media plan should align with your short-term and long-term goals. Plus, it should be within your brand ethics and philosophy.
Time-bound: there should be a limit to the duration of the goal. A week, a month, a year.
Other elements to include:
- Budget: having some flexibility will help you optimize the campaign as it runs. Therefore, avoid strict allocations.
- Frequency: how many times will you show an ad through the day or duration of the campaign?
Objectives will differ for every department and campaign. Additionally, there may be multiple objectives of a single marketing campaign. Therefore, you must factor in many variables when you create a strategy.
Step 3: Create a strategy using the media plan
By now, you should have an objective and other elements of your media plan in place. After this, you can craft your marketing strategy. With the help of your marketing goals, you can decide on the channel, the creatives, and the content. Additionally, you can choose which platforms to publish your campaign. Creating a one-fits-all is easy, but it is not very fruitful. Therefore, you need to tailor each marketing strategy to the channel. Remember, nothing is better than a bespoke suit if you are trying to make an impression.
Step 4: Implement the media plan
It is the part where the media buyer comes in. The media planner executes the plan. You have the brain of the operation, and then you have the enforcer. A media planner is the brain, and the media planner is the enforcer. Plus, this is the part where it all comes together.
Step 5: Evaluate the efforts of your media plan
It is the last part. Evaluation comes right after the duration of the objective ends. Or even during the implementation of the strategy. It is where you track and measure the results of the campaign. The plus part of monitoring the metrics while the campaign is running is that you can easily tweak it if something is not working.
At the end of the evaluation, you will be able to answer:
- What was the cost per person?
- What was the cost per thousand?
- Which elements worked?
- Was the objective met? If not, why?
- Which channel or platform performed well? and which ones did not?
- How can you operate better next time?
How do you choose the right platforms to include in your media plan?
The platforms you choose will depend on your target demographic. If your target demographic is older, go with traditional media types and Facebook. However, if your target audience is younger, definitely use Instagram. Plus, YouTube is always a safe bet, no matter the demographic.
Offline media platforms:
- Magazines: long shelf life, and you can choose a niche magazine for a specialized product/service.
- Newspaper: great for local businesses.
- Radio: it is a low-cost and local option.
- TV: visual medium, and you can show the product as a video. A great option if you want to show how it works.
- Billboards and posters: it is an old-school way of advertising. However, very effective.
Online media platforms:
- Digital publications and magazines: it is easier to track leads and conversions.
- Social media: it is the new age solution for most businesses. You can choose between organic and sponsored posts. Plus, you can create a campaign for any budget.
- Websites and news ad spaces: many free websites and newspapers provide digital ad spaces for businesses.