Advertising Strategy

How to create an advertising strategy.

An advertising strategy should support the marketing plan, which in turn supports the company business plan.

In the Real World you will rarely be handed a marketing or business plan. So you'll normally have to figure things out for yourself.

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How to create an advertising strategy, part 1:

The first step in the development of your communications strategy could be a SWOT analysis.

Properly done, a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats assessment will give you a 360 degree, full-color picture of the market, the product or service, and the company.

There are two major parts to an advertising strategy.

1) Assessment.
What's going on in the market, What's the history, the current situation. What are the major trends in the market, what's the future looking like? With the product. With competitors. With consumer attitudes.

2) Action
What should your client do about the the most significant opportunities or problems presented by the situation? What should you do with the brand. With direct marketing. The Web site. The way the company is positioned.

A SWOT analysis will help you figure out the "What's going on" part. And figure it out quickly.

The "What to do" part of your ad strategy should follow logically from the "What's going on" part.

Example: Say the SWOT analysis reveals that there is serious and growing competition from price slashers.

Your strategy might be:

A) Position, or re-position the product:
"Because you're worth it - worth so much more then the extra dollar."

B) Invest in, create a stronger brand personality - one based on an upscale, character that people will aspire to associate with.

C) Use traditional dm and the Internet / Web site to target and sell younger buyers, new buyers, before they have established a product / service / company preference.

You can see how your ad strategy addresses a business issue, competitive price pressure, in the above example.

You can also see that the ad strategy deals with the big strategic issues: branding, positioning, direct marketing, and media. And it does so with simple action statements describing, high-level, what you intend to accomplish.

Eventually your strategy will influence all the details, down to the copy and design of your ads. But start with an executive summary of the big issues, the big picture.

"OK, Mr. President. Here's what's going on. Big picture. One, two, three.

And here's what we will do about it. Big picture. One, two, three."

That's the essence of strategic leadership and vision.

How to create an advertising strategy, part 2:

Here are some key issues to consider when creating an advertising strategy or campaign.

Understand, or define, the brand ... as it is now, and what you want it to be, whether the same or something different.

a How to create and characterize a brand.

Know how the company is positioned in the minds of consumers, and where you want it to be positioned.

a How to position a company, product, service or brand.

Understand the Psycho-Dynamics of the market.

14 fancy letters for a simple idea: what's going on inside the brains of buyers, of perspective customers?

It includes, but is not limited to, Consumer Involvement Theory ... how the consumer relates to the purchase: Rational to emotional. High to low involvement. You probably buy the same brand of soap or soda with a mindless motion at the market. But you do your homework when buying cameras or cars. Most people do the same.

But besides CIT, there are likely other issues, perhaps more important issues, such as why people buy the other brand:

"People think our competitor produces higher quality, more reliable products." Or, "People think Big Bank has more services and products than we do. Things like investments and insurance, even inexpensive safe deposit boxes. So they think Big Bank is more convenient."

Or perhaps it's not so much what people think about competitors, but what they think about your client:

"Gosh, I don't know if I want to buy a Mac. Just not as much software as I can get for a PC."

Get the idea? Psycho-Dynamics is everything. It's all that stuff rattling around between the ears of potential customers. The thoughts, feelings and ever-changing prejudices that influence purchase decisions. That's the Psycho-Dynamics of the market.

And it is always changing. Got that? it's always changing. Day to day, hour to hour, sometime second to second.

Know, or define, exactly what you want the advertising to accomplish.

Strangely enough, this is called the advertising objective. Do you want the advertising to get people to think or feel or do something? Or a combination of the three?

"We want people to think of us as a maker of truly top quality sports wear, for real athletes. We want people to buy our brand instead of Brand N. And feel cool, proud to wear our logo."

Another way to define the Ad Objective is to ask, what's the most important task for our advertising?

Is it to encourage an emotional connection with the brand?

To provoke, challenge or give them an incentive to re-appraise the brand? Give the product another try?

Is it to convince them rationally that the service delivers better value for the money?

Is the objective to get consumers change their usage patterns? To buy your butter instead of the butter Mom always bought?

Or react immediately in some way to the advertising? Such as pick up the phone or go online and order?

Understand or define the marketing objective and strategy.

The marketing objective is a business goal. For example, "in the first year we want to capture 10% of the market in six cities."

Or, "Our goal is to be profitable in this country within 6 months."

Or, "We want to increase sales with this product to the point where profits reach $50,000 per month, and do this in 12 months."

All of the above, of course, to be accomplished within a budget.

The advertising strategy supports the marketing strategy.

So let's say you are selling Fred's Farm Fresh Ice Cream. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla are flying out of the freezer. But no one wants the prune flavor.

So Fred says, "Hey, I want my Purple Prune flavor to add 20% to my sales - not steal sales from the existing three - or I'm going to dump it in 12 months. Here's one million dollars to work with. What do you suggest?"

In this case your strategy might be to:

A) Re-name the product: Prune Surprise.

B) Re-position it: Surprisingly Sweet, Surprisingly Healthy.

C) Build a brand based on the personality of a fussy old lady, a great cook, who is very demanding: it's got to taste great, and be great for your health. Or she's rejects it.

You could project that brand personality with TV ads showing a young Mrs. Consumer absentmindedly reaching for some ice cream at the store. Mrs. Fussy taps her on the shoulder, and she starts, "Oh! You surprised me, Helen..."

D) Achieve immediate sales with an in-store promo plan or discount coupons, something to encourage people to give it a try.

All the while, keep in mind that one single thread you want to weave into all of your communications; that one most important thing you want to say:

"Prune surprise is loaded with healthy fiber, and surprisingly sweet."

That's your position. Here are some more examples:

- Satalindo gives you clearer international calls.

- Bogasari is the pasta preferred by professional chefs.

- The new Tempest goes farther on a tank of gas than any car in its class.

- MiniBank is small, which makes you big and important, no matter how much you have in your account.

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