Ad Cracker

How to Create An
Advertising Strategy

A bold advertising strategy should address the problems and opportunities that can have the greatest impact on sales, profits and the value of a company.

To do that you should identify one or more strategic objectives, such as increasing website traffic or building a vivid brand personality. See slideshow below.

Strategic objectives should, of course, support the company marketing plan, which in turn supports the business plan.

In the Real World, however, you will rarely be handed a marketing or business plan. So you might have to figure that out yourself.

There are two parts to any advertising strategy: Assessment and Action.

Part 1 - Assessment: What are the major risks, opportunities and trends in the market?

What, for example, are the major trends in buyer behavior? And what's the future looking like? With the product. With competitors. With consumer attitudes.

Here's a tip. There is usually at least one person in any company who can provide an excellent assessment. Look to the owner or founder. The marketing director. Or the sales and customer service team.

Part 2 - Action: What should you do about those risks, opportunities and trends?

Here's where you articulate your strategic objectives. Those objectives, of course, should be based on what your client should do about the most significant opportunities and problems revealed in the assessment.

What action, for example, should you take regarding the competition, changes in consumer behavior and media consumption? What if anything should you do with the brand, with direct marketing, on social media platforms?

Advertising Strategy slideshow

> Click for slideshow: Advertising Strategy

This slideshow explores the difference between tactical and strategic communications.

> Every Creative Director set includes:

- 3 Quick and clever ways to get consumer insights.

- 30 Strategic creative techniques to build brands, position products and drive direct response results.

- 1000s of example ads in traditional, digital and social media.

- Plus How To slideshows and workshop activity books.

The first step in the development of your strategy - the assessment - could be accomplished with a SWOT analysis.

Properly done, a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats assessment will give you a 360 degree, full-color photo of the market. 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 strategy should follow logically from the "What's going on" part.

For example, say the SWOT analysis reveals that there is serious and growing competition from price slashers.

Your strategy to deal with that particular issue might be:

- Create a stronger brand personality - one based on a financially upscale, but emotionally down to earth character.

- Position the product as high value for money, in part with the slogan, "Quality counts, and you're worth it."

- Use traditional direct marketing techniques, combined with an expanded social media presence, to target younger buyers with strong, introductory offers, before they have established a product / service / company preference.

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

You can also see that the ad strategy deals with the most powerful creative tools: branding, positioning, direct marketing and media. And it does so with simple action statements describing, at a high-level, what you intend to accomplish.

Picture you. Walking into the board room, looking confidently around the room, and saying,

"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.

Advertising Strategy

Some advertising issues that influence strategy

Direct. For example, how do you get qualified traffic to the Website or the store? Perhaps you employ multiple approaches, such as content marketing on your website or YouTube, along with digital direct response ads on select websites plus email campaigns to your customer and prospect base.

Media. What are the most efficient mediums to engage your audience in their real and digital worlds? And what mediums will best support your creative expressions for branding, direct response and content? You might start with a testing plan to measure quantifiable and subjective results from traditional, digital and social media. And you should certainly keep an eye on emerging media, especially on trends in media consumption.

Branding. How would you define the brand. As it is known now, in the minds of consumers. And as you want it to be known. You want to be able to say, "Here's how we define our brand, and how we express it throughout the company, in everything from advertising to the way we interact with customers in tech support."

Positioning. How is the company, product or service currently positioned in the minds of consumers? And how do you want it to be positioned? Positioning is frequently the fastest, least expensive way to make big changes for your client.

Psycho-Dynamics. 14 fancy letters for a simple idea: what's going on inside the brains of buyers, of perspective customers, of the entire market?

You can get a quick insight into those brains with consumer involvement theory,CIT, which explores how consumers make purchase decisions. For example, you probably buy the same brand of soap with a mindless motion at the market. But you do your homework when buying a car. Most people do the same. And that tells us how to talk to them.

Besides what you can learn with CIT, there are other issues at work in the audience, such as why people buy the competitor's brand.

"People think our competitor produces higher quality, more reliable products."

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. So much more expensive than 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. Always. Day to day, hour to hour, sometime second to second.

Advertising Strategy

Marketing objectives

Marketing objectives reflect business goals. Some examples:

"In the first year we want to capture 10% of the market in six cities."

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

"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 marketing budget.

How advertising strategy supports marketing objectives.

Let's say you get a call from Fred of Fred's Farm Fresh Ice Cream. Seems his chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors are flying out of the freezer. But no one wants his latest invention, Purple Prune flavor, even though it tastes great and is loaded with fiber.

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:

- Re-name the product: Sweet Prune Surprise.

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

- 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 healthy. Or she's rejects it.

- Achieve immediate sales with in-store promotions, discount coupons, and coop ads with major grocery stores.

- Associate Sweet Prune Surprise with a healthy lifestyle with sample booths at family / sports activities, such as the 5k Family Fun Run.

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."

> Every Creative Director set includes:

- 3 Quick and clever ways to get consumer insights.

- 30 Strategic creative techniques to build brands, position products and drive direct response results.

- 1000s of example ads in traditional, digital and social media.

- Plus How To slideshows and workshop activity books.