How to Develop and Run a Marketing Campaign

Prepare smart for your next marketing campaign by revising your marketing plan and understanding the different ad media available.

A marketing campaign isn't something that comes to you whileyou're taking a shower. Successful campaigns tend to becarefully researched, well-thought-out and focused on details andexecution, rather than resting on a single, grand idea.

Planning a marketing campaign starts with understanding yourposition in the marketplace and ends with details such as thewording of an advertisement. You may also want to include decisionsabout uniforms, stationery, office décor and the like in yourmarketing plan.

Keep in mind that your plan is not supposed to be a prison. Youhave to leave room to make changes as you go along because no plancan perfectly capture reality. But you should also be able tocommit fully to implementing your plan-or some future version ofit-if you want to take a strong step toward growth.

Revising Your Marketing Plan

A growing business needs a new marketing plan just as it needs anew business plan. The steps in revising your marketing plan aresimilar to those required to create a marketing plan fromscratch.

First, you need to redefine your product or service. Describeyour product or service and its features and benefits in detail.Focus on how it differs from the competition. Concentrate on keyfeatures of your offering, including pricing, service, distributionand placement. In other words, know what you are going to beselling more of and why more people are going to buy it.

Second, look at the various market segments into which you hopeto introduce-or expand demand for-your product. Decide what type ofbuyer is most likely to purchase it. Now describe your targetcustomer in detail in terms of demographics: age, sex, familycomposition, earnings, geographical location, lifestyle, purchasingpatterns, buying objections, and the like. Know exactly who will bedriving your growth.

Third, create a strategy for communicating the message that willproduce growth. Find out what your target customers read and listento, and spell out your promotional objectives. Do you want peopleto recognize your name or know where you're located? Decide howoften you'll need to-and can afford to-expose customers to yourmessage to create the growth you desire.

Choosing the Proper Media

You're not going to reach new markets and new customers byadvertising in the same old places with the same old message. Thatdoesn't mean you have to buy a full-page ad in The WallStreet Journal or a 60-second commercial during the Super Bowl.Like most small companies, you will be more likely to grow byfinding a niche, not by trying to sell to the mass market. Yourcustomers' location, age, income, interests and otherinformation will tell you what media will reach them. Target youradvertising as narrowly as possible to the media that will reachyour best customers. Then gradually broaden your reach to attractnew customers.

For instance, if you were selling computer networking equipmentto small companies, you might advertise in Entrepreneurmagazine as well as some business-oriented computer magazines. Ifyou wanted to broaden your market to home networkers, you could addmedia aimed at homeowners. Like any aspect of running a business,marketing involves a measure of trial and error. As your businessgrows, however, you'll quickly learn which advertising mediaare most cost-effective and draw the most customers.

Print Advertising

The print ad is the basic unit of advertising, the fountainheadfrom which all other forms of advertising spring. There are twoprincipal publication categories to consider for printadvertising.

The first, newspapers, have a positive and a negative side. Onthe plus side, you can get your ad in very quickly. On thedownside, newspapers usually have a shelf life of just 24 hours.Therefore, if you run your ad on Monday, you can't depend onanyone to discover that ad on Tuesday. As the saying goes,"Nobody wants to read yesterday's news." If yourbudget allows for multiple insertions-that is, running your ad morethan once-do so. Regular exposure of the ad builds recognition andcredibility. If some of your prospects see but don't respond toyour first insertion, they may well respond to your second orthird. If you have confidence in your ad's message, don'tpanic if the initial response is less than you wanted. Moreinsertions may bring a better response.

The second type of print publication is magazines, for whichthere are specialty categories of every kind. Advertising in thistype of publication allows you to target special-interest groups.Another advantage of magazines, especially monthlies, is that theyhave a much longer shelf life than newspapers; they're oftenbrowsed through for months after publication. So your ad might havean audience for up to six months after its initial insertion.Moreover, readers spend more time per sitting with a magazine thana newspaper, so there's more chance they'll run across yourad.

Radio and TV Advertising

Many entrepreneurs believe that radio and TV advertising arebeyond their means. But while national TV advertising is usuallyout of the entrepreneur's price range, advertising on localstations and on cable television can be surprisingly affordable.Armed with the right information, the small-business owner may findthat TV and radio advertising deliver more customers than any othertype of ad campaign. The key is to have a clear understanding ofthe market so the money spent on broadcast advertising isn'twasted. Make sure you know what your advertising is supposed toachieve, set a reasonable budget, get all the feedback you can fromother entrepreneurs, station advertising salespeople and others,and your broadcast ad campaign can prove a powerful growthproducer.

The cost of producing your commercial is a major issue withbroadcast advertising. TV stations usually charge you to produceyour commercial (prices range from about $200 to $1,500), whileradio stations will put your ad together for free.

Excerpted from Growing Your Business

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