Want to know how to set up a small business advertising campaign? In this article, we’ve identified nine essential steps. The 9 steps to set up an advertising campaign are:
While large corporations hire advertising agencies for campaigns involving millions of dollars (think “Mad Men” if you were a fan of that show — and the Madison Avenue ad agency featured in it), small businesses don’t have that luxury.
As a small business owner or marketing manager in a smaller company, you may have to do most of the work on your own without much outside help.
Let’s dive into detail around each of the nine steps in setting up a small business advertising campaign. Here’s our small business advertising checklist detail
Clearly define a business goal or goals for your advertising campaign. Ask yourself: what are you trying to achieve with advertising? Don’t just say you want “more sales.” Everyone wants more sales. Be more specific.
Use the SMART method to define your goals better. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound goals.
Consider these five different advertising goals and how to put SMART goals around them:
The next step in your small business advertising checklist is to decide what you will promote. Choose whether ads will promote:
What you promote must line up with your goals.
Example 1: if your goals include a seasonal sales bump or launching a new product, your focus might be on promoting an event or product — not on promoting your company as a whole.
Example 2: if you are a home improvement contractor trying to boost sales, then you might promote capabilities or a group of related products and services that appeal to target customers. For instance, “Custom kitchen remodels, cabinets, granite countertops, more – call us for a free design consultation and quote”.
Identify the targets you want to reach — precisely. Targets are not just “more buyers” or “consumers.” Be specific.
Develop buyer personas to zero in on the targets you want to reach with advertising
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal target buyer. Personas include demographics, firmographics (for business customers), preferences, habits, challenges they are trying to solve, income and more.
When setting up your small business advertising campaign it’s important to have a good audience fit.
Estimate where your targets spend their time and get their news. What kind of activities do they engage in? What are their daily preferences? How do they research purchases? Understanding these things helps identify how to find people in your target audience.
While billboards, TV ads or magazine ads might reach a very large number of people, the real question is how many of YOUR targets are they likely to reach? Going for wide reach could be expensive overkill — or miss the mark altogether.
Go back to your buyer personas. Do they suggest your target audience is mainly urban millennials who don’t drive much and prefer to go online rather than read print or watch TV? In that case, billboards, print ads and TV ads won’t reach many of them.
Some of the online advertising methods allow you to target precisely. For example, consider how Facebook ads let you target by interests and demographics. Or use keywords in Google AdWords to attract buyers actively searching for your products.
However, online ads could be expensive — and may not hit the mark if you’re mainly trying to lure local foot traffic into your bakery. Community coupon books or advertising in a community bulletin might be better for reaching these local shoppers.
Some types of advertising can be launched immediately. Others require advance planning.
How fast do you need results? Many small businesses want instant results. But not all types of advertising are immediate.
For example, if you’re running a special promotion for a limited time, you need results before the special runs out. A magazine ad that you have to place months ahead of time will be too late. A better option is pay-per-click ads that start delivering clicks within hours. Or consider radio spots that go up within a few days.
On the other hand, with a new product launch, you typically plan it well in advance. So a blitz campaign that includes direct mail, TV commercials and Internet display ads along with a PR campaign, can be coordinated so it all starts to roll out around the same time to make a big splash.
Remember, timing is a key part of any small business advertising campaign.
Be realistic when setting your advertising budget. We all want free advertising. But usually you need to budget for some level of spend.
Next in your small business advertising checklist, consider these three factors when setting your budget. Look at:
"Know the lifetime value of a customer. And know how much you’re willing to commit to acquiring that new lead or purchase," he adds. "Then use those numbers for your digital advertising efforts. For example, say that your average customer purchases 3 times and each purchase is roughly $50. That means every new customer is worth $150. Say you are willing to commit 20 percent to acquiring new customers. That means your goal for cost per conversion is $30. Any advertising that gets a customer for less should be emphasized and expanded. Methods that can’t achieve that goal get tweaked or dropped."
Find media outlets that align with your goals, audience, timing and budget.
In other words, what media outlets or properties are the best places to advertise` for what you want to accomplish? Start with where you audience spends time.
If you decide pay-per-click search ads are appropriate, the obvious choices are Google AdWords and Bing ads. Or perhaps you know that a large chunk of your target audience enjoys Pinterest. In that case, promoted Pinterest pins may be an obvious option.
However, other types of advertising may require more research to identify outlets. Sometimes you find hidden gems
You may need to check out various television or radio stations, websites, magazines, coupon clipper books, outdoor advertising or other media outlets. If you decide a particular outlet is promising, simply look on the website for the “sales” or “advertising” contact (or find a number to call and ask).
Many outlets have an online media kit that provides information for prospective advertisers.
Next, you will need to create the advertising message and “creative assets” (graphics, footage or audio) for your campaign. Some types of ads require professional design. Others can be do-it-yourself.
For print ads, TV commercials and possibly radio spots, many small businesses engage the services of a creative agency to produce the ad assets to make a professional impression. Remember to budget for the cost of the ad creative assets.
Many types of online ads, on the other hand, can be do-it-yourself. For instance, you can create Google AdWords or Facebook ads right within the provided dashboard. For display ads, you can have an inexpensive banner ad made through an online service such as DesignPax starting at around $50
Last but not least, measure results.
Based on your business goals, you should have identified specific metrics to know if your campaign is successful. You need to measure performance against those metrics.
Some types of ads, such as AdWords, are easy to measure because the data is automatically collected. For instance, you can track click-throughs and identify how many converted into online sales or leads.
Other types of ads such as television commercials may require you to manually collect and measure data. For instance, you might need to compare the amount of foot traffic or the number of closed sales, before, during and after TV commercials run.
As you track performance, learn and react. Tweak mid campaign if possible. Or do an analysis and debrief afterwards to learn for the next time.
So there you have it — how to set up an advertising campaign in 9 steps. By following this small business advertising checklist you’ll be positioned for success.