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How to Craft an Effective Media Plan

May 23, 2024

There are an infinite number of ways to market your brand these days—website, sales collateral, branded content, sign spinners on a street corner—but one of the most powerful is paid media. Unlike other tactics available, it allows us to control a lot of the details as to who sees our ad, when, in what context, and how often. But when a client comes to us and says, “I want to advertise my business on television,” our first question isn’t how much do you want to spend or what should be in the commercial, it’s what are you trying to accomplish? 

Start with the Marketing Strategy

As an integrated marketing agency, one of our first steps with all of our clients is developing an overall marketing strategy. This begins by creating both a situational and SWOT analysis, a deeper dive on the target audience and their habits, and clearly identifies call to action (CTA), key performance indicators (KPIs), and ultimately marketing goals & objectives that will help them accomplish their business goals for the year. Note: don’t start the process of creating your marketing plan if you don’t have your business goals set! 

During this work, we also work with our clients to help determine a marketing budget to get this strategy implemented. A few things we’ll take into consideration when trying to determining a marketing budget for the year include: 

  • If the brand is new or established
  • Is it trying to grow or maintain
  • Past and projected sales data
  • Competitive spending reporting

With the marketing strategy and budget clearly defined, we move on to tactical planning—putting all of the options on the table to determine which are the most effective and efficient way to reach the target. From the tactical plan, we then extrapolate the paid media tactics that our media department will be responsible for negotiating, implementing, and ongoing management. 

Our Media Planning Philosophy:
Staying Current, Neutral, and Open

Three key reasons why our agency excels at media planning: 

  1. We cut through the clutter. With the average consumer being hit with 5,000 ad messages a day, most of which are neither engaging nor relevant to their interests, it’s our job to cut through the clutter. To do this, we stay current on new and evolving media trends, but we are also constantly researching, evaluating, and testing new ideas in order to execute strategic media tactics to our well-defined target audience.  
  2. We are “media neutral.” We are not biased or preferential to any one medium. We strive to be objective in media recommendations. As a result, we have planned just about every medium out there from traditional to non-traditional to digital tactics. We understand how each can and should be used to maximize the benefit for you as the advertiser.
  3. We have an open door policy. It’s imperative that we meet with every media partner out there because you just never know where the next great idea may come from. The best media planner has to know that there are many more tools in the media toolbox than there were 20 years ago—or 20 days ago, for that matter. 

Our Media Process:
Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Accountability

We focus on three things throughout our media process: effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability

  1. Effectiveness: We dive into market and industry research: qualitative, quantitative, competitive data. We thoroughly define the target audience—not only the demographic make-up, but also psychographic and lifestyle analysis. We also define and analyze the geography—whether multiple DMAs or zip code specific. It’s then our job to create a plan that maximizes effective reach via the most targeted media.

    The final piece of the planning process is to define media metrics and “econometrics.” It’s not just GRPs we are planning, but how we will evaluate the key performance indicators (KPIs)—measurable results—whether it’s sales, leads, traffic, awareness, or market share. We will set-up metrics to evaluate ROI for the client.
  2. Efficiency: When we say “best rates,” we mean it. To start, we have rate history buying media in the Tampa Bay DMA and surrounding markets for more than 25 years. Additionally, we monitor cost-per-points and cost-per-thousands as a barometer of efficiency to compare vendors’ products and pricing, as well as one medium to another. These aren’t our buys, these aren’t our dollars, they are our clients’—and we never lose sight of the importance of not over paying.

    Added value is another way that we can achieve cost efficiency in our buys as
    well as negotiating in-kind, sponsorship, and/or trade for our clients. Added value opportunities can stretch the budget, add audience exposure to the campaign, and create new and unique ways to effectively reach the desired target audience. Our clients are not confined to what the media partner conjures up—but instead get the experience of a talented and creative, yet highly realistic, team approach.
  3. Accountability: Unlike too many other agencies, our media process does not end after the buy is placed. The third part, and truly the most important, is the monitoring, optimizing, and post-analysis. Both the Agency and the media must be accountable at all times. We make sure to explain our high expectations and make-good parameters prior to flight—we hate surprises. We continually communicate with our media partners.

    For television, audience delivery is guaranteed to a minimum of 90 percent of purchased TRPs. We provide a thorough post-analysis utilizing the most current Nielsen data available. We look for delivery within the demo, within the flight weeks, within the daypart distribution, and by spot length. We also can go to the extent of verifying that the reach and frequency goals were also achieved.

    We also monitor the added value that stations have committed to and make sure it has executed as expected. Too often we find that when unregulated, this area tends to fall short. We make sure it is delivered as it was promised as part of the negotiation. 

On the digital side, we keep a vigilant watch over our tactics—monitoring performance, identifying potential areas for improvement, and optimizing constantly. Whether it’s refining a keyword list, tweaking targeting, or adjusting ad copy, we believe there’s always room to improve, and keep you informed about the steps we’re taking to do so.

From a financial perspective, our media department does a thorough reconciliation each month of all media invoices with a written explanation of even the smallest discrepancy. Our expectation for reconciliation is 98 percent of dollars and 100 percent of negotiated GRPs. Are we obsessive? We are not afraid to admit it.

Results Is a Core Value

So the media plan is complete, the media buy is executed, and the media post-analysis is reviewed. Now it’s time to evaluate the results of the campaign: Did attendance improve? Did we exceed projected sales? We work closely with our clients and constantly tweak and improve our media strategy to ensure continued positive results for our clients. 

If you’d like to learn more about how paid media fits into your marketing strategy, give us a call!