Advertising and public relations can be essential in helping a company gain new customers, keep existing customers, develop a brand identity, increase sales, grow the business and more - if executed well. A successful advertising and PR campaign communicates the strengths of your product/service to your target consumer in a compelling, memorable way. But done poorly, a campaign can alienate consumers and harm your brand image. This article will provide you a step-by-step guide to advertising and public relations so you can execute a solid campaign that will help you meet your goals.
Refer back to your marketing plan
Before you begin advertising, refer back to your marketing plan. Make sure you understand the needs and wants of your current and target customers. Thoroughly analyze the competition, and see where your product/service stands out from competitors. Make sure you know your product/service inside and out - from the tangible (what your product is/does) to the intangible (the status, subtle messaging, etc. that it conveys). This seems simple, but effective advertising and public relations messaging is built upon these items. Once you've thoroughly done your homework, you can begin to form your advertising message, which will communicate the benefits of your product/service in a way that engages your target audience.
Develop advertising and PR goals
It is important to develop advertising goals that detail the exact results you'd like to see from the campaign. Goals might include things such as gaining a more affluent clientele or expanding a certain niche of your business. Make the goals as measurable and detailed as possible.
Establish a budget
The general rule of thumb is that your advertising and PR budget adds up to about 3%-5% of your annual revenue, though this will vary depending on the needs of your business. For example, if your competition is advertising extensively, you might want to keep pace. Once you have a budget, you can allocate the money in a way that best helps you reach your goals.
Create your unique selling proposition (USP)
Your USP is the unique benefit that your product/service delivers to customers that they can't get anywhere else. Write out your USP in terms that your customer will relate to. For example, instead of saying, "We have more inventory than any other retailer," say something like, "We have more than 500 boats for you to choose from - more than any other boat store in the region."
Create an advertising message
Once you have your USP figured out, you can begin to craft your advertising message. There are thousands of ad agencies, specialists, consultants and experts that can help you write and design effective advertisements and campaigns. If you are new to advertising and can afford it, this is a smart way to develop your advertising campaign, as these people are experts in creating effective messaging. Whether or not you hire someone to work on the ads for you, here are a few guidelines to help you develop smart advertising:
Choose the right media for your message
To pick the right media, put yourself in your target consumers' shoes. What media do they use? What media do they trust? What media engages them and inspires them to take action? Not only do you want to choose media brands that your target market uses and engages with, you also want to make sure that the messaging of that media brand is relatively synergistic with your own brand. Finally, you will need to do a cost/benefit analysis. Are you paying for exposure you don't need? If so, would another (or multiple), less expensive options work just as well?
Think beyond traditional media
Public relations campaigns, events, putting your logo on promotional items like pens, guerilla marketing and Facebook advertising could be great ways to get your message out there. Again, just think what your target market does/engages with, and this will help you know where to direct your messages.
Tailor the message to the medium
Your message may slightly differ depending on where the ad is placed. For example, you might choose a different layout for your ad in Metropolitan Home magazine than the one you put in Forbes magazine. The ad should make sense for the medium.
Tailor the message to the different targeted consumers
If you have several different target markets, you may need a USP for each one that is slightly tweaked to their needs. The ads to each of these target groups will likely differ slightly as well.
Track your results
The best way to continually improve your advertising and promotions efforts is to look back at what worked and what didn't. That's why it's key to track your campaign results. There are many ways to do this, including putting unique 1-800 numbers in ads that allow you to see which media the customer discovered you in, asking consumers who buy your product how they heard about you, and many more. Remember to differentiate inquiries from actual sales when you track results.
Make your results work for you in the future
Now that you've tracked your results, you know what works and what doesn't. Change your advertising strategy accordingly. Look to new options, if needed.