Taking on your own advertising campaign is no easy task. You can do
it on your own but get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
1.Your Marketing Plan
Nothing can help you identify your goals more than your marketing
plan. You learn a lot about your company, your competitors and your
long-term goals by creating and following your marketing plan. This
is crucial to knowing what type of advertising is best for you.
Think of how much advertising you run into every day. Magazine ads,
television, radio...in some places you'll even find advertising in
You must make a marketing difference. You need a strategy. You have
to be distinct.
So just how do you stand out from the competition? It's a long, well-
thought out process. And it begins with your marketing plan.
There are several key factors you must identify to make your
marketing plan a strong one:
Who are your potential customers?
What's the most effective way to inform your potential customers?
What do your customers want?
How can you position your product/service in an appealing manner?
Look closely at your target market. What's their age, sex,
profession, income level, educational level and residence?
If you're selling $70,000 vehicles, it really is a waste of time to
target an audience who's making minimum wage.
Sure, they may come by the dealership and test drive the car. But
will they be able to afford the payments? It may sound like a cold
way to approach your marketing strategy but, after all, you're in
business to make money.
Learn all you can about your competitors:
Who are your nearest direct and indirect competitors?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Analyze market research data.
Now compare your product/service to your competition:
Is there a demand for your product/service?
What are the similarities and differences between your
product/service and the competition?
Assess the unique features of your product/service.
Once you identify how your product/service is different, you can
begin your description. Emphasize the special features.
Hit your selling points. Is your product easier to use, faster,
You know your company provides a product or service that's better
than your competition. Now you're ready for the meat of your
marketing plan. Your marketing budget includes:
Advertising and promotional plan
Costs allotted for advertising and promotions
Advertising and promotional materials
List of advertising media to be used and an estimate of costs for
You know how much you can spend now and just where you should spend
it. You're ready to focus on your product's pricing strategy.
Write a brief description of your pricing techniques. Several
elements can help you determine your pricing strategy:
Retail costing and pricing (for retail businesses only)
Pricing below competition
Multiple pricing (for service businesses only)
Overall, your marketing plan is designed to give you short- and long-
term goals as well as a strategy to achieve those goals. Spend as
much time as you need on your marketing plan.
It's a hashing out process that's a lot like a child. It will only be
successful if it's given a lot of time and attention
2.Create a Plan of Action
Once you have your marketing plan, you must create a plan of action.
This model shows you how freelancers and agencies put their own plan
of action in place. Your plan of action also gives you crucial info
you can use in executing your ad strategy.
Freelance copywriters, graphic designers and new ad agencies need a
plan of action. As a freelancer, you are your business. As an agency,
you're just like any other company out there.
Everyone needs a plan.
There are as many models out there to follow as there are reasons to
have one in place. A freelancer may want a structured model to follow
for success in a competitive marketplace. An agency could use a plan
to gain money to fund the business venture along the way.
While all plans of action vary in content, they can follow a basic
format. Use these key ingredients to create a successful plan of
action that's right for you:
Just like when you were in school, create a cover page. Your name or
company name, address, phone number and chief executive's name (if
you're starting an agency) should be on this page
In this day and age, a lot of people put their Email and Web site
addresses on the cover page as well.
Table of Contents
Consider your plan as a small book. You want to include sections and
page numbers for easy access to your content. Your table of contents
should identify all of these sections and their appropriate page
This is, by far, the heart of your plan. The executive summary is
practically a mini-business plan. For example, if you showed your
executive summary to an investor, bank or even your neighbor, they
should know what your plan of action is all about by the end of your
This section shouldn't be more than two pages long and is usually the
hardest part to write.
Where have you (or your company) been and where you are going?
Provide a history (if applicable) and identify your long-term goals.
If your company is a start-up, use this section to identify market
trends and how your company can capitalize on these needs. You'll
also want to define your company's status as well, such as what stage
you are in.
If you don't help fulfill a specific market need, then how are you
going to make a profit? If you've tested your services in the field,
use your results of that test here.
You can also describe your target market and what other consumers you
would like to market your company to, if any. If you've already
started to market your service, these efforts need to be listed here
It's also a good idea to acknowledge your competition here. What's
the best way to take advantage of the differences between you and
Everything there is to know about your services should be in this
section. Prices, warranties, how your services are different, etc.
Sales and Promotion
How are you going to sell your services? All aspects of your
marketing plan should be clearly spelled out. Are you planning on
outsourcing work? Will you hire your own staff in-house?
Any type of marketing plan you intend on launching is vital to this
This entire section is in regard to your past finances. It's a must
for agencies and can be helpful for freelancers to put their
financial outlook in order. This section should include how much
you've made, your profit outlook for the future, etc. A lot of people
use graphics to illustrate their financial background and
You must also include your balance sheets, cash flow projections and
profit and loss statements.
If you're using this plan to approach investors, don't be creative.
Leave all of the sections in order as this is the standard method
used to evaluate a business and its potential.
If you plan on using your plan of action to achieve personal goals,
by all means have fun with it. Be creative and see where your plan of
action can take you.
3.Define Your Advertising Budget
How you advertise depends on your ad budget. You need to
strategically use your advertising money. If you're only allowing a
small portion of money to advertising, you wouldn't want to throw it
all into the production of one commercial that runs at 2 a.m. Know
exactly how much you will spend on your advertising first so you can
make wise decisions in the creation and placement of all ad mediums.
4.Hunt for Affordable Opportunities
Running your own ad campaign means you have to be your own media
director. You've got to find the best ad placement and the most
affordable opportunities to fit into your budget. If you're limited
to a very small budget, you can find many ways to bypass high
Small Budget Advertising
Whether you're just starting your business or you're on a budget
diet, there are still ways to bypass high cost advertising.
This includes weekly shoppers, free local TV guides, newsletters,
community papers. These publications are targeted toward a specific
audience with relatively low ad rates. You're looking at a small
market segment either geographically or by the consumer's special
Weekly newspapers, metropolitan dailies, national magazines. Readers
in these areas may not be looking for your product, but your ad will
be seen by individuals who are looking for specific information.
On that note, classified ads need to be written in a clear and simple
manner. Only feature one product/service per ad. If you offer more
than one product, consider running a separate ad for each product you
You've probably received a package of these at some point. They
contain cards advertising several different companies and their
products. These are also known as "card decks" and reduce the cost of
mailing from 34 to 40 cents all the way down to about 5 cents per
Handbills and Fliers
While you may not want to distribute handbills on the street
yourself, you can hire a high school or college student to do the
grunt work for you.
There are even distribution services you can hire at a low cost to
pass these handbills out. You'll still save money on your advertising
and it only takes one customer to make up for the cost.
You can also post fliers on bulletin boards, put business cards under
windshield wipers, hang ads on doorknobs and pass out your
promotional materials in office buildings.
Another place you might want to consider distributing these materials
is at a trade show for your specific industry. Think of all the
targeted prospects that are right there at your fingertips!
If you're looking to hit the airwaves, you can find some good deals
on radio, your local TV stations and even cable. But you have to make
sure you're reaching prospects, your target market.
A lot of companies overlook one of the easiest ways to get your name
out there. Co-op advertising is a program in which several businesses
take in the expense of advertising by advertising together.
Say you're in the interior decorating business. You can co-op with
furniture companies, carpet dealers, etc., to reduce your advertising
cost and increase your exposure.
Advertising doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. It can make
or break your business...but it doesn't have to break your bank
account in the process.
5.Know Your Target Audience
You can't advertise effectively if you don't hit your target
audience. Know who they are before you start creating your ads. If
your company sells scooters to seniors, you don't want to invest in
cable ads to run on MTV.
Target Your Audience
Building your brand is essential to your company's long-term success.
One of the ways to begin building your brand is to target your
audience. Know who's buying your product and gear your advertising
toward them. If moms are buying your product, gear your ads to the
busy mom. Find a niche market you can capitalize on.
Independent with my own idealism