John Wanamaker famously said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." With a clear strategy, you can maximise the results you get from your advertising.
What are your goals?
The first step in any media advertising campaign is to set your objectives. Your goal could be to raise awareness to pave the way for a sales drive. You could be advertising to drive response, perhaps by promoting an offer on your website or flagging up your stand in an exhibition guide. Or you could be aiming to change customer attitudes by highlighting specific benefits of your products or service.
Targeting your audience
Then you need to work out how to reach your target audience. Local papers and free magazines could provide the right audience for a small business operating in a specific catchment area. Business-to-business firms can use industry publications and events to advertise to specific groups. Always negotiate - rates are rarely set in stone.
Your advert needs to convey a clear message with a call to action. Your strategy should be based around promoting a single, solid benefit, so you need to understand what motivates your target audience to buy.
The look and feel of your advertising should be in line with your brand values. A cheap-looking advertisement can damage your reputation.
Return on investment
Today, no matter what type of advertising you do, you can measure the results. Analytics tools enable businesses to measure and fine-tune every aspect of their online advertising. Media advertising can be measured by using specific response mechanisms - dedicated telephone numbers, web pages, email addresses and even QR codes.
After running your advert, you need to look at the response levels you generated. Did your advert deliver a good return on investment; in other words, has it brought in more new business than it cost to run? What adjustments can you make in the future?
Fulfilling the enquiry
Follow up is the final piece of the jigsaw. An enquiry from an ad is often just the first step towards making a sale, so make sure you and your sales staff are ready to make the most of the increased interest that your advertising brings.