Developing an Advertising Program

Developing an Advertising ProgramWhen you have an amazing product or a great service, you need to let people know about it⁠—by advertising. But what steps are actually involved in creating a comprehensive advertising plan? There are three main components to the process: developing, executing and evaluating. Through a series of blogs, we are going to explore each of the three components, and break them down, hopefully demystifying the process a bit. We’ll start with developing the advertising program, which itself has six major facets.

  • Identifying the target audience
  • Specifying advertising objectives
  • Setting the advertising budget
  • Designing the advertisement
  • Choosing the medium
  • Scheduling the advertising

Identifying the target audience

In order to develop an effective advertising program, it is imperative to identify the target audience. The demographics and characteristics of the ideal consumer will impact decisions across the board—everything from where and when you advertise, to what words and images you use in that advertising. 

Specifying advertising objectives

Setting objectives—such as awareness, interest, evaluation, trial or adoption—helps steer businesses toward choices such as selecting a media form or evaluating a campaign.  

Setting the advertising budget

Advertising represents a significant financial commitment and needs to be part of a formalized budgeting process. One method of making decisions regarding an advertising budget is to use the objective and task method, which has the company allocating money to its marketing budget based on specific objectives, instead of basing the marketing budget on sales revenues or projections alone. Alternatively, businesses may opt to use the competitive parity method. This approach is used when an advertiser decides the advertising budget based on what competitors are spending. 

Designing the advertisement

Advertising messaging generally focuses on the product or service’s key benefits that have been identified during testing as being most important to the target market. The content of the advertisement consists of both informational and persuasive components, often woven together in a way that makes it difficult to identify individual elements of the ad. While there are many different appeals an advertisement can make, the three most common are fear appeals, sex appeals and humorous appeals.

  • Fear appeals: Fear appeals convey the idea that a potential customer will be able to avoid a negative experience if they purchase a particular product or service, change a behavior or an amount of interaction with or consumption of a product. Fear appeals tap into not only fear itself, but FOMO—fear of missing out—making fear appeals successful for campaigns as varied as travel, luxury goods, diet supplements and public service announcements. Remember the “this is your brain on drugs” PSA from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America? Classic use of a fear appeal. In order for a fear appeal to be successful, the appeal must be strong enough to capture the attention of the target audience, but not so strong that it causes people to be repelled. 
  • Sex appeals: Sex appeals convey the idea that by using the product or service, the customer will become more attractive in some way. Studies indicate that sex appeals generate greater response than other types of appeals, but may not increase recall, recognition or purchase intent. Furthermore, changing social norms have challenged the traditional imagery associated with sex appeals, as consumers demand postitive body images, gender inclusivity and realistic representations of roles. Sex appeals are best suited to campaigns where sexual imagery matches the image and positioning of the brand, and even then, sex appeals require careful planning so as to not appear overly sexualized.
  • Humorous appeals: Humorous appeals work by insinuating that the advertised brand is either more fun or exciting than the brand of a competitor. Advertisers believe that increases ad effectiveness, but some research indicates that the humor can wear off quickly. Remember Geico’s Maxwell, the talking pig who squealed the entire ride home? He quickly went from cute to annoying, and he is no longer a Geico mascot, as the last commercial with him stopped airing in March 2019. Another potential issue is that humorous appeals may be interpreted differently by different cultures. 

Examples of advertising missing the mark can be found here, here and here, as well as countless other places. No matter which appeal an advertiser chooses, it’s important to consider all the angles and perspectives, to make sure the ad will be received in the manner in which it was intended. 

Once the type of appeal has been decided, an advertiser still has to create the actual message.Translating the ideas and concepts of the advertising team into an actual advertisement is a complicated process that involves many different moving parts, and the cooperation of many different people, including designers, content writers and artists. Layout and production costs must be considered, as well as user experience.

Selecting the right media

There are many different options when it comes to advertisement placement. Different types of products and different objectives may make one medium more attractive than another. Cost is a consideration as well. While there are a wealth of options, the internet, television and direct mail together comprise more than 75 percent of advertising dollar expenditures. Direct mail allows advertisers to be highly selective in targeting segments of the population, but there is a high cost per contact. Television is also expensive, but can reach an extremely large audience. The internet is cost effective, and its advertising message and reach can be constantly adjusted for optimal performance. Because internet advertising is also interactive, the rich media format is also another advantage to using the internet for advertising. When mobile marketing is included, internet advertising really becomes a standout option for businesses. 

Scheduling the advertising

While there is no one foolproof formula for scheduling advertising, there are three important considerations that must be taken into account when creating the schedule. They are:

  • Buyer turnover: how often new buyers enter the market
  • Purchase frequency: how often the product is purchased 
  • Forgetting rate: how quickly buyers forget a product without exposure to advertising

Based on this data, most companies will select one of three basic scheduling methods. They are:

  • Continuous (steady): advertising runs at a constant rate throughout the year
  • Flighting (intermittent): periods of advertising mixed with periods of not advertising, based on seasonal demand
  • Pulse (burst): a combination of continuous and flighting advertising strategies, pulse advertising maintains a minimum level of steady advertising, augmented with intermittent periods of additional advertising, based on demand, promotion or product launches

Developing an advertising program involves a lot of moving parts. Demographics. Data. Design. Delivery. Even with the advent of social media advertising, there are lots of potential pitfalls for business owners. But the social media advertising team at 360 PSG stands ready to develop, execute and evaluate an advertising plan customized to get your company more sales. To learn more about our team, our experience and our approach to advertising in the 21st century, get in touch with us by filling out an information request form and someone from our marketing team will be in touch shortly. 

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