By Derrith Lambka, Marketing Zone

  1. Is advertising the best marketing tactic to use?  (Or would something else work better?)
  2. Do you want to create an ad campaign or just an ad?
  3. Where do you want to advertise? (locally, regionally, nationally, online only)
  4. What’s your ad budget? Is that enough to do an effective job?
  5. What type of advertising do you want to create? 
  6. What do you want to do yourself?  What do you want to hire an agency or freelancer to do for you?

Decision #1:  Is advertising the best marketing tactic to use? 

From our experience, many companies rush to do advertising when another type of marketing may work better. Before you advertise, understand the Alternatives to Advertising.  Learn about the pros, cons, costs and alternatives so you can determine what will work best for your needs and budget.

Decision #2:  Ad campaign or just an ad?

A campaign is advertising placed on different media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, outdoor billboards, online, etc.) that is unified by a common theme, visuals, and message. Your campaign can be extended into all of your marketing.

Advertising is creative business, yes.  But ultimately ads are sales pitches. Effective advertising should be like creating (or cloning) your best sales pitch or best sales person. Sure, it helps if the ad is interesting and clever, but the bottom line is: Did it get a sale or move the prospect closer to a sale?

There are two primary types of advertising:

  • Brand ads that aim to create, change or enhance the brand personality and positioning. These ads are like business development people who identify, educate and nurture prospects and existing customers.
  • Direct response ads that are like sales reps on quota. These ads are designed and measured by how well they convert prospects into buyers and how much revenue they generate.

From our experience, most agencies and freelancers are not good at both brand and direct response advertising. They specialize. And they tend not to see eye-to-eye. Direct response ad experts consider brand advertising “fluffy, ” and brand ad experts consider direct response advertising transactional, unemotional and unimpressive. So, if you want to develop a campaign using both types of ads, you’ll need to act as the orchestra leader.

Developing an ad campaign takes more work and costs more upfront, but it pays back by establishing a stronger brand reputation for your product, service, company or non-profit organization. The theme and messages from the ad campaign can be used in other sales and marketing materials to further integrate your marketing. Consistency reassures customers and prospects and makes a brand look like a leader. It’s what Starbucks and McDonald’s and most major advertisers do because it works. Small businesses and non-profit organizations can do this too.

By using different advertising in different types of media in your ad campaign, you’ll benefit from what’s called the “Media Multiplier Effect.”  Major advertisers have learned when they use more than one type of media (generally TV and print), that the recall and communication of their message are greater than when they only use one type of media. Think of it this way: A sales rep who uses phone calls, sales meetings, email messages, printed letters and multimedia presentations will be more effective than someone who only uses one communication vehicle.

Campaigns need a “big idea” that will work across all marketing, and that takes time (and luck) to create.  It’s better to run one-off ads that are effective than trying to unify everything under a campaign theme that isn’t great. It’s the trade-off of integration versus effectiveness. Ideally, you’d like both.

Derrith Lambka – Founder and Editor-in-Chief, MarketingZone.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Advertising