Building the Annual Media Plan

With all the nuances between formats and steps for successful placement,  where do you start?

Charlotte branding agency

As cooler weather sets in, one thing is definite: It’s time for the creation of an annual marketing plan. For most businesses, this means reflecting on the past year’s successes (and misses), as well as identifying opportunities for continued momentum and growth. Two key components of these efforts – Media Planning and Buying.

Our team at birdsong gregory is here to help.

We all know media, the print and online ads, television commercials, etc.; however, not everyone understands the nuances between formats and steps for successful placement. Where do you start?

To begin, our team will help you look closely at not only your budget, but also how these resources are best allocated across clearly defined audiences.

1. Budget and Brief

We kick off with questions. For the upcoming year, what are your key objectives, and what is your budget for achieving success? To whom are you speaking? Where does he/she collect information (as it pertains to your category)? What are his/her most trusted information resources? When and how does he/she use publications, websites, etc.?

These are just a few of the questions that you will find on a standard marketing brief. Some of the answers will be obvious, known based on your experience and observations. Others may require that we create and complete a tailored research approach. Based on your specific information needs, we may suggest quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews, or a combination thereof.

We are trained and experienced in the various stages of research development and execution, allowing for any efforts to be productive in the garnering of the exact insights sought.

The resulting information will allow us to tailor a media plan to your best audience, and in turn, know how to track responses (or another success measure).

Ultimately, not all of your budget may go to “paid” media, but these outlets will likely play a role (substantial or small). Regardless of the amount invested, we will work to ensure the most effective mix of placements possible.

2. Outlet Selection

Based on your audience insights, we will begin collecting media information (often in the form of “kits”) from various outlets. In addition to placement options (ad types, sizes, etc.) and costs, take a close look at audience demographics and psychographics, circulation and reach numbers, and pass-along exposure. Our goal will be to not only reach the “right” audience members, but their extended networks as well.

Note: For each publication or website, we will likely have a dedicated media rep – either through our network or your’s. If you have worked with that outlet before, we will inquire as to whether you’ve been assigned a specific contact. Media reps typically work on commission, and you will not want there to be confusion as to your assigned contact. In addition, our establishment of strong rep relationships can help during the reservation of specific issues or the negotiation of final costs.

(Likewise, to help protect your busy schedules, we will field ongoing media calls and inquiries, ensuring that only the best opportunities reach your inbox.)

3. Buy and Schedule (Schedule and Buy)

In addition to audience profile, our media schedule will take into account multiple variables, including (but not limited to):

  • Category seasonality: Some products are year-round (like breakfast cereal or insurance), but others are heavily influenced by season (like bathing suits and snow shovels).
  • Audience geography: Aligning with category seasonality, different geographies have different needs and demands. January in Miami can be like June in Green Bay.
  • Environmental influences: You need to consider what else is going on (i.e. what issues and events are competing for audience attention). For example, is it an election year?
  • Budget: More often than not, it comes down to the “green.” You can have a smart buy at any budget, but your plan for $50K will look substantially different than that for $500K.

When it comes to media buying, there is such a thing as having “too little;” however, more often than not, you can make any plan work when thoughtful as to maximizing resources against a specific audience via effective outlets for a precise timeframe.

Be considerate and strategic in your planning, and you will be setting yourself on the path for media success.

4. Analytics

And the ultimate question that is too often overlooked… How will we measure your success?

As with research, we will apply our experience in formulating research to the collection and assessment of performance results.

We often start from the big picture perspective. Going back to the brief, what are you trying to achieve? How would you define a great year? Now, with those answers in mind, we define the specific media-related metrics that should be observed.

In the case of online placements, a wealth of analytics is available, literally, at the click of a button. That said, we will be sure to set up effective tracking – relating visits and inquiries to exact placements and promotions. This is sometimes easier said than done. It can be an ongoing process requiring regular tweaking (or as we call it, “optimization”).

Beyond these innate tracking opportunities, we will likely advise you to ask potential and new customers how they learned about your brand, product, or offer. And, always, when issuing a CTA, we will work with you to ensure timely follow-up with an on-point response.

Year after year, campaign after campaign, we will build upon the media cycle: Plan, Execute, and Assess. We will position you to make the best media buys not only now, but in the future.

Talk to Us

We mean that. There’s no substitute for a meaningful conversation between our Charlotte branding agency and prospective clients. In a short 20 minute call, we can both figure out if we’re a mutually good fit. Whatever the outcome, though, we like a challenge, and we’re here to help.