Advertising is a vital part of the marketing strategy for any business, product or service; without advertising, nobody will know about you or your products – regardless of how high quality and fairly priced they are.

The purpose of this article is to provide a simple guide detailing the very basics of advertising.

The first thing that needs to be established is what is advertising. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) define advertising as ‘Promotion of a product, service, or message by an identified sponsor using paid-for media’. For the purposes of the article, this is a perfectly valid definition, although some may say that advertising is not restricted to paid mediums – especially now in the online world.

The second thing to establish is what advertising can and cannot do for you. If you expect too much from your advertising you are very likely to be disappointed. Though saying this, well thought out, well-targeted advertisements can be extremely successful.

The first thing to make clear is that advertising will not create a customer base. A product/service has to satisfy a need or want of a consumer, if it doesn’t then no amount of advertising will help. The same can be said for low quality goods; while advertising may produce results initially, in the end the venture will be doomed to fail. Another thing advertising will not do is solve financial issues such as cash flow or profit. It is also unwise to expect an immediate upturn in sales upon the commencement of advertising.

Having said all that, there is a lot that advertising can do. The first and most obvious thing that advertising can do is attract new customers; this is best achieved through well-planned, well-targeted campaigns. Advertising can help to establish and maintain a brand identity as well, which is now more important than ever. Advertising also slowly enhances sale and boosts the reputation of product/service, brand and company.

It is important to think of advertising as a process. A one off advertisement displayed on any type of media is unlikely to display benefits of any kind. This is why advertising is run in the form of campaigns, over a prolonged period of time (ranging from a couple of months to years). Another important reason for this is the fluid nature of the customer base. In a competitive market, 100% customer retention is impossible. Advertising campaigns attract new customers, which in turn helps to replace old ones. However, it is worth noting that it is easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new one, so a company’s approach to customer retention should always be proactive.

The next section of the article will cover a number of areas that you should consider when planning an advertising campaign, no matter how big or small.

The first thing to make clear is that advertising is infinitely more effective when used as part of a wider marketing campaign. This is because all the elements of a well-designed marketing campaign will complement each other and consequently increase their effectiveness. Secondly, it is important to calculate an accurate advertising budget, it is equally important to stick to this budget once it has been calculated. While it can be tempting to break the budget in order to get that little bit more, it is unwise because doing so can lead to cash flow and financial problems. If the budget is blown by a long way, then it is unlikely that the initial outlay will ever be recovered. Remember, even advertising giants such as Pepsi and Proctor & Gamble have a budget (significant budgets but budgets nonetheless).

The first step on any advertising (or indeed, marketing) campaign should be to identify the aims and objectives of the campaign and how they fit into the aims and objectives of the company overall. When stating aims and objectives, it is advisable to use the SMART template (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time appropriate). Using this template ensures that objectives are achievable and progress can be tracked as the campaign moves forward. Further planning can only take place once this step has been completed.

Next, it is important to identify the target audience for your advertisements. This isn’t always the same as the target audience; an example of this is a children’s toy, the product is aimed at children but the advertisements must make the product appealing to both children and adults because, at the end of the day it is the child’s parent who will complete the purchase. When identifying your target audience it can be helpful to create a profile of a typical customer. The profile should be as specific as possible, in fact, the more specific the better because it will be a great aid a few steps later in the design process. Things that you may want to specify could include their age range, sex, income, marital status, profession, hobbies, what core need your product is solving etc. Companies selling business to business will obviously have a slightly different set of criteria; a few examples could be industry, number of employees and revenue levels.

Another important step is ensuring you understand the landscape of the market, and most significantly, the competitive landscape. By fully understanding your competitors – their product strategy, what it offers and what it lacks – you will better understand where your product fits within the marketplace, this is essential when designing you advertisement.

Once all the preparation is complete, you must design the advert. When doing this you must consult previous research to determine the how the advert should look and what the most suitable channel for communication is. This process is bought together by a number or people in a number of different departments including: Graphic designers, Digital designers, Copywriters and various others, depending on the advertising medium.

As I mentioned above, advertising shouldn’t be a standalone activity and should be combined with other forms of marketing and promotions.

The final part of this article will concentrate on the advantages that advertising has in its favour when compared to other forms of promotion.

The biggest thing that advertising has going for it is control. You are able to control where, when and how your advertisement is seen. Other forms of promotion, for example press releases, don’t have the same level of control. This can make the results less predictable.

The control that advertising offers you is also great for consistency, which can help to establish and improve brand identity

To conclude. When done correctly, advertising is an extremely powerful and effective tool, however, to achieve good results a lot of planning and effort must go into it. You mustn’t expect too much though, advertising isn’t magic and will not counteract for deficiencies elsewhere in the business, product or service. Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment and share if you’ve enjoyed it.

Moore-Wilson are an Advertising Strategy Agency in London. For advice or assistance on Advertising Design, Advertising Copy or Advertising in general, please contact them through the details on their website.

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