One of the most frequent challenges advertising agencies face are clients that do not have a marketing plan, or a clear idea about what they wanted their advertising JDs to achieve. They would ask for campaigns and promotions to increase sales, but do not have a marketing plan that would help them do a better job. This makes the agency’s work very difficult as they end up virtually working in the dark.
What many companies don’t realize is that it is not the job of an advertising agency to design marketing objectives. Ad companies don’t have the necessary market intelligence, or access to the client’s business plan to make sure marketing objectives are aligned with the big picture. Their job starts by writing a solid “brief” that derives all needed information from the marketing plan. The brief, a 1-2 page document, then becomes the blueprint which creative and planning teams use to design a meaningful campaign.
To help the agency in building a winning campaign, the advertiser needs to have a very clear understanding about the following elements:
The marketing mix (the four Ps of marketing): Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
No advertising plan is complete without those. However, you should add a few more; People, Physical Evidence, and Processes. This is called the extended marketing mix. Mind you, these are not really stated in each brief, but they are necessary for the agency to develop an understanding of your company’s marketing strategy, approach, and philosophy.
Market segmentation and target audiences
What are the segments you are trying to reach? Companies? Government? Households? The media? Then, which of these segments are being targeted in this particular campaign? At the same time, each segment has a target audience that needs to be reached. For example, if your product targets the household segment, will the ad appeal to the parents or children? If the ad’s call-for-action is to make a purchase, who’s the primary decision maker when it comes to that particular product?
What are the needs, wants, and demands of the market segment and target audience
Also, is there a gate-keeper between the decision-driver and the final sale? If so, what makes him/ her click and say “that’s the product I’ll buy”?
Based on the above, the campaign’s key message needs to address the target audience in an effective and memorable way. The agency will probably have a copywriter on staff that can do that, but you (the advertiser) will still need to explain the brand or product’s key values to that person to make sure the outcome is consistent.
Annual marketing activities
Ideally, an organization will develop its annual communication plan during the last quarter of the previous year. This could be as simple as a table that shows the various marketing activities planned for each month. By sharing with your agency, you not only help your account manager in coming up with innovative ideas that could enrich your plan, but you also ensure that your current campaign capitalizes on past and future activities as well.
Seriously, there’s a whole lot more out there than increasing sales. How about brand recall? Prolonged customer loyalty? Visits to the showroom?
Here’s a common conversation with a client; Agency: what’s your budget for this campaign? Client: I don’t know. You’re the expert. You tell me. Agency (two weeks later with a pitch): your budget should run around JD250,000. Client: Are you out of your mind? Agency: Well, how much can you spend? Client: Not more than JD20,000. Agency: Why didn’t you say so a week ago and spare us all this work? Client: I wanted to see what you thought would be a fair budget. (Lesson: know your budget).
There’s a lot more information that you need to share with your agency to make sure your marketing ROI is as high as possible. But it all starts with having a marketing plan that you feel comfortable with, share that with your various agencies, and establish a long- term partnership with each of them so they can deliver valuable services throughout the year.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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