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How to Prepare an Advertising Plan [Free Template]

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How to Prepare an Advertising Plan [Free Template]


Turning an idea for an advertising campaign into reality isn’t exactly simple, but it always begins with creating a concrete and detailed advertising plan.

Your plan will help you present a clear path for return on investment (ROI), get buy-in from leadership, and share your proposal with relevant stakeholders. 

Follow Along With HubSpot’s Free Ad Plan Template

 

In this post, we’ll explain what an advertising plan is and highlight the major sections you should include in your advertising plan so you can guarantee your next campaign is a success. 

Advertising Plan Template

Pro Tip: HubSpot created the following advertising plan template for you to download so you can organize your advertising campaign — it’s broken down into relevant sections and can be shared with your stakeholders when it’s completed.

In it you’ll find:

  • Advertising campaign outline, 
  • Advertising campaign timeline, and 
  • Advertising budget template.

Download this Advertising Planning Kit

Now let’s dive into how you can prep your ad plan. 

How to Prepare an Advertising Plan

Before you jump into your tactical advertising ideas, the first step in the process is to provide those reading your ad plan with a high-level overview of your initiative.

1. Provide an overview of your advertising plan.

Specify the following elements so anyone reading your plan will have a basic understanding of what your campaign is and what you’re trying to accomplish:

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  • Campaign Name: Make the campaign name catchy, unique, and easily identifiable so your team can get behind it.
  • Campaign Description: What is the purpose of your campaign? Explain in 2-3 paragraphs what the inspiration behind your campaign is, how it aligns with your company initiatives, what customer problems you’re solving, and what the final deliverables of the campaign will be.
  • Target Audience: Ideally, who’s on the receiving end of these ads? You can be specific to age, sex, region, or any number of demographics, or name which of your buyer personas you’re targeting.
  • Advertising Platforms: How will you be getting your message across? Here, identify the platform you’ll be using, since you’ll get more into the details of what the actual ads will look like in a later section.
  • Goals and ROI: Explain what the end goal of your campaign is. Most ad campaigns are intended to produce a direct profit or return on investment, so if that’s your goal, identify that number. If your campaign goal is something else — event sign-ups, product awareness, etc. — be sure to identify and quantify it.

2. Choose your platforms.

Here’s where you’ll provide more detail on the advertisements themselves and on which platform they will be promoted. For each ad you intend to run in this campaign, you should provide the following:

  • Platform name
  • Ad type
  • Description of the ad
  • Timeline
  • Budget

For example, your content in this section might look like this:

Platform #1: YouTube

  • Advertisement Type: Video
  • Description of Ad: A 15-second pre-video ad. The video will be an animated look at our new app with a link to the app store at when someone clicks.
  • Timeline: July 1 – July 31
  • Budget: $10,000

3. Develop your timeline.

Working on an ad campaign takes a ton of time and resources, so everyone involved will want to know what tasks they’re responsible for, when they’re due, and how long they have to do them. In this part of your advertising plan, list the tasks that are due, when they are due, and who’s responsible for accomplishing them.

4. Outline your budget.

Because ROI isn’t guaranteed, the budget can be the toughest part of your advertising project to get approved — which is why it’s important to break up your requests by line item and present them in your plan.

Rather than simply stating, “We need $65,000 for this project”, organize your budget into a detailed visual, like the example below.

outline your advertising plan

Download this Template for Free

Naturally, you can (and should) expect questions and pushback on certain line items.

For example, you may be asked to find another designer or video freelancing team who can complete the job for less money. So, arrive at meetings prepared to defend which costs are necessary for the campaign’s success and which expenses can be reconsidered.

5. Explain your DACI framework.

The DACI framework outlines who the key contributors in the project are and what each of their responsibilities entail.

Here’s how a DACI framework is broken down:

  • (D)river: As you might have guessed, this person is the project’s main driver or directly responsible individual. (Chances are, this will be either you or your direct manager.) The driver will coordinate all of the moving pieces of the project, seeing it through from inception to wrap-up.
  • (A)pprover: This will be the person who must approve a project and is typically a director, VP, or manager. They’ll give feedback, recommendations, or approval on the overall project and have a final say in all project deliverables.
  • (C)ontributors: Contributors will be the individuals who are responsible for creating one or more deliverables for the project. In an advertising campaign, this can include copywriters, video producers, animators, designers, and digital advertising specialists.
  • (I)nformed: These are employees who are kept in the loop as the project goes on. Examples include the department heads and the managers of project contributors. These people have no direct responsibilities but benefit from knowing about the project and its status.

Your DACI framework should include the name of each stakeholder, his or her contact information (email, phone, and/or Slack handle), and that person’s responsibility or deliverable.

This framework makes project delegation crystal clear for everyone involved.

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6. Provide additional resources.

This will act as the appendix of your advertising plan. Share the ad campaign that inspired this one with your readers, link to the product page you’ll be promoting with this initiative, or link to your company’s brand style guide — this way, designers and writers get a refresh on how to create externally-facing content.

7. Host a campaign kickoff meeting.

After you complete the outline, hop on a call with your team to explain the campaign concept, timeline, and deliverables. Compile all of them in HubSpot’s advertising project pitch deck and present your advertising plan. Then, open up the floor for any questions and suggestions with project contributors.

Advertising Plan Example

It can always be helpful to reference examples, and below we’ll go over one.

sample advertising planIn this plan, a business outlines the different channels it will use to reach its advertising goals: YouTube, Facebook, and Google Ads. It outlines the type of ad for each channel, a summary of what each ad will be, a target timeline, and an allocated budget. While it is simply an overview, it has the key elements it will execute in its advertising strategy. 

While this is a high-quality example, be mindful that it is merely an example. You can personalize this template to meet your business goals by inputting what works best for your needs.

Over to You

Now that you know how to write your own advertising plan, download HubSpot’s free template to get your own advertising campaign project plan off the group. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

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8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

As email marketers, we know we need to personalize the messages we send to subscribers and customers. I can’t think of a single statistic, case study or survey claiming an email program of one-to-everyone campaigns outperforms personalization.

Instead, you’ll find statistics like these:

  • 72% of customers will engage only with personalized messages (Wunderkind Audiences, formerly SmarterHQ)
  • 70% of consumers say that how well a company understands their individual needs affects their loyalty (Salesforce)
  • 71% of customers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences (Segment)

But what marketers often don’t understand, especially if they’re new to personalization, is that personalization is not an end in itself. Your objective is not to personalize your email campaigns and lifecycle messages. 

Rather, your objective is to enhance your customer’s experience with your brand. Personalization is one method that can do that, but it’s more than just another tactic. 

It is both an art and a science. The science is having the data and automations to create personalized, one-to-one messages at scale. The art is knowing when and how to use it.

We run into trouble when we think of personalization as the goal instead of the means to achieve a goal. In my work consulting with marketers for both business and consumer brands, I find this misunderstanding leads to eight major marketing mistakes – any of which can prevent you from realizing the immense benefits of personalization.

Mistake #1. Operating without an overall personalization strategy

I see this all too often: marketers find themselves overwhelmed by all the choices they face: 

  • Which personalization technologies to use
  • What to do with all the data they have
  • How to use their data and technology effectively
  • Whether their personalization efforts are paying off

This stems from jumping headfirst into personalization without thinking about how to use it to meet customers’ needs or help them solve problems. 

To avoid being overwhelmed with the mechanics of personalization, follow this three-step process:

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  • Start small. If you aren’t using personalization now, don’t try to set up a full-fledged program right away. Instead, look for quick wins – small areas where you can use basic personalized data to begin creating one-to-one messages. That will get you into the swing of things quickly, without significant investment in time and money. Adding personal data to the body of an email is about as basic as you’ll get, but it can be a start.
  • Test each tactic. See whether that new tactic helps or hurts your work toward your goal. Does adding personal data to each message correlate with higher clicks to your landing page, more conversion or whatever success metric you have chosen?
  • Optimize and move on. Use your testing results to improve each tactic. Then, take what you learned to select and add another personalization tactic, such as adding a module of dynamic content to a broadcast (one to everyone) campaign. 

Mistake #2. Not using both overt and covert personalization

Up to now, you might have thought of in specific terms: personalized subject lines, data reflecting specific actions in the email copy, triggered messages that launch when a customer’s behavior matches your automation settings and other “overt” (or visible) personalization tactics.

“Covert” personalization also employs customer preference or behavior data but doesn’t draw attention to it. Instead of sending an abandoned-browse message that says “We noticed you were viewing this item on our website,” you could add a content module in your next campaign that features those browsed items as recommended purchases, without calling attention to their behavior. It’s a great tactic to use to avoid being seen as creepy.

Think back to my opening statement that personalization is both an art and a science. Here, the art of personalization is knowing when to use overt personalization – purchase and shipping confirmations come to mind – and when you want to take a more covert route. 

Mistake #3. Not maximizing lifecycle automations

Lifecycle automations such as onboarding/first-purchase programs, win-back and reactivation campaigns and other programs tied to the customer lifecycle are innately personalized. 

The copy will be highly personal and the timing spot-on because they are based on customer actions (opting in, purchases, downloads) or inactions (not opening emails, not buying for the first time or showing signs of lapsing after purchasing). 

Better yet, these emails launch automatically – you don’t have to create, schedule or send any of these emails because your marketing automation platform does that for you after you set it up. 

You squander these opportunities if you don’t do everything you can to understand your customer lifecycle and then create automated messaging that reaches out to your customers at these crucial points. This can cost you the customers you worked so hard to acquire, along with their revenue potential.

Mistake #4. Not testing effectively or for long-term gain

Testing helps you discover whether your personalization efforts are bearing fruit. But all too often, marketers test only individual elements of a specific campaign – subject lines, calls to action, images versus no images, personalization versus no personalization  – without looking at whether personalization enhances the customer experience in the long term.

How you measure success is a key part of this equation. The metrics you choose must line up with your objectives. That’s one reason I’ve warned marketers for years against relying on the open rate to measure campaign success. A 50% open rate might be fantastic, but if you didn’t make your goal for sales, revenue, downloads or other conversions, you can’t consider your campaign a success.

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As the objective of personalizing is to enhance the customer journey, it makes sense then that customer lifetime value is a valid metric to measure success on.  To measure how effective your personalization use is, use customer lifetime value over a long time period – months, even years – and compare the results with those from a control group, which receives no personalization. Don’t ignore campaign-level results, but log them and view them over time.

(For more detailed information on testing mistakes and how to avoid them, see my MarTech column 7 Common Problems that Derail A/B/N Email Testing Success.)

Mistake #5. Over-segmenting your customer base

Segmentation is a valuable form of personalization, but it’s easy to go too far with it. If you send only highly segmented campaigns, you could be exclude – and end up losing because of failure to contact – many customers who don’t fit your segmentation criteria. That costs you customers, their potential revenue and the data they would have generated to help you better understand your customer base.

You can avoid this problem with a data-guided segmentation plan that you review and test frequently, a set of automated triggers to enhance the customer’s lifecycle and a well-thought-out program of default or catch-all campaigns for subscribers who don’t meet your other criteria. 

Mistake #6. Not including dynamic content in general email campaigns

We usually think of personalized email as messages in which all the content lines up with customer behavior or preference data, whether overt, as in an abandoned-cart message, or covert, where the content is subtly relevant.

That’s one highly sophisticated approach. It incorporates real-time messaging driven by artificial intelligence and complex integrations with your ecommerce or CRM platforms. But a simple dynamic content module can help you achieve a similar result. I call that “serendipity.”  

When you weave this dynamic content into your general message, it can be a pleasant surprise for your customers and make your relevant content stand out even more. 

Let’s say your company is a cruise line. Customer A opens your emails from time to time but hasn’t booked a cruise yet or browsed different tours on your website. Your next email campaign to this customer – and to everyone else on whom you have little or no data – promotes discounted trips to Hawaii, Fiji and the Mediterranean.

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Customer B hasn’t booked a cruise either, but your data tells you she has browsed your Iceland-Denmark-Greenland cruise recently. With a dynamic content module, her email could show her your Hawaii and Mediterranean cruise offers – and a great price on a trip to Iceland, Denmark and Greenland. Fancy that! 

An email like this conveys the impression that your brand offers exactly what your customers are looking for (covert personalization) without the overt approach of an abandoned-browse email.

Mistake #7. Not using a personal tone in your copy

You can personalize your email copy without a single data point, simply by writing as if you were speaking to your customer face to face. Use a warm, human tone of voice, which ideally should reflect your brand voice. Write copy that sounds like a one-to-one conversation instead of a sales pitch. 

This is where my concept of “helpful marketing” comes into play. How does your brand help your customers achieve their own goals, solve their problems or make them understand you know them as people, not just data points?  

Mistake #8. Not personalizing the entire journey

Once again, this is a scenario in which you take a short-sighted view of personalization – “How do I add personalization to this email campaign?” – instead of looking at the long-term gain: “How can I use personalization to enhance my customer’s experience?”

Personalization doesn’t stop when your customer clicks on your email. It should continue on to your landing page and even be reflected in the website content your customer views. Remember, it’s all about enhancing your customer’s experience.

What happens when your customers click on a personalized offer? Does your landing page greet your customers by name? Show the items they clicked? Present copy that reflects their interests, their loyalty program standing or any other data that’s unique to them?  

Personalization is worth the effort

Yes, personalization takes both art and science into account. You need to handle it carefully so your messages come off as helpful and relevant without veering into creepy territory through data overreaches. But this strategic effort pays off when you can use the power of personalized email to reach out, connect with and retain customers – achieving your goal of enhancing the customer experience.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Kath Pay is CEO at Holistic Email Marketing and the author of the award-winning Amazon #1 best-seller “Holistic Email Marketing: A practical philosophy to revolutionise your business and delight your customers.”

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