Yes, it's time to start your 2017 advertising plan. You know that ads can draw huge traffic to your site and generate business, but without a plan in place, you can quickly overspend without getting much in the way of results. If you're already a forward-thinking person, you might be asking, "But what about products that will be coming onto the market that we don't even know about yet?" This is exactly why you really need to plan.
One of the essential elements of an advertising plan is establishing goals. The path becomes clearer once you know where you're going. Determining your best response to various market trends is more doable when you have an advertising plan, which is not the same thing as a buy.
You allocate budgets to various media but delay spending until you actually run campaigns. New opportunities will arise, and with a plan in place you're well-equipped to adapt. Microsoft will keep buying new companies. Upstarts like Snapchat will surprise us again. And, of course, Google and Facebook will keep tweaking their algorithms. But there are predictable constants. In 2017, a well-rounded mix of media will include a wide range of products, including:
- Paid Search
For most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the best search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns are pay-per-click (PPC), where you bid for search-engine results rankings based on the keywords you select. You only pay when someone clicks on your links. In addition to the amount of budget you allocate, you want to plan your account's structure, strategically choosing campaigns, ad groups and keywords. Like the best plans, your account structure can adapt as your needs evolve.
- Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising refers to the use of software to buy online display, social media, mobile and video ads. It's even expanding to TV-advertising marketplaces. In fact, according to The DMA, programmatic ads are capturing 50 percent of all spending in display advertising, while also increasing drastically for mobile, moving from 43 percent of total buys in 2014 to 69 percent in 2016. While this technology is ideal for handling the more menial tasks, like insertion orders and ad tags, humans are still part of the process of optimizing campaigns and planning strategies.
- Native Advertising
Since the New York Times began offering native advertising in 2014, it became clear this "trend" was here to stay. Over the past year, some 63 percent of mobile advertising was a form of native ad, according to Marketing Land. Creating valuable and relevant content that follows the form and function of the media the user is experiencing is definitely an area where a consultant or agency can provide the most assistance. You know your business, but getting the content right is a different process entirely.
- Print, TV & Radio
Local media providers give your business the benefit of reaching a loyal, local audience. While it can be easy to focus on digital more and more, don't forget that your ultimate goal is to make sure your message is everywhere your target customer is - and that includes on air and in print. Whether listening to the radio on their way to work, watching their favorite shows on TV, or reading the local paper in print or online, consumers are still very much engaged with "traditional" media.
This is just a rough draft to get you started. Your strategy will vary based on the industry you're in, your objectives, and more. And as always, it might be wise to consider hiring a trusted partner with the appropriate methodology, experience and proven results to save you time and money while generating positive returns.