Effective Advertising Strategy Guide for Businesses

  • Last update: 01/11/2023

Benjamin Poirrier

Digital Marketing Expert

Various advertising strategy brands

How to market your products and services? Besides offering desirable items, you must build an advertising strategy and execute promotional activities.

All businesses need offline and online visibility. Do you own a brick-and-mortar shop? You must attract nearby clients. Have you a website? Make sure your target audience notices it.

This article will define the nature and purposes of advertising strategies. From that, we will explain how to build them thanks to clear step-by-step guidelines.

What is an Advertising Strategy?

An advertising strategy is a promotional plan to market products and services. In a nutshell, it does the following:

  • Raise product and service awareness
  • Reach qualified leads
  • Convince them to turn into paying customers

Even for the trendiest items, it is challenging to achieve those objectives. For this reason, marketers must carefully build their advertising strategy.

When new products and services enter a market, they need visibility and clear positioning. At this stage, marketers should have already done a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Businesses must take the market environment into account to properly plan their advertising activities.

To inform potential purchasers, you need a solid presence on the right channels. The advertising strategy studies them to select the most relevant ones.

One of the important factors that drive the advertising strategy is the competitive advantages and differentiation points. The marketing campaign highlights them to convince people to buy the items.

Besides, marketers must pay attention to the seasonality of their advertising strategy. The plan won’t be the same for a temporary discount or Christmas campaign as for a permanent promotion.

In the next section, we will detail the to-do list for crafting a cost-effective advertising strategy.

How to Build Your Advertising Strategy?

There are 6 essential steps to a successful advertising strategy. The problem is that they are not sequential. Marketers often must reiterate them until they reach a final plan.

The section below will list them following the most intuitive order. However, remember that they are somewhat interdependent.

Moving forward to the next step doesn’t mean the previous one is written in marble. It may change later (before and after) launching the campaign.

Step #1: Business Objective

The campaign purpose’s definition comes first. Like the other phases, you may edit the business objective in the future. However, you should always work on this step before any other.

Setting the right goal is critical to ensure campaign effectiveness. Without a clear objective, you cannot come up with a proper advertising strategy.

Use the S.M.A.R.T. framework which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

For example, defining a business objective as “Increase online sales” is not S.M.A.R.T., and your campaign will most likely fail or miss cost-effectiveness.

Instead, use “Sell 150 products ABC on my shop XYZ within the next 3 months.” In this case, you know exactly what you need to achieve, what is the deadline, and how you are expected to reach this target. It is a great start.

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Step #2: Target Audience

Your advertising strategy aims at reaching potential customers. To achieve this, you must know about your buyer personas. They are fictional client profiles that help prepare the campaign.

We do not approach a 40-year-old female the same as we communicate with a 30-year-old male. Between two students from the same University, we do not follow the same strategy for the one active on Discord and the other on Instagram.

Make sure you are clear with your ideal audience profile. If you have several, you will certainly need to consider different campaigns to be impactful with each.

Think about people around who influence the purchaser. Typically, if you sell children’s toys, you want to convince the kids of course. But at the end of the day, the parents will be the ones to buy.

Advertising Strategy

Step #3: Media Channels

With a clear business objective and target audience, you are ready to select the most suitable media to interact with your future clients.

Check the list of communication platforms below. All of them have advantages and drawbacks. Besides, considering omnichannel campaigns may become extremely expensive. You want to focus on the channels where your audience is:

  • Search engine ads
  • Social media ads
  • Influencers and KOLs
  • Press releases
  • Email marketing
  • Print media
  • TV and radio
  • Out-of-home ads

Running ads on search engines like Google is extremely powerful because it connects brands with online users who have interest and potentially high purchase intent.

There are plenty of social media platforms that have different purposes and reach different kinds of people. With the rise of the digital era, improving visibility there is always a great choice.

Influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) promote brands to convince and build trust within communities. It works best for retail items, but you can find influencers for pretty much any niche.

Press releases are a great option to take advantage of big publishers’ notoriety. They promote the brand through relevant channels and bring trustworthiness to any digital platform.

Email marketing remains one of the best cost-effective ways to reach out to people. It costs almost nothing and it leads to easy subscriptions and online sales.

Magazines and newspapers are part of traditional marketing. Even if digital has had more visibility in the past years, print media remains strong and should be considered in most advertising campaigns.

Depending on the country and target audience, television or radio makes a huge difference. Check the ratings and busiest hours to maximize their performance.

OOH ads (Out Of Home) like billboards or digital screens in lifts benefit from huge reach. Of course, if it challenging to track their performance. However, they significantly boost trust.

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Step #4: Content

Writing content represents a major part of the advertising strategy. It depends on all the other factors: business objective, target audience, media channels, visual creatives, and budget.

Content must grab users’ attention and engage them. To achieve this, businesses need market research and competitive benchmarks.

Brands cannot assume they understand their potential clients without insights. They must base their advertising strategy on facts. By pulling data from the market, they can answer people’s demands.

No one can ignore the competition. Any content related to products and services must align with what the other players are doing. A great way to write appealing content is to check what competitors are doing, what works, and what doesn’t work.

Then, marketers can adapt their copywriting based on all those factors. Will storytelling work better than being straightforward? Does casual style beat formal? Deep market analysis, insight, and expertise help answer those questions.

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Step #5: Visual Creatives

In the digital era, plain text alone is insufficient. Companies need to be visually attractive too. There are various kinds of creatives when it comes to advertising strategy:

  • Icons
  • Images
  • Infographic
  • Photography
  • Videos
  • Animations
  • 3D displays
  • And more

Those visuals are crucial to any campaign. They often define their success or failure. Marketers must brainstorm and work with professionals to craft the best graphics that will reach their objectives.

In all cases, do not forget to test your visual creatives during the advertising campaign. Compare their performance to keep the best ones. Great designs bring lots of good. Poor designs waste lots of money.

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Step #6: Budget

And then comes the advertising budget.

It is a big topic. A confusing one as well. So many companies have no idea how much they should invest in their promotional activities!

It should be simple to define the needed media spending. From step #1, you know what objective you must reach. Since this goal is a S.M.A.R.T. one, you have clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to achieve. Your budget should be enough to hit them.

For digital marketing, it is rather easy to calculate those estimations. The ad manager tools do it for free. You only need to input your campaign settings to anticipate your campaign metrics.

For traditional and offline marketing, it is trickier to make those plans. You cannot follow up on metrics like in digital platforms. In this case, the safest way to go ahead is to use market shares or review the past performance history.

Of course, budgeting will never be an exact science. There are lots of bets and estimations, and sometimes some risks to take.

Whenever possible, marketers should calculate their Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) to verify if it is worth it to invest a certain amount of money. For example, if you spend 1,000 to get 10,000 in revenue, then your ROAS is x10… and you should go for it!

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Advertising Strategy Execution

Marketers rarely go through those 6 advertising strategy steps without experiencing some back and forth. As we said previously, there are many interdependent factors.

If your budget got cut by your manager at the last minute, or you realize that there is no way you can finish editing the promotional video for the campaign’s launching date, you will have to go back and implement changes in your plan.

Let’s assume that your advertising strategy is fixed. You are now running your campaign.

The journey does not end here. Before, during, and after the plan’s execution, you still have to prepare for significant updates. All the best strategies in the world must adapt to the reality of the market.

While you run the campaign, you follow metrics’ performance to track and measure your plan’s effectiveness. Make sure you keep an eye on the right KPIs as defined by the business objective. Too many campaigns fail because marketers focus on vanity or “easy-to-follow” metrics.

Keep in mind that tracking offline performance is always more challenging than tracking digital campaigns. Businesses need to find turnarounds and indirect ways to measure offline metrics.

During the campaign, marketers adjust their settings based on the market reaction. If you have a better performance with a yellow color than an orange one, you want to invest more budget on the former.

The key to campaign adjustments is to go slowly. Never go “full-in” when it comes to marketing. Put your eggs into several baskets and test how your audience engages. If you want to increase a media budget, consider up to 30% at maximum to give the time to the campaign to update smoothly.

Last Advertising Strategy Tips

Back in the 1970s, the “salesy” market push method worked well. Today, we switched to the opposite strategy: market pull. Brands must attract their potential customers by reaching them the right way and by differentiating from their competitors.

Advertising laws also changed. Depending on your industry and country, you must take this critical factor into account when running your campaigns.

It takes time to prepare an amazing advertising strategy. Follow our guide to get started and build up your expertise. Contact us if you have any questions. Our team is glad to share valuable insights for your business. Consider working with advertising agencies if you need professional help… and results!