Strategic media planning is the process of creating, implementing, and reviewing a plan to use media outlets to advertise a product or business. This process requires extensive research and a good understanding of media options and marketing tactics. Even a small business can benefit from simple strategic media planning, though larger companies and corporations often have enormous media planning departments that can handle global marketing concerns.
The first step in strategic media planning involves situational analysis. If a person in a small town wants to open a shoe store, he or she will need to research what the shoe market is like in the town. This might include understanding the demographics of the town and what their shoe needs are, profiling competitive shops, and analyzing the local economy in general. With this general information, the shoe store entrepreneur can determine a target audience; for instance, if the town has a booming population of children, but no dedicated children's shoe store, the smart entrepreneur might decide to target media planning at parents and young children.
Once a target audience is determined, the next step in strategic media planning deals with mediums of advertising and the size of an ad buy. For a local business, it may be important to focus on advertisements in local media, such as town newspapers or local radio stations. In a larger city, mass-exposure venues such as billboards and television ads may become important. For businesses that want to create a global audience, Internet advertising may be extremely valuable. In general, setting the budget on advertising depends on estimation of profit from the advertising; a great ad campaign may be useless if it brings in less money than the campaign cost.
Much of strategic media planning involves refining and defining the brand or attributes of a product to the target audience. This may involve drafting advertisements or even packaging information that clearly and specifically states what the product is, why it is unique, and why it provides the best value and performance to the targeted audience. By creating a clear, well-defined brand, a company can create a base of loyal customers that are attracted to a brand for its specific attributes.
Strategic media planning does not stop after the advertisements are purchased, but continues on throughout implementation and review. Businesses may use marketing personnel to check with advertisers to ensure that ads are as stipulated; for instance, that a newspaper ad appears in the correct section of the paper, and is not blurry or poorly printed. While an advertisement campaign is running, media planners must begin obtaining and analyzing data about brand perception and new customers to help determine if the plan is effective. Carefully analyzing the success or failure of a strategic media plan can help improve future media drives, leading to even better returns with the next media campaign.