When I started selling advertising, I pretty much left it up to the client to decide what they wanted to advertise. Most of that advertising was very much along the conformity end of the marketing continuum. There was not much creativity and often the advertiser wouldn’t decide what they wanted to put in their ads until I asked them what the plan was. There was little forethought or planning. This post will help you change that if that is how you handle your advertising.
Firstly, understand that you must move away from conformity to get attention. Greatness happens at the edge of controversy. To help you understand what I mean, think of this example: Conformity is a plumber stating that he or she clears clogged drains (we sure hope so when we need them! But we can also assume that they do). Controversy would be a real estate agent losing their license or getting fined for publishing private info that is not allowed in their marketing by their governing body. Controversy might also be taking a social stand that is unpopular with your target audience. You do not want to advertise at either end of this spectrum. However, at the edge of controversy is where advertising stands out the most. It doesn’t break any laws, but it might break a few unwritten rules or simply stand out from the typical.
In order to achieve this, you must have a plan and then analyze and adjust that plan as you go. I have had clients who have had plans and some that didn’t. One of my favorite examples was the owner of Timeless Medical Spa. She put together an annual calendar with a chosen theme for each month and a listing of her specials. She aligned most of her specials with discounts that came from her product manufacturers because she would pass those savings on to her customers.
I loved her approach because she didn’t have to think about her advertising for the month each time I came in—she would just pull out the plan. It was already done.
This advanced planning was a big inspiration for me when I put together and wrote the Marketing Playbook. You can get a free copy here if you would like. I grabbed theme ideas for each month and included them in the book. This gives you an easy approach to coming up with themes. You can also apply multiple themes if you are posting to social media or something more frequently. Use this tool to give you a foundation for your annual marketing plan. You can use the free Annual Marketing Theme Planner I created here.
I also put together this full-month planner for your organic social media. There are 12 types of social media posts that you can spread out to get the most variety. Find it here as well.
You can make Promotional Posts, Educational Posts, Engagement Posts, UGC or User Generated Content/Testimonials, Behind the Scenes, Company News or Updates, Industry News, Motivational or Inspirational, Success Stories or Customer Satisfaction stories, Special Occasions, Live Stream/ Videos, and Infographics. Spread them out and use this sheet to organize your plan, then rinse and repeat.
Here are some key points to making your content plan. First of all, as I always say, KNOW YOUR WHO! Who are you talking to? What is important to them? What things do they like that you can make associations with to inspire curiosity or emotion? I am a fly fisherman, I love to spend time on the water. When I get marketing about my fly fishing addiction, it is always a picture of a trout being drawn out of the water at the end of a line or the picture of a guy standing knee-deep in a river in a very picturesque scene. These images are exactly why I love fly fishing and they always pull me in, just like my fly hopefully pulls in a monster trout!
Use this formula to help come up with ad ideas that capture attention.
Emotion + Relevancy = Attention.
Using the right tools, channels, words, and images to engage your potential customer is key to advertising that works. For example, if you sell fishing gear, your clients will also likely be interested in camping and outdoor activities or outdoor scenes, they will also like the visual concept of your product in action, catching a fish. Your imagery should speak to your audience to capture their attention.
Find some time to sit down and brainstorm content ideas in advance. Use the research you did in Step 3 about keywords, questions customers ask, and your understanding of your WHO and their WHY to make decisions. In my book, there is a list of emotion-triggering words, but I have published it here for easy access. Bookmark it and use these words to capture attention.
Also, think of the marketing channels you plan to use. If you are going to put it in a magazine, make sure the imagery is eye-catching and that you have a powerful hook or title. If you’re posting on social media, what image will capture attention quickly and get people to pause? Social media is much faster moving than a print ad. If you are going to use a billboard, it needs to be super, super simple, and generate enough curiosity so people will remember you and look you up later. Customize your imagery and your hook according to the marketing channel you are using.
If you are going to make videos for your content plan, what will the messaging be? In the video world, you have about 3 seconds to grab someone’s attention, so what will be the very first line of your video? How can you keep people listening? People don’t want to watch 30 seconds of boring! If your videos can infotain, they will be much more effective.
Once you have a plan, schedule when each piece of media will run, and make a detailed plan for what the ads will look like. Here is an Ad Planner you can use to break down the individual parts of your ad so it is highly effective. Keep track of how different visuals, titles, and plans work out, so you can make more educated decisions on future advertising campaigns.
If your budget is limited, and you need to be wise with your marketing spend, this step will be highly valuable to you. Use the tools we have provided for free but keep track and make adjustments as you go.
Know that Connection Media Co—our new name, which will be fully legal by the end of July—offers done-for-you options as well. We are currently building out our new website, but here is a preview of what we will be offering in the done for you category. We will continue to give you the tools so you can do it yourself, but if you want help, our team is here for you too. More details will soon follow, stay tuned.
Next week we will talk about Analyzing and Adjusting your advertising plan and your ads.