Going through the media planning and buying process, and gaining a few insights along the way.
This is the second in a three-part series exploring our decision to launch a paid media campaign for our own company. The first installment talks about the factors we considered in making the decision to advertise. The third installment describes the results of our advertising campaign.
Last month, we made the decision to go forward with an advertising campaign. So, we set our budget parameters and hand-picked a vendor partner to guide us through the campaign. Now it was time to clarify our media strategy.
Going through the media planning and media buying process.
Reminding myself about my intention of keeping this experience as similar as possible to one our clients might have, I turn to our tried and true planning tools and engage a modified version of our three step process:
1. Ask the right questions. Typically, our first step with a new account is to embark upon a formal strategy intake session to gauge our clients’ goals and expectations before determining the right tactical strategies. I decide to use the same list of questions to help me organize my thoughts and suss out what I really want the result of this internal effort to be.
Straightforward queries such as demographic and geographic targeting, campaign timing, and KPI’s get me going. Deeper questions such as “What impression(s) do you want to leave behind with your prospect audience?” or “What differentiates you from the competition?” take a little longer to address.
2. Get tactical. A review of my strategy intake answers reveals that I want the campaign to focus on promoting Richardson Media Group to potential clients and agency partners searching for an experienced media planning firm. How to do this efficiently and effectively is the next step. Knowing we have a solid web foundation on which to launch our campaign, and sensitive to our budget, we decide the best plan of attack is to tap into Google’s advertising options.
My confidence in Google is based on watching its stellar performance for a variety of our clients. As the world’s largest search engine, Google is the right tool to help us get found online for our specialized services while increasing traffic to our newly-constructed campaign landing page where users can read about us and request more information. That magical brew of awareness building and converting leads will all happen thanks to Google Ads. Later on, if we decide to add a second layer to the campaign, we may toss in some retargeting banners to build messaging frequency and encourage repeat website visits.
3. Produce the ads. After some preliminary keyword research, including looking up search volume and bid pricing on available industry terms we build our initial list. Our vendor partner sets up a first draft of the text ads and sends them to me for my edits and approval. I allow myself a few days to sit with the ads to consider whether the messaging connects with our website content and brand guidelines. A few tweaks later, and the ad sets are ready to go.
Launching our very first advertising campaign.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019, is THE BIG DAY. We are launching our very first ad campaign!
Cue the trumpets, balloons, parades!
Ok, honestly, there is no fanfare; it’s just a regular day. The tugboats outside our office window go about their usual routine, my coffee tastes the same as it always does, and I still have too many emails waiting for me in my inbox. But what feels great was that I know there are ads actively being served on the web that represent my company. That’s a very big deal to me — even if the rest of the world takes a little longer to notice.
I’ve managed quite a few media buys over the years, so there is relatively no mystery to this process, and as a result, I feel pretty comfortable throughout the strategy and set-up phases of the campaign. It’s worth noting that having the time and space to edit and approve ads before they go live is key. What I find a bit stressful is the idea that I will be spending my hard-earned money on an effort that essentially comes without a 100% guarantee of success. Even today, as I write this, I’m not sure what will happen, despite all the hard work that has gone into creating and implementing the campaign.
A few unexpected lessons from walking in our client’s shoes.
The sheer uncertainty of it all — the fact that advertising comes with no warranties — stands out to me as the single most valuable nugget I have gleaned from this entire process so far. I can only assume it’s what holds back many businesses from investing in advertising. Even when working with the best media planners in the business (and I’m not ashamed to say we fit that description) clients must be terrified that their dollars will go to waste because their ad campaign is not successful. I need to remember this every time I find myself working with a new client who is new to advertising.
The only thing I can do to combat my own uncertainties is to set reasonable expectations and clearly define what success means to me. It’s the same for my clients. They’ll benefit by being educated about how different media tactics tend to perform and the results they often produce. I will provide them with data on conversions, lead generation, impression delivery, and tout the importance of ensuring relevant web content and a smooth user experience to help my clients better understand the different variables at play in a media campaign.
On top of all that, the next time I meet with a tentative new advertiser, I plan to share our company’s media planning story with them. Perhaps by offering these real-life experiences in a more transparent context, I will be able to alleviate some of their concerns. It can’t hurt, and it may just open the door to a more trusting and productive client-agency relationship long-term.
Keep an eye out for one more installment coming soon that will cover some top level results from our campaign and my final thoughts on the experience. Without giving too much away, getting a lead from one’s own ad campaign is pretty cool!