As a small business, we need to re-think the practice of simply “running ads”. By thinking in terms of ad campaigns, it allows us to focus our limited resources on specific objectives. It also provides an integrated approach to our marketing efforts. Don’t think because your budget is limited campaigns aren’t applicable or viable.

An ad campaign provides organization to your marketing. It makes you stop and think about the important questions:

Why do you need to run the ad? What is the message or thrust the ad conveys to prospects? Where should it run? When should it run and how often?

The answer to these questions should align with and reinforce our objectives and sales goals. Also, by looking at the total cost of the campaign you can avoid trying to reach more people than your budget will allow. You need repetition to establish retention in the mind of your prospects. One ad will not do it. Don’t fall into the trap of placing everything you sell in a single ad. You need to focus the prospect’s attention on one thing and hit them hard with it.

Let’s start defining our ad campaign by using a key component, the marketing calendar.

The Marketing Calendar

The marketing calendar is used to plan and schedule your ad campaign. For instance, the thrust of your product or service might change seasonally. Therefore, you’re planning and scheduling should closely align with the changing seasons. Or your campaign might be geo-demographic, focusing consistently on different areas of your community at different times to ensure adequate coverage and repetition. The point is to make sure you understand the motivation and have a clear demarcation of the start and end. Only then can you evaluate its full effectiveness.

Types of Campaigns

It’s important to understand the type of campaign you are trying to run. Avoid defining multiple goals within a single campaign. In most cases, it doesn’t work. It can lead to confusion when evaluating what was effective and what was not.

The following represent some common types of ad campaigns.



New Product or Service

Business Introduction

Customer Loyalty



Plan and Schedule Ads

Identifying and typing your campaign helps to clarify and focus the objective. We now have to build the plan by determining what ads to run and when and where to run them.

First, assess your current set of ads. Do they map well to your campaign objective? If not you will need to re-write or re-position them. You can either do this yourself or use an outside firm to assist you.

The following lists common campaign activities to integrate, plan, and schedule:

Publishing of Advertisements

Direct Marketing Initiatives


Web Channel Updates

General Notifications and Alerts

Integrate Direct Marketing

Once you have your ads and media mix identified you can queue them for delivery to the publisher(s) on the dates specified in your marketing calendar. You now have a schedule of what, where, and when ads will run. You should plan out your entire year this way. From this you can infer, which ads are best to run, the product and/or service demand at any point in time, what costs to project, and what sales to plan.

The next step is to develop a direct marketing (online) activity to complement your offline print media. Direct marketing online has become both a blessing and a curse, so it is important that it be executed properly. You need to target your email distribution to viable prospects and provide something of value to them or it will quickly be disregarded as spam. Make sure your distribution is to prospects based on one or more of the following:

prior relationship

common interests

common loyalty

specific locality

consistent demographic

The online ad you construct should be deliverable via plain text or HTML and adjust to the email client accordingly. The scheduling and delivery of the message should closely coincide with your print advertisement. We can use these two channels (print and Internet) to maximize the repetition factor and drive traffic to traditional brick and mortar stores, our sales line, or a website prepared to handle and close the sale.

Direct Marketing

Because of the relatively low cost of a direct marketing campaign, we can build on the single statement ads of print and further define our “power points”. Bearing in mind that the integration is still driving a single concept to the prospect, but now having the advantage of elaborating on the details.

Integrating the Web Channel

Our web presence is also integrated into the campaign but to be effective has to be very specific to the campaign. Too often advertisers announce their website in a print ad but establish little correlation between the specific ad and the website content. By bringing the website into the campaign forces you to think about what needs to be added or changed to the site to make a measurable impact.

Website activities to consider, plan, and schedule:

Articles related to and supporting your advertisement

Definition of landing pages

Integration with SEO activities and advertising

Additional discounts or incentives specific to the ad

Banner ads cross-selling or up-selling additional products

Affiliate information and/or incentives

Announcement of newsletter and subscription benefits

Customer loyalty program enrollment

Ad campaigns can improve your results if you put the necessary time, energy, and money into them. Once adopted the idea of simply “running an ad” doesn’t make much sense unless it is part of an overall cohesive marketing plan. Hope to see you on the campaign trail soon.

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