How To Plan a Media Buy in 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Lisa Smith on Oct 14, 2015 2:17:12 PM



Everything has a process. Media buying is no different. If you want to learn the secrets of the trade from a professional media planning and buying firm, this is the blog for you.


Here are the top 5 planning questions that you need to answer before you begin to contact media. 


1. State the goal of the buy

What is it that you are trying to achieve with budget? It sounds obvious but I assure you that you need to put it writing. Once you answer this question, everything becomes clearer. Your answers can range wildly depending on how your business is set up. Here are some legitimate goals:


  • drive clicks through to your site
  • ask for people to call you the phone
  • increase awareness for when a need arises
  • come to your physical location
  • buy more often


The possible list is long. But, having spent about 20 years in media before owning a marketing company, I can tell you that this is a question that is often not part of the discussion.


2. Define who are you trying to reach

This is commonly spoken about as your demographic. Define, at minimum, the age range for your audience and the gender. For example, you may want to reach women 25-54 years of age. This will help you in a number of ways. 

Different media attract different age groups. Newspaper readers tend 50 years old and older. Radio stations that play currently released pop music will attract 12-34 year olds. Other media will reach a very broad range of people and that may be a big waste of your budget if you are after a tighter demo.


3. Identify the geographic reach of your campaign

The TV stations in my home market of Lansing Michigan have a defined market area of five counties. Five counties is a wide swath of land which encompasses many cities. Some campaigns need that kind of reach and some do not. If the location of your audience is of little relevance, then digital advertising can use behavioral targeting. This is an important consideration in your choice of media as well as message.


4. Timing

A campaign's timing is driven by unique factors. Political campaigns have very finite windows while other types of campaigns, like health care organizations, might make their timing decisions based on seasons and budgets.

Consider when your audience is most likely interested in your message and try and be present during that time - shoot while the ducks are flying, so to speak.


Another important consideration is to allow for the length of the audiences buying decision and how well branded your company is. In our town we have a plumbing company that is on TV very consistently. They know that when you need a plumber, you should already know who they are. It's comforting to call someone that you have heard of already. On the flip side, if you are a corporation that is thinking of changing workers compensation vendors, the comparison and renewal for those kinds of policies coincide with budget cycles. In this case, you would be more interested in the window of opportunity when corporations are comparison shopping.


5. Budget

Budget is "make or break" to campaigns. Plan your budget based on the number of weeks that you can achieve minimum efficiencies in each of the media that you are using. A very broad rule of thumb for campaigns is to achieve a minimum weekly frequency of 3 in your media buy. Every rep that you work with will be familiar with frequency. Make sure you have them show you the WEEKLY frequency of your buy, in addition to the frequency across the entire campaign. There are some things that help your budget realize success:


  • you are well known within your audience
  • you have an enticing offer
  • your message aligns with your audience
  • a clear call to action is present


It would be impossible to tell you in the context of a blog post if your budget is competent. And, it is easy to waste money if you do not have a good consultant or buyer in your camp. 


While there are some really great media reps out there, keep in mind that their goals are very different than yours. They have bosses that want them to use all of their inventory and hit their budgets. For the record, a good media buying firm will not cost you money, they will save you money and produce better results.



Topics: marketing