Key Elements of an Advertising Plan

by Rick Suttle; Updated September 26, 2017

A company's advertising plan is part of the larger marketing and business plan. Often, advertising directors or managers will need to write several versions of the advertising plan--one each for their marketing, business and advertising plans. Whatever the case, the advertising plan is usually written for the coming year. It should include every aspect of your advertising, including where you will advertise and how frequently. Also, get other managers' input before finalizing your advertising plan.

Target Audience

Select a target audience as part of your advertising plan. Your target audience will be the types of consumers or business customers to whom you advertise. These customers can be defined by specific demographic groups like age or income or buying behavior, such as late-night eaters. Your target audience may also be identified by certain lifestyles. For example, target health-conscious individuals or people who exercise regularly if you sell protein shakes or bars. You cannot have a successful advertising campaign without properly identifying your target audience, those who are most likely to purchase your product.

Advertising Message

Your advertising message is also a key element of your advertising plan. Always select the right message, according to Entrepreneur.com. For example, if you are selling vacations, for example, create a message that allows people to envision themselves "tanning on a Florida beach" or "enjoying martinis poolside at night with the balmy ocean breeze caressing their hair." Stress benefits before features in your advertising message. Benefits are what people seek in products or services, such as losing weight, more energy or an increase in confidence. Features are aspects of your products like colors, sizes and flavors.

Advertising Mix

Your advertising mix includes the types of advertising you will run to market your products, including television, radio, magazine, newspaper, direct mail, Yellow Pages or Internet advertising. Select the appropriate advertising mix by determining which advertising media your customers are most likely to use. For example, restaurant and automotive repair customers often look for specials in coupon magazines--those that are distributed in Sunday newspapers or by mail. However, they may also hear about your products and services while watching their favorite shows. Your advertising mix will likely include multiple advertising media.

Advertising Budget

Determine how much you will spend in the coming year on your advertising budget. Start by determining what percentage of each advertising media you will use. For example, you may decide to allocate 50 percent of your advertising dollars to direct mail, 25 percent to radio advertising and the rest to Internet promotions. Contact the advertising departments for each media group. Obtain their latest advertising rate cards. Ask the media advertising representatives if their rates will go up in the new year. You will be creating your advertising budget in advance. Therefore, any rate increases you miss will throw your budget off. Allocate any extra 10 to 15 percent for new advertising requests that may occur during the year. For example, a brand manager may request additional coupon magazine ads in certain markets.