How to Create an Advertising Plan

Businesswoman working on a whiteboard and creating an advertising plan in an office

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Advertising is a form of marketing that uses a sponsored, non-personal message to reach customers. It is paid for by the company and sells an idea, product, or service.

An advertising plan is a blueprint for how you will use advertising to promote your business and reach new customers. Having a plan ensures that your company's advertising money is spent well and that your advertising reaches the correct audience. It also establishes benchmarks that you can use to assess whether your strategy is effective at reaching customers within the constraints of your marketing budget.

Planning Your Advertising Strategy

Before creating your advertising strategy, you need to have a comprehensive business plan. This will allow you to craft an advertising plan that reaches the correct customers, uses effective marketing messages, and stays within your budget.

Your business plan should include your:

  • Advertising budget
  • Target audience
  • Key marketing messages
  • Preferred advertising platforms
  • Marketing and revenue goals

The advertising methods that you choose will depend on your available funding and where you can best reach your ideal customers.

To create your advertising plan, use the information from your business plan to:

  1. Choose a medium. Select places where your audience is already consuming information. This ensures that your advertising reaches your potential customers.
  2. Plan your budget. Have a clear plan for where you spend your advertising dollars and how much you can afford. This helps you stay within your marketing budget and ensures that you bring in more revenue than you spend on advertising.
  3. Develop a message. Create marketing language that communicates the benefits that your goods or services can provide customers. This will ensure that your marketing is primed to resonate with your audience and entice them to learn more or make a purchase.
  4. Create benchmarks. Set goals that are measurable for the number of customers you want to bring in and how much revenue you want to generate. Develop a system to track how successful advertising is, such as dedicated phone numbers that customers can call, coupons for in-store promotions, or unique links that are placed on other websites. This allows you to track the effectiveness of your advertising.
  5. Diversify. Choose more than one place to advertise. This ensures that if one strategy fails to bring in new customers, you have other ways of reaching your audience and generating revenue.

Advertising Mediums

There are many options for advertising your products or services. The best choices will vary from business to business, depending on your customers, budget, region, industry, and business goals.


Print advertising is on paper, including ads in flyers, direct mail, pamphlets, catalogs, newspapers, and magazines. It is often more effective for reaching an older audience or one that is highly stable and unlikely to move. It can also be useful for standing out from competitors who use primarily online advertising.

TV and Radio

Television and radio advertising have a broad reach and can be useful for getting in front of many customers at once. TV ads are expensive and include both the cost of the advertising slot and the cost of creating the ad itself. Radio ads are often more cost-effective.

For consumers who are less likely to view traditional media, streaming video platforms and podcasts may be a good replacement for TV and radio. These often reach more targeted segments of customers.


Emails directly reach potential or current customers. The average open rate for email marketing is around 17%, though this can vary between industries and companies depending on how engaged your email subscribers are. Smaller companies often have higher open rates than larger ones. Larger companies often have the budget to purchase mailing lists from advertising marketing firms.


Advertising online includes a variety of websites, blogs, videos, search engines, and social media advertising. Digital ads traditionally embed a link that goes directly to your company website or product page, and they rely on the relationship that a partnering website already has with their readers or followers.

The cost of these advertisements varies depending on the digital creator or website that you partner with. Those with larger reach are often more expensive, but those with smaller reach can provide more targeted customer groups.

Digital ads allow you to reach highly targeted segments of customers, often with offers tailored to their interests and needs. For some, like search engine advertising, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

Analyze Your Advertising Strategy

Once you've created and implemented an advertising plan, your work isn't done. Marketing is an ongoing process that you should consistently measure and reassess.

Set up your advertising plan so you can track the results of each strategy, then analyze the results to see which types of marketing are the most effective for your business based on several different metrics.

Effectiveness and Reach

Your advertising strategy needs to reach customers and generate revenue. To assess its effectiveness, ask yourself:

  1. How many new customers did each marketing tactic bring in?
  2. Did these new customers make purchases? Sign up for your email list? Follow you on social media?
  3. Did new customers return to make additional purchases?
  4. What methods were successful at retaining existing customers?
  5. Which kinds of marketing attracted the most customers? Which attracted the fewest?
  6. Did your marketing achieve any other goals, such as connecting you with major industry players, generating news coverage, or building authority in your niche?

If any parts of your advertising plan failed to achieve their goals, or if your business is failing to expand as you hoped, you'll want to consider tweaking those strategies or replacing them with new marketing tactics.

Return on Investment

Marketing costs money. These costs need to both stay within your budget and be worth the result. To assess the return on investment (ROI) that your marketing provided, ask yourself:

  1. What was the total cost (money and time) of each part of your marketing strategy?
  2. Were the costs of advertising covered by the increase in sales?
  3. Did each type of advertising bring in more money than it cost?
  4. Which forms of advertising were the most effective?
  5. Which were the least effective?
  6. Can you still afford each of these advertising tactics going into the future?

Knowing which forms of advertising provide the best return on your investment will allow you to decide where to focus your marketing budget in the future.

New Forms of Media

The media that are available for advertising change continuously. New websites and podcasts become available. Newspapers, magazines, and radio channels offering new rates in order to entice advertisers. Social media platforms are created, change their advertising models, lose popularity, or reach different demographics.

As you assess the effectiveness and ROI of your current advertising plan, keep an eye on new places where you can reach your customers and advertise your products. This will help you both create a strong advertising plan and stay one step ahead of your competitors.