After making the distinction that a marketing plan is more than a media plan, it seems important to explain what a media plan is. It is part of the marketing plan but not all that is needed. 

It seems self-explanatory, but in college, a whole class was dedicated to media planning and therefore it deserves an explanation. Some people take my “Marketing Essentials” class through The Nonprofit Partnership and expect me to tell them how often and on what days they should post on Facebook. Alas, the class is not a media planning class and there’s so much that needs to happen before that. Media planning comes at the end—after you’ve figured out the details of your 4ps, key branding messages, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Then, you create a calendar with a media plan.

Media planning is truly fun! Whether you have a fat or slim budget, you can construct a media plan that is effective. 

Media Plan & PR Plan

How to build your media plan

Start with a grid. It can be a table in Word or an Excel worksheet. List your chosen media vehicles down the left side, and the months of the year across the top. Then you plan where you will place ads throughout the year. 

The beauty of the digital age is that online advertising is extremely inexpensive. Pay per click ads gain many views before each click, giving you additional exposure. You can set your budget as a per day expense or total campaign. Choose your highest ad frequency to coincide with your peak seasons. It isn’t limited to social media, either. A layering approach is great. You’d like people to see your message five to nine times. Sometimes they don’t need that many exposures to make a call or a purchase. 

Layer your Facebook pay-per-click ads with an ad in the bi-weekly business journal. If back to school time is a busy time for you, bolster your daily budget for your ads a few weeks to a month before that. If you have a healthy budget, consider outdoor advertising, direct mail, radio spots, or even some TV ads. Radio and TV aren’t as limited as they were when I took media planning in college. In addition to network TV, you have several streaming options and the same is true with radio. AM and FM stations as well as Pandora and Spotify are all available to you. Not to mention sponsorships on podcasts and many other places. 

Be creative while still being strategic. Each medium has their advantages along with a set of demographics that may or may not match yours. They also have their peak times throughout the day, month and week. Radio during drive time is more expensive as TV is more expensive during primetime. 

Don’t stop there! Add these additional tactical areas for a well-rounded promotional plan. 

1. Social Media Schedule

Pair your media plan with your social media posts. Apply the same principles as above, make sure your chosen platforms lead to your target audience. 

2. Public Relations Plan

The perfect complement to your advertising and social media posts will be some public relations tactics. A well-earned article in a newspaper (daily or weekly) or a magazine can do wonders for you reputation. Other PR activities include participating at events that align with your audience and other activities that further cultivates how you relate to your customers from a transactional to a personal relationship. 

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon.

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