Advertising budget: How to get the most out of it [Archives:2003/630/Business & Economy]

April 7 2003

By Ahmed S. Ali Muqbil
For the Yemen Times
[email protected]

Anyone interested in success in business needs to ask some questions relating to marketing and promotional services. What are the key success factors that each one of us should do in this respect?
They are broadly similar, and include the need to recognize change, understand our customers, putting the needs of our customers first, structuring our business entirely around the needs of our customers, responding to change, invest in strategies to covert into an opportunity, outthinking our competitors.
Every business is involved in marketing whether we believe ourselves to be or not. Because without marketing, which I define as the management of change for profit, business would cease to exist. And companies invest in marketing because they believe it will help change their business for the better.
This can be a qualitative change in terms of brand image or corporate reputation, or it can be a quantitative change in term of increased sales of a particular product or attracting new customers to a service.
We should work this way because we have to believe that an orchestrated approach, combining a number of marketing communications activities, will help the client or brand to achieve its objectives better than the use of any particular skill on its own. That is not to say there is no role for the specialist quite the contrary. However, when there is a broad opportunity, it is foolhardy not to take into forms of promotion work well together.
Thus, the key success factor is to recognize the strategic continue that exist along the marketing communications line-recognizing that some message are broad, for example, packaging and advertising and some are targeted for example, sales promotion and direct marketing. Each has a specific role to play in establishing business success but synergy can be created by using project management to ensure that each of these separate communications vehicles contributes to the greater good of the brand image by communicating a core message.
The next section of our marketing communications plan should be an identification of our goals. Although the plan should deal with marketing communications and not marketing, it's often helpful to include a brief review of marketing goals that have been set for the brand.
That will assist us in seeing how the program is designed to support and assist in the sales and profit objectives of the company. Typically, marketing goals are stated both long-term and short-term and most short-term goals are for the coming year or coming financial period, long-term goals are from three to five years.
Whether the goals are short or long-term, I believe they should be expressed quantitatively that is, in number of figures that can be measured. I would also suggest that in this section we should give a brief description of the basic marketing mix that will be used by the brand or company during this period. This mix is the combination of pricing, distribution, promotion, place and the like that will be used to support the brand.
The next element in your marketing communications plan will be the budget and this is always the thing that is uppermost in the mind of the person who has to make the decision about investment in marketing communications, how much is the campaign going to cost, and how can we could be guaranteed a return from this investment.
Ideally, we should include a note on what traditionally has been spent on the brand and what spending is proposed in the next period. This can take many forms such as a recap of the past five years expenditures, the relationship of advertising to sales or distribution, or numbers of units operated or other factors. I would also suggest that we include here a budget for evaluating the market communications plan. This will necessitate getting proposals from market research companies for pre- and post- testing competitive expenditure can also be included in this section.
The next section in our plan is marketing communications. As you can see, I have been moving from the general marketing objectives to the specifies of the marketing communications program. Therefore, I will spend a little bit more time on that than I will on the rest of the marketing communications mix.
There are three main rules for developing effective advertising strategies. They apply to every product or service and to everyone who and every company that hopes to develop or he involved in effective advertising.

They rules are as follows:
Rule 1
All advertising must take the customers view. This simply means that advertising strategies and the resulting advertising executions must always be directed to what the customer or prospect wants to hear or see or is interested in, not just what the advertiser want to say or do.

Rule 2
Advertising is delivering sales messages. Advertising is simply one way a company has of delivering sales messages for their product or service to a large number of prospective customers in many different locations at the same time. Advertising is nothing more than that but nothing less than that. Thus, if delivery and acceptance of a sales message won't influence the receiver to purchase, then it is unlikely the advertising will be successful no matter how interesting or entertaining it may be. First and foremost, advertising must persuade. That is the basic premise of a sales message. And persuasion usually occurs when there is a benefit for the receiver, not just for the sender.

Rule 3
Customers buy benefits, not attributes. Most people are not interested in how a television receives radio waves and through some complex technologies process converts those into sounds and pictures. There are really only interested in how television can benefit them in their daily lives. Far too often Irish clients are interested in telling consumers how they make things rather than in the effect that this particular product is going to have on the buyer. The benefit is the end result the buyer gets. The attributes are those things that make the benefit possible. Consumers are interested in benefits not attributes. The distinction between attributes and benefits is a key one in developing effective advertising strategies.
Now how should we write a marketing communications plan? One way to write and define the plan is to describe what it is not:
1. The marketing communications plan is not a marketing plan. It does not contain marketing objectives such as sales or profits or returns on investment. The marketing communications plan is part of the marketing plan and contains only that information relevant to the advertising or promotion or corporate identity program to be conducted for the brand during the given time period. The marketing information belongs in the marketing plan and not in the marketing communications plan.
2. The marketing communications plan is not a sales document. Although it is important to be enthusiastic about the program that has been developed, the purpose of the plan is to provide an outline of what is recommended and what is to be done.
3. The marketing communication plan is not a ponderous tome. The objective isn't to show how much information has been gathered but to communicate clearly and completely what is proposed for the coming period and why those recommendations are being made.

Specifically, a marketing communications plan should cover the following:

Situation analysis
On the other hand, the situation analysis would comprise four sections.
The first is company and product history and this should be a brief sketch of the company and a little more on the history of the brand what initiative have been undertaken in the past and their success, current market share data and anything relevant to the sales history of the brand.
The second area is product evaluation and this should be a brief descriptor of all those elements which might effect sales of the product or service including the benefits offered, distribution, pricing and so on. It should point out those areas that will impact specifically on the success of the marketing communications program, for example, if the brand has a distribution problem, the problem should be pointed out. It is also important to point out the assumptions that are being made about the marketplace and marketing activities during the period of the plan. You should point out which of these assumptions will be likely to affect the marketing communications program. For example, if prices are to be increased during the course of the plan, some statement should be made about what affect this might have on advertising response.
The third area is consumer evaluation. This paragraph should give an accurate picture of the target markets to whom the marketing communications will be directed and it should be as specific as possible including demographics which you probably all know about, but should also include psycho graphic and geographic data. Psycho graphic data is very important in getting underneath the skin of your consumer and understanding how he or she behaves, how they use the product now, what attitudes they have towards the brand, how they feel about the competition- in short, any information that will give better picture of the target market.
And the forth area should be a competitive evaluation. Obviously, in order to know your consumer well, you need to understand the competitive territory.
Moreover, you could include information on current competitive advertising, brand imagery or any other information that has come to you from market research. It is important to identify the amounts of money being invested by each of your competitors in developing and managing their brands. This will help support the budget proposed in the plan and will give you a benchmark against which to measure subsequent brand performance.
To conclude on how to get the most out of the advertising & promotional budget, I would like to leave all me readers who were and still interested in this subject with the 7 heavenly virtues of marketing communications that can lead to more effectiveness:

1. The first heavenly virtue is to deliver a significant competitive promise or benefit to your consumer. This promise may be either rational, emotional or a combination of both. But it must come out of the product. It can be depicted in words, a picture or ideally in both.
2. Build the brand personality. Every brand has what we call a personality bank, which is a basis of the second heavenly virtue. In this bank are store the perceptions of the brand-its personality. Every time you run a dull, offensive or misleading and you make a withdrawal from the personality bank, every piece of communication, including advertising and sales promotion, should make a deposit in the personality bank instead of a withdrawal. Every piece of communication should be designed to build a long-term personality that is always welcome in the consumer's life.
3. Be specific. Pin things down, present evidence, facts, and the consumer will reward you. Don't ever be too complacent to present them in a fresh, uncomplicated way. If you back up your promise, you often cement a sale.
4. Simplicity. The greatest advertising is the simplest advertising. The consumer is interested after all in only one thing- “what's in it for me”. Good advertising tells them briefly and is gone. Remember the 60-second of darkness brought to you by Guinness? Remember Benson & Hedges pure gold?
5. The fifth heavenly virtue is directness. The best advertising makes a point quickly and unequivocally. Do not be obscure or over subtle in advertising n many people