Start an Advertising Business

How to Evaluate an Advertising Or Marketing Idea, From Start to Finish

Are you just starting out in business? Perhaps your business is less than six months old. It's an exciting time for you, with a world of opportunity ahead and the power to take your business in any direction and to any market you choose. All you need to do is get your business in front of your target audience. So you're probably thinking about advertising and marketing, and wondering which method to pick for the best return.

One of the most useful tips I've learned in my career when evaluating marketing ideas is to always follow the 4 Ms. What are the four Ms? They are 'message', 'market', 'media' and 'moment'. For any successful marketing communication you need to get the message, market, media and moment right. All 4 must be right or it's highly likely that the communication will fail.

For most ideas, 'moment' is going to be the one where they fail – the person on the receiving end of the message needs to be in the right frame of mind for buying from your business. The moment we want to deliver a message about our services is when the target customer is doing what they usually do when they think about a need for your product or service.

To take an example, let's say your business is a journal database for students. Good places to advertise might include the library (preferably near the online facilities), or online adverts on student support websites. Here, you're catching your student at the right moment – right when they're studying and might need some help, and are near a computer so they can visit your site.

Get the idea of the 4 Ms concept? Great. Let's fill it out a bit. Any marketing idea is evaluated/planned as follows:

STEP 1: Decide what the communication goal is – what do you hope to achieve? For example, you might want to incite action, create/raise awareness or create/strengthen buyer preferences.

STEP 2: Decide what your market is – who are you aiming the message at?

STEP 3: Work out the best moment to deliver your message – what moment are they best primed to receive your message? In other words when will they most want your product or service?

STEP 4: Decide on the message itself – this encompasses the product, service, brand, price or incentives as well as the availability of the offering.

STEP 5: Select your media – selecting the best media type based on the above and the budget and schedule.

STEP 6: Find a creative solution – consider the appeal type – either emotional or informational and execution style e.g. How it works, function, feel, look, audio etc.

STEP 7: Plan and carry out implementation – pre-production, production, post production and distribution. In other words, make it happen.

STEP 8: Measurement of effectiveness – possibly the most important step. This involves measuring what worked and what didn't and the achievement of any goals. If I can't measure how effective an idea is, it's less likely I'll run with the idea.

Before you embark, if you can mine some stats to get an idea of success, great. Let's say you have an idea for a banner and you're paying for 10,000 impressions. The banner company say they have an average click through rate of 1.5%. You're likely to get 150 people visit the site. What's your conversion rate (number of visitors to number of orders)? If it's under 1%, with your conversion rate, you're likely to get 1 order.

To take an example that demonstrates the use of the 4 Ms very well, consider the journal database that we mentioned and consider how we could use a student fresher pack to market the database (the box that arrives in their halls of residence):

Follow this formula and you won't go far wrong when evaluating advertising and marketing ideas.

Jen is a Director and Inbound Marketing Consultant for Angel, a digital marketing company in the United Kingdom. Visit the Angel website for more articles on marketing, SEO and copywriting.

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