Media Planning and Budgeting 101 (Show Me the Money!)

As the Associate Media Director at BIG YAM, I am often asked, “How much should we be spending on media?” Let me tell you, this is a question that’s almost impossible to answer. It’s like blindly asking someone how much it is to buy a new home. Well, that depends. Are you buying a “tiny house” in the wilderness or a penthouse in Manhattan? How many people are going to live in the house? How many bathrooms or bedrooms do you need?

Just like buying a house in the example above, there are a lot of questions you need to answer before assigning a media budget. Do you need to reach a large national audience for a general consumer product, or a small, local and highly targeted audience to promote a neighborhood dry cleaner? What are you trying to achieve with your advertising? How long is the campaign going to run? The list of questions can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is how I break it down.

Start With the Numbers

When I ask for budgets, more often than not, I hear “we don’t have a budget.”  Just because there may not be a “set” budget doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. Everyone has a budget. You may not have an exact dollar amount, and that’s okay.

But everyone has a number that if our team hits or goes over, they will run for the door faster than a snow cone melts in Scottsdale summers. That number, the one that you absolutely will not go over, that’s the one we need to know! We won’t always recommend that you spend that much, but we do need to know where that ceiling is.

Media Planning – Strategically

Your media plan needs to address your brand’s needs, and ultimately help you to reach your goals and objectives through various tactics. This is possible on many levels, but what we can reasonably recommend will be decided by your budget, just as much as it will be guided by your objectives and your primary target audience(s).

No matter what the need is, we can help you find the tailored media strategy to reach your goals. There are some very important items that you and your media partners need to have answered before building a strategic media plan for your brand.  The more information, the better aligned your final plan will be.

A Couple of Questions for You

Below are my top three questions that every brand needs to answer before creating a media strategy – these are true whether you are placing these buys yourself, through an agency or through another partner. Hint Hint…budget is one of them!

Question 1: What are your objectives/goals and how am I going to measure them?

    • Be specific with your objectives. Put numbers to it. Make it measurable. Saying “I want more customers” is great, but how many more? What percentage of new versus repeat customers are you looking to hit? Are you looking to increase a segment of your clientele? Gain brand awareness?
    • Make it a realistic goal. Don’t expect to go from “ABC General Store” to the next “Target” overnight. Be sure that, not only is your goal attainable, but that when you meet that goal, you can handle the impact on your company (e.g., are you ready for 1,000 new customers to walk through your door tomorrow morning).
  • Set a timeline. How long are you giving yourself to hit the goal?  Be sure to allow yourself enough time to achieve the desired reach and frequency.

Question 2: Who is my primary target audience and are there secondary and tertiary audiences that I want to reach?

  • Who is my primary target audience and are there secondary or tertiary audiences that I want to reach? Knowing who you want to reach is the foundation of all media plans.
      • Tailoring plans, selecting platforms and selecting initiatives is virtually impossible without knowing who you are trying to reach.
    • Look at your current customers, your competitors’ customers and your desired customers and determine how each of them aligns with your goals and objectives.
        • Some clients may be more valuable than others and they may help you achieve your goals faster. However, maybe those valuable clients already know about your brand and it’s more important that you introduce yourself to new potential clients to grow.
      • Needs, objectives and goals of the company will shift and change periodically along with who you need to reach and media tactics can be tailored to shift when those needs shift.

Question 3: What is my budget?

What is my budget? Know how much you can realistically spend to achieve your goals and objectives. There are endless possibilities when it comes to media tactics, and budget is a huge driving factor in which of those tactics are going to work for you and which won’t.  Just because something is a fit for achieving your goals and reaching your target audience doesn’t mean that it is a fit for your budget.

Have a budget? Need help? Contact us!