By Karen E. Klein Q: What is the difference between a marketing plan and an advertising campaign? What are the dependencies between the two? -- D.D., Santa Clara, Calif.
A: An advertising campaign is one of the important components of a company's marketing plan, but certainly not the only one. "The advertising campaign is the media that you use during a certain time frame to promote a product, service, or an event," says Marc Slutsky, author of Smart Marketing. An advertising campaign focuses on the creative positioning and media through which a product or service is sold.
THE BIG PICTURE. By contrast, marketing presents the overall picture for how the company will promote, distribute, and price its products or services. One of the ways that promotion will take place is through an advertising campaign. A marketing plan should also include public relations, sales and distribution strategies, and promotions. Lesser-known aspects of a marketing plan might include "Product or service accessibility -- facings [shelf space], appropriate retail-outlet penetration, product performance, and product pricing, says Gay Silberg, CEO of Los Angeles-based marketing consultancy Graham Silberg Sugarman.
Silberg, who offers these hallmarks of good advertising and marketing plans, says every advertising campaign should include:
An analysis of where the product stands in the marketplace, both in terms of market share and consumer perception;
a description of the primary and secondary target audiences for the product
a detailed analysis of media channels (include print, broadcast, mail, electronic, direct response, etc.), and their effectiveness and cost efficiency with regard to the target audience;
a media plan detailing the mix of media by markets, and the budgets required to reach the target audiences in those markets;
a grid outlining the product-positioning statements that will lead to the development of a unique "selling proposition," one that cannot be preempted or coopted by a competitor;
a copy platform that details the specific points to be made in any advertisement;
the development of copy and layouts, storyboards and scripts;
concept testing to prove out "believe-ability" and clarity of the message;
pre- and postanalysis to measure the impact of the advertising campaign in terms of sales, brand
recall, message recall, market share increases, and the like.
GRAND STRATEGY. A marketing plan, Silberg says, should entail:
analysis of the market size and potential, including detailed analysis of various market segments in
order to identify primary and secondary audiences and their greatest potential for product use;
an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the distribution channels through which the consumer
receives the product or service;
an analysis of competitive products and services, with their strengths, weaknesses, pricing, and
an analysis of your product in contrast to your competitor's product. "This may include looking at
alternative uses for the product to increase sales," Silberg says. "For example, a pogo stick can be a child's toy, a means of transportation, or an exercise device.";
development of pricing strategies, including sales commissions, incentives and volume discounts specifically suited to your product performance and distribution channels. "You don't have to have the lowest prices to be the leader in a product category," she says. "The sales cycle and seasonality should also be explored and analyzed."
detailed plans for sales tracking and market share analysis, for advertising effectiveness measurements;
a budget that will determine how much needs to be spent on marketing and promotion as a percentage of the cost of the product or service. "This can be based on expected ROI or as a percentage of anticipated sales," Silberg says.
Slutsky recommends that companies draw up a marketing plan annually, but break it down into 90-day blocks, so that strategies can be modified or changed, if need be.
Have a question about your business? Ask our small-business experts. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Smart Answers, BW Online, 45th Floor, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. Please include your real name and phone number in case we need more information; only your initials and city will be printed. Because of the volume of mail, we won't be able to respond to all questions personally. Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in covering covered entrepreneurship and small-business issues.