How To Create A Successful Media Plan

“If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”

– William Bernbach

Within the ad community (at least with the old-schoolers), it’s common knowledge that William Wrigley Jr. attributed the success of his chewing gum empire to constant advertising.

Once, he was traveling to California on the famous Super Chief with a young accountant from his firm.  While reviewing the figures for a quarterly statement, the young accountant said, “Sir, Wrigley’s gum is known and sold all over the world.  We have a larger share of the market than all our competitors combined.  Why don’t you save the millions of dollars you are spending on advertising and shift those dollars into the profit column for the next quarter?”

Wrigley thought for a moment and then asked, “Young man, how fast is this train going?”   “About sixty miles an hour” replied the accountant.  Wrigley then asked, “Why doesn’t the railroad remove the engine and let the train travel on its own momentum?”

Wrigley, like other successful advertisers understood that when it comes to growing sales, nothing beats top of mind awareness.  And the only way to achieve top of mind awareness is with a consistent, relentlessly focused media program.

As you create and execute your media campaign, adhering to the following tactics will help ensure your cash register rings:


l):  Establish a budget and stick with it.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  A small but consistent schedule, with the right message, properly placed, will make a positive impact over time.

Think of your campaign like a hot-air balloon.  It takes energy and time for the flame to fill the balloon and set sail high over the trees. Once in flight, the balloon is easy to see.  All too often, advertisers will shut off the flame that feeds the balloon.  As soon as budgets are cut or ad schedules are cancelled, the balloon will come down.  Results hoped for never come to fruition as the balloon disappears.

2):  Focus Your Dollars. When planning your media campaign, don’t fall into the trap of spreading yourself too thin.  Many advertisers want to buy everything – newspaper, TV, radio, direct mail, Internet, sports marketing programs, etc.  Because they buy a couple ads in a lot of places, they think they’re covering the market.

This strategy doesn’t work. The result is too many people are reached with little to no repetition.  Consider the benefits of focusing on a smaller group of people and make yours the name that pops into their head when they want or need what you sell.

3):  Put your money where your market is.  Find out which mediums your prized customers are consuming.   Does the medium you’re considering deliver your targeted profile?  If not, don’t waste your money.

4): Buy Specific Ad Placement, Not Rotators.  Rotators accomplish two things…they provide a lower rate and helps the seller manage their inventory better.  The goal of media planning is to reach the same people over and over and over.  With rotators, you’ll reach a lot of people but have no repetition.  To be successful, repetition is vital.

5):  Go where they ain’t.  When buying media, you have two choices.  (1) Be in the same places as your competitors and try to out-shout them (*a.k.a. out-spend) or, as Bill Bernbach stated, (2) “Go where they ain’t.”

Find out where your competitors are spending their money, then place your ads elsewhere.  Use a different radio or TV station, different time of day or use a different medium altogether.  Imitation might be the greatest form of flattery, but it will not generate the results you want.  If you look and act the same as your competitor, consumers have no reason to choose you.

Every advertising medium has strengths and weaknesses.  Your decision of where to spend your dollars should be based on your goals, trading area, target market and budget.  While virtually any medium can drive customers through your doors, you’ll find the greatest response rate from what you use consistently, provided you take the time to craft a message that truly benefits the consumer.

Ronald A. Heider is a 25+ year veteran of the advertising community and owner of HMA – Heider Marketing & Advertising, a Hampton Roads based agency that serves automotive marketers exclusively.  Heider can be reached at or via email at