The popular axiom in business is that a failure to plan is a plan to fail. This phrase is attributed to the wise sage Benjamin Franklin and is true in many areas of life, including advertising. If you are going to put your company’s hard-earned resources into marketing, it should be done thoughtfully. Advertising can be a valuable component to a business’s success. It can also drain your coffers. To ensure success when promoting your organization, create the perfect media plan.

What Is A Media Plan?

Media planning is the process by which marketers determine how, when, and where an audience is given a selected advertising message. Many pieces go into developing a media plan. And, whether the plan is for paid media, earned or owned media, understand those factors. It is often the difference between success and failure. Having a media plan allows for setting up a process. A good plan means you can track your budget more accurately. Not surprisingly, testing and optimizing flow more naturally from a sound media plan. And ultimately, ROI is improved.

Plan Objective

Media planning starts with a clearly defined objective. An advertising objective aligns with a company’s goals. What is it that you want to happen? Some campaigns are designed for awareness, so that the audience knows more about the advertiser. Other campaigns are conversion oriented, looking for prospects to fill out a form, or take an action. E-commerce advertising is aimed at making a sale. Whatever the objective, define success in measurable terms. Without benchmarks, you can’t make improvements.

Target Audience

Every successful media plan precisely defines its’ target audience. Many organizations create a client avatar or persona. Marketing profiles are derived from data such as age, gender, profession, buying habits, hobbies, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and personal or professional goals. Understanding who the target audience is leads marketers to focus on specific audience needs. An important element of persona development is determining what media platforms are most popular with our target audience. By creating a profile of the ideal prospect media can be chosen more accurately.


With an objective and target audience in hand it would appear that the process of determining the media outlets can begin. But, before we start choosing where our messages should appear we need a budget. Budgets can be determined in a number of ways. They are often percentages of revenue or profit, or a lump sum that has been set aside. Your current customer acquisition cost and your goal or objective for the campaign should be considered as well. However you decide on a media budget make sure you can have a significant test. Aim to be in the ad market for at least six months, in order to both test and optimize your media plan.

Reach and Frequency

Your advertising budget, objective and client avatar will shape your media choices. Broadcast TV requires more money to be effective and skews older. If you want teens, rule out broadcast TV. Another factor in choosing media is reach and frequency. Just reaching the most prospects possible is not sufficient. If the message is not heard often enough, it will not cut through the clutter of today’s media intensive world. Generally speaking, you can have more reach when trying to brand and increased frequency will drive sales.

Multi-Media Plan

Using a multi-media approach is the usually the most successful course of advertising. Not everyone is on Facebook, or Instagram. Some people shun social media completely. Others don’t watch cable, they stream. Based on your client avatar and goals you should identify as many media platforms as possible. Then examine the customer journey of your current clients. Your analytics platform (such as Google Analytics) can provide this data. Consider how they become aware of your company, how they engage with your brand and how they convert. Review the media that appeal to your target audience and assist in each stage of the sales cycle. Approaching your plan from this direction usually results in a multi-media plan that will broaden your reach and increase frequency.

Create The Perfect Media Plan

With your plan in place, it is time to go to market. For a business where seasonality plays a role, incorporate milestone dates into the plan. Monitor your results every step of the way. Review how your media for Awareness loads the top of the sales funnel. Study what media moves people into the Engagement phase most efficiently and where people drop out. Do the same with the Conversion step. If your Awareness media drives huge traffic to your landing page but no one progresses rewrite your landing page. Should you discover that branded terms on Google search drives conversions efficiently increase your budget there. Analyzing results and optimizing is a vital step in any media plan.


You may not create the perfect media plan right from the start. Even beginning with great data human behavior is not always predictable. But if you follow a smart process, you will be on the right path. With careful analysis and optimization you can arrive at the perfect media plan. And then advertising will be a valuable contributor to your bottom line.