The small businesses guide to media planning: Reasons why you should make time for it or seek advice

It is likely that you don’t currently consider media planning to be a priority while you’re busy building your business, but I will explain why it’s important to consider it as a key component within your marketing activity. Like a squirrel storing acorns for winter consumption, if you get your media planning in place, you shouldn’t encounter any periods of business famine. Media planning is as relevant to small businesses and sole traders as it is to big name advertisers. Here’s why: media is a route for speaking to your customers or potential customers and there are many types of media available for you to take advantage of. Some may seem more realistic than others, but they all serve the same purpose. Do you currently use social media to promote your business or cause? If yes, then you need to have a media plan in place. To date, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been free at the point of use and easy to access, so it has been easy for new businesses to pile into social media use without considering the bigger picture of how it might fit into their overall strategy for media planning

What is media planning?

Media planning is the process of developing a programme of communications activity to present yourself to your customers and potential customers to give them the information which they require at the correct time. When planning, it’s advisable to think about any continuous message which you might like to share. Continuous messaging must be consistent and informative to provide a signpost to allow your purchaser to take the action which you desire. Social media is ideal for continuous advertising, owing to its free availability. Event related messaging is more likely to occur in a burst of intense activity, so if you develop an established approach to your social media messaging, the trigger to encourage a potential purchase will be there at all times. Whenever a customer enters the window of opportunity they will be exposed to your message. It’s the one time when automated scheduling of posts can be effective. Knowing WHO you’re trying to reach is critical to an effective media plan; it’s all about targeting and choosing the correct route to find your desired audience. (I have written a separate post on the topic of targeting.)

Types of media plan

Typically , there are two primary types of ways to arrange your media usage (known as laydown):

1. Continuous exposure – ensures that your message is always available for anyone who needs to see it
2. Burst activity – a short period of intense activity, for example, to coincide with a specific event. It may include repetition; generally a burst of media activity will create a lot of noise for your message and will be hard for your audience to miss

If you plan your media activity to include an integrated combination of continuous and bursts, you should find that, like the squirrel, you have a store of customer leads, all year round.
What is an integrated communications plan? An integrated plan will ensure consistency throughout everything which is said by your business. You can observe this in practice if you watch the publicity which is delivered by any big-name product. Integrated communications is very closely linked to branding. (You can read my introduction to branding here in my previous blog, “How a small business can begin to develop a brand”.)

If you would like some advice about your media planning, please contact me at [email protected]. I can produce the laydown for a media plan which will suit your business.