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Understanding the Media Buying Process Step-by-Step

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Media buying, sounds complicated doesn't it? Are you ready to learn how to conduct media buying by completing five steps?

Step 1 - Identify your target market.
Who are you trying to reach? Who is your target market? Create a profile that reflects the consumer you are trying to reach. Questions you may want to ask yourself: What is their age? Are they male or female? What's their average income? The answers to these questions will be helpful when trying to identify the best venue in which to place media.

Step 2 - Research your target market.
Once you've identified your target market, it's time to do some market research. You can do your own research, which is called primary research or you can depend on secondary research that's already been done. There are cost benefits to secondary research.

In this step, you want to identify where you will find your target market, as well as other demographics that can assist you in selecting the right media buy.

Will you find your target market online? Are they television watchers? What about magazines? What marketing vehicles will work best when it comes to placing advertisements?

It's important to understand the consumer behavior of those that you are targeting. This will help in placing a media buy that is effective and performs by achieving your identified objectives. Research can help you in doing this. Research can also provide you with information on what your competitors are doing and where they are going to reach the audience you are trying to reach.

Step 3 - Set your objectives.
Don't miss this step. When you set the marketing objectives that you want to achieve with your target market, you can begin to create a plan. And, until these two things are defined, a plan is destined to fail.

What do you want to do with your media buys? Are you looking to create awareness? Is your goal to achieve sign-up or sales? Identify what objectives are most important to you for each media buy so that you can measure whether or not those objectives are being achieved.

You can also share these objectives with those you are buying media from and ask their option on whether their outlet will work for that objective or not. Remember, their job is to sell, so weigh their input, but don't consider it invaluable.

Step 4 - Define and plan out your strategy.
You've identified your target market, you've done your research and you've set your objective. It's not time to define and create a strategy.

Your plan should contain the following:

  • Where will you buy media? Are there specific outlets you are interested in?
  • What is your budget and where can you allocate that budget, so that you can achieve the objectives you have identified? What components should your media plan contain?

An Example Media Buying Strategy and Plan

Here is an outline of a media plan and strategy that tends to work best for me:

  • Executive Summary (What is the summary of the strategy)
  • Objectives and How Will You Achieve Them
  • Identify your Overall objectives
  • What publications or media outlets have you chosen based on the previous steps?
  • What's your budget?
  • How much will you spend with each outlet and why?
  • What objective do you hope to achieve with each outlet?

Example: Media Outlet 1
(Tip: Break out each media outlet )

Target served:
Definition of qualified market reached by this outlet:
Circulation Numbers:
Key Classifications of circulation if applicable (This is extremely helpful if you break out by percentage.):
Recommended Schedule:
Costs - This section should include the following :

Negotiated Rate:
Rate Card Rate:
Total Negotiated Savings per Advertisement:
Total Negotiated (Monthly / Yearly) Savings:
Total Costs:

Ad Placement Guarantee: (Where will the ad appear and when? What pages and what dates?)

Are their bonus placements for the media buy?

Is there any added value to the placement? Perhaps a free report, company profile, listing in a directory or e-blast mention?

Rationale behind the placement? Summarize the reasoning for placing this media buy. You can also use comparisons to other media outlets vs. this one.

That's a lot of information, yes? Of course it is.

In order to succeed in media buying, you must be detailed. A great media buyer pays attention to detail, spends time researching and can negotiate like a pro.
Be sure and break out each media outlet that you select and complete the above questions. This will assist you in creating a strategy that contains the necessary detail and enough information for proper planning that will lead to a successful media buying campaign. I suggest putting this information in a three-ring binder or using your computer to catalog the information, this will help in creating a media buying history that you can continually refer to. This will save you research time for future media buying. These documents will also help in guiding you through the execution of your media strategy and plan throughout the year.

Step 5 - Execute your plan.

You have your plan in hand, now it's time to get to work. Your first step is to begin to contact the media outlets you have identified and start negotiating your media buy rates. Keep a calendar and a budget in front of you at all times.

Make sure you negotiate rates and ask for bonuses or add-ons that they are willing to give you if you choose to go with them. Once again keep your eye on your budget, your calendar and, most importantly, keep track of important deadlines.

As your media buys are executed, be sure to keep track of the results and evaluate how your plan and strategy is working for you. If you find that you are not meeting your objectives, don't be afraid to adjust your plan as necessary.

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