Writing Killer Strategies

I love writing media strategies. A good media strategy sets the stage for a terrific media plan — it gets all the BS out of the way so that planners can concentrate on doing what they do best with a clear set of goals in mind.

A strategy document should make sure that both client and agency are on the same page with regard to what an ad campaign is supposed to accomplish, how the agency will work to accomplish it, and how success will be gauged. Without a media strategy, client and agency would most likely go off in completely different directions in working on a given effort. A strategy document will give the agency a direction that is approved by the client so that it doesn’t invest time and effort into developing a media plan that is off target, over budget, or executed in the wrong geography.

Media strategy documents are, of course, nothing new. Traditional advertising agencies have been doing them for a long time. Not everything from the traditional world will fit into the interactive world without a few tweaks, though.

A media strategy from the traditional world will usually contain all of the following elements:

A re-hashing of the marketing objectives and strategies — An agency’s account staff will usually sit in a room with folks on the client side for days on end, trying to come up with these. Seeing as how they put so much effort into them, you might as well include them in your deck. Seriously, though It’s important to be able to restate, in no uncertain terms, the goals of the overall marketing plan. Your media objectives and strategies will be built on these marketing objectives and strategies (if they’re done right), so it’s important to be sure that the agency and client are both on the same page.

Media objectives and strategies — These will steer the media plan, so make sure you get them right. One common mistake I see is that sometimes planners don’t know the difference between objectives and strategies. Just remember that a media objective is a goal you set for the media campaign and a strategy is something you implement in order to achieve the objective.

Target Audience — A good strategy always gives plenty of insight into the target audience for the campaign. Not only should this section discuss how and why the target was selected, but also give insights into the target’s media consumption habits, lifestyle and more. Many traditional agencies like to describe an actual “day in the life” of a typical member of the target audience in this section of the strategy in order to show the client that they understand the target.

Plan Considerations — Plan geography, flight dates and any other special considerations will end up in this section.

Considered Vehicles — Here is where you show the client the types of media vehicles that will be considered for the media plan. Most often, this isn’t a complete list. Rather, it simply shows the client that you’re thinking of the right types of vehicles in the most appropriate media.

Budget — My favorite section. This is where you present your dream budget You know, the one that includes the exclusive sponsorship of next year’s Super Bowl. Odds are your client will whittle this down a bit, so don’t be surprised when they ask you to economize.

Next Steps — You’ve just busted your butt for a month to deliver a well thought out strategy. Make it easy for your client to approve the strategy and move into the planning phase. A list of next steps should be included in every media strategy document.

This structure works pretty darn well for traditional advertisers, but what do we need to do to this strategy document to make it suitable for an interactive brand? Tune in next week

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