Campaigning for East Lansing Michigan with only 12,000 budget for the marketing agency.
Sample Outline of a Plansbook
The following is a typical outline for a plansbook*. Although you are welcome to vary from this outline, do so carefully because the approach presented here covers all the necessary issues in a relatively logical order. Any variation from this should be done with concern for maintaining a logical presentation and thorough coverage of the issues. The italicized notes are not part of the outline, but are provided as advice to consider when composing that section of the plansbook. IF YOU AREN’T SURE ABOUT SOMETHING, ASK QUESTIONS!!! 1. Executive Summary
transitions between sections and subsections, proof it for typos, and avoid pretentious language. – Number every page, even the creative executions, so the reader (including me) can refer you to specific items. – Make it convincing. Cite your sources (e.g., Richards 1990) so the reader knows you’re not inventing facts. I
recommend you use APA Citation Style. Don’t shoot from the hip. And don’t make sweeping generalizations that aren’t supported by fact. Let me repeat: cite your sources!
the product, or the campaign. – Don’t guess. Don’t say, for example, the consumer is doing something because of X if you don’t know that for a fact.
What you can do is say that it’s POSSIBLE the consumer is doing it because of X. That way you’re letting the client know that you’re not certain.
the most common mistakes students make is to mention a handful of facts per section, drawing one or two conclusions, and assuming that’s enough. You can’t truly evaluate a Product or a Consumer, etc., in a paragraph or two. If you don’t tell the client something new, that they hadn’t considered, you haven’t gone deep enough.
a. Intro paragraph – Frame the scope of your analysis. This is just a recap of the client’s basic request, to help limit the scope of your
analysis. It helps to frame the discussion that follows. Did the client ask you to prepare a one year campaign, a one month campaign, for one product or a whole line of products, to sell a product or to repair a reputation? This sets the scope of your Situation Analysis, so that you don’t need to cover material issues that aren’t relevant to the current needs.
b. Company or Brand History & Evaluation – Keep it relevant. Keep it very brief, unless you’re certain it’s important to your analysis. Don’t waste a busy client’s
time by making him/her read lots of facts he/she already knows. In most cases a paragraph or two may be enough. – Draw conclusions. What did you conclude? What problems do you see? What untapped or unexhausted opportunities
are there? c. Product Evaluation
d. Consumer Evaluation – Know the consumer inside and out. Who uses the product? Who doesn’t use it? Why do they use it (or not)? Where
is it used? Where is it purchased? When it is used? Analyze all of this information, looking for problems and opportunities. Be certain to look not only at current users, but also prospective/potential users.
e. Competitive Evaluation – Know the competitors inside and out. Who is the competition? How do you know? What are their relative strengths
and weaknesses? What have they done that has been successful or unsuccessful? – Go beyond the obvious. Is there any indirect competition? – Keep it relevant. You could talk forever about competitors, but much of what you find will have no impact on your
client’s current situation, so don’t waste the reader’s time on irrelevant material. – Draw conclusions. What did you conclude? What problems do you see? What untapped or unexhausted opportunities
are there? f. Marketing Environment Evaluation
g. Problems & Opportunities – This is just a summary of all the problems and opportunities that you found in your analysis, your conclusions. – There should be nothing new here, just a list of those problems & opportunities your analysis already identified.
Generally, a rationale should convince the reader (1) that you can achieve this goal, and (2) that it is the best choice of all the goals you might have selected.
increase,” for instance, aren’t enough unless you say how much something will increase and you have a way to actually measure the success or failure of that benchmark. They must be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time limited.
campaign. If the group is too big, you can’t possibly hit everyone in it. Remember: if you aim at everyone, you’ll hit no one.
b. Strategy – Objectives are what you hope to achieve, and strategy is how you hope to achieve those objectives. – In this section you cover the Strategy of how you plan to achieve your Objectives with ALL of your marketing tools, not
just advertising & PR. This is where you describe any plan you have that will affect every later section in the book. For example, this is a good place to describe your plan for the brand image, since every form of marketing communication you cover later must convey the same image. But anything you put here SHOULD apply to all later chapters, and not be something narrow.
1) Product – Do you recommend any changes? Do you need to change the package to incorporate a message? What role will the
product play in achieving the marketing goals? For example, do you plan to recommend a promotion that will require the product be produced in a new color, such as offering graduating college students the chance to buy your car in their school colors.
2) Price – Do you recommend any changes? Does the price fit the Brand Image you’re trying to establish or reinforce? What role
will price play in achieving the marketing goals? Are you going to promote special group packages that require the company to create a special pricing package?
3) Distribution – Do you recommend any changes? What role will distribution play in achieving the marketing goals? Don’t use the term
“Place” as a heading, please. – Is there a geographic region that is being overlooked, or one that is a waste of resources? Should the product be sold at
a different type of store, or a specific variety of store? If the product is a website, should the content also be distributed
in print? If it’s a sporting event, should another sports venue be used or another market be considered, or even a different distribution chain for the tickets be added? Even issues such as the amount of shelf space used for the product (e.g., shelving allowances) can be addressed here.
4) Promotion – This does not refer to Sales Promotion, but to all your promotional efforts, including advertising. This is only an
overview of what your promotional mix will be like, explaining where the greatest emphasis will be. – What promotional tools will be used in this campaign, and is one more important? For example, if PR is going to be
the main focus, with advertising merely used as support for the PR campaign, this is the place to explain that. – Anything broad, that affects all forms of promotion, might belong here. – Again, don’t forget that every recommendation must have a rationale.
chapter is about. a. Objectives
1) Target Audience – This is your FIRST objective in this chapter! – This is an objective, so treat it like one. Make it stand out, so the client can quickly find it. – This is either the same target as the one in the previous chapter, or it is a subset of that target. – If it is the same as above, just summarize it and direct the reader to the page where you provide the full description and
rationale. – Just like the Target Market, a Target Audience must be described with precision. It must be absolutely specific and
measurable, so we know whether a person is or is not in the Target. – Don’t describe the lifestyle of the consumer here, except to the extent that it is measurable or serves as rationale.
2) Message – What is the 1 thing (or 2 or 3 things) you want to get across to the target? Keep it simple and straightforward. Don’t
try to stylize it, that’s the creatives’ job. Don’t try to include too much, or nothing will be communicated … K.I.S.S. – Avoid unnecessary wordiness. E.g., don’t start by saying “The message to be directed to the target is ….” That’s not
your message! Your message is “Product X is the biggest on the market,” or some such thing. 3) Intended Effects
b. Creative Strategy – First comes objectives, now comes strategy! – This is the Creative Brief, so none of this needs to be measurable. It’s a contract with the creatives, telling them what is
expected. 1) Target Audience
2) Key Benefit and Support – The Key Benefit should reflect the Message you listed above. It is the benefit you are promising to consumers. The
Support is sometimes called “permission to believe.” It is a list of reasons you can give the consumer to believe he/she will receive the promised benefit.
3) Objectives – This should reflect the Intended Effects listed above, but not stated in measurable terms.
4) Tone & Manner – Tone is “happy” or “serious” or “funny.” Manner refers to the “requisites,” such as the need to make the ad black &
white, to fit previous campaigns, or the need to include a certain theme song used by the brand in the past. c. Executions
fits the strategy. – Your executions can be either thumbnail or finished, depending upon your strategic approach to the client.
advertising often takes a back seat to other Marcomm methods, so some of these may actually deserve more space in your plan than the advertising.
chapter is about. a. Objectives
1) Target – This is your FIRST objective in this chapter! – Newspapers are NOT your target. Newspaper editors probably aren’t, either. Those are strategies, not targets. The
target is who you want to read the newspaper articles. – If it’s a different target than in a previous section, provide a rationale. If it’s the same, refer the reader back to where
you provided the rationale. Remember that it MUST be either the same as the target market in the Marketing chapter, or some sub-category of that target market.
2) Message – Yes, even a t-shirt give-away or event has a message. Why are you doing it? What are you trying to communicate to
the target? If you can’t come up with a message to write here, perhaps you should reconsider using that promotional technique.
3) Intended Effects – Again, they must be measurable.
4) Measurement – How will you measure to see if you met your goals? Basically, this discussion belongs in your evaluation chapter, so
put a heading here, with a brief description, and direct the reader back to the page where you provide more detail. b. Strategy
1) A complete description of what you will do. – If you intend to sponsor a contest, explain the rules, who will conduct it, where it will be conducted, how much it will
cost, etc. The same holds true with a press release, coupons, promotional product give-aways, premiums, etc. – Don’t skimp on detail. Overkill is better than under-preparation. Being thorough can be the key to impressing the
client, and failure to be thorough can be decidedly unimpressive, especially when your lack of research leads to you overlooking some important issue. The biggest weakness I find in plans is a lack of depth and detail.
chapter is about. – The previous chapters were about message creation, this chapter is about message delivery. – The trend in recent years has been toward integrated marketing communications, which includes integrated media. So
you should include not just traditional advertising in this section, but also PR and direct marketing and promotional products, etc. Everything should be reflected here.
a. Media Vision – This is not an industry-wide practice, but it’s a good idea. Do it. The Vision is the broad perspective of what you want
to achieve, what components are needed, and what sets this plan apart from others. b. Key Media Problem
c. Target Audience – This should be the same as the Advertising Recommendations, so just briefly state the target and refer the reader back
to the rationale you’ve already provided. You only state the target here so the reader isn’t forced to search for it, to figure out who you’re trying to reach.
1) Reach – DO NOT categorize these objectives by medium. You don’t have a separate Reach for print and one for TV, for
example, print and TV are simply means by which you’ll achieve your overall Reach. 2) Frequency
1) Media Selections – Why are you using television? Does your target watch TV? Convince me you are making the best choice. Show me
evidence that your target uses your chosen media. Statistics are a good idea. You’re also welcome to talk about how each will contribute to your other objectives (e.g., Reach & Frequency).
2) Vehicle Selections – I suggest you discuss media first, and only after you finish that discussion begin talking about specific vehicles. – Why are you using this particular vehicle?
3) Schedule – Include dates, number of insertions, rating points, costs, etc.
4) Flowchart – This is a nice way for the client to quickly and easily see an overview of your media plan. If you make one that is too
simple, however, it will be uninformative.
will conduct it? Who will be surveyed? How will they be sampled? Exactly when will it be administered? What kinds of questions will be asked? Who will administer it? How much will it cost? You don’t need to design the questionnaire (though that’s alright, and it can impress the client), but you do need to provide enough information that this chapter could be handed to the research company and they’d have a pretty good idea what you want them to do. DO NOT just tell me you’re going to hire an outside company to conduct the research, and that they’ll design the studies. I want YOU to design the studies, and show me you’ve thought about precisely how you’ll measure every objective. You’re the experts, so act the part.
b. Advertising Goals – Again, begin by re-stating the goals you’ll measure.
c. Sales Promotion, etc., Goals – Again, begin by re-stating the goals you’ll measure.
often is the most important aspect. It should not be taken for granted. – Every recommendation should be accompanied by a rationale, explaining the thinking behind that recommendation. If
you’ve already provide that rationale earlier, just cite the page where the reader can find it. a. General Ledger
your expenses as higher than they actually will be, the client may decide to go to another agency. In other words, do your homework.
b. Pie Chart – This is a nice touch, to make it quick and easy for the reader to see where the bulk of the money is going. This is a
visual representation of your debits. c. Description of Specific Expenses
that sets it apart from the plans developed by other agencies?
c. Include a bibliography – Provide a thorough list of sources, so the client can look them up if you pique his/her interest.
b. Consistency is key #1 – Plan a “look” for your book, and carry it throughout your entire book. – Figure out type size, font, line spacing, color scheme, etc., and use the same plan on everything. Though it’s a simple
example, look at this outline. The headline is one type & size, the major headings are all boldface, the minor headings are not bold, and the note text within each sub-section is italic. This is true in every part of the memo.
c. Readability is key #2 – Do everything imaginable to improve the readability of your book. – Layout can have a major impact on readability. Indenting, outdenting, type size, font, boldfacing, etc., all can affect the
ease with which the readers can find what they want, notice important points, and understand how certain issues relate to others.
bigger or bolder or otherwise stand out the most, first subheadings should be less prominent, second subheadings (those subordinate to first subheadings) should be even less prominent. This helps the reader to know which headings go together and which ones start new topics.
e. Art direction – If you have no sense of the aesthetic, find someone to help you. Make it look nice. – If you can’t make it visually impressive, at least make it clean and neat. Simple can be elegant. – Use white space and use illustrations, so that every page doesn’t look the same: one mass of grey text. – There’s an old saying: what it lacks in substance, make up for in form. Form, including visual attractiveness, can affect
a client’s perception of the substance, so it’s not unimportant. – Agencies – whether advertising or PR or marketing – tend to live on their image. And image is largely a matter of
creativity. So the appearance of a plan should show creative flair. – Avoid the common. Times Roman font is the single most common computer font, so I recommend you avoid using it as
your primary typeface. – Use some variation. You don’t need to put everything in plain black 12 point type. That was fine back in the days of a
typewriter, but today we can make documents look as if they were professionally printed, and that’s precisely what you should do! That means first-level headings can be a larger type size than second-level headings, or one can be bold and another italic, or one can be blue and another green, etc., etc.
f. Writing style – Writing style goes far beyond grammar, spelling & punctuation, to matters of good taste. – Use active rather than passive voice in most cases (e.g., not “the market has been stable,” but rather “the market was
stable.”) – Bias: Don’t tell the reader what you think (“our agency feels that…”), because that immediately suggests bias.
Instead, lead the reader to draw the same conclusion that you or your agency drew, by showing how the facts fit together to allow for only one logical conclusion.
than it needs to be. And by all means, don’t B.S. g. Tables & figures
touches the numbers or information, leave a little breathing space. h. Follow conventions
appear until the next page. – There are too many to list, but if you’re not certain you’re doing it right, look in some published books. – Have some friends glance through your book and look for anything that doesn’t seem quite right. We’re all conditioned
to expect those conventions, so even someone outside of advertising may be able to spot such a mistake. i. Cover
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