Turning an idea for an advertising campaign into reality isn’t exactly simple, but with a concrete and detailed advertising plan, you can go from concept to execution confidently.
An effective campaign plan will help you present a clear path for return on investment (ROI), get buy-in from leadership, and share your proposal with relevant stakeholders.
In this post, we’ll explain what an advertising plan is and highlight the major sections you should include in your advertising plan so you can guarantee your next campaign is a success.
What is an advertising plan?
An advertising plan outlines you strategies to reach your target audience and achieve your advertising goals. In it, you’ll summarize the channels you’ll use, critical messaging, and required budget — all of the elements and information you need to enact your advertising strategy.
Advertising Plan Template
Pro Tip: HubSpot created the following advertising plan template for you to download so you can organize your advertising campaign — it's broken down into relevant sections and can be shared with your stakeholders when it’s completed.
Our Advertising Plan Template will cover:
- Advertising campaign outline
- Advertising campaign timeline
- Advertising budget template
Now let's dive into how you can prep your ad plan.
How to Prepare an Advertising Plan
Before you jump into your tactical advertising ideas, the first step is to provide those reading your ad plan with a high-level overview of your initiative.
1. Provide an overview of your advertising plan.
By specifying the following elements, anyone reading your plan will have a basic understanding of what your campaign is and what you're trying to accomplish:
- Campaign Name: Make the campaign name catchy, unique, and easily identifiable so your team can get behind it.
- Campaign Description: What is the purpose of your campaign? Explain in 2-3 paragraphs what the inspiration behind your campaign is, how it aligns with your company initiatives, what customer problems you're solving, and what the final deliverables of the campaign will be.
- Target Audience: Ideally, who's on the receiving end of these ads? You can be specific to age, sex, region, or any number of demographics, or name which of your buyer personas you're targeting.
- Advertising Platforms: How will you be getting your message across? Here, identify the platform you'll be using, since you'll get more into the details of what the actual ads will look like in a later section.
- Goals and ROI: Explain what the end goal of your campaign is. Most ad campaigns are intended to produce a direct profit or return on investment, so if that's your goal, identify that number. If your campaign goal is something else — event sign-ups, product awareness, etc. — be sure to identify and quantify it.
Free Advertising Planning Template
Fill out the form to get your free template.
2. Choose your platforms.
Here's where you'll provide more detail on the advertisements themselves and on which platform they will be promoted. For each ad you intend to run in this campaign, you should provide the following:
- Platform name
- Ad type
- Description of the ad
For example, your content in this section might look like this:
Platform #1: YouTube
- Advertisement Type: Video
- Description of Ad: A 15-second pre-video ad. The video will be an animated look at our new app with a link to the app store when someone clicks.
- Timeline: July 1 – July 31
- Budget: $10,000
3. Develop your timeline.
Working on an ad campaign takes time and resources. Everyone involved will want to know what tasks they're responsible for, when they're due, and how long they have to do them. Therefore, it's essential to construct a timeline that outlines all of this information for your team to reference.
Above is an example of a standard campaign timeline. Of course, your timeline will always depend on your project's depth and breadth, but you can expect to use some of the following steps:
Research and Preparation: This is the beginning stage of your campaign. Perhaps lasting 1-2 weeks, this is where you’ll conduct research to determine your target audience, develop messaging, and set the goals of your campaign. You’ll also be conducting meetings with stakeholders and garnering awareness and buy-in for the campaign amongst all necessary parties.
Creation and Edits: Once you’ve determined your goals and the type of assets you want to create, it’s time to loop in the creative team. Copywriters can begin work on copy for landing pages, emails, etc., while creative directors and designers execute concepts and visual assets. This process can take 2-3 weeks, depending on your goals and the scope of work. You’ll also want to allot time for multiple rounds of edits to ensure everyone is on board with the creative assets.
Distribution: Once all the assets are in order, it's time to launch. Blogs and social media posts should be scheduled for distribution over time, headers and website pages must be updated, and PR materials need to be distributed. During your campaign’s final distribution stage, you must be available to answer questions and make last-minute updates. All of this can take 1-2 weeks or longer, depending on the size of your campaign.
Analysis: The home stretch! The final step of your campaign is to wrap things up by analyzing results and reporting them to benefit future campaigns. The analysis is perhaps the most critical stage, where you can generate valuable insight based on performance. Make sure to note takeaways and lessons to improve your chances of success in future campaigns.
4. Outline your budget.
Because ROI isn't guaranteed, the budget can be the most challenging part of your advertising project to get approved. As a result, breaking up your requests by line item and presenting them in your plan is essential to getting everyone on board.
Rather than simply stating, "We need $65,000 for this project", organize your budget into a detailed visual, like the example below.
Naturally, you can (and should) expect questions and pushback on certain line items.
For example, you may be asked to find another designer or video freelancing team who can complete the job for less money. So, arrive at meetings prepared to defend which costs are necessary for the campaign's success and which costs you can reconsider.
5. Explain your DACI framework.
DACI is a decision-making framework that outlines the key contributors in a project and what each of their responsibilities entails. DACI stands for Driver, Approver, Contributors, and Informed.
Here's how to break down a DACI framework:
- Driver: This person is the project's main driver or directly responsible individual. (Chances are either you or your direct manager.) The driver coordinates all the moving pieces of the project, seeing it through from inception to wrap-up.
- Approver: This is the individual who approves a project. Typically, this will be a director, VP, or manager. They'll give feedback, recommendations, and final approval on the project’s deliverables.
- Contributors: Contributors are the individuals responsible for creating one or more deliverables on the project. In advertising, this can include creatives (art directors and copywriters), video producers, animators, designers, and digital advertising specialists.
- Informed: These team members must be kept in the loop for the project duration. This group can include department heads, account leads, and managers. These people have no direct project-related responsibilities but benefit from knowing about the project and its status.
Your DACI framework should include the name of each stakeholder, their contact information (email, phone, Slack handle, etc.), and their responsibilities or deliverables.
This framework makes project delegation crystal clear for everyone involved.
6. Provide additional resources.
An additional resources section will act as the appendix of your advertising plan. For example, share the ad campaign that inspired this one with your readers, link to the product page you'll be promoting with this initiative, or link to your company's brand style guide — this way, designers and writers get a refresh on how to create externally-facing content.
7. Host a campaign kickoff meeting.
After you complete the outline, hop on a call with your team to explain the campaign concept, timeline, and deliverables. Then, compile all of them in HubSpot's advertising project pitch deck and present your advertising plan. Finally, open up the floor for any questions and suggestions with project contributors.
Advertising Plan Example
It can always be helpful to reference examples; below we’ll go over one.
In this plan, a business outlines the different channels it will use to reach its advertising goals: YouTube, Facebook, and Google Ads. It outlines the type of ad for each channel, a summary of what each ad will be, a target timeline, and an allocated budget. While it is simply an overview, it has the key elements it will execute in its advertising strategy.
While this is a high-quality example, be mindful that it is merely an example. You can personalize this template to meet your business goals by inputting what works best for your needs.
Over to You
Now that you know how to write your own advertising plan, download HubSpot’s free template to get your own advertising campaign project plan off the group.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.