How to create a small business advertising plan

DSM Digital School of Marketing - advertising plan

Do you own a small business? Maybe you’re a marketer starting out tasked with launching an advertising strategy for a small-business client. Marketing plans across the spectrum all feature basic, fundamental steps that are taken in sequence to execute the advertising plan. Get your notepad and pen. Here are four key activities to undertake when creating an advertising plan:


1. Define the goals you hope to achieve, as well as the product/service/brand element you want to promote.

“More sales” isn’t a goal. Who doesn’t want more sales? Be specific about what you are aiming for, and use the SMART method. Goals for your advertising should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. Some common small business goals include:

  • Finding new customers
  • Reinforcing brand awareness
  • Launching a new product/service
  • Disseminating positive company information

You should also decide what you’re going to promote. Is it a product? Perhaps you’re just trying to drum up public awareness about your new business? You don’t have to advertise everything at once, so focus on one thing at a time to start off.

2. Study your target audience in terms of their personas and where they interact online.

Think about the ideal person for your product or service. Who are they? Where do they shop? Are they tech-savvy? Write down the character traits your perfect customer possesses, and if you have a website – or social media – consult your online analytics to see who’s been visiting and interacting. This will help you shape the person you’re selling to by knowing the people you’ve already sold to.

Once you have an idea of the person your advertising will speak to, you need to establish where they are most likely to interact and pay attention to advertising. Are they avid social media users? Do they scroll through search engine-based PPC adverts looking for information? By knowing where your audience interacts, you can better decide on the ideal promotional channels to use as part of your advertising plan.

3. Set a realistic campaign timeline, and decide on a budget you’re willing to put behind the advertising plan’s execution.

It takes more than just excellent advertising content and a budget to yield marketing results. There’s a right time for everything; the same is true about your advertising. You should also plot out the time it’s going to take you to get the adverts developed, and make sure your third-party content producers know their deadlines. For example, you could plot out your adverts on the days they will go live. Work a month in advance if possible, and make sure you have enough time for development between campaigns.

What should you invest into your marketing and advertising? This will really depend on the amount of time you have to get the leads flowing in. If you need short-term fast results, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will be best – and you can control your spend at every step. If the brand already gets by, but a long-term, steady flow of business wouldn’t hurt, investing in SEO and content marketing might be better. It stands to reason that – when it comes to advertising – what you put in is what you get out.

4. Choose the channels to advertise through, and create the content for the campaign.

Remember when you created an ideal client persona in step 2? By looking closer at your target audience, you’ll get an idea of where they interact on the internet. Then, it is time for you to select which of these online platforms you’ll be sharing your ad through. Throwing a wide net, or trying to advertise everywhere all at once, might be your knee-jerk reaction. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever successful for small businesses, and will cost an island of money to execute.

Once you have your two or three easy advertising channels (eg: Google Ads and Facebook sponsored content), the next step is to design the content that will form your promotional materials. Who will be designing the artwork? Might they know of a copywriter that can assist with the wording? If you’re doing it all yourself, look at what your fellow industry stakeholders and thought leaders are putting out and replicate that with your own twist and originality.

Now that the adverts have been finalised and everything has been triple checked, all that’s left to do is to push the button and wait for the leads to roll in.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

Looking to upskill in the art of advertising? Consider a National Certificate of Advertising and Digital Marketing from DSM. Contact us when you’re ready to go pro for more information on any of our digital marketing courses.

DSM Digital School of Marketing - Advertising and Digital Marketing