Big Media Ink: Ad Advertising Action Plan

Thesis

This advertising plan constitutes the introduction and launch stages of a business graphics and communications service which the author will structure as a sole proprietorship and register as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to reduce taxable assets.

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“Big Media Ink” will be positioned in the niche between businesses that already have established relationships with advertising agencies and graphics-services suppliers on one hand, and small businesses that are satisfied with in-house work. The former client group usually consists of large businesses that are national or even international in scope. They are prone to seek out large agencies or design houses not only because size is a success criterion in itself but also because large shops are likely to be geographically dispersed and therefore capable of coordinating local programs without incurring too much travel expense. On the other hand, the market for outsourced graphics design among startups and one-man businesses is almost nonexistent because such potential clients want to economize by doing projects in-house with the help of clip art available on the Internet.

The introductory campaign will be targeted at decision-makers in small and medium enterprises (SME’s), all situated within my own city. These are either the owners or trusted subordinates who contract out piece work, know what look they want to achieve, and can themselves approve supplier quotes.

Since this is an introductory campaign, the initial objective will be to attain name recognition and generate interest in at least inquiring about the service. On desired first-year gross revenue of $100,000, the plan proposes an outlay of $20,000 for advertising, promotions and direct selling. As percentage-to-sales ratios go, this ad budget is quite high. However, it is in the nature of the outsourced design business that fixed and other operating costs are low. At the start, one can work out of one’s home, procure a secretarial temp, and assemble the graphics workstation, high-end color laser, and graphics software and the business is ready to take on work. Hence, one can be more flexible and plan greater expenditure for creating an impact with disproportionate ad spending early in the single-city marketplace.

Plan Proper

The Product Offering

Business Service

The products that I am marketing are distinctive of graphic design nature. Essentially, “Big Media Ink” (BMI) will conceptualize graphic ideas, execute graphic studies, and if the clients so desire, produce, print, dispatch, or install them with the help of third parties.

Relationship to the Market

The above scope of service is based on the fact that most entrepreneurs and businessmen feel that eye-catching graphic design is outside their area of competence. Hence, they are potentially in need of outside design work for a wide range of requirements:

  • Stationery: letterheads, envelopes, report folders, product labels and shipping packaging.
  • Promotional items and branded premiums: Usually give-aways bearing the company name, logo and contact information. This line of work requires picking items that suit the target decision-maker (e.g. sign pens, caps, t-shirts, conference briefcases), the season or occasion (e.g. calendars during the Christmas season, camping gear offers during the summer, grills and cookout gear during in fall).
  • Institutional identity: on-premise signs, business cards, interior murals, the layout of the company Web site, and other aspects of interior design to convey a certain desired image.
  • Advertising materials: brochures for mailing or handing out during trades shows and exhibits; layout of billboards, posters, and other outdoor media; and designing newspaper and magazine advertising.

All design projects commence by taking directions from the client about the look and feel desired and how the material to be designed fits in with company advertising and PR efforts. “Scouring websites, reviewing annual reports and making direct visits to businesses will aid in learning your competitors and winning your customers through a competitive edge” (AllBusiness.com, 2009). The basic strategy is to familiarize oneself with the marketing ideas and what he/she thinks it will need in order to be effective in accomplishing his/her goals. The next step is implementing the idea through the use of the employee force with the approval of upper management (if there is more than one employee).

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Suppliers

For the core design service, “Business Media Ink” need only acquire a high-end Apple Macintosh, graphic design components (drawing tablet, scanner, color laser), and off-the-shelf software (e.g. Adobe Illustrator) to get the business up and running.

As with most IT- and Internet-enabled businesses, a phone line and ADSL Internet subscription from a reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP) are essential because:

  • Email speeds up communication with clients immensely.
  • Web conferencing maximizes the graphics consultant’s efficiency and allows him to service even distant clients in a manner that is almost as good as being face-to-face.
  • Web services like GoogleDocs allow clients and designers to revise ad copy in real-time. This speed up project lead times and accelerates revenue inflows.

When BMI is tasked as an integrator for promotions, outdoor advertising, and merchandising, the design shop must of course rely on third-party importers (for sign pens from China or t-shirts and caps from Costa Rica, for example), local imprinters to transform the BMI logo designs into silkscreen mats or embossed designs, haulers to take the finished goods from producer to client premises, backlit sign fabricators who are usually able to install the assemblies wherever desired, and temp staff agencies who field promotions teams of personable young ladies to distribute brochures and coupons.

Marketing Goals

My goals are to accomplish the following with my implementation plan:

  • Obtain a market penetration rate of 15 percent share of the micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises in the city, roughly equivalent to 45 or 50 projects of varying size that will make up the first-year revenue projection of $100,000.
  • Assuming that all first-year projects come from an equivalent number of clients merely “sampling” my services, generate repeat orders of 20% or so on the second year while continuing to campaign for new business.
  • Sampling – Implement my marketing strategies by extending the anticipated company a free week trial of my premiere service package. During the trial offer, companies will gain extensive knowledge of what my company has to offer. (Each package will vary in price and amenities)
  • Identify the needs of consumers by generating the following:
    • Web polls for each site (Results will be returned to senior management of my company)
    • Online customer surveys before the conclusion of each sale
    • Formal market surveys
    • Telemarketing
  • Help generates new product ideas by on-site brainstorming with clients.
  • Seeking favorable word of mouth – Identify new customer potential through referrals from clients evidently pleased with work submitted. Furthermore, allow room to test if strategies are yielding the desired results through StatCounter technology.
  • Brand promotion (once a contract is signed, cross-promotion with previous vendors). Arrange cross-links in the form of business banners on other websites designed by my company.

If deployed successfully, this plan will create a graphic design opportunity made available to consumers and commercial users to aid them with their work such as in industry and entertainment. Consumers use graphic design for textile and household design ideas as well. Creating a colorful, attractive and descriptive design is key to marketing the scenario. “Attention to detail and precision is essential with graphic design because even a minute change to graphic design can change the entire brand value of the design.” (AllBusiness.com, 2009).

Target Market/Competition

Customers

The target audience comprises commercial users and personal users in need of these products or services.

Description of Competition

There are three types of competitors in the graphics design business. The first consists of national advertising agency networks that have a branch in my city (e.g. Omnicom/BBDO Worldwide) or full-service “boutique shops” (e.g. Veux Marketing in Atlanta) because every full-service advertising agency has an Art and Design department and they are not averse to contracting solely for design-only work. Their international experience and years of conforming to the market-based demands of exacting clients mean they usually have an excellent grasp of what design aesthetics are also successful, marketing- and sales-wise.

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The second type is my direct competitor: design service outsourcers built around the talent of one person or a small team of art directors at best. Most are professional, the main reason why this advertising plan must work harder to carve out a market niche for BMI.

Finally, there are moonlighting professionals and housewives who work from home. After all, as has been mentioned previously, the barriers to entry in this business are low and investments in operating assets are quite affordable. For this “informal sector”, however, grasp of marketing imperatives is likely to be shallow and design talent uneven. Hence, we can discount home-based designers as competitors.

Mission Statement

“Big Media Ink” will create a world of difference, consistently providing exacting clients breakthrough advertising approaches, highly impactful visual media, and graphic materials that advance the business objectives of clients.

Advertising Strategies

The Promotions Mix

The emphasis on advertising, public relations, and sales promotion or direct marketing/selling according to the nature of this advertising campaign and the stage in the purchasing process at which we expect to find target audiences/ decision-makers.

Mass-media advertising has the lion’s share of advertising and promotions (A & P) spending in the case of fast-moving consumer goods: food, beverages, cigarettes, cosmetics, toiletries and personal care. For all its credibility advantage over advertising, the public relations campaigns are most familiar to the consumer as press releases take a backseat in the A & P spend pie.

As one move to consumer investment goods and B2B marketing, however, advertising and public relations diminish in importance and direct selling becomes much more critical. Accordingly, the nature of this campaign is shaped by the fact of business-to-business (B2B) marketing: a graphic-design enterprise providing an intangible good to institutional or corporate clients without the benefit of intermediaries or influencers.

Another factor influencing the A & P mix, according to Kerin, Berkowitz, Hartley and Rudelius (2003) is the stage at which target decision-makers are with respect to deciding on a graphic design shop. Figure 1 overleaf suggests that mainstream advertising and public relations are both important at the pre-purchase stage when creating awareness and interest are critical. Personal selling and direct marketing take precedence at the time a decision is impending. After the purchase has been made and the design project is completed, advertising comes to the fore again to remind the presumably satisfied client that BMI is a worthy graphics design outsourcer.

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The Relative Importance
Figure 1: The Relative Importance of A & P Channels According to Stage of Decision-making (Source: Kerin et al., 2003)

Networking and Direct Selling

At that stage, it is crucial that personal selling take place in person and in the client’s own office because:

  • The BMI representative (the owner) must be careful to learn all about the special needs and technical specifications the client might have.
  • The process of negotiation and closing the sale benefits from observing non-verbal cues and making concessions on the spot.

In turn, direct marketing has a place in the A & P mix mainly to trigger awareness of the BMI identity and get clients to add the shop to their existing choice set of graphics designers. Rather than the orthodox and “cost-efficient” telemarketing channel, direct marketing in this situation is best-done face-to-face, in conventions, exhibits, and conferences because clients are receptive, even eager, to gain new options in such venues.

Advertising

Advertising channels will employ both mainstream and Internet marketing media. Online marketing will be accomplished through the use of logos, websites, online advertisements, brochures, animated banners, illustration and print management systems. Some stories can even be uploaded to PR exchanges where news organizations are wont to go for novel developments and offbeat, city-specific news.

For its part, mainstream advertising placements will be directed to the city business magazine (e.g. the Atlanta Business Chronicle) for its targeted readership, publication editorial environment that inspires credibility for the ad placements, high pass-on readership, and minimal wastage in point of unqualified readers

Pricing, Positioning and Branding

We focus on your needs and goals to formulate visionary ideas which boost customer response. My company will offer a wide range of services. Whether you need a full marketing campaign, or an individual project, my company is your creative source for intelligent ideas which yield results. Pricing will be kept modest, in the vicinity of $1,500 to $2,000 per design contract. The plan is to strengthen perceived value in the BMI partnership by offering clients as many as five design “studies” for every graphic their employers would like to implement.

Budget

Given that the business is expected to operate on healthy margins, the ad budget in support of all these first-year programs will be structured according to tasks that need doing, as Lane, King, and Russell (2007) suggest, rather than as a percentage of expected sales.

Proposed 2010 Ad Budget
CHANNEL Details Est. Spend
I. ADVERTISING $11,800.00
Print placements Once monthly @ $2,500, four months $10,000.00
Search engine marketing Google and Yahoo! $1,000.00
Brochure printing, mailing $800.00
II. DIRECT MARKETING $6,000.00
Exhibit booth rentals $4,000.00
Mount own cocktails/exhibit $2,000.00
III. PERSONAL SELLING $2,200.00
Gasoline and representation $2,200.00
GRAND TOTAL $20,000.00

Campaign Performance Measurement and Monitoring

Given the aforementioned first-year goals, it will be important to establish the baseline of how many micro-, small and medium-scale businesses fit within the middle niche BMI considers its natural target market. The agency can investigate companies in the city Commerce office that report annual revenue in the $500,000 to $2 million range, say. The database of entrepreneurs and CEO’s can then be used for mass e-mail campaigns just to test interest in working with a new and talented shop.

On a quarterly basis, furthermore, it will be good to review whether BMI is on track to reaching the goal of 40 to 50 projects for the year.

References

AllBusiness.com (2009). Win customers by finding your competitive edge. Web.

Kerin, Berkowitz, Hartley & Rudelius (2003). Marketing (7th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lane, R., King, K. & Russell, R. (2007). Kleppner’s advertising procedure (17th ed.), New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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