Advertising is a major element of a company’s marketing plan. It involves the development and delivery of paid advertisements through mass media, which attempt to persuade customers to behave in a certain way. Objectives of ads vary, but the overall intent is to attract and retain loyal customers.
Long-term branding is the ongoing delivery of ads used to build and maintain a certain reputation for your company and products. The key to success in this effort is consistent and coordinated messages that reinforce your core qualities. If high quality products are your core strength, for instance, you use advertising to show off the distinct and impressive attributes of your product. If elite service is your strength, you use ads to indicate what separates your service from competitors.
Short-term advertising is common as well, though you have to be careful about sacrificing long-term brand building for the sake of quick cash. Discounts and promotions, such as coupons, percent-off, rebates, buy one get one free and limited time sales, are examples of short-term sales promotions. This approach makes sense when you are a new company trying to attract customers or when you need to clear out older merchandise to make room for seasonal products.
Investment vs. Expense
From a financial standpoint, companies typically treat advertising as either an investment or an expense. Companies usually believe ads are investments, but some are quick to cut ad budgets when things aren’t going well. This shows a perspective that advertising is an expense that you cut when sales slump. However, this is often counter-intuitive, since the point of advertising is to help you gain business, which is especially important when you struggle.
To get maximum benefits from paying for advertising, you need to establish objectives. Building and maintaining awareness within your target market, changing consumer attitudes, encouraging brand switching or trial use, motivating repeat purchases and ultimately, creating customer loyalty are common communication objectives. The short-term objectives, as noted, are generally intended to generate sales either for business growth or to create cash flow for reinvestment in the business.