Today’s digital landscape is competitive. For a business to thrive today, it must create media content (such as images, videos, written content, and podcasts) and share it with audiences.
Publishing new media will increase your company’s awareness, engagement, conversions and sales. Media content can help you stand out from the competition.
However, over time it can get confusing to track, plan, organize, distribute and analyze all of your media content.
The best way to combat these issues is through media planning.
What is media planning?
Media planning determines how, when, where, and why your company shares media content with your audience. The process includes deciding which media to share on which channels to increase reach, engagements, conversions, ROI and more.
Media planning has many moving parts and it can be difficult to find the right process.
By working through the media planning steps and implementing media planning templates, you keep any media-related challenges at bay.
What is a media plan?
A media plan outlines what type of media you are creating and where and how to publish it to best engage and convert your audience. Some media plans align with larger corporate initiatives and campaigns, followed by pre-approved news and content.
Other media plans are stand-alone strategies that detail how companies want to use media (written, video, audio, etc.) to connect with followers and customers.
Media planning offers a number of advantages.
Advantages of media planning
Media planning aids with parts of content creation and distribution including:
- Get to know your target group on a deeper level so that you can effectively reach them through your media content
- Decide which media channels and platforms on which you share your content
- Determine time and frequency the media and content you publish and share
- Keep up with the latest media trends and technology
- Stick to your budget As you work to create, publish, and share quality and engaging media content
- Perform analyzes to measure the success of your media planning process
In addition to the benefits of media planning, it’s important to note how it differs from buying media. Although the processes are related, they have different purposes and are often confused with one another.
Media planning and purchasing
Media planning and media buying are closely linked and work together. Depending on the size of your business and your budget, your team members planning your media can also handle the media buying process.
What makes these processes unique?
Well, media planning focuses on the strategy behind the media content that is created, published, and delivered to your customers and audiences. The media mentioned here are comprehensive, meaning they don’t always include paid ads and paid content.
Media planning and media buying differ here.
What is media purchase?
The purchase of media relates to paid media – regardless of whether your company buys campaign or advertising space on different channels, pays for the approval of targeted campaigns and advertisements, or negotiates with media providers.
In a world where your business can create and share media and successfully reach your audience for free, media planning can be done without purchasing media.
However, Media buying requires media planning. (It’s like that “a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square” lesson that baffles us all in elementary school.)
Media planning sets the tone and direction for the purchase that needs to take place. Once ad space has been purchased or content distribution plans negotiated, a strategy (or media plan) needs to be in place to deliver that media to your target audience and customers.
Next, let’s review the steps in the media planning process so you can begin developing your company’s strategy.
Media planning process
- Do market research.
- Enter your media planning goal.
- Determine your media planning templates.
- Implement your media plan.
- Assess your success.
As you work through the following media planning steps, keep in mind that the way your company applies the results and conclusions drawn from each step is unique depending on the audience and needs.
1. Do market research.
The first thing you want to do when developing your media planning process is doing market research. Market research allows you to tailor the content you create and the media plan you implement to suit your target audience and customers.
Start by creating (if you haven’t already) and studying your buyer personalities as well as developing an understanding of who your target audience and current customers are.
With this information, you can determine which media will reach, resonate with, and convert your audience. In addition, you can decide on which platforms and channels you want to share your content.
2. Enter your media planning goal.
When developing your media plan, keep one (or more) goals in mind so that you can effectively control the process. Additionally, goals can help you know what content types and platforms to say “no” to.
Here are some examples of media planning goals you may have:
- Strengthening cross-team collaboration (e.g. content, graphic design, animation, video, blog, social media) in creating and sharing media.
- Improve and optimize the publishing and distribution processes for all media.
- Improve the media distribution schedule to ensure our content is efficiently shared so that it is relevant to our target audience.
- Increase the success of our media content by allowing enough time to analyze its impact and reach our audiences.
Let’s say you want to create a media plan for your social content on Facebook and Instagram. Your goal may be to streamline the content creation process in a timely manner and then plan posts on both platforms in advance.
This way, you ensure that your posts are relevant to your audience so you can increase engagement and keep track.
3. Determine which media planning templates you want to use.
A number of easy-to-use templates are available to aid your media planning strategy, such as: B. editorial calendar templates and templates for social media strategies. We’ll cover these and a few other options in detail below.
Media planning templates ensure that you stay efficient and effective as you work on all aspects of your media content. They organize your media content as it is published and shared among your viewers.
Because of the variety of templates available for different types and parts of the media planning process, the templates that you include will be unique to your business. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different templates or combine them.
For example, if your company wants to create a media plan for your social media on Facebook and Instagram, you can implement a social media calendar template.
This type of template will help you coordinate your content across both channels, increase engagement and improve the productivity of your team members – and thereby achieve the goal set in step 2.
4. Implement your media plan.
Make sure that all parties who should be aware of the plan have the necessary details so that you can execute it accordingly.
Also, share the contact details of the media planning person in your company in case anyone has any questions or comments.
To better understand what I’m talking about, let’s refer to our example in the step above on your social media plan for Facebook and Instagram.
When you implement a social media calendar template as part of your media plan, make sure that everyone who works on or creates the content and publishing plans for both platforms has access to it.
5. Assess your success.
Whether your media plan is about individual posts on Instagram or a month-long, company-wide campaign, measure the success of your plan.
Ask yourself and your team questions like: “Did this media plan help us achieve our specific goals?” and “Have the media planning templates and tools we use added value to our media creation and publishing processes?”
The way you evaluate the success of your media plan should be directly related to your company’s specific goals for your media and content, the teams creating the media, and the value you want to get from the media (e.g. increase in conversions, engagements, revenue, etc.).).
Let’s look back at our example from above one last time. Think if your social media content plan and calendar template you implemented helped you reach your target audience and achieve the goal you set.
Ask yourself if your media plan has helped you increase engagement on the social platforms you focused on, as well as collaborate and coordinate more effectively to increase productivity across the team.
What you should consider for your media planning strategy
After following the media planning steps above, there are a few additional points to keep in mind.
What is your budget for media planning? If you are after free media, you can ignore this question. However, if part of your media planning involves buying media (as explained above), you need to sit down with your marketing manager to understand what means to work with.
Establish this budget before looking for platforms and creating content. You don’t want to formulate a campaign that you cannot afford later.
Second, you should consider your key messaging points that you want your media to use to communicate. You don’t have to pre-write all of your media content per se, but you should identify the main topics at the beginning so that all media are consistent and thematic.
These messaging points come from your audience research and can also affect what types of content and platforms you are tracking. So make sure you set this up early.
Now let’s review some resources available to make the media planning process easier.
Media planning templates
There are a variety of media planning templates available online that you can purchase or download for free. The big part of using media planning templates is that you can customize and customize them to meet the specific needs and goals of your business.
Depending on the media software your company uses, such as HubSpot’s (free) CRM, Marketing Hub, or Sprout Social, they may include customizable planning templates (similar to what is in this HubSpot options menu).
You can also create your own templates using Google Sheets.
In either case, the way you implement and use media planning templates depends on your company and your needs. So don’t be afraid to change your templates over time as your goals evolve or the target audience grows.
Free Media Planning Template [Download Now]
Download this template
Types of media planning templates
To get you started, here is a list of common types of media creation and planning templates. (Click the links to go to an associated template resource.)
You can use one or more media templates as needed. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to the template that you should be using. It’s about preferences and which ones are best for your company.
- Use a media planning template to organize your paid media efforts and expenses in one visual place.
- Use one Social media strategy template to target your media content to your audience in a way that adds value to your business.
- Use one Social media calendar template to customize a timeline for sharing your social media posts in a simple, organized, manageable, and effective format.
- Use a editorial calendar template for planning and optimizing all marketing content you publish and share, including blogs, social media and campaigns.
- Use one Blog post template to easily fill in the blanks and write engaging, relevant, and well-optimized blog content for your audience (avoiding writer’s block!).
- Use a E-Book Design Template that eliminates the need to guess how to make your e-book professional, eye-catching, and beautiful while saving precious time.
- Use a Infographic template in PowerPoint or Illustrator to quickly customize the way you present data, share insights, and promote offers so that they look and feel professional.
- Use a Analysis and reporting template for Excel, PowerPoint and Google Drive to make it easy to get, organize and share data, no matter what metrics you’re tracking.
- Use one Budget template to manage and review your expenses and budget with Excel or Google Sheets.
- Use a Promotional template that allows you to plan and manage promotional campaigns to convert viewers into leads and customers.
Start your media planning process
Media planning is an essential part of your company’s ability to successfully create, publish, and distribute media content. In this way you optimize cross-team communication and collaboration in your media and ensure that it is shared with your audience in a timely manner.
So work through the above steps of the media planning process and choose which templates to use to reach and convert more audience members.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for completeness.