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Why The Media Plan Looks The Same Every Year

Mike PowerGuest Post by Mike Power. Mike is the Vice President of Strategy & Insight at SDI Marketing. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or Twitter.


I started in this industry before a there were computers on every desk and when a cold beer, a hearty laugh and an outrageous personality was all it took to forge long-term client and agency relationships.

Media was this quasi-boring language spoken by nerds who put you to sleep with their charts, indices and reach/frequency attribution tables.

Suffice it to say, very much has changed. Much of it really good, empowering and liberating. The exploding fragmentation of channels and the insemination of all things internet has made our jobs exciting, complex and full of new possibility.

So that is what makes it so difficult for us, at times, when we look at our go-to-market plans and find that they don’t look as if they have been revolutionized, reinvented or reborn.

Often they look very similar to things we always did. There’s a TV spot; it’s :30 seconds. It’s running as an 8 week campaign at about 1000 grps because we’ve learned that’s about the tipping point for awareness. There is still some print, direct mail and yes, for sure, we are doing a lot of digital…many of them the new age equivalent of the things they replaced…video, crm, search listings and with some very interesting micro targeting capabilities.
Media Plan
So what up?

It’s kind of like that quote attributed to Einstein, goes along the lines of ‘you can’t create the new with the same mind that made up the old’ (totally bastardized for my self directed purposes here)

And not to disappoint but I will not go into the details of it here, but I will leave it with some general hints as to what I think is causing this situation as well as what will remedy it (because it sure is easy to criticise but more difficult to solve)

The hints of where our solution lies

  • Think of channels in a broader perspective – paid, owned, earned and more importantly how they will inter-relate with each other to ‘solve your problem’

  • is it always a problem to solve? yes in about 8/10 cases. There is something your marketing is trying to solve for. A perception change, an attitude adjustment or a modification of current behaviours around your category or product/service.

  • Sometimes it is not a problem but more about ‘an opportunity’ to create. Cases where instead of thinking of mass or your current customers and instead zeroing in on a collection of niche opportunities as your source of growth. How do you talk to them? Not always the same old channels is it?

  • There should be ‘overall objectives – a big picture’ of what you are trying to do…and never forget it. BUT when getting tactical, not all channels need to have the same objectives and therefore will have different measures of success and selection criterion.

  • do you have measures of success? grp’s, gross impressions and click-throughs don’t count.

  • The Awareness Trap. Are you falling into it? You know if you brief your teams like you always have, and the major objective is things like ‘scale, mass, reach, penetration’ and KPI’s are ‘awareness and brand-link’…your plan is going to look very similar every year because certain channels are required to provide exactly what you are asking for.

  • Risk. Do you speak it with your lips but ultimately structure yourself to be adverse?

  • Investment. It is a complex time and our expectations are higher than ever. Are we willing to make the big bets and invest in the skills and expertise that will take us to the next level or are we continuing to shrink our margins, expect more for less and run our brand like a spreadsheet (a very necessary component but a balancing act to be sure)

  • Have we surrounded ourselves with the right talent and teams. Do we challenge them, reward them…listen to them?

if you want to explore further, I have developed a series of workshops and consultation that will help you and your teams shake free of these restraints.

It’s a great time to be alive and in our industry. I look forward to what all the tomorrow’s bring