How Marketing Plans Work

Weighting your Media

Weighting your media refers to determining the potential exposures of your marketing message to your target audience that each of your chosen media can produce. Basically, by weighting your media, you are trying to determine how much advertising is enough to reach your objectives. To do this, you'll come up with a total number of gross rating points. To do that, you need to understand a little bit about reach, frequency, and impressions.

  • Impressions are the number of times your audience sees your advertising message.
  • Reach refers to the number of individuals within your target market that are exposed to a specific ad over a specific period of time. This number is expressed as a percentage of your total market.
  • Frequency refers to the number of exposures those individuals got to your specific ad over the same specific period of time.
  • To get your Gross Rating Points (GRPs), just multiply the percent reach (% of your total market) by the frequency.

For example, if your marketing strategy is to reach 70% of your market for a specific campaign, and you know you want to reach them at least 10 times in order to convince them to act, then you would need a schedule that would give you 700 GRPs.


Each medium will have a slightly different calculated GRP, so go through each and determine those numbers before you begin planning your media schedule. As a general rule, just make sure you are calculating the percentage of your target audience as a part of the total circulation, exposure, etc., and then multiply that by the number of insertions, or ads you run should.

To help you estimate the total GRP needed to reach your sales goals, here are some rules of thumb:

  • Try for a reach of 50 to 90+ of your total market.
  • Assume it will take at least three exposures for your target audience to act on your offer.
  • New products will need more frequency than established products.
  • Complex products will need more frequency than simple products.
  • Products with a lot of competition will need more frequency.
  • An average GRP goal for a typical packaged product is 1,000 to 5,000 in a year.
  • An average GRP goal for a service or retail establishment is 2,000 to 10,000 in a year.
  • An average GRP goal for business-to-business is 600 to 4,000 in a year.

Determining these numbers isn't easy. There are some resources on the Web that might help. Check out the last page of this article for some sites that offer calculators and guidelines.

Other things to consider when planning and scheduling your media include:

  • Your media vehicle's Cost per Thousand (CPM). This is useful because it helps you compare the values of different vehicles. For example, you may have two publications you are considering. Both reach your target audience, and all other aspects are equal. One, however, is more expensive than the other. Determining the CPM can help you decide which is the better vehicle for your advertisement. You can get the CPM by dividing the total number of subscribers that fall into your target market by the cost of running an ad. This is expressed as the cost per thousand impressions.
  • Strive for a good balance of various media. In other words, don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
  • Don't forget new media, such as the Internet and other interactive media like CD-ROM.
  • Look at the strengths and weaknesses of each medium as it would effectively carry your marketing message and product positioning. Some media can't effectively communicate certain information. For example, a complicated product would not make good use of a billboard or other "quick" impression media.
  • Don't forget to consider the seasonality of your product and geographic concentrations of your audience when selecting and scheduling your media.
  • Remember that the percentage of your target audience that a particular media vehicle reaches will not be the number that actually see your message. Many will skim, change channels, or just miss it. So keep your expectations realistic in this respect.