Imagine for a moment that you’ve got a new product or service offering, and through the marketing of your business, you’re going to embark upon a new ad campaign — a strategic plan to broadcast your message to your ideal audience. And you’re excited about it.

The opportunity to communicate your new image, product, or service offering can mean a windfall of new business, fostering your growth and propelling you ahead of your competitors. It can also fall flat on its face. The difference between these two outcomes, however, rests in a single word: execution.

To execute a new ad campaign — or any plan for that matter — it’s important to start with a few important questions; questions that will ultimately define the purpose behind your plan, and give you the momentum to achieve a successful outcome. So, let’s start with the basics…

1. Who is your target audience?

In the realm of marketing and advertising, specificity is key. You need to be targeted and honed in on your audience with the focus of a sniper. The more targeted your message is, the greater the chance that when it lands on the right ears — the ears your message was meant for — it will convert.

Less is more is the mentality here and it’s also the most cost-effective. Broad traditional advertising (print, billboards, radio) typically come at a high price. Imagine creating a commercial to be aired during the Superbowl. Sure, the exposure may be great, but if you’re trying to target millennial women living in mid-tier but growing urban cities, you’re probably exposing your brand to more eyes than you really want — and that can be expensive.

And to make things worse, it’s nearly untrackable. How do you know your ad was effective? Even in the case of a noticeable spike, how do you attribute THAT billboard, radio spot, or commercial ad directly to your overall growth? Specifically if you’re using multiple advertising channels.

The difference between traditional and digital in this sense is the fact that with digital, your ability to specify your audience — and track the results — is far greater.

So who is your target audience? Are they homeowners or apartment tenants? Local residents or business owners? Millennials or Baby Boomers? Lower-income or higher-income? Male or female? What do they want from life? Are they happy? Any recent life changing events?

The difference is in the details so be sure to do exhaustive research and give your message the best ears to land on.

2. Where are they searching?

There’s a fundamental difference between searching for a Brooklyn restaurant ahead of an upcoming trip, and searching for the same restaurant just outside of your Brooklyn apartment. In this example, imagine the web traffic volume is high for that particular restaurant. However, most of the foot traffic is coming from tourists.

Now let’s assume that the restaurant looking at its web traffic without regard to locality assumes that they’re killing it locally. They invest deeply into local search keywords like “pizza near me” and “pizza places Brooklyn” and try to expand their local reach. The result? The needle barely moves.

Locality in search is everything, particularly if you’re using Google to do it.

Economic logic is also a significant factor — especially as it pertains to time management. If I’m a plumber working in Torrance, but I’m advertising in Beverly Hills to get higher-paying jobs, I may be picking up more money per job, but I’m losing even more in the time wasted commuting back and forth between those cities.

To combat this, investigate the source of your best customers and double down on attracting them. One of the hardest jobs of any business is to simply find their audience. The easiest part is deciding who they are among your full range of customers and following them back to the source — i.e. Your target audience.

3. How are they searching?

Laptops, smartphones, tablets, yellow pages, billboards, or commercial blimps? How your ideal audience is finding you is key, and these days, more than half of all search is being conducted on mobile.

Mobile devices have also exhibited a significant effect on consumer behavior. The benefit of knowing how your customers are committing searches comes down to your ability to specify which distribution platforms would be most appropriate for getting your message in front of them.

If your target demographic is 18-24 year old Hispanic and black men then social media apps like Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook may be your best channels for mobile distribution. It just takes a detailed understanding of your audience, and packaging your message with their preferences in mind.

4. What’s the best time to press play?

In many businesses across the country there is a time of year where consumption begins to slow. It’s a concept called seasonality in business, and almost universally this consumptive slump occurs right after the holiday season.

In launching a new ad campaign, getting the timing right is just as important as the message itself. For example, you could write a touchingly personal letter, tailor-made for your ideal client, with the exact message they need to hear, but deliver it when no one’s home.

In the realm of digital marketing however, this issue is a bit more solvable, it just takes an understanding of web traffic flows, a knowledge of your ideal audience, and a familiarity with the best practices in digital distribution.

For example, did you know that the best times to post on Facebook are Thursday and Friday at 1 pm if you want shares? This is because it’s the end of the week right after lunch and your target audience is at work scrolling through Facebook.

Further still, how you choose to advertise in these slumps may be just as important as when. Not all advertising has the same intended purpose. An air-conditioning company in the winter may choose to pivot in its marketing by putting out periodic branding ads (“your trusted AC repair service”) rather than direct-response (“call today!”).

It’s understanding the specificity and behaviors of your ideal audience that will allow you to connect with them, so do your research and learn who they are from the ground up to make the launch of your new ad campaign as successful as possible.