Creating a marketing plan is crucial to any company or organization, as it sets the roadmap for achieving business growth and sales targets. It is the strategic document that guides marketing activities and aligns them with the organization's broader business goals.
Without a well-structured marketing plan, you’ll likely engage in random marketing activities that may or may not align with the company’s overarching goals and objectives, potentially wasting precious resources.
Most importantly, when a marketing plan is well thought-out and well-written, it will be used – not shelved. Your marketing plan will become the compass to achieving company goals.
The Purpose of a Marketing Plan
Before you start, it’s important to understand the purpose of having a documented marketing plan. A marketing plan can:
- Align marketing, sales, management and outsourced agency partners. It keeps everyone rowing in the same direction.
- Clearly communicate marketing’s strategic intent and operational needs. This is key for budget approval.
- Guide marketing implementation. It serves as a roadmap, clarifying what should be done, when, by whom and with what resources.
- Serve as a baseline for quarterly updates to management. It’s your progress report to show what’s been accomplished and the results.
- Serve as a benchmark for when it's time to pivot. If targets aren't being met or external circumstances shift, it’s your guide on what to adjust for continuous improvement.
The Key Elements of a Marketing Plan
While every marketing plan should be customized to an organization and its specific goals at that time, overall, every marketing plan should include:
- Target Audience/Buyer Personas
- Competitor Analysis
- Current Initiatives
- New Initiatives
- Past Results
You will notice strategy is the first bullet point. This is intentional! Your marketing strategy is the ‘why’ behind what you are planning to execute. It’s the overarching reason for how your marketing efforts will help you achieve the company goals. Successful marketing plans are not tactical — they are strategic first and foremost.
Three Key Steps to Writing a Successful Marketing Plan
Think of your marketing plan like a well-crafted story — it should have a compelling opening, a detailed middle and a decisive end. Like any good story, your marketing plan will guide you on a journey, setting up your goals, guiding your actions and leading you to success.
Step 1: Lay the Foundation with an Opening Summary
First, summarize your game plan. Whether this is for management/budget approval or for those needing to execute the plan, they should be able to quickly understand the strategy, key points and direction.
Keep the summary short and tight. Include a brief description for:
- Goals (Think SMART goals)
- Targeted Product(s)/Solution(s)
- Target Audience/Buyer Personas
- Marketing Strategy
Step 2: Structure the Heart of Your Marketing Plan – Your Game Plan
Now, onto the heart of your marketing plan. Here, it's easy to get overwhelmed with information, so keep it simple. A structured timeline, table or chart can make your plan easier to consume.
At a glance, you should see your annual plan. Then, break it down further into quarterly plans or campaigns.
Delve into the strategy and details of each campaign. Who is the target audience? What challenges are these customers facing? How will the messaging be positioned? What product features will be highlighted? What are the benefits to the user? What keywords will be targeted? What content needs to be developed?
Each campaign should have a specific timeframe. A timeline works best here for mapping out start and end dates of marketing tactics, such as social media posting, paid advertising, SEO, email outreach, website updates, trade shows, etc.
Step 3: Wrap It Up with a Concluding Summary
Summarize your plan once again. This reinforces the strategy and helps everyone understand the overall direction.
Bullet out what decisions need to be made, what the next steps are to implement the plan and what metrics will be tracked. Regular monitoring and reporting will ensure your marketing plan stays on track and achieves the documented goals.
With a well-written marketing plan that tells a story, you'll be equipped to align your team and all partners, communicate your intent and needs, guide implementation, show progress and know when to pivot to achieve success.
Ready to propel ahead in 2024? Reach out to learn more about how our team of expert marketers can coach, guide or create for you a marketing plan that leads to success. Request a complimentary consultation today.