Marketing plays a vital role in the success of any business. It doesn’t matter how unique your product or service is, how cutting-edge your technology is, or how outstanding your customer service seems.
If you don’t market your business, customers won’t purchase your products, let alone know your brand exists. Marketing is the activity that informs your target customers about your business and persuades them to buy what you have to offer.
Now that you know the importance of marketing, should you market your business without a solid strategy? Well! You can, but you may not reach as many of your target customers as you would have if you had a marketing plan.
A marketing plan helps ensure every dollar you devote to marketing gets spent in the best way possible.
Creating an Outstanding Marketing Plan
Think of a marketing plan as a roadmap that provides direction to help you fulfill your marketing activities. This post will supply a definition and discuss why you need one and the steps to create this document.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a document that outlines and organizes the advertising activities an entity plans to implement. It details the what, how, and why of an entity’s marketing strategy and lays out the marketing activities for the forthcoming period.
A marketing plan can be created as part of an entity’s business plan, or it can be a standalone document. Most companies draft this document annually to cover a year’s marketing activities.
You can, however, create it quarterly or whenever you want to change your marketing strategy.
There are different ways to create a marketing plan. You can follow a time-based route by drafting the plan quarterly or annually. You can also have multiple marketing plans for different marketing avenues.
For example, you can have a plan for SEO content creation and a separate one for social media marketing. You can also have another for product sampling or a new product launch.
Drafting multiple marketing plans only makes sense if you run a big corporation with multiple products, departments, and locations. In a small business, you only need one general marketing plan for the year or quarter. The number of pages doesn’t matter as long as the plan is thorough, concise, and easy to understand.
Marketing Plan Versus Marketing Strategy
A marketing plan is not the same as a marketing strategy, even though both are necessary for the success of your business. The former outlines the steps needed to achieve your marketing goals. It focuses on the daily, weekly, and monthly activities your entity should perform.
By contrast, a marketing strategy is a comprehensive game plan for identifying and reaching your target market. This document doesn’t include specific marketing activities or the timeframe for fulfilling those activities.
It contains marketing goals, target audience, competitor analysis, and communication channels. On the other hand, marketing plans include the implementation method and tactical steps for achieving the marketing strategy.
Reasons You Need a Marketing Plan
As a business owner, every marketing activity you implement in your entity should be guided by a marketing plan. Without this document, you’ll basically be throwing darts in the dark, hoping one will catch your target customers. You may end up throwing a few too many darts.
A marketing plan essentially gives you direction to ensure you throw those darts directly to your target customers. In other words, it helps ensure you do the right marketing activity, at the optimal time, through the proper marketing channels, and towards your exact target audience. Here is a list of reasons a marketing plan is crucial:
1. Understand Your Target Market
Like the marketing strategy, a marketing plan helps you understand your target customers. However, this document does more than identify them. It also outlines where, how, and when to find them. Marketing plans guide you on how to find your target customers and persuade them to buy from you.
2. Set Timeframes and Objectives for Marketing Activities
A marketing plan is like a timetable. It tells you which marketing activity to do, where, and when. This document makes your marketing team more efficient since everyone knows what task to perform. A marketing plan also makes your business goals seem more achievable, which motivates your marketing team. All they have to do is follow the program, and everything will work out.
3. Gain Investors’ Confidence
One question investors may ask you during due diligence is how you plan to get customers to buy your products or services. This question should be your cue to present your marketing plan. This document will give them more confidence to invest in your business.
4. Set a Marketing Budget
A marketing plan enables you to allocate a realistic budget for your marketing activities. It helps you plan and manage your financial resources to ensure every marketing dollar counts. You get to keep your marketing expenses within your overall business budget.
5. Make Better Marketing Decisions
Planning makes you aware of the setbacks or challenges that may arise, thus enabling you to counter beforehand. When you create a marketing plan, you gather the information necessary to make well-thought-out decisions. For example, a marketing plan can help you determine whether to hire more marketers for your team and whether or not you need to create a marketing campaign on a new social media platform.
6. Make the Team More Cohesive
A marketing plan helps ensure your team is on the same page about your marketing strategy and activities. Everyone knows which marketing activities to devote time to, when, and where. Your team works more cohesively with than without a marketing plan.
Essential Sections Included in a Marketing Plan
Here are the elements and sections to have in your marketing plan. They don’t have to follow this exact order.
1. Entity Summary
This section summarizes your organization, starting with your entity’s name, location, and mission statement. It may also highlight your marketing team.
2. Entity Initiatives
This section outlines your marketing goals and initiatives. It may also highlight the metrics you’ll use to measure those goals.
3. Customer Analysis
This section describes your target customers using buyer personas or customer groups. It highlights traits such as age, location, hobbies, goals, and gender.
SWOT analysis is an evaluation framework that analyses your business’s internal and external aspects. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strengths are the internal things your organization excels at, while weaknesses are areas that need improving. Opportunities are the external factors you consider favorable for your business, while threats are those that may harm your organization’s success.
The SWOT analysis also gets included as part of the marketing plan. You’ll most likely have done it during your marketing research, but if not, set some time to create it.
5. Competitor Analysis
The most outstanding marketing plans contain a competitor analysis section highlighting the entity’s main business rivals. Use this section to evaluate your competitor’s position and market share and identify gaps or opportunities where you can gain an edge over them.
6. Marketing Strategy (4Ps of Marketing)
The marketing strategy is an essential component of the marketing plan. You will most likely create your marketing plan based on this document. Therefore, you need to have it ready as a section. The best way to write your marketing strategy is by describing the 4Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
7. Marketing Budget
This section outlines the budget for your planned marketing activities. It’s best to itemize your budget per specific item or activity. You can also use this section to highlight other necessary resources, such as marketing software.
8. Marketing Channels
The last thing your marketing plan should contain is your marketing channels. This refers to the avenues where you plan to perform your marketing activities, for example, Facebook, YouTube, newspapers, etc. Don’t forget to highlight the purpose of each channel and the metrics you’ll use to measure success.
Steps to Create a Marketing Plan
As mentioned above, how you create your marketing plan may vary depending on its purpose and scope. A plan that only covers SEO content marketing differs from an annual general marketing plan. However, all plans will likely include the same sections, perhaps with a slight variance. Remember that the number of pages does not matter so long as the plan is thorough and concise.
Let’s discuss how you create a marketing plan:
1. Start With a Marketing Plan Outline
Drafting an outline of the sections you want in your marketing plan will make creating this document easier. Here is an example of the sections to have in your marketing plan:
- Cover page
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Marketing goals and objectives
- Target customer or user personas
- SWOT analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Baseline metrics
- Workflow plan or roadmap
- Tracking and measuring guidelines
Once you create your outline, your next task will be to develop your plan section by section.
2. Design Your Cover Page
Your cover page is the first page of your marketing plan. It welcomes readers to your document and provides essential information about your business. The cover page contains the following elements;
- Entity name and tagline
- Entity logo and color scheme
- Title of document
- Year or quarter covered by the marketing plan
Having a cover page is not compulsory. It depends on whether your marketing plan is part of the business plan or is a standalone document.
3. Create a Table of Contents
Now that you planned your section outline, creating a table of contents should take minutes. Add it as a section in your marketing plan to help your readers navigate through the document quickly. Creating a table of contents only makes sense if your document is five pages and more.
4. Write Your Executive Summary
One way to get your readers excited about your marketing plan is with a well-crafted executive summary. Mention a few things about your entity and highlight any current triumphs and goals. Lastly, briefly highlight your targets for the business in the next quarter or year. Other details worth mentioning in your executive summary include:
- Some key facts about your business or brand
- Important metrics
Keep your executive summary brief; two to three paragraphs should do.
5. Highlight Marketing Goals and Objectives
If you haven’t thought about your marketing goals and objectives, this section is your cue to do so. Set specific and measurable goals for the upcoming plan period. List them in point form and avoid vague terminologies such as “increasing the number of followers” or “getting more in-store sales.” Your goals should be specific and measurable.
6. Highlight Baseline Metrics
You can’t measure progress in the future without knowing where you currently stand. Therefore, you should include a section highlighting your baseline metrics. These are the results you will use to compare with your future results. Your baseline metrics should also be specific, for example, “3,200 Instagram followers” or “50 sales per month.”
Ensure your baseline metrics are straightforward. Don’t list too many because some readers find data intimidating. You can also use infographics and charts to make your metrics more appealing.
7. Design Customer Personas
It’s time to highlight your customers’ personalities. You can outline them using user personas or customer segments.
A user persona is a fictional character who represents your ideal target customer. Give your user persona a name, face, background story, and personality. Also, list their hobbies, preferences, frustrations, occupations, and residential locations, among other things. The idea is to make your persona a representation of your target customer.
But if you prefer not to have this many details, you can highlight the traits of your target customer. Include details such as:
- Income level
- Hobbies and interests
8. Develop a SWOT Analysis
Your next task will be to develop a SWOT analysis. If you have not developed this framework during your market research, take some time to create it. Evaluate your entity’s strengths and weaknesses and assess opportunities and threats in your external environment.
9. Develop a Competitor Analysis
Developing a competitor analysis should also not be as difficult since you might have done it in your market research. Include the following details:
- Competitor’s name
- A brief description of the competitor
- Size of company and number of employees
- Annual revenue
- Number of years in business
- Market share
- Price of competing product or service
You may also note down the edge you have over each competitor.
10. Sketch a Workflow Plan or Roadmap
Your workflow plan guides your team on what they need to do at a specific time when conducting their marketing activities. Try and make it thorough. You can sketch it month to month or week to week, depending on how detailed you want your plan to be. Here is an example of a workflow map:
- Post four Instagram posts per week.
- Week 1 (Monday morning): Post to welcome followers to the week
- Wednesday at noon: Post about business
- Friday morning: Post something informative
- Sunday evening: Weekly outlook post
Make your workflow map easy to follow. Your team should quickly identify the marketing activity to do at a certain period in the workflow.
11. Identify Tracking and Measuring Guidelines
Conclude your marketing plan with a list of the tracking metrics you’ll use to measure performance. Specify what you plan to measure, how you’ll measure it, and how often. Once you finish this section, your plan will be ready for use.
Marketing doesn’t always require a big budget. It does, however, require a plan and strategy. A marketing plan increases your chances of success in attracting customers and getting them to interact with your business.
Don’t forget to proofread your marketing plan after creating it. Lastly, make your fonts, colors, and icons consistent throughout the marketing plan. You can change the layout per page or section to create novelty and appeal to readers.
Now that you have an understanding of what it takes to write a marketing plan, there are a few resources to help you create one and expand your knowledge while gaining experience.
Viewing samples of marketing plans is a convenient way to familiarize yourself with them. By reviewing several of them, you will gain a broader perspective and ideas for your plan. Samples with real or fictional companies will give you a better sense of a professional marketing plan than outlines with no details.
Explore the latest Search Results for Marketing Plan Samples.
You may feel overwhelmed by the process, or you want to come up with a winning professional plan without having to spend a lot of time and effort.
You can hire a professional if you wish. You will still need to be involved in the process even if you hire a professional. It is critical that the writer understands your business model and marketing strategy. A marketing plan without an understanding will be inaccurate and ineffective.
It is also important to work with an experienced service provider, so you will want to consider quality over price.
Ultimately, you’ll have a marketing plan you can follow and use.
If you want to attract investors, your plan should be professional, accurate, and something you can proudly present to them. See the latest Search Results for Marketing Plan Writing Services
When writing your marketing plan, you can start with a template if you don’t want to hire a professional. This will help you organize your plan and ensure you don’t miss any relevant sections. Take some time to find a template that is professional and contains all the sections you need.
It is critical to use an editable template. The plan should also be reviewed by someone after it’s completed to ensure it’s not filled with irrelevant information. For example, you may find a lot of entries that read, “Insert Company Name.” Naturally, this would be embarrassing if your marketing plan contained these types of errors. If the template comes with graphics, you will want to change them to ensure your plan is original.
Take a look at the latest search results for Marketing Plan Templates.
Using software designed to guide you through the process of creating a marketing plan is another option you can use.
You can be sure new platforms will emerge while others lose their effectiveness. When applicable, your plan will need to reflect those changes. When using software to create your marketing plan you can quickly and easily update your strategy, when changes occur. Here are the latest search results for Marketing Plan Software.
Well-written books can offer valuable information you can use to create your marketing plan. One thing I like about reading non-fiction books is that you don’t have to read the book from cover to cover, instead, you can go through the table of contents to go to the chapter that contains the information you want. View the most recent books related to marketing plans on Amazon.
There are a few courses you can take to build your skills. I prefer online courses that offer videos and lifetime access so I can review the information any time I want. Google’s search results related to marketing plan courses.
Almost any topic can be found on Google News. Simply type in your keyword and you’ll get a list of stories covered by the media. Also, you can set up an alert to be notified when something relevant to your search query is published. See Google’s news for results related to marketing plans.
YouTube offers a variety of videos on the topic of marketing plans. I suggest spending some time on the site to explore the available videos to broaden your understanding of the subject. See the most recent videos related to marketing plans.