How To Create a Marketing Plan in 2023 [+Free Template]
Every business regardless of the industry it belongs to needs a solid marketing plan in order to achieve its marketing objectives.
What usually happens, though, is brands try out various different marketing tactics in hopes to yield the maximum possible results. And this is exactly why they fail!
So, let’s cut to the chase and see how you can create your own marketing plan that will work for almost every kind of business. You’ll also find marketing plan templates that will help you get started right away!
What Is A Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a roadmap outlining the way businesses set their marketing goals, how they plan and execute them as well as the way they track their marketing strategy. A marketing plan can span anywhere from reporting a year’s worth of actions to a month’s worth of actions.
Simply put, a marketing plan provides a clear view of all your marketing activities.
A marketing plan usually includes:
- An overview of your goals (marketing and advertising)
- A description of your target audience and your potential customers
- The marketing strategies and tactics you aim to leverage
- Potential budget and financial considerations
- The metrics or Key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking to measure results
Marketing plans are most often presented as a PDF document, they can also have a more creative version.
Now let’s explore the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.
Marketing Plan Vs. Marketing Strategy
Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. However, they have their differences.
A marketing strategy illustrates the way a business will attempt to accomplish a certain goal or mission. A business’ marketing strategy can include the channels, the campaigns, the content or software/tools that will be used to reach those goals and measure their success.
Here is a nice visual showing potential marketing strategies:
As you can see, it is pretty general and it doesn’t describe the actual steps required to complete each strategy.
On the other hand, a marketing plan involves the specific activities (daily, weekly, etc.) that the marketing strategy requires. So, a marketing plan can contain one or more marketing strategies. Essentially, it is the framework dictating which marketing strategies are to be used and it helps connect each strategy to your overall digital marketing operations and business goals.
Types Of Marketing Plans
Depending on how detailed you want your marketing plan to be, you can opt to craft a marketing plan for the whole year’s strategy or separate marketing plans for each individual channel you wish to target.
Now let’s see the most common types of marketing plans you can create.
- Annual Marketing Plan (General marketing plan): These marketing plans let you see everything at a glance. From the company mission and USPs to SWOT analysis and marketing channels, it contains everything you need.
- Content marketing plan: A content marketing plan sheds light on the different tactics, strategies and campaigns you can use to help your business reach its goals content-wise. It can also feature an editorial calendar and be structured in bullet points to be skimmable and more easily understood.
- Social media marketing plan: A social media marketing plan contains the specific tactics to be used in each social media channel you own, campaigns you plan to run, ways to acquire a presence on other social media platforms. All in all, how to reach your business objective through social media.
- Paid (demand generation) marketing plan: This type of marketing plan involves your paid marketing strategy, such as search ads, paid social media ads, email marketing strategy, and more.
- Product launch marketing plan: Launching a new product requires planning of its own. This plan serves as a roadmap for the strategies you’ll leverage to promote your new product.
How To Write A Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan will vary depending on its objective or the type of organization it’s designed for. And while there is no singular way to create a marketing plan, here are some of the key components of a winning marketing plan.
So let’s go ahead and explore them one by one! (click to jump ahead)
Marketing Plan Outline
- State your business’s mission and values
- Craft an executive summary
- Establish your KPIs
- Outline your buyer personas
- Identify your competition
- Describe your content strategy and initiatives
- Clearly define your plan’s omissions
- Define your marketing budget
- Outline your plan’s contributors and their responsibilities
1. State your business’s mission and values
The first step when crafting an effective marketing plan is to state your mission and company values. So, you immediately answer the question of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
While your mission is specific to your marketing department, it has to be aligned with your main mission statement as a brand. Try to be as specific and clear as you can without exaggerating. What we mean by that is that you’ll have plenty of room later on to elaborate on how you’ll acquire customers and succeed in your mission.
For example, if your business mission is to “provide affordable sports goods” then your marketing mission could be to attract users of a certain income, educate them on how they can achieve the same results with products priced competitively and convince them to invest in them.
Note: This section of your marketing plan is crucial for anyone reading this since you can educate them about the main objective of your business. In this way, they’ll be able to understand your marketing goals and future plans better.
2. Craft an executive summary
An executive summary is a brief overview of your company. It introduces readers to your company objectives, marketing triumphs and future plans.
The point of an executive summary is to get people excited to read your marketing plan. For this reason, your summary must be concise and to the point. Otherwise, you risk getting people bored.
Basically, your executive summary can include the following things:
- Simple marketing goals
- Company achievements/milestones
- Future plans
- Facts relevant to your brand
… and more!
You don’t need to delve into specifics since you just want to pique people’s interest.
Finally, your summary helps set the tone for your marketing plan. So think carefully about what tone fits your brand best!
3. Establish your KPIs
Successful marketing plans clearly define how the marketing department tracks the progress of its mission. Consequently, you’ll need to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure and track the different elements of your marketing campaigns.
These indicators will help you better communicate your progress to the business leaders as well as understand whether your marketing efforts yield the desired results or not.
Usually, these KPIs have specific numbers and timelines attached to them. Potential KPIs you may set include:
- Getting X new leads
- Decreasing bounce rate by X%
- Writing X more articles per week/month
- Reach X organic page views
- Increase retention rate by X% each year
- Get 100 new followers each month on Facebook/Twitter etc.
4. Outline your buyer personas
Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers. The types of customers you want to attract to your business.
And while it may seem more important to establish how you can get the most visitors, it is equally important to outline how you can get the “right” visitors.
Your buyer personas can include demographics, psychographics and behavioral data of your customers. Below you can see the different kinds of details they may include.
It is also useful to include your customers’ goals, needs, and pain points as well as how your business can help solve them.
The majority of businesses have a few different types of target customers. So, you may have to identify and craft more than one buyer persona.
By outlining the different buyer personas for your business you can properly segment your marketing campaigns and adjust your marketing materials accordingly to resonate with them. Moreover, your personas may influence the messaging you apply in your marketing content.
5. Identify your competition
A solid marketing plan cannot but include thorough research of your business’ competitors.
In this section, you can analyze your current market situation, identify and study your competitors and finally delve deep into your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
Conducting competitor research is vital if you own or want to start a blog.
Your competitor analysis can include:
- Who their leadership team consists of
- Who their marketing team is
- What their marketing strategy is
- Their social media strategy
- What kind of ads they’re running
- Their SEO marketing strategy
- Their top-performing content
- Their yearly growth (using a marketing tool like Ahrefs)
- The number of customers they have
- Their market share
Research thoroughly and you’ll be able to identify some great opportunities. What’s more, you may uncover marketing strategies that can work wonders for your brand too.
To be more efficient and be able to present your market research, you can use a SWOT analysis template. Using it, you can highlight your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Note: Regarding the opportunities, they could be anything that enables you to move forward and penetrate your target market and stay there.
All in all, the analysis of your competitors will allow you to form a strategy that “exploits” their weaknesses and positions your brand in a better way for the target audience. Taking into consideration that many small businesses fail due to their competitors, you can understand how important this section is.
6. Describe your content strategy and initiatives
In this section of your marketing plan you are going to put the key points of your marketing and content strategy. Essentially, you’ll have to explain how you’ll use your content and channels.
Your content strategy should state clearly:
- The types of content you’ll create: blog posts, webinars, educational videos on Youtube, infographics, and ebooks.
- The amount of content you’ll create: define your content volume with daily, weekly, monthly intervals. This is based on your workflow and the potential goals you have.
- The distribution channels: popular distribution channels include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest. Will you focus on one or more channels?
- Paid ads that you plan to put on these channels/platforms
- The KPIs you’ll use to measure your success: These indicators can be organic traffic, email traffic, social media traffic, and referral traffic. You may even want to include traffic on specific product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
7. Clearly define your plan’s omissions
The goal of every marketing plan is to explain your marketing team’s focus. But it also needs to elaborate on what the marketing team will not focus on.
For example, if there is any aspect of your business that this plan does not cater to, include them in this section.
Putting these omissions into your plan will help you justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content strategy.
Every marketing campaign is designed for a specific reason and as a result, it cannot possibly please everyone.
8. Define your marketing budget
Among the last things your marketing plan should include is a definition of your marketing budget.
While your team may be leveraging many free channels and platforms, there will be “hidden” expenses a marketing team will have to account for.
You can use Business Budgeting Software to track spending, create budgets, and monitor progress.
What’s more, putting your marketing budget down will prevent you from losing sight of the financial aspect of things, both during execution and implementation.
Let me give you a few examples of what this part can include:
- freelance fees
- new marketing hires (full-time or part-time)
- cost for collaborations
9. Outline your plan’s contributors and their responsibilities
The final part of your marketing plan is to explain who’s doing what.
It is not necessary to describe your employees’ day-to-day projects. However, you should explain which teams and team leaders are in charge of certain KPIs, content, channels and more.
And that’s it! Your marketing plan is now complete.
For most businesses, operating without a marketing plan can result in reduced ROI, campaigns that fail to hit the mark and waste of marketing budget and resources.
By formulating a solid marketing plan you can align your marketing objectives with your overarching business goals.
To truly deliver what your target audience wants though, you have to test different ideas and strategies, measure their success and optimize your strategy accordingly.
To get started, check out our free marketing plan template in the box on your right-hand side.