How to Create a Marketing Plan

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Creating an effective marketing plan can be a daunting task. Here, we outline the process step by step to make it easy for businesses large and small.

The most important part of any marketing plan is the strategy behind it. Take the time to think through and document your strategy and your marketing plan will be much easier to prepare. To help you along, we’ve created a Marketing Plan Template to use as a starting point. Among other important information, your marketing strategy document should contain:

   –  Who you’re marketing to: target markets, market segmentation, and buyer personas,

The success of your marketing plan will depend heavily on these components, so take the time to formalize your strategy if you’ve not yet done so.

Once your strategy is set, it’s time to create your marketing plan. A marketing plan is essentially the tactics you’ll use to execute your marketing strategy to achieve your objectives during a set period of time (typically a year). It will contain your objectives and method of measurement, tactics and the timing of those tactics, and your budget. 

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Objectives and Measurement

 

The first step is to set clear objectives your plan will achieve, along with the methods by which you’ll measure performance:

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  • 1.  State the business objectives for the time period covered by the plan (revenue and profitability targets, product introductions, customer retention, etc.)
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  • 2. Outline the marketing objectives that support each business objective (brand awareness, product awareness, market share, etc.)
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  • 3. Identify the metrics and key performance indicators (KPI) you’ll use to measure performance against each marketing objective (impressions, free trials initiated, leads, etc.)
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For a guide to marketing ROI measurement, including how to tie business objectives to marketing metrics, download our guide.

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Marketing Plan Template

Not sure how to organize your plan? We've got you covered with this free template.

Tactics and Timing

 

The meat of your document is a detailed plan for the specific tactics you’ll use to achieve the marketing objectives, along with the timing of their deployment. Each category should be broken down by channel, property, and publication, as applicable.

 

Some channels can apply to more than one category (such as speaking engagements, which could be considered Content Marketing or Public Relations), so organize them in the way that makes the most sense for your business.

 

  •    –  Advertising (Paid search, display ads, Google display network, trade publications)
  •    –  Content marketing (blogs, case studies, speaking engagements, videos, webinars, whitepapers, e-books, guides)
  •    –  Direct mail (postcards, flyers, letters)
  •    –  Email (newsletters; triggers such as holiday greetings, customer anniversaries, etc.)
  •    –  Events (trade shows and conferences, location openings, customer appreciation events)
  •    –  Promotions (free trial periods, coupons, sample distribution)
  •    –  Public relations (press releases, Interviews, articles, guest editorials)
  •    –  Search engine optimization (SEO)
  •    –  Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
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Budget

 

Your plan should also include the budgeted costs for each tactic, broken down by channel and publication.

 

You may wish to use a summary page in the workbook for a quick view of your performance to budget at the end of every month or quarter and easy reporting.

Organizing your marketing plan

 

There are many ways to organize a marketing plan, and depending on how you’re using the plan document at any given time, you will want to view the plan in different ways.

 

For this reason I recommend using a series of columns in a spreadsheet to describe each tactic, so that you can sort and organize by the way that’s most useful for your needs at that time. Here are the column headings you can use to organize your plan:

  •    –  Tactic (social media, content, etc.)
  •    –  Sales funnel stages
  •    –  Month/week
  •    –  Product line being promoted
  •    –  Target market
  •    –  Campaign or initiative
  •    –  Goal (lead gen, etc.)
  •    –  Topic
  •    –  Format
  •    –  Channel

It’s never to late to create a detailed marketing plan to organize and guide your marketing activities. Even if your campaigns are already underway, taking the time to clearly outline your plan will help you identify gaps and track your progress, ensuring a better and more effective marketing program. 

 

For help turning your marketing strategy into an executable plan, drop us a line. 

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