9 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan


Do you take a good, hard look at your team's marketing strategy every year?


You should. Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy — and it's nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you'll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you'll encounter over the course of a year if you don't have a plan.


To make your plan's creation easier, we've put together a list of what to include in your plan and a few different planning templates where you can easily fill in the blanks.


To start, let's dive into how to create a marketing plan and then take a look at what a high-level marketing plan has inside.



1. Business Summary



In a marketing plan, your Business Summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. This includes:

  • The company name

  • Where it's headquartered

  • Its mission statement


2. Business Initiatives


The Business Initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you'd normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You'll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.


3. Customer Analysis


Here's where you'll conduct some basic market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you're selling to and your buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:

  • Age

  • Location

  • Title

  • Goals

  • Personal challenges

  • Pains

  • Triggering events


4. Competitor Analysis


Your buyer persona has choices when it comes to solving their problems, choices in both the types of solutions they consider and the providers that can administer those solutions. In your market research, you should consider your competition, what they do well, and where the gaps are that you can potentially fill. This can include:

  • Positioning

  • Market share

  • Offerings

  • Pricing


5. SWOT Analysis


Your marketing plan's Business Summary also includes a SWOT analysis, which stands for the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Be patient with your business's SWOT analysis; you'll write most of it based on your market research from the sections above and your strategy below.


6. Market Strategy


Your Market Strategy uses the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your buyer personas that your competitors aren't already offering them?


In a full-length marketing plan, this section can contain the "seven Ps of marketing":

  • Product

  • Price

  • Place

  • Promotion

  • People

  • Process

  • Physical Evidence


7. Budget


Don't mistake the Budget element of your marketing plan with your product's price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.


Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you'll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include:

  • Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers

  • Marketing software

  • Paid promotions

  • Events (those you'll host and/or attend)


8. Marketing Channels


Lastly, your marketing plan will include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you'll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.


If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you'll use this social network for, and how you'll measure your success on this network. Part of this section's purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.


Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.


9. Financial Projections


Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you'll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won't be 100% accurate but can help with executive planning.

 

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