In the dynamic realm of business, having a well-defined marketing plan is akin to having a navigational chart for success. Your marketing plan is the compass that directs your brand toward its objectives and guides your efforts to reach your target audience effectively. From identifying your ideal customer base to crafting compelling marketing strategies, this comprehensive guide provides valuable insights to help you plot a course for marketing success. Continue reading to unlock the secrets of creating a marketing plan that will propel your brand to new heights.
You’ve launched your business, and now it’s time to promote your product or service. Although it may seem simple enough to make a few social media posts or blast a few promotional emails, disjointed marketing efforts will not only confuse your target audience, but, ultimately, they can harm your business. You need to create a marketing plan.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap for how you communicate (on and offline) with your target audience to successfully promote your products or services. Marketing plans range from extremely basic to highly detailed, depending on what you want to accomplish.
According to Molly Maple Bryant, head of marketing at ArcheMedX, a marketing plan is not simply a list of things you want to accomplish. Instead, it should list the outcomes you seek – measurable and contextual, like the pipeline you’re developing, or leads you’re generating – and it should explain the high-level strategies you will use to achieve those outcomes. Developing strategies can be difficult, but they make a major difference in keeping you on track and avoiding diversions, which is also referred to as “scope creep.”
“Once you have an agreed-upon plan, you are able to compare any incoming requests against your strategies to determine ‘Yes, this adheres to my strategy so we can add it,’ or ‘No, this sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t adhere to our agreed-upon strategy, so we won’t adjust resources,’” Bryant told business.com.
Types of marketing plans
There are several different types of marketing plans you can use based on certain strategies that make sense for your organization. Your business will likely need a combination of the following marketing plans to create an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy:
- An advertising plan
- A branding plan
- A content marketing plan
- A customer acquisition plan
- A direct marketing plan
- An email marketing plan
- A public relation plan
- A print marketing plan
- Reputation management
- A retention plan
- A search engine optimization plan
- A social media marketing plan
Depending on your product positioning, you may also want to niche marketing plans, like influencer marketing or video marketing.
Why it’s important to have a marketing plan for your business
A marketing plan is a crucial resource for any small business. Essentially, it helps you identify the market needs your product or service meets, how your product is different from competitors, and who your product or service is for. Marketing plans also serve as a road map for your sales strategy, branding direction and building your overall business. This is important for successfully conveying your brand messaging to your target audience.
Another major benefit of a marketing plan for your company is that rather than simply guessing metrics, it forces you to sit down and do the math about your business goals and how to realistically fulfill them. When you look at your growth outcomes, you can delve further to determine what it will take to get to those numbers.
Bryant offered the following example: “Need $100,000 in revenue? How many sales is that? If 10, what’s your close rate? Let’s say 10% from lead to closed deal. Now you have a metric to start from – to get to 10 sales, we need 100 leads. Now, where will they come from, and what strategies will you use? The plan helps you put it all on paper so you can map out resources and tactics later with a lot of preparation and realism,” said Bryant.
When analyzing outcomes and resources, you can save time and avoid scope creep by focusing only on those strategies that are relevant to your marketing plan. A marketing plan not only helps you think realistically about your strategies, it also gets your stakeholders on the same page and holds your marketing team accountable for their decisions.
“When everyone’s tasks and goals are laid out for the stakeholders and company partners to see, it is much easier for the entire team to feel at ease about reaching sales goals and allowing the marketing team the space and freedom needed to execute work without constant supervision,” said Cassady Dill, digital marketing consultant and owner of Ethos Agency.
Additionally, Dill said a marketing plan should be easily understood by your entire team, executives, and outside departments, and it should serve as an easy guide for future marketing managers and team members to understand and implement.
5 elements of an effective business marketing plan
A marketing plan should be customized to fit your business; however, Dill said, all marketing plans contain five key functions:
- Your business goals
- Key metrics (how you quantify and measure success)
- Strategies (an overview of implementation and how that will achieve goals)
- A plan (the details of execution and the human resources, departments, and software that will be involved)
- Reporting (what reports of progress will include and/or look like)
We broke down those five functions into 10 actionable categories to help you create a marketing plan that is unique and effective for your business.
1. Executive summary
The executive summary is a great place to give the reader of your plan an overview of your business’s mission or goals, as well as the marketing strategy you’re looking to employ. An executive summary is often written after you’ve completed the rest of the marketing plan, to ensure it covers all the important elements of your plan. If the executive summary is the only part of your marketing plan that someone reads (which is highly possible), you want to be sure they understand the most crucial details.
2. Mission statement
Your mission statement, not to be confused with a vision statement, is a statement that encompasses your company’s values and how they relate to your overall goals as an organization. Here are some good questions to get you thinking:
- What does your company do today?
- What’s important to your company?
- What would your company like to do in the future?
- What is your brand identity?
- What’s your culture like?
- How does your company benefit customers, employees and stakeholders?
3. Target markets
Identifying your target market is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. Without a defined target audience, the money you spend on marketing will be a waste. Think of it like this: Some people need your service or product but don’t know it exists yet. Who are those people?
Here are some other questions to help you brainstorm your target market:
- What is the demographic of your customers (gender, age, income, education, etc.)?
- What are their needs and interests?
- What’s their psychographic profile (attitudes, philosophies, values, lifestyle, etc.)?
- How do they behave?
- What are some existing products they use?