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Blog Marketing What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

Written by: Sara McGuire Oct 26, 2023

Marketing Plan Venngage

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines your strategies to attract and convert your ideal customers as a part of your customer acquisition strategy . It’s a comprehensive document that details your:

  • Target audience:  Who you’re trying to reach
  • Marketing goals:  What you want to achieve
  • Strategies and tactics:  How you’ll reach your goals
  • Budget:  Resources you’ll allocate
  • Metrics:  How you’ll measure success

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about creating a marketing plan . If you need a little extra help, there are professionally designed marketing plan templates that’ll make the process much easier. So, let’s ditch the confusion and get started!

Click to jump ahead:

What is a marketing plan?

How to write a marketing plan .

  • Marketing plan v.s. business plan
  • Types of marketing plans

9 marketing plan examples to inspire your growth strategy

Marketing plan faqs.

A marketing plan is a report that outlines your marketing strategy for your products or services, which could be applicable for the coming year, quarter or month.  

Watch this quick, 13-minute video for more details on what a marketing plan is and how to make one yourself:

Typically, a marketing plan includes:

  • An overview of your business’s marketing and advertising goals
  • A description of your business’s current marketing position
  • A timeline of when tasks within your strategy will be completed
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking
  • A description of your business’s target market and customer needs
  • A description of how you will measure the performance of the strategy

For example, this marketing plan template provides a high-level overview of the business and competitors before diving deep into specific goals, KPIs and tactics:

Orange Content Marketing Plan Template

Learning how to write a marketing plan forces you to think through the important steps that lead to an effective marketing strategy . And a well-defined plan will help you stay focused on your high-level marketing goals.

With Venngage’s extensive catalog of marketing plan templates , creating your marketing plan isn’t going to be hard or tedious. In fact, Venngage has plenty of helpful communications and design resources for marketers. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for  Venngage for Marketers   now. It’s free to register and start designing.

Venngage for Marketers Page Header

Whether you’re a team trying to set smarter marketing goals, a consultant trying to set your client in the right direction, or a one-person team hustling it out, Venngage for Marketers helps you get things done.

As mentioned above, the scope of your marketing plan varies depending on its purpose or the type of organization it’s for.

For example, you could look for performance marketing agencies to create a marketing plan that provides an overview of a company’s entire marketing strategy or simply focus on a specific channel like SEO, social media marketing, content marketing and more, like in this example:

content marketing plan template

A typical outline of a marketing plan includes:

  • Executive summary
  • Goals and objectives
  • User personas
  • Competitor analysis/SWOT analysis
  • Baseline metrics
  • Marketing strategy
  • Tracking guidelines

Below you will see in details how to write each section as well as some examples of how you can design each section in a marketing plan.

Let’s look at how to create a successful marketing plan (click to jump ahead):

  • Write a simple executive summary
  • Set metric-driven marketing goals
  • Outline your user personas
  • Research all of your competitors
  • Set accurate key baselines & metrics
  • Create an actionable marketing strategy
  • Set tracking or reporting guidelines

1. Write a simple executive summary

Starting your marketing plan off on the right foot is important. You want to pull people into your amazing plan for marketing domination. Not bore them to tears.

Creative Marketing Plan Executive Summary

One of the best ways to get people excited to read your marketing plan is with a well-written executive summary. An executive summary introduces readers to your company goals, marketing triumphs, future plans, and other important contextual facts.

Standard Business Proposal Executive Summary

Basically, you can use the Executive Summary as a primer for the rest of your marketing plan.

Include things like:

  • Simple marketing goals
  • High-level metrics
  • Important company milestones
  • Facts about your brand
  • Employee anecdotes
  • Future goals & plans

Try to keep your executive summary rather brief and to the point. You aren’t writing a novel, so try to keep it under three to four paragraphs.

Take a look at the executive summary in the marketing plan example below:

Content Marketing Proposal Executive Summary

The executive summary is only two paragraphs long — short but effective.

The executive summary tells readers about the company’s growth, and how they are about to overtake one of their competitors. But there’s no mention of specific metrics or figures. That will be highlighted in the next section of the marketing plan.

An effective executive summary should have enough information to pique the reader’s interest, but not bog them down with specifics yet. That’s what the rest of your marketing plan is for!

The executive summary also sets the tone for your marketing plan. Think about what tone will fit your brand ? Friendly and humorous? Professional and reliable? Inspiring and visionary?

2. Set metric-driven marketing goals

After you perfect your executive summary, it’s time to outline your marketing goals.

(If you’ve never set data-driven goals like this before, it would be worth reading this growth strategy guide ).

This is one of the most important parts of the entire marketing plan, so be sure to take your time and be as clear as possible. Moreover, optimizing your marketing funnel is key. Employing effective funnel software can simplify operations and provide valuable customer insights. It facilitates lead tracking, conversion rate analysis, and efficient marketing optimization .

As a rule of thumb, be as specific as possible. The folks over at  VoyMedia  advise that you should set goals that impact website traffic, conversions, and customer success — and to use real numbers.

Avoid outlining vague goals like:

  • Get more Twitter followers
  • Write more articles
  • Create more YouTube videos (like educational or Explainer videos )
  • Increase retention rate
  • Decrease bounce rate

Instead, identify  key performance metrics  (KPI) you want to impact and the percentage you want to increase them by.

Take a look at the goals page in the marketing plan example below:

Creative Marketing Plan Goals

They not only identify a specific metric in each of their goals, but they also set a timeline for when they will be increased.

The same vague goals listed earlier become much clearer when specific numbers and timelines are applied to them:

  • Get 100 new Twitter followers per month
  • Write 5 more articles per week
  • Create 10 YouTube videos each year
  • Increase retention rate by 15% by 2020
  • Decrease bounce rate by 5% by Q1
  • Create an online course  and get 1,000 new leads
  • Focus more on local SEO strategies
  • Conduct a monthly social media report to track progress

You can dive even deeper into your marketing goals if you want (generally, the more specific, the better). Here’s a marketing plan example that shows how to outline your growth goals:

Growth Goals Roadmap Template for a Marketing Plan

3. Outline your user personas

Now, this may not seem like the most important part of your marketing plan, but I think it holds a ton of value.

Outlining your user personas is an important part of a marketing plan that should not be overlooked.

You should be asking not just how you can get the most visitors to your business, but how you can get the right visitors.

Who are your ideal customers? What are their goals? What are their biggest problems? How does your business solve customer problems?

Answering these questions will take lots of research, but it’s essential information to get.

Some ways to conduct user research are:

  • Interviewing your users (either in person or on the phone)
  • Conducting focus groups
  • Researching other businesses in the same industry
  • Surveying your audience

Then, you will need to compile your user data into a user persona  guide.

Take a look at how detailed this user persona template is below:

Persona Marketing Report Template

Taking the time to identify specific demographic traits, habits and goals will make it easier for you to cater your marketing plan to them.

Here’s how you can create a user persona guide:

The first thing you should add is a profile picture or icon for each user persona. It can help to put a face to your personas, so they seem more real.

Marketing Persona

Next, list demographic information like:

  • Identifiers
  • Activities/Hobbies

The user persona example above uses sliding scales to identify personality traits like introversion vs. extroversion and thinking vs. feeling. Identifying what type of personality your target users tend to have an influence on the messaging you use in your marketing content.

Meanwhile, this user persona guide identifies specific challenges the user faces each day:

Content Marketing Proposal Audience Personas

But if you don’t want to go into such precise detail, you can stick to basic information, like in this marketing plan example:

Social Media Plan Proposal Template Ideal Customers

Most businesses will have a few different types of target users. That’s why it’s pertinent to identify and create several different user personas . That way, you can better segment your marketing campaigns and set separate goals, if necessary.

Here’s a marketing plan example with a segmented user persona guide:

Mobile App Market Report

The important thing is for your team or client to have a clear picture of who their target user is and how they can appeal to their specific problems.

Start creating robust user personas using Venngage’s user persona guide .

4. Conduct an extensive competitor analysis

Next, on the marketing plan checklist, we have the competitor research section. This section will help you identify who your competitors are, what they’re doing, and how you could carve yourself a place alongside them in your niche — and ideally, surpass them. It’s something you can learn to do with rank tracking software .

Competitor research is also incredibly important if you are starting a blog .

Typically, your competitor research should include:

  • Who their marketing team is
  • Who their leadership team is
  • What their marketing strategy and strategic marketing plan are (this will probably revolve some reverse-engineering)
  • What their sales strategy is (same deal)
  • Social Media strategy (are they using discounting strategies such as coupon marketing to get conversions)
  • Their market cap/financials
  • Their yearly growth (you will probably need to use a marketing tool like Ahrefs to do this)
  • The number of customers they have & their user personas

Also, take as deep a dive as you can into the strategies they use across their:

  • Blog/Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO Marketing
  • Video marketing
  • And any other marketing tactics they use

Research their strengths and weaknesses in all parts of their company, and you will find some great opportunities. Bookmark has a great guide to different marketing strategies for small businesses  if you need some more information there.

You can use this simple SWOT analysis worksheet to quickly work through all parts of their strategy as well:

Competitive SWOT Analysis

Click the template above to create a SWOT chart . Customize the template to your liking — no design know-how needed.

Since you have already done all the research beforehand, adding this information to your marketing plan shouldn’t be that hard.

In this marketing plan example, some high-level research is outlined for 3 competing brands:

Content Marketing Proposal Competitive Research

But you could take a deeper dive into different facets of your competitors’ strategies. This marketing plan example analyses a competitor’s content marketing strategy:


It can also be helpful to divide your competitors into Primary and Secondary groups. For example, Apple’s primary competitor may be Dell for computers, but its secondary competitor could be a company that makes tablets.

Your most dangerous competitors may not even be in the same industry as you. Like the CEO of Netflix said, “Sleep is our competition.”

5. Set accurate key baselines & metrics

It’s pretty hard to plan for the future if you don’t know where your business stands right now.

Before we do anything at Venngage, we find the baselines so we can compare future results to something. We do it so much it’s almost like second nature now!

Setting baselines will allow you to more accurately track your progress. You will also be able to better analyze what worked and what didn’t work, so you can build a stronger strategy. It will definitely help them clearly understand your goals and strategy as well.

Here’s a marketing plan example where the baselines are visualized:

Social Media Marketing Proposal Success Metrics

Another way to include baselines in your plan is with a simple chart, like in the marketing plan example below:


Because data can be intimidating to a lot of people, visualizing your data using charts and infographics will help demystify the information.

6. Create an actionable marketing strategy

After pulling all the contextual information and relevant metrics into your marketing plan, it’s time to break down your marketing strategy.

Once again, it’s easier to communicate your information to your team or clients using visuals .

Mind maps are an effective way to show how a strategy with many moving parts ties together. For example, this mind map shows how the four main components of a marketing strategy interact together:

Marketing Plan Mind Map Template

You can also use a flow chart to map out your strategy by objectives:

Action Plan Mind Map

However you choose to visualize your strategy, your team should know exactly what they need to do. This is not the time to keep your cards close to your chest.

Your strategy section may need to take up a few pages to explain, like in the marketing plan example below:


With all of this information, even someone from the development team will understand what the marketing team is working on.

This minimalistic marketing plan example uses color blocks to make the different parts of the strategy easy to scan:


Breaking your strategy down into tasks will make it easier to tackle.

Another important way to visualize your marketing strategy is to create a project roadmap. A project roadmap visualizes the timeline of your product with individual tasks. Our roadmap maker can help you with this.

For example, this project roadmap shows how tasks on both the marketing and web design side run parallel to each other:

Simple Product Roadmap Plan Template

A simple timeline can also be used in your marketing plan:

Strategy Timeline Infographic

Or a mind map, if you want to include a ton of information in a more organized way:

Business Strategy Mindmap Template

Even a simple “Next, Now, Later” chart can help visualize your strategy:

3 Step Product Roadmap Template

7. Set tracking or reporting guidelines

Close your marketing plan with a brief explanation of how you plan to track or measure your results. This will save you a lot of frustration down the line by standardizing how you track results across your team.

Like the other sections of your marketing plan, you can choose how in-depth you want to go. But there need to be some clear guidelines on how to measure the progress and results of your marketing plan.

At the bare minimum, your results tracking guidelines should specify:

  • What you plan to track
  • How you plan to track results
  • How often you plan to measure

But you can more add tracking guidelines to your marketing plan if you see the need to. You may also want to include a template that your team or client can follow,  for  client reporting ,  ensure that the right metrics are being tracked.

Marketing Checklist

The marketing plan example below dedicates a whole page to tracking criteria:

SEO Marketing Proposal Measuring Results

Use a task tracker to track tasks and marketing results, and a checklist maker to note down tasks, important life events, or tracking your daily life.

Similarly, the marketing plan example below talks about tracking content marketing instead:

Social Media Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy

Although often used interchangeably, the terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” do have some differences.

Simply speaking, a marketing strategy presents what the business will do in order to reach a certain goal. A marketing plan outlines the specific daily, weekly, monthly or yearly activities that the marketing strategy calls for. As a business, you can create a marketing proposal for the marketing strategies defined in your company’s marketing plan. There are various marketing proposal examples that you can look at to help with this.

A company’s extended marketing strategy can be like this:

marketing strategy mind map

Notice how it’s more general and doesn’t include the actual activities required to complete each strategy or the timeframe those marketing activities will take place. That kind of information is included in a marketing plan, like this marketing plan template which talks about the content strategy in detail:

Content Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan v.s business plan

While both marketing plans and business plans are crucial documents for businesses, they serve distinct purposes and have different scopes. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of your business, including:

  • Mission and vision
  • Products or services
  • Target market
  • Competition
  • Management team
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing strategy (including a marketing plan)
  • Operations plan

Marketing plan on the other hand, dives deep into the specific strategies and tactics related to your marketing efforts. It expands on the marketing section of a business plan by detailing:

  • Specific marketing goals (e.g., brand awareness, lead generation, sales)
  • Target audience analysis (detailed understanding of their needs and behaviors)
  • Product:  Features, benefits, positioning
  • Price:  Pricing strategy, discounts
  • Place:  Distribution channels (online, offline)
  • Promotion:  Advertising, social media, content marketing, public relations
  • Budget allocation for different marketing activities
  • Metrics and measurement to track progress and success

In short, business plans paint the entire business picture, while marketing plans zoom in on the specific strategies used to reach your target audience and achieve marketing goals.

Types of marketing plans that can transform your business strategy

Let’s take a look at several types of marketing plans you can create, along with specific examples for each.

1. General marketing strategic plan / Annual marketing plan

This is a good example of a marketing plan that covers the overarching annual marketing strategy for a company:

marketing strategy template marketing plan

Another good example would be this Starbucks marketing plan:

Starbucks marketing plan example

This one-page marketing plan example from coffee chain Starbucks has everything at a glance. The bold headers and subheadings make it easier to segment the sections so readers can focus on the area most relevant to them.

What we like about this example is how much it covers. From the ideal buyer persona to actional activities, as well as positioning and metrics, this marketing plan has it all.

Another marketing plan example that caught our eye is this one from Cengage. Although a bit text-heavy and traditional, it explains the various sections well. The clean layout makes this plan easy to read and absorb.

Cengage marketing plan example

The last marketing plan example we would like to feature in this section is this one from Lush cosmetics.

It is a long one but it’s also very detailed. The plan outlines numerous areas, including the company mission, SWOT analysis , brand positioning, packaging, geographical criteria, and much more.

Lush marketing plan

2. Content marketing plan

A content marketing plan highlights different strategies , campaigns or tactics you can use for your content to help your business reach its goals.

This one-page marketing plan example from Contently outlines a content strategy and workflow using simple colors and blocks. The bullet points detail more information but this plan can easily be understood at a glance, which makes it so effective.

contently marketing plan

For a more detailed content marketing plan example, take a look at this template which features an editorial calendar you can share with the whole team:

nonprofit content marketing plan

3. SEO marketing plan

Your SEO marketing plan highlights what you plan to do for your SEO marketing strategy . This could include tactics for website on-page optimization , off-page optimization using AI SEO , and link building using an SEO PowerSuite backlink API for quick backlink profile checks.

This SEO marketing plan example discusses in detail the target audience of the business and the SEO plan laid out in different stages:

SEO marketing plan example

4. Social media marketing plan

Your social media marketing plan presents what you’ll do to reach your marketing goal through social media. This could include tactics specific to each social media channel that you own, recommendations on developing a new channel, specific campaigns you want to run, and so on, like how B2B channels use Linkedin to generate leads with automation tools and expand their customer base; or like making use of Twitter walls that could display live Twitter feeds from Twitter in real-time on digital screens.

For B2C brands, you can target Facebook and Instagram. Gain Instagram likes to build trust for your brand’s profile and post engaging content on both platforms

Edit this social media marketing plan example easily with Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor:

social media marketing plan example

5. Demand generation marketing plan

This could cover your paid marketing strategy (which can include search ads, paid social media ads, traditional advertisements, etc.), email marketing strategy and more. Here’s an example:

promotional marketing plan

1. Free marketing plan template

Here’s a free nonprofit marketing plan example that is ideal for organizations with a comprehensive vision to share. It’s a simple plan that is incredibly effective. Not only does the plan outline the core values of the company, it also shares the ideal buyer persona.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Note how the branding is consistent throughout this example so there is no doubt which company is presenting this plan. The content plan is an added incentive for anyone viewing the document to go ahead and give the team the green light.

2. Pastel social media marketing campaign template

Two-page marketing plan samples aren’t very common, but this free template proves how effective they are. There’s a dedicated section for business goals as well as for project planning .

Pastel Social Media Marketing Plan Template

The milestones for the marketing campaign are clearly laid out, which is a great way to show how organized this business strategy is.

3. Small business marketing strategy template

This marketing plan template is perfect for small businesses who set out to develop an overarching marketing strategy for the whole year:

Notice how this aligns pretty well with the marketing plan outline we discussed in previous sections.

In terms of specific tactics for the company’s marketing strategy, the template only discusses SEO strategy, but you can certainly expand on that section to discuss any other strategies — such as link building , that you would like to build out a complete marketing plan for.

4. Orange simple marketing proposal template

Marketing plans, like the sample below, are a great way to highlight what your business strategy and the proposal you wan to put forward to win potential customers.

Orange Simple Marketing Proposal Template

5. One-page marketing fact sheet template

This one-page marketing plan example is great for showcasing marketing efforts in a persuasive presentation or to print out for an in-person meeting.

Nonprofit Healthcare Company Fact Sheet Template

Note how the fact sheet breaks down the marketing budget as well as the key metrics for the organization. You can win over clients and partners with a plan like this.

6. Light company business fact sheet template

This one-page sample marketing plan clearly outlines the marketing objectives for the organization. It’s a simple but effective way to share a large amount of information in a short amount of time.

Light Company Business Fact Sheet Template

What really works with this example is that includes a mission statement, key contact information alongside all the key metrics.

7. Marketing media press kit template

This press kit marketing plan template is bright and unmistakable as belonging to the Cloud Nine marketing agency . The way the brand colors are used also helps diversify the layouts for each page, making the plan easier to read.

Marketing Media Press Kit Template

We like the way the marketing department has outlined the important facts about the organization. The bold and large numbers draw the eye and look impressive.

8. Professional marketing proposal template

Start your marketing campaign on a promising note with this marketing plan template. It’s short, sharp and to the point. The table of contents sets out the agenda, and there’s a page for the company overview and mission statement.

Professional Marketing Proposal Template

9. Social media marketing proposal template

A complete marketing plan example, like the one below, not only breaks down the business goals to be achieved but a whole lot more. Note how the terms and conditions and payment schedule are included, which makes this one of the most comprehensive marketing plans on our list.

Checkered Social Media Marketing Proposal Template

What should marketing plans include?

Marketing plans should include:

  • A detailed analysis of the target market and customer segments.
  • Clear and achievable marketing objectives and goals.
  • Strategies and tactics for product promotion and distribution.
  • Budget allocation for various marketing activities.
  • Timelines and milestones for the implementation of marketing strategies.
  • Evaluation metrics and methods for tracking the success of the marketing plan.

What is an executive summary in a marketing plan and what is its main goal?

An executive summary in a marketing plan is a brief overview of the entire document, summarizing the key points, goals, and strategies. Its main goal is to provide readers with a quick understanding of the plan’s purpose and to entice them to read further.

What are the results when a marketing plan is effective?

When a marketing plan is effective, businesses can experience increased brand visibility, higher customer engagement, improved sales and revenue, and strengthened customer loyalty.

What is the first section of a marketing plan?

The first section of a marketing plan is typically the “Executive Summary,” which provides a concise overview of the entire plan, including the business’s goals and the strategies to achieve them.

Now that you have the basics for designing your own marketing plan, it’s time to get started:

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How to structure an effective marketing plan in 15 sections

Author's avatar

Using the RACE OSA process to structure a marketing plan

A marketing plan is an essential tool to compete and grow your business since it gives focus to your marketing activities by setting realistic, achievable priorities within your budget.

It simply defines what you want to gain from your investment in marketing and how you will achieve these goals through selecting the best marketing strategies and channels to acquire and retain customers.

A typical definition of a marketing plan used by traditional marketers is:

" A marketing plan is a strategic document that specifies your organization’s target markets, marketing objectives, programs, and activities to achieve them, expected timescales, resources to be utilized, according to defined budgets, and how success will be measured ".

This is logical and simple and that's what we need to achieve through the structure of an effective marketing plan. However, for today's marketing where digital marketing channels are so important we need a marketing plan and template structure that are fit for purpose. That's why we developed the RACE Growth System since it details the communications activities that need to be used for success.

In this post, I will explain RACE OSA, a practical three-part marketing plan structure particularly suitable for small and medium businesses to rapidly develop comprehensive marketing plans. OSA stands for:

Opportunity > Structure > Action. 

For each of these 3 parts, I will summarize what you need to include and why. There are 5 steps in each part giving 15 sections in all. This is simple enough to make it quick and easy, but detailed enough to work in the real world.

You can download our Free marketing plan template based on this 15-step OSA structure!

Free marketing plan template

Free marketing plan template

Our popular marketing planning template is structured across the Smart Insights RACE OSA Framework. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member to download our marketing plan template today

Access the Free marketing plan template

Many marketing plan templates were created long ago for larger businesses and aren’t so relevant to small and startup businesses competing in today’s marketplace where effective digital marketing is essential. Long plans with sections labelled ‘mission and vision statement’ and ‘corporate strategies’ are irrelevant for smaller businesses.

Our recommended format is far more practical since it relates to the real-world challenges and opportunities of a smaller business. The template shares the key features of our RACE Growth system since it is designed to be:

  • Quick to create and implement an actionable plan with simple steps
  • Data-driven, defining SMART objectives based on forecasts
  • Practical to implement using a 90-day planning approach to give you focus
  • Designed for smaller businesses, but relevant for larger businesses too

But first, we need to remind ourselves of the goals for our marketing plan and how it fits within the business as a whole. We will also introduce the Smart Insights RACE Growth System.

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to define strategies to engage audiences in order to achieve business objectives.

The goal of a marketing plan is to ensure marketing activities are structured, relevant, and timely to achieve an organization’s objectives.

It’s a plan defining your company's sustainable competitive position, structuring and setting marketing goals, and defining the resources necessary to achieve your business vision.

A marketing plan should include:

  • The current performance , priorities , and direction of your organization
  • Its marketplace position in relation to external environmental factors including competitors and PESTLE macro-factors
  • A critical analysis of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We recommend using the powerful TOWs marketing plan analysis summary .
  • Clearly defined SMART marketing objectives and a way to benchmark their success
  • The means by which to achieve those objectives through strategies for STP: Segmentation, Targeting and Brand Positioning
  • Relevant and timely actions and responsibilities by function, product or service, and market segment
  • Investment in communications activities to reach your audience and convince them to convert including, all important always-on marketing activities .
  • Investment in sales and customer service activities to encourage them to buy for the first time and repeat purchases.
  • The finances and resources required and forecasted revenues
  • Regular measurement of progress and outcomes against benchmarks

So, to summarize, a solid marketing plan outline has:

  • Clear, realistic goals that you can be confident of hitting
  • The best strategy  to achieve these goals against your competition
  • Sufficient details of the tactics and actions  needed to translate the strategy into action
  • A method to check  you are on track with your plans

The business context of a marketing plan

Where does the marketing plan fit within the business? Here’s another way of understanding the context of a marketing plan, to put it into context with other types of plans, as shown in this table:

understanding different marketing plans

When to use a marketing plan?

The process of marketing planning within an organization will differ, depending on whether a strategic marketing plan or an operational marketing plan is utilized. Here are the differences between the two:

  • A  strategic marketing plan outlines the overall strategy within a market, connecting customers, competitors, and what the organization is capable of achieving.  It is typically created at divisional or company level.
  • An  operational marketing plan outlines the marketing mix strategy that will be used to gain an advantage in the market.  It typically focuses on products; market segments and how marketing communications and campaigns achieve targets defined in the strategic marketing plan. It usually has separate sections covering tactics for customer acquisition and retention which will sometimes be covered in separate plans in larger organizations.

In an organization’s planning process, marketing links:

  • Customers’ needs and wants
  • Competitor value proposition and actions
  • Strategic direction
  • Organizational objectives

What should your plan include? Our recommended marketing plan structure

Before we get into the details, let's look at the big picture which defines the process you will follow to develop and implement your marketing plan.

3-step marketing plan outline

Within the RACE system, we call this process OSA to keep it simple - marketing plans don't have to be complex.  OSA stands for Opportunity, Strategy, Action. The visual outline shows some of the activities that are needed to plan for success under each stage of OSA.

OSA explainer 2023

Within OSA for a marketing plan format, these are the sections we recommend that are included in our template with more details on each.


  • Audit performance
  • Review marketplace
  • Key issues summary
  • Set objectives
  • Review marketing and digital strategy options
  • Assess budget / business case
  • Prioritize and select strategic initiatives
  • Plan 90-day activities
  • Implement plans
  • Review results

Use our free planning templates to get started with using RACE to grow your business. These will help you create a 90-day prioritized plan to improve your results from digital marketing. We recommend 25+ key marketing activities across RACE that are essential for businesses to compete by improving their digital marketing maturity.

Marketing actions deliverables

Which types of businesses use marketing plans?

Marketing planning will assist in the day-to-day running of any size, type or age of business. The targets and milestones set will help organizations, from small start-ups to large corporates, to effectively:

  • Allocate resources and budget
  • Motivate teams
  • Manage the performance of staff members and marketing efforts

Marketing plans for small businesses

In smaller businesses, the scope of a plan is typically annual and for the whole business. Typically, SMEs are working with smaller budgets and tighter turnaround times.

A marketing plan for a small business typically looks to identify where to prioritize the investment of time and available budget to generate results.

Smaller organizations typically have:

  • Small market shares
  • Owners involved in all aspects of strategic and operational management
  • Independence
  • A high degree of uncertainty
  • Difficulty innovating owing to limited resources

Such differences between large and smaller organizations tend to be reflected in the development of marketing plans.

When establishing a small start-up, marketing planning is an essential element.  A small number of these businesses launch and grow, but for those that are successful, a strategic marketing approach will ensure continued development.

Marketing plans for large organizations

In large organizations, its focus will change, depending on the type of organization.  A separate marketing plan might be:

  • Geographically-based
  • Product-based
  • Business unit based
  • Focused on segmentation

A marketing plan in a large organization may integrate a number of plans, specific to individual parts of the business. It is practical planning that takes place at a divisional, business unit, or individual company level.

Larger organizations with clearly defined management structures and a wealth of resources will make use of marketing principles very differently from smaller organizations.

Structure an effective marketing plan with RACE

Did you know - nearly half of companies don't have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy ? These companies are missing opportunities for better integration and risk losing customers due to out-of-date processes.

Savvy marketers and Smart Insights members already recognize that a practical, integrated marketing plan is essential for business growth in 2024 and beyond.

If you're looking for a quick marketing plan structure to hone your performance and strategize your approach to marketing, why not download our free marketing plan template ?

How to format your marketing funnel

Although the techniques for marketing planning may vary between different sizes and types of organizations, the outcome is always the same: to implement the objectives, strategies, and activities in order to gain an advantage.

That's why our RACE Framework is structured across a simple 5-step marketing and sales funnel which can be applied to every size of business from startups to multinational corporations:

Race Planning Framework

How does a marketing plan relate to other plans?

The plan should not be formulated or used in isolation; it should be informed by the corporate objectives identified in your organization’s business plan .

Integrated with a marketing plan may also be a digital plan, multi-channel plan and campaign plan, for example.  The marketing plan informs these plans and vice-versa.

An effective marketing plan will ensure the integration of activities, the scheduling of requirements, distinguishing responsibilities and the provision of benchmarks for measuring success.

Different organizations will utilize differing plans, covering different areas and timeframes. What is crucial in a business is that the plans being utilized, the timeframes allocated, and how they integrate with each other are collectively established.

Structure your marketing plan around a funnel proven to boost performance. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member for instant access to our Free marketing plan template to hone your skills and drive the results you need.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here . Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice . In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary . Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question .

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How to create a winning marketing plan, with 3 examples from world-class teams

Caeleigh MacNeil contributor headshot

A marketing plan helps leaders clearly visualize marketing strategies across channels, so they can ensure every campaign drives pipeline and revenue. In this article you’ll learn eight steps to create a winning marketing plan that brings business-critical goals to life, with examples from word-class teams.

quotation mark

To be successful as a marketer, you have to deliver the pipeline and the revenue.”

In other words—they need a well-crafted marketing plan.

Level up your marketing plan to drive revenue in 2024

Learn how to create the right marketing plan to hit your revenue targets in 2024. Hear best practices from marketing experts, including how to confidently set and hit business goals, socialize marketing plans, and move faster with clearer resourcing.

level up your marketing plan to drive revenue in 2024

7 steps to build a comprehensive marketing plan

How do you build the right marketing plan to hit your revenue goals? Follow these eight steps for success:

1. Define your plan

First you need to define each specific component of your plan to ensure stakeholders are aligned on goals, deliverables, resources, and more. Ironing out these details early on ensures your plan supports the right business objectives, and that you have sufficient resources and time to get the job done. 

Get started by asking yourself the following questions: 

What resources do I need? 

What is the vision?

What is the value?

What is the goal?

Who is my audience?

What are my channels?

What is the timeline?

For example, imagine you’re creating an annual marketing plan to improve customer adoption and retention in the next fiscal year. Here’s how you could go through the questions above to ensure you’re ready to move forward with your plan: 

I will need support from the content team, web team, and email team to create targeted content for existing customers. One person on each team will need to be dedicated full-time to this initiative. To achieve this, the marketing team will need an additional $100K in budget and one new headcount. 

What is the vision?  

To create a positive experience for existing customers, address new customer needs, and encourage them to upgrade. We’ll do this by serving them how-to content, new feature updates, information about deals and pricing, and troubleshooting guides. 

According to the Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) , CEOs and go-to-market leaders report that more than 60% of their net-new revenue will come from existing customers in 2023. By retaining and building on the customers we have, we can maintain revenue growth over time. 

To decrease the customer churn rate from 30% to 10%, and increase upgrades from 20% to 30% in the next fiscal year. 

All existing customers. 

The main channel will be email. Supporting marketing channels include the website, blog, YouTube, and social media. 

The first half of the next fiscal year. 

One of the most important things to do as you create your marketing strategy is to identify your target audience . As with all marketing, you need to know who you’re marketing to. If you’re having a hard time determining who exactly your target audience is, try the bullseye targeting framework . The bullseye makes it easy for you to determine who your target audience is by industry, geography, company size, psychographics, demographics, and more.

2. Identify key metrics for success 

Now it’s time to define what key marketing metrics you’ll use to measure success. Your key metrics will help you measure and track the performance of your marketing activities. They’ll also help you understand how your efforts tie back to larger business goals. 

Once you establish key metrics, use a goal-setting framework—like objectives and key results (OKRs) or SMART goals —to fully flush out your marketing objectives. This ensures your targets are as specific as possible, with no ambiguity about what should be accomplished by when. 

Example: If a goal of your marketing plan is to increase email subscriptions and you follow the SMART goal framework (ensuring your objective is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) your goal might look like this: Increase email subscription rate from 10% to 20% in H1 . 

3. Research your competition 

It’s easy to get caught up in your company’s world, but there’s a lot of value in understanding your competitors . Knowing how they market themselves will help you find opportunities to make your company stand out and capture more market share.

Make sure you’re not duplicating your competitors’ efforts. If you discover a competitor has already executed your idea, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm new ways to differentiate yourself.  By looking at your competitors, you might be surprised at the type of inspiration and opportunities you’ll find.

To stay ahead of market trends, conduct a SWOT analysis for your marketing plan. A SWOT analysis helps you improve your plan by identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

Example: If your competitor launches a social media campaign identical to what you had planned, go back to the drawing board and see how you can build off their campaign. Ask yourself: How can we differentiate our campaign while still getting our message across? What are the weaknesses of their campaign that we can capitalize on? What angles did they not approach?

4. Integrate your marketing efforts

Here’s where the fun comes in. Let’s dive into the different components that go into building a successful marketing plan. You’ll want to make sure your marketing plan includes multiple supporting activities that all add up into a powerful marketing machine. Some marketing plan components include: 

Lead generation

Social media

Product marketing

Public relations

Analyst relations

Customer marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Conversational marketing

Knowing where your consumer base spends the most time is significant for nailing this step. You need to have a solid understanding of your target audience before integrating your marketing efforts. 

Example: If your target audience is executives that spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, focus your social media strategy around placing branded content on LinkedIn. 

5. Differentiate with creative content

Forty-nine percent of marketers say visual images are hugely important to their content strategy. In other words, a clear brand and creative strategy is an essential component to every marketing plan. As you craft your own creative strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind: 

Speak to your audience: When defining your creative strategy, think about your audience—what you want them to feel, think, and do when they see your marketing. Will your audience find your creative work relevant? If your audience can’t relate to your creative work, they won’t feel connected to the story you’re trying to tell. 

Think outside the box: Find innovative ways to engage your audience, whether through video, animations, or interactive graphics. Know what screens your creative work will live on, whether desktop, mobile, or tablet, and make sure they display beautifully and load quickly across every type of device. 

Tie everything back to CTAs: It’s easy to get caught up in the creative process, so it’s important to never lose sight of your ultimate goal: Get your audience to take action. Always find the best way to display strong Calls to Action (CTAs) in your creative work. We live in a visual world—make sure your creative content counts.

Streamline creative production:   Once you’ve established a strong creative strategy, the next step is to bring your strategy to life in the production stage. It’s vital to set up a strong framework for your creative production process to eliminate any unnecessary back and forth and potential bottlenecks. Consider establishing creative request forms , streamlining feedback and approval processes, and taking advantage of integrations that might make your designers’ lives easier.

Example: If your brand is fun and approachable, make sure that shows in your creative efforts. Create designs and CTAs that spark joy, offer entertainment, and alleviate the pressure in choosing a partner.

6. Operationalize your marketing plan

Turn your plan into action by making goals, deliverables, and timelines clear for every stakeholder—so teams stay accountable for getting work done. The best way to do this is by centralizing all the details of your marketing plan in one platform , so teams can access the information they need and connect campaign work back to company goals.  

With the right work management tool , you can: 

Set goals for every marketing activity, and connect campaign work to overarching marketing and business objectives so teams focus on revenue-driving projects. 

Centralize deliverables for your entire marketing plan in one project or portfolio .

Mark major milestones and visualize your plan as a timeline, Gantt chart, calendar, list, or Kanban board—without doing any extra work. 

Quickly loop in stakeholders with status updates so they’re always up to date on progress. This is extremely important if you have a global team to ensure efforts aren’t being duplicated. 

Use automations to seamlessly hand off work between teams, streamlining processes like content creation and reviews. 

Create dashboards to report on work and make sure projects are properly staffed , so campaigns stay on track. 

With everything housed in one spot, you can easily visualize the status of your entire marketing plan and keep work on track. Building an effective marketing plan is one thing, but how you operationalize it can be your secret to standout marketing.

Example: If your strategy focuses on increasing page views, connect all campaign work to an overarching OKR—like “we will double page views as measured by the amount of organic traffic on our blog.” By making that goal visible to all stakeholders, you help teams prioritize the right work. 

See marketing planning in action

With Asana, marketing teams can connect work, standardize processes, and automate workflows—all in one place.

See marketing planning in action

7. Measure performance

Nearly three in four CMOs use revenue growth to measure success, so it’s no surprise that measuring performance is necessary. You established your key metrics in step two, and now it’s time to track and report on them in step eight.

Periodically measure your marketing efforts to find areas of improvement so you can optimize in real-time. There are always lessons to be learned when looking at data. You can discover trends, detect which marketing initiatives performed well, and course-correct what isn’t performing well. And when your plan is complete, you can apply these learnings to your next initiative for improved results. 

Example: Say you discover that long-form content is consistently bringing in 400% more page views than short-form content. As a result, you’ll want to focus on producing more long-form content in your next marketing plan.

Marketing plan examples from world-class teams

The best brands in the world bring their marketing plans to life every day. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these examples from successful marketing teams.

Autodesk grows site traffic 30% three years in a row

When the Autodesk team launched Redshift, it was initially a small business blog. The editorial team executed a successful marketing plan to expand it into a premier owned-media site, making it a destination for stories and videos about the future of making. 

The team scaled content production to support seven additional languages. By standardizing their content production workflow and centralizing all content conversations in one place, the editorial team now publishes 2X more content monthly. Read the case study to learn more about how Autodesk runs a well-oiled content machine. Trinny London perfects new customer acquisition 

In consumer industries, social media is crucial for building a community of people who feel an affinity with the brand—and Trinny London is no exception. As such, it was imperative that Trinny London’s ad spend was targeted to the correct audience. Using a work management tool, Trinny London was able to nail the process of creating, testing, and implementing ads on multiple social channels.

With the help of a centralized tool, Trinny London improved its ad spend and drove more likes and subscriptions on its YouTube page. Read the case study to learn more about how Trinny London capitalized on paid advertising and social media. 

Turn your marketing plan into marketing success 

A great marketing plan promotes clarity and accountability across teams—so every stakeholder knows what they’re responsible for, by when. Reading this article is the first step to achieving better team alignment, so you can ensure every marketing campaign contributes to your company’s bottom line. 

Use a free marketing plan template to get started

Once you’ve created your marketing strategy and are ready to operationalize your marketing plan, get started with one of our marketing templates . 

Our marketing templates can help you manage and track every aspect of your marketing plan, from creative requests to approval workflows. Centralize your entire marketing plan in one place, customize the roadmap, assign tasks, and build a timeline or calendar. 

Once you’ve operationalized your entire marketing plan with one of our templates, share it with your stakeholders so everyone can work together in the same tool. Your entire team will feel connected to the marketing plan, know what to prioritize, and see how their work contributes to your project objectives . Choose the best marketing template for your team:

Marketing project plan template

Marketing campaign plan template

Product marketing launch template

Editorial calendar template

Agency collaboration template

Creative requests template

Event planning template

GTM strategy template

Still have questions? We have answers. 

What is a marketing plan.

A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines the different strategies your team will use to achieve organizational objectives. Rather than focusing solely on the end goal, a marketing plan maps every step you need to reach your destination—whether that’s driving pipeline for sales, nurturing your existing customer base, or something in-between. 

As a marketing leader, you know there’s never a shortage of great campaign and project ideas. A marketing plan gives you a framework to effectively prioritize work that aligns to overarching business goals—and then get that work done. Some elements of marketing plans include:

Current business plan

Mission statement  

Business goals

Target customers  

Competitive analysis 

Current marketing mix

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Marketing budget  

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to grow your company’s consumer base and strengthen your brand, while aligning with your organization’s mission and vision . The plan should analyze the competitive landscape and industry trends, offer actionable insights to help you gain a competitive advantage, and document each step of your strategy—so you can see how your campaigns work together to drive overarching business goals. 

What is the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy? 

A marketing plan contains many marketing strategies across different channels. In that way, marketing strategies contribute to your overall marketing plan, working together to reach your company’s overarching business goals.

For example, imagine you’re about to launch a new software product and the goal of your marketing plan is to drive downloads. Your marketing plan could include marketing strategies like creating top-of-funnel blog content and launching a social media campaign. 

What are different types of marketing plans? 

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, what your timeline is, or which facet of marketing you’re driving, you’ll need to create a different type of marketing plan. Some different types of marketing plans include, but aren’t limited to:

General marketing plan: A general marketing plan is typically an annual or quarterly marketing plan that details the overarching marketing strategies for the period. This type of marketing plan outlines marketing goals, the company’s mission, buyer personas, unique selling propositions, and more. A general marketing plan lays the foundation for other, more specific marketing plans that an organization may employ. 

Product launch marketing plan: A product launch marketing plan is a step-by-step plan for marketing a new product or expanding into a new market. It helps you build awareness and interest by targeting the right audience, with the right messaging, in the right timeframe—so potential customers are ready to buy your new offering right away. Nailing your product launch marketing plan can reinforce your overall brand and fast-track sales. For a step-by-step framework to organize all the moving pieces of a launch, check out our product marketing launch template .

Paid marketing plan: This plan includes all the paid strategies in your marketing plan, like pay-per-click, paid social media advertising, native advertising, and display advertising. It’s especially important to do audience research prior to launching your paid marketing plan to ensure you’re maximizing ROI. Consult with content strategists to ensure your ads align with your buyer personas so you know you’re showing ads to the right people. 

Content marketing plan: A content marketing plan outlines the different content strategies and campaigns you’ll use to promote your product or service. When putting together a content marketing plan, start by identifying your audience. Then use market research tools to get the best insights into what topics your target audience is most interested in.

SEO marketing plan: Your SEO marketing plan should work directly alongside your content marketing plan as you chart content that’s designed to rank in search results. While your content marketing plan should include all types of content, your SEO marketing plan will cover the top-of-funnel content that drives new users to your site. Planning search engine-friendly content is only one step in your SEO marketing plan. You’ll also need to include link-building and technical aspects in order to ensure your site and content are as optimized as possible.

Social media marketing plan: This plan will highlight the marketing strategies you plan to accomplish on social media. Like in any general or digital marketing plan , your social media strategy should identify your ideal customer base and determine how they engage on different social media platforms. From there, you can cater your social media content to your target audience.  

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A guide to crafting a compelling marketing plan (with template)

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

A good marketing plan can work wonders for an organization, but it’s no easy feat to create. As a product manager who works with many talented product marketing managers, a good marketing plan aligns the organization and keeps everyone moving in the same direction.

A Guide To Crafting A Compelling Marketing Plan (With Template)

In this post, we’ll cover how to create a compelling marketing plan (while adding some product manager’s spice to the recipe). The research and discovery behind the writing of this blog included a survey to product marketing experts that I work with. Their feedback and advice is sprinkled throughout the article and helped it more pragmatic and action-driven. As you read, you’ll find some very specific hints and tips from these PMMs who are active in B2B SaaS.

Let’s get started.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a structured guide for a company’s marketing activities across a specific period. It includes market analysis, target demographics, competitive landscape, and a SWOT analysis . The plan outlines clear objectives and strategies across product, pricing, distribution, and promotion, and details action plans, timelines, and key performance indicators for effective implementation and tracking.

Important considerations in a marketing plan

Some of the feedback from the PMMs I surveyed highlight some interesting takeaways about what a good marketing plan needs. Common responses included:

  • Clear timeline and deliverables leading to action from the marketing plan
  • A breakdown of deliverables per channel and owner that, again, focus on execution
  • Focus and clarify the target audience to assist with the right set of actions and channels
  • An understanding that a marketing plan needs a clear value proposition and an omnichannel approach . Many people misinterpret a go-to-market plan or a product release plan as a marketing plan. The reality is that a marketing plan is something bigger

Benefits of a marketing plan

There’s no debate that a marketing plan requires a lot of work to craft. There is a lot of research and data to get from various teams to build a compelling plan. The creation is half of the effort, and the actual execution and evaluation require more commitment. According to the survey we conducted specifically for this post, all this effort pays off!

Acts as a compass to measure outcomes

Taking into account the craft work needed and the final plan, measuring and following through on the goals of the marketing plan can drive big value to the company. According to one of the survey answers, a well-crafted marketing plan can fully complement a self-served product funneling the right audience into the product.

Acts as an alignment tool for teams in the company

Considering a cohesive story and the role of product managers in the proper execution of a marketing plan, we are talking about collaboration and coordination of actions. These habits built during the execution and evaluation of the marketing plan can have a lasting effect on the whole company as they are inherited in the day-to-day team collaboration.

What are the steps of a marketing plan?

We can now cut to the chase of this post. The components of a good marketing plan include:

  • Executive summary
  • Business overview
  • Product overview
  • Marketing analysis
  • Key value proposition
  • Marketing plan goals
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Action plan
  • Method of analyzing results

Let’s go over them all in detail below.

1. Executive summary

This holds the outline of the marketing plan and a short introduction of what follows. Use this section to share generic information about the business and the specifics of the marketing plan. The executive summary acts as the introduction to the marketing plan.

2. Business overview

This section outlines the company’s business and industry, mission, vision, and any specific marketing branding and styling guidelines to follow. It should act as a compass that the whole marketing plan needs to always keep in mind.

3. Product overview

The product overview is there to provide more clarity, direction, and reminders about the backbone of the marketing plan. With a product overview, all teams acting on the marketing plan have a clear view of what they are actually talking about.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

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how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Product walkthrough

This is a sub-section of the product overview to share the specifics of how the product covered in the marketing plan works. Showcase actual screenshots and flows of the product that relate to the marketing plan. It can offer additional clarity to all involved teams working on the marketing plan.

4. Marketing analysis

The purpose of the marketing analysis section is to define the target audience, go through any market segmentation, and add a SWOT and competitive analysis to the report. In general, all the data from this section will define the marketing direction of the whole marketing plan.

5. Key value proposition

A key value proposition is the approach that your marketing plan will take and ultimately set you apart from the competition. It is important to be bold and specific in your description of the key value proposition. Add information about the marketing strategic direction and the basic story supporting it, and relate the products to the strategy and story of your marketing plan.

6. Marketing plan goals

This portion of the marketing plan follows the shared product overview and key value proposition sections. It highlights the specific goals you hope to achieve with the marketing plan. Make sure to specify both the metrics and timeframe of success for a goal.

7. Key performance indicators (KPIs)

KPIs exist to establish more fine-grained metrics around achieving the marketing plan goals. These metrics are indicators of moving toward the marketing goals and help in the team’s implementation in building the proper action items.

8. Action plan

This is the heart of the marketing plan. Starting from the available budget and key milestones will lead you to the following important subsections within the action plan:

  • Marketing strategies and tactics — Describes each specific marketing action and tactics that the marketing team will implement
  • Sales strategies and tactics — Describes actions and tactics involving the sales team
  • The action plan timeline — Brings all the actions together into an implementation roadmap highlighting dependencies between actions and placing any milestones in the calendar

9. Method of analyzing results

This is where you will measure the impact of your work. In this section, define the tools and events to measure the KPIs and share evaluation standards for each of the metrics.

KPI check-ins are an important part of this section to keep all your KPIs progressing as the marketing plan is put in motion. With this section, all stakeholders should have a clear view of how your defined metrics are evolving along the implementation.

These are the sections of an effective marketing plan. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to adjust the above sections for your specific use case and needs. There is a chance one or more sections don’t apply to your case and you might need to remove it, but be mindful before you start making cuts to fit your needs. Your marketing plan should tell a consistent story.

Marketing plan template

Based on the steps above, we created a marketing plan template in Google Docs for you to use as your base. In this template, we included more guidelines and descriptions to assist you in writing a compelling marketing plan.

To download the template, go to File > Make a copy :

Marketing Plan Template Example

The importance of telling a story in your marketing plan

The structure detailed above supports a cohesive story. This is very important, as:

  • It makes the marketing plan document easy to read and follow
  • It makes the key points stand out to the reader
  • It leads to a clear conclusion relating to the outcome of all the work needed for the marketing plan

The marketing plan components start from the generic story and steadily dive deeper into the specifics needed for the actual implementation. At the end, you’ll do an evaluation of the actions.

The story structure is something you should strive for when building your action plan. Start from the generic storyline for your target audience and move down into the specifics as your marketing plan unfolds over time.

Tips for tailoring your marketing plan

To properly position your marketing plan on your current needs you need to pay attention to the following aspects.

Provide context to the team reading and executing the marketing plan

Context and information details are vital in defining the differences of a marketing plan approach. Talking about a specific product or line of products means that you should include information about these products in your marketing plan. That information will help build a cohesive and structured story.

Continuously stay close to your audience

Stay close to your audience either through interviews or following their social presence. This part of the marketing analysis will help you define the proper tone, voice, and approach for your marketing plan actions. Pay close attention to how people talk about the product and its landscape. What is the exact language they use? And how are they reacting to the marketing efforts you’ve been doing thus far?

Clearly describe the value proposition

A value proposition differentiates you from the competition. In the marketing plan, share reasoning and ideally, one or two examples of how this value proposition relates to your specific products and audience.

How to create a marketing plan: Advice from experts

As I’ve mentioned, I talked to a number of product marketing professionals and gathered their biggest tips for creating a marketing plan. Here’s what they said:

  • Start by understanding the ideal role your marketing team needs to have in your company — Implementing a marketing plan spans many months. It’s a nice journey for the whole company to re-calibrate around what the marketing team’s position is. Having a long-term plan means that teams collaborate and create new habits to follow
  • Don’t overthink it. If things are not perfect, you can just improve them later on — Have several iterations of the same content and see what works better. In general, lean towards action and re-adjustments
  • Have a compelling story and something that connects emotionally with your target audience — Cultivate empathy and connection to your audience. As shared many times already, a cohesive story that spans from your target audience all the way to how your action plan unfolds strengthens the whole effort
  • Keep it practical and actionable — The marketing plan should drive action and not stand as a theoretical essay
  • Stay close to measuring the success at each step — As a direct follow-up of the above insight, your measurements will drive further action in the right direction. Crafting of a marketing plan does not stop when it’s put on paper. Keep updating with your findings
  • Add all the content needed to aid in a proper execution — Make sure that your marketing plan includes all the components and descriptions that all of the executing teams can use to act more effectively

Conclusion and key takeaways

In this post, we touched upon many aspects of crafting a compelling marketing plan. We shared some insights from product marketing experts in the field and shared some tips to further assist you in creating a compelling marketing plan.

Crafting a compelling marketing plan has a lot of moving parts and needs a big effort. Still, making the decision to create the marketing plan and act on it is a very deliberate decision that requires commitment for the execution too.

Based on the scale of the marketing plan and the feedback from product marketers, the implementation of a properly crafted marketing plan can have a big impact on the company and products involved, so it’s an effort worth investing in.

I want to close this article with the following. In the survey question, “IRL: Is it worth the investment to build a marketing plan?” one of the answers was “Big yes!” 🙂

Featured image source: IconScout

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How to Write a Marketing Plan

By Joe Weller | March 28, 2024

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A  marketing plan is a guide for achieving marketing initiatives on a set timeline. It includes analysis of a company's target audience, competitors, and market sector. Teams can build an organized strategy with that information to reach their goals.  

Inside this article you’ll find a detailed, step-by-step guide to writing a marketing plan, with a free, downloadable  marketing starter kit for beginners .

A  marketing plan includes analysis of the target audience, the competitors, and the market so that teams can determine the best strategy for achieving their goals. The plan’s length and detail depend on the company's size and the scope of the marketing project. A marketing plan is useful for all types of marketing, including digital, social media, new product, small business, B2C, and B2B. Follow the steps below to write a comprehensive marketing plan. 

1. Prepare for Success 

Before you begin writing your marketing plan, set yourself up for success by conducting thorough market research and assembling a team with diverse skills in marketing strategy, content creation, digital marketing, and data analysis. Be sure to consult all your team members as you progress through these steps. It might also be helpful to assign leaders to complete different sections of the plan, depending on their areas of expertise. For example, you might assign the market analysis section to a team member with strong analytical skills and experience in data analysis.  

2. Use a Marketing Plan Template

Download a free  marketing plan template  to ensure consistency and thoroughness in your final marketing plan.

For more template options, see this collection of  free marketing plan templates and examples.

3. Identify Your Target Customers

To identify target customers for your marketing plan, collect information about their location, demographics (such as age, gender, and income), interests, values, and purchasing behaviors. This knowledge enables you to focus your marketing goals and tactics to meet their specific needs and preferences.

A  customer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer that provides valuable insights for strategic decision-making. Use one of these  customer persona templates  to craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer.   

4. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is an important part of any marketing plan, because it helps identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to the market environment. To start, divide a page into four quadrants and label each as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, brainstorm with your team to fill in each section. Be as honest and specific as possible, considering factors such as market trends, competition, and your own resources and capabilities. This information will allow the team to capitalize on strengths, prepare for challenges, and make sound strategic decisions throughout the marketing plan. 

See this collection of  marketing plan SWOT analysis templates  for additional guidance.   

5. Conduct a Market Analysis 

A  market analysis is an assessment of a market's size, growth, trends, customer segments, and competitor dynamics. Include it in your marketing plan to provide critical insights for strategic decision-making, helping to tailor products to customer needs, differentiate from competitors, and identify new opportunities. 

To conduct a market analysis for your marketing plan, determine each of the following factors:    

  • Market Size: This is the total potential sales that a particular product or service can achieve within a defined market. Determine the market size by estimating the number of potential buyers for a particular service and multiplying that by the estimated number of purchases over a specific timeframe. (Number of Target Customers) x (Number of Purchases in a Given Time) = Market Size Imagine your company sells wireless headphones, and you estimate that the average consumer purchases a new pair every two years. If your market includes 1 million target customers, and assuming each customer buys one pair of headphones every two years, the calculation for annual market size would be as follows: (1 million target customers) x (0.5 purchases per year) = 500,000 pairs of wireless headphones per year   
  • Market Growth Rate:  This measures the change in a market’s size over a specific time period and is typically expressed as a percentage. To determine the market growth rate, use the following formula: [(Current Market Size − Previous Market Size​) ÷ Previous Market Size] × 100% = Growth Rate For example, if the market for wireless headphones was worth $1 billion last year and is worth $1.1 billion this year, the market growth rate would be as follows: [($1.1 Billion – $1 Billion) ÷  $1 Billion] x 100% = 10%  

Market Share:  This is the percentage of total sales in an industry generated by a particular company over a period of time. It provides a benchmark for assessing performance relative to competitors. Use this formula for calculating market share: (Company’s Revenue ÷ Total Industry Revenue) x 100% = Market Share  


Tip:  Keep in mind that the market size, share, and growth rate are all estimates. It’s impossible to be exact. To obtain the most accurate numbers, review the latest industry reports and seek insight from experts.  

  • Market Demand:  This is the amount of a product or service a consumer is willing to purchase and how much they are willing to pay for it. To determine market demand in a market analysis, begin by conducting comprehensive research on consumer behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns related to your product or service. Use tools such as surveys, SEO analytics, and interviews to gather data on potential customer interest and willingness to pay, and analyze competitor pricing and offerings.  
  • Market Trends:  This is the growth or decline direction of a product or service’s price over a specific timeframe. To identify a market trend, monitor industry developments, consumer behavior, and technological advancements over time. Review industry reports and expert analyses to understand broader market movements and future projections. Summarize these observations and include them in your plan to highlight the direction in which the market is heading.        

Market Segments:  The broader market includes specific groups, categorized by shared characteristics. Generally, there are four types of market segments: geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. In your marketing plan, detail how you'll target each segment by adapting your strategies to their unique characteristics. This targeted approach ensures more effective engagement with each segment.   

  • Competitor Analysis:  A competitor analysis involves examining your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, market positioning, product offerings, and marketing strategies. Describe how you'll conduct a comprehensive evaluation of key competitors by analyzing their market share, pricing, distribution channels, and promotional tactics. For more guidance, try downloading this competitor analysis template. Use it to identify areas where your rivals succeed and why. Their strengths indicate areas for improvement, while their weaknesses indicate opportunities.  

6. List Your SMART Goals 

Include SMART goals in your marketing plan to ensure that objectives are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound, providing a clear direction for strategic actions and performance evaluation. Start by identifying key performance areas that align with your overall business strategy. Then, for each goal, apply the SMART framework. 

Here are two examples of SMART marketing goals:   

  • By Q4 end, increase search results page (SERP) position from 14th to the top three for keywords pertaining to our brand and lead to more organic traffic. 
  • Increase social media following, reach, and engagement by 25 percent in six months and 50 percent in one year.

Learn more about SMART goals and find a customizable  SMART goals worksheet  in this comprehensive  guide to writing SMART goals . 

7. Create a Marketing Strategy

A  marketing strategy is the plan for achieving your SMART goals.   

Gayle Kalvert

“A marketing plan should include strategic and tactical elements,” says Gayle Kalvert, Founder and CEO at  Creo Collective , a full-service marketing agency. “From a strategic standpoint, it is critical that the marketing plan aligns to the overall goals of the organization. Tactically, what initiatives will the marketing team execute, and why? Tactics with no strategy lead to spotty results and poor-quality leads.”

Use one of these  marketing strategy templates to get started. A successful marketing strategy will include the following elements: 

7a. Customer Buying Cycle

The  customer buying cycle is the path a potential customer follows from first having exposure to a product or service to becoming an advocate for it. Understanding this process allows marketers to effectively target communications and strategies at each stage in their marketing plan. 

Pro Tip: “Consider your persona’s buyer's journey and ensure marketing has a role at each stage of the journey, especially after the close,” says Kalvert. “That is when customers can become advocates, sources of referral, and great subjects for marketing content for future buyers.”

7b. Unique Selling Proposition

A  unique selling proposition (USP) is a specific benefit or advantage that sets your product or service apart from the competitors. By including a USP in a marketing plan, you help ensure that the team communicates why customers should choose your offering over others. 

For example, Google’s USP is its powerful and accurate search algorithm that delivers relevant search results faster and more efficiently than its competitors.

7c. Branding 

Branding is the development of a unique identity, image, and experience for a company. Marketers convey a brand through messaging, tone, logo, colors, and web design. The marketing strategy needs to align with the company’s brand in order to maintain consistency in messaging and experience, which ultimately builds customer trust.

7d. Marketing Mix A marketing mix refers to the set of actions that a company takes to promote its brand or product in the market, typically encapsulated by the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Go through each of these steps when including the marketing mix in your strategy:  

  • Product: Describe the product and the problem it solves for your target customers. What makes your product or service different from the competition? Why is it special? 
  • Price: Explain how much your target customer is willing to pay for the product or service based on its real and perceived value. What do your competitors charge for a similar product? Will you run any seasonal promotions or discounts? 
  • Place:  Describe where your product or service will be available for purchase by your target customers. Will you sell it online, through retail partners, or both? How will you manage logistics and supply chain to ensure your product is accessible to your target market?
  • Promotion:  Detail the strategies you will use to communicate your product’s value to consumers. This includes advertising, public relations, social media marketing, email campaigns, sales promotions, and direct marketing tactics.    

7e. Channels 

Identify the specific mediums and platforms — or  channels — where you’ll share your message to your target audience. These should include distribution channels, communication channels, and engagement channels. 

As you list them, explain how they will be used to effectively reach and engage with your target audience. For example, if you’re marketing a new fitness app, one distribution channel would be a direct download from the App Store to reach fitness enthusiasts directly on their smartphones. An engagement channel could be an in-app community feature for users where they can share progress.

Here is a brief list of popular marketing channels:  

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Website marketing

7f. Tactics Tactics are the specific actions you will take to reach the goals outlined in your strategy. They cover everything from the creation and distribution of marketing materials to the scheduling of campaigns to the platforms used for advertising and engagement.  Detail the specific actions and tools you will use to execute your marketing strategy, along with timelines, responsibilities, and budget allocations for each activity. This includes specifying the exact steps for product promotion, customer engagement, content creation, digital marketing efforts, and any other methods chosen to reach and convert your target audience. “Equally as important as using data is to build in time and resources to be flexible,” says Kalvert. “The marketing landscape is evolving at such a rapid pace. Tactics that worked last year may not work this year. Be open to experimenting with new tactics and adjusting your approach based on feedback and results.”

8. Determine the Budget 

Start by estimating the costs associated with each tactic and channel outlined in your strategy, taking into account factors such as content creation, platform fees, and personnel costs. Next, prioritize spending based on the expected ROI for each tactic. Finally, document the budget in a clear, detailed format within your marketing plan, including an itemized list of costs for each tactic, total expenditure, and a contingency fund.

For more resources and help estimating marketing project costs, take a look at this collection of helpful free  marketing plan budget templates . 

9. Create a Calendar

Create a calendar to schedule and track deliverables. Include time for brainstorming, planning, executing, and analyzing results. List objectives, start dates, end dates, due dates, and responsible parties. Keep the calendar in a central location so that team members can easily access it.

10. List Marketing Tools and Technology

List any marketing tools or technologies your team will use to help achieve their goals. These can include email marketing software, blogging software, social media management software, or any other programs you plan to use.

11. Identify Metrics and KPIs

Identify the metrics for measuring and tracking your marketing goals. Metrics and KPIs eliminate ambiguity so that you can accurately measure progress. Select indicators that directly reflect the success of your marketing objectives, such as conversion rates, website traffic, lead generation, and customer acquisition costs.

12. Write an Executive Summary

Once you’ve completed all the sections in your marketing plan document, return to the first section to write the executive summary. Completing this section last ensures that you have a thorough understanding of all key elements before summarizing them. 

Concisely highlight the main objectives, target market, and key strategies of the plan, providing a snapshot of the market analysis and expected outcomes. Outline the budget, resources required, and the metrics for measuring success. This section serves as a compelling overview, enticing stakeholders to delve into the plan.

For more detailed information on executive summaries, see this guide to  writing an effective executive summary.  You can also download a helpful template from this collection of  free executive summary templates

Marketing Starter Kit for Beginners

Marketing Starter Kit for Beginners

Download Marketing Starter Kit for Beginners

Get everything you need for creating a marketing plan with this free, downloadable marketing plan starter kit. The kit includes an executive summary template, a customer persona worksheet, a SWOT analysis template, a competitor analysis template, a SMART goals worksheet, a marketing strategy template, and a calendar template with a budget tracker, all in one easy-to-download file.

In this kit, you’ll find the following:  

  • An  executive summary template  for Microsoft Word to help you introduce the content of your marketing plan.    
  • A  customer persona worksheet  for Microsoft Word to collect information about your ideal customer.  
  • A  SWOT analysis template for Microsoft Word to guide strategic decision-making based on the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 
  • A  competitor analysis template  for Microsoft Word to help you compare and evaluate your competitors. 
  • A  SMART goals worksheet  for Microsoft Word to ensure each marketing objective follows SMART guidelines. 
  • A  marketing strategy template  for Microsoft Word to outline the plan for achieving your goals. 
  • A  calendar template with budget tracker  for Excel where you can organize, track, and manage marketing deliverables and their costs. 
  • A  marketing plan template for Microsoft Word  to ensure consistency and thoroughness in your final marketing plan.

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How to Set & Achieve Marketing Objectives in 2021

Clifford Chi

Published: June 23, 2021

In the marketing industry, setting objectives can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, constantly raising the bar can incentivize your team to sustain your growth rate over long periods. On the other hand, it can incentivize your team to prioritize your company’s needs over your customers’ needs.

How to Set & Achieve Marketing Objectives in 2021

Contrary to popular belief, solely focusing on the results doesn’t actually produce results. Focusing on serving your customers is what produces results . Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is famous for sparking this customer-centric movement.

In 2015, he spoke at Goldman Sach’s Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco , and a reporter asked him what some of Apple’s biggest accomplishments from the past year were. He responded, “We're not focused on the numbers. We're focused on the things that produce the numbers."

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to set realistic marketing objectives that will help you craft audience-centric content, prioritize your customers' needs, and hit your numbers, all at the same time.

Read on to learn how to identify your marketing objectives’ purpose and process and why it's just as important as the numbers you aim to hit.

What are marketing objectives?

Marketing objectives are the goals your team wants to achieve during a certain period of time. They entail choosing a hard number or metric for your team to work towards, as well as details about how you’re going to reach your goals and why you want to do so.

In his insightful blog post about setting goals , Jay Acunzo, the founder of Unthinkable Media, reveals a subtle yet potent problem that has pervaded the content marketing industry over the years — traditional goal-setting lets you measure what you do, but it doesn’t lend itself to gauging how you do it or why which is what ultimately gives your work meaning and resonates with prospects.

In marketing, you obviously need to aim for concrete targets. But, as we said earlier, only focusing on the results can sometimes incentivize you to take a course of action that prioritizes your organization’s needs over your customers’ needs.

To help you focus more on your purpose and process instead of just your results, Acunzo recommends considering two additional factors when setting a marketing objective — your hunger and your aspirational anchor.

Your hunger is your current dissatisfaction with your work today or why you want to achieve your goal. Your aspirational anchor is your vision of your work in the future or how you’ll achieve your goal.

These two factors drive your motivation and keep you on track to create work that better serves your customers. When you add your numerical goal to the equation, you’ll be able to simultaneously produce customer-centric work and create business impact.

How to Set Realistic Marketing Objectives

The first thing to understand is the subtle difference between a goal and an objective . A general goal is going to be your broader vision while your marketing objective is that more concrete specification of how that vision is achieved. In order to craft your marketing objective, you must start with vision first by defining three main things:

  • Hunger - What is the driving force — or the “why” — behind what you want to achieve? What pain or problem has led you to this point, and why must it be solved?
  • Aspirational Anchor - What does success look like — or “how” does the end vision solve that problem?
  • Goal - What steps must be taken — or the “what” — for that aspiration to come to fruition?

Now that we understand the “why” and the “how” behind setting marketing objectives, let’s go over how you can root the "what" in reality with the SMART goal framework.

SMART goals are realistic, quantifiable, and focused targets that you can easily aim for. If you’re wondering what SMART means, it’s an acronym that helps you clearly define your goals.

In terms of marketing, you should choose the particular metric you want to improve upon, like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also determine what each team member will work on, the resources they’ll have, and their plan of action.

If you want to gauge your team’s progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X% increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Make sure that X% increase is achievable in your specific situation. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, not 30%. It’s crucial to base your goals on your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew.

Your goal needs to relate to your company’s overall goal and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your Facebook following lead to more revenue? And is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your organic reach on Facebook after their most recent algorithm change? If you’re aware of these factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that are realistic, achievable, and beneficial to your company.

Attaching deadlines to your goals puts pressure on your team to accomplish them. And this helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, you can very easily fall into the trap of procrastinating on action items, leading to a slower rate of success.

For example, which would you prefer: Increasing leads by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year, or trying to increase leads by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in a year?

By analyzing two different goal-setting frameworks, we’ve learned how to identify the “why,” “how,” and “what” behind your marketing objectives. Now, we can blend the two frameworks to set a realistic goal that fulfills your customers’ needs and helps you hit your numbers at the same time. Check out the examples below for more detail.

Marketing Objective Examples

  • Increase blog subscribers.
  • Reach more visitors with organic search traffic.
  • Improve the mobile traffic conversion rate site-wide.
  • Increase MQL conversions.
  • Boost average monthly open rate.
  • Increase MQL-to-SQL conversion rate.
  • Improve overall NPS score.
  • Enhance Facebook engagement.
  • Increase total market share.
  • Evaluate ad impact.

Now that you know how to write a marketing objective, you can get ideas from some metaphorical samples. Below, we’ll start with one long example breaking out the above methodology step-by-step, and then we’ll provide other examples to fuel your inspiration.

1. Increase blog subscribers.

In this example, we’ll set a target of increasing blog subscribers by 25% month-over-month this year — it’s a substantive increase, but possible with the SMART framework.

  • Hunger (Why) - Our blog educates our audience well but it doesn’t resonate emotionally with them enough.
  • Aspirational Anchor (How) - Run a blog that consistently resonates with our audience and that people look forward to reading every time they receive our email digest.
  • Goal (What) - Increase blog subscribers as an indication of our success.

With this goal-setting framework, you can see how the “why” and “how” behind a goal incentivizes behavior that better serves customers and hits numbers at the same time.

For instance, in the example above, this blog team refuses to just do whatever it takes to boost their blog subscription. They want to craft emotionally resonant stories that their audience actually values or content that’s worth subscribing to, and this is what will lead to their growth in subscribers and create long-term value for their business.

If this blog team didn’t identify their hunger or set an aspirational anchor, however, the only thing that would guide them toward the finish line is the finish line itself. And that could incentivize short-sighted behavior that helps them achieve their goal at the expense of prioritizing their audience’s needs over their own.

Once the aspirational vision and the general goal has been defined, now it’s time to pivot to a concrete objective using the SMART goal framework :

Our blog educates our audience well, but it doesn’t resonate emotionally with them enough. Let’s start running a blog that can consistently provide value, that people look forward to reading every time they receive our email digest, and that can attract more subscribers.

Increase month-over-month blog subscribers by 25% this year.

Last year, we increased month-over-month blog subscribers by 15%, so we know this is doable.

If we can craft emotionally resonant stories that our audience actually values, we can build deeper relationships with them, attract more subscribers with whom we can also build deep relationships, and hopefully do business in the future.

Monthly over the course of a year.

2. Reach more visitors with organic search traffic.

Let's say our organization's goal is to grow its online organic presence to attract more leads and reach 35,000 visitors via organic search monthly by the end of the year. These are Hunger and Aspirational anchors, so they must be translated into a SMART goal if we want to take steps to achieve it:

  • Specific - Increase website visitors from organic search.
  • Measurable - Reach 35,000 visitors monthly.
  • Attainable - Must be sure that the number is reachable by increasing or improving variables within our control.
  • Relevant - Must be the right traffic since the ultimate goal is to increase leads.
  • Time-bound - By the end of the year.

3. Improve the mobile traffic conversion rate site-wide.

Traffic alone is not enough to generate leads and, ultimately, revenue. We need mechanisms in place to convert the traffic we're already getting.

Let's say we notice that our site converts a lot better on desktop than mobile. This means we could be losing a ton of lead opportunities who arrived at our site on a mobile device. That's why we decide to enhance the mobile experience and set a goal of improving mobile traffic conversion rates site-wide from 2.3% to 5% by Q3 Here's how we turn that goal into an objective:

  • Specific - Improve mobile traffic conversion rate.
  • Measurable - From 2.3% to 5%.
  • Attainable - Must identify roadblocks to conversion and how we plan to remove them.
  • Relevant - Must actually have enough mobile traffic to justify the effort.
  • Time-bound - By Q3.

4. Increase MQL conversions.

With inbound marketing, it's easy to get swept up in blogging, offer creation, and lead conversions. At the same time, if we don't have mechanisms in place to move those leads closer to a purchasing decision, these efforts don't pay off the way they could. Part of our jobs as marketers is to foster relationships with our leads while qualifying them so that the sales team focuses on prospects who are ready to buy.

Let's say we have a top-of-the-funnel lead generation engine where website visitors convert on eBooks and guides. Our goal is now to bridge the gap between where they're at in their journey vs. where we want them to go and so we aim to convert 500 leads to MQLs by the end of the year. We decide to do that through an ongoing educational email drip sequence, and we start with our objective:

  • Specific - Convert Leads to MQLs.
  • Measurable - From the existing number to 500.
  • Attainable - Must ensure we already have a large enough pool to extract those MQLs from (or a fast-enough lead generation engine to supply them).
  • Relevant - Must have a clear definition of what constitutes an MQL and a plan to obtain those parameters.
  • Time-bound - By the year's end.

5. Boost the average monthly open rate.

In order for us to effectively nurture leads, we want people to be reading our content... which they won't do if they don't get past the subject line of the email. Here's how we position this concept into the concrete objective of increasing the monthly open rate from 25% to 40% in one quarter:

  • Specific - Increase average monthly open rate.
  • Measurable - From 25% to 40%.
  • Attainable - Must analyze existing email tactics to identify gaps.
  • Relevant - Must only include the most relevant marketing emails in the metrics to avoid skewing data.
  • Time-bound - In one quarter

6. Increase our MQL to SQL conversion rate.

Never forget the primary goal of marketing, which is to promote an organization's goods or services in the effort of generating more sales. At the same time, fewer than half of marketers consider their departments aligned with sales .

A relevant goal might be to improve the effectiveness of our marketing efforts by solidifying the marketing to sales hand-off. Specifically, we’re aiming to increase MQL to SQL conversion rate from 25% to 35% by Q2. Our concrete objective might break down like this:

  • Specific - Increase the MQL to SQL conversion rate.
  • Measurable - From 25% to 35%.
  • Attainable - Must ensure we already have a large enough pool to extract those SQLs from (or a fast-enough lead generation engine to supply them).
  • Relevant - Must have a clear agreement between the marketing and sales departments for what constitutes an SQL.
  • Time-bound - By Q2.

7. Improve overall NPS score.

Marketing doesn't end once the prospect becomes a customer, and that means also working on ways to fuel the flywheel i.e. turning customers into brand advocates who purchase from us and tell their friends to do the same.

NPS is a solid measurement of customer happiness, so improving that score — from 31 to 35 within 6 month — is a solid place to start building our objective:

  • Specific - Improve the NPS score.
  • Measurable - From 31 to 35.
  • Attainable - Must analyze existing NPS roadblocks to identify gaps.
  • Relevant - Must ensure there's a mechanism for collecting and analyzing NPS input.
  • Time-bound - In 6 months.

8. Enhance Facebook engagement.

One of the best ways to grow a brand’s marketing efforts exponentially is by investing in its community of customers and prospects. The goal might be to stay top of mind and energize the community by raising the bar on each social media platform. For example, we might look to improve Facebook engagement by 30% month-over-month:

  • Specific - Improve engagement on Facebook.
  • Measurable - By 30%.
  • Attainable - Must identify the content that's engaging our existing user base and see if 30% is a reasonable number to strive for.
  • Relevant - Must ensure that there's a solid definition of what metrics are being counted as engagement.
  • Time-bound - On a monthly rolling basis.

9. Increase total market share.

As digital markets become more crowded, it’s critical for companies to claim as much market share as possible — pulling even a few percentage points away from the competition can have significant benefits for your bottom line.

Let’s set a reasonable goal: Increasing total market share a 5% by the end of the year:

  • Specific - Improve total market share
  • Measurable - By 5%
  • Attainable - Must identify areas of potential loss, such as customer churn, and areas of gain such as targeted advertising
  • Relevant - Must ensure there’s a reliable way to regularly measure market share
  • Time-bound - By the end of the year

10. Evaluate ad impact.

Advertisements help your brand get noticed — but are your ads doing their job? Here, our marketing objective is to compare the cost-per-click and conversion rate of two different ads using A/B testing on social media over the period of a month to determine which one drives better ROI:

  • Specific - Determine the highest ad impact
  • Measurable - Evaluated using cost-per-click
  • Attainable - Must assess the impact of each ad and how many click-throughs it generates
  • Relevant - Must ensure the same metrics are used for each ad to ensure an accurate comparison
  • Time-bound - In one month
  • Marketing Objectives: Metrics and KPIs

Once marketing objectives have been established, companies must identify and track specific metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to provide both immediate insights and set the stage for long-term strategic planning. Some of the most common metrics and KPIs include:

Sales Growth

Sales growth is measured using total revenue volume, number of units sold, or both. Increasing numbers mean growing sales — for best effect, monitor sales growth as a baseline and then during new marketing campaigns to evaluate your impact.

Profit Variance

Profit — also called return on investment (ROI) — isn’t simply a factor of sales and revenue. Instead, it depends on the amount of money your brand makes after material costs, marketing expenses, and other spending is subtracted. If material costs increase but sales remain steady, for example, profit will decrease. Monitoring profit variance helps ensure product prices drive ROI.

Total Market Share

The bigger your market share, the better. To calculate this metric, you need the market size of your local industry and its approximate total revenue.

Multiple your brand’s revenue by 100 and divide by the market’s total revenue to get a percentage market share. Recalculate this regularly to see if your share has improved.

New Customer Volumes

More customers mean more sales and more revenue. Along with measuring the total number of new customers over a specific time frame, it’s also worth evaluating customer increases in comparison to other time frames — such as when you’re running a sales or marketing event — along with considering the cost per customer, which is the total amount of money spent to acquire a new customer.

Lifetime Customer Value

Higher lifetime customer values mean more reliable revenue streams. To calculate this metric, multiply the average number of purchases made by return customers over a specific period with the average total value of these purchases. This provides an approximation of lifetime customer value to help inform ongoing marketing strategy.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates measure the percentage of people who take action when presented with the choice to opt-in for sales notifications, email newsletters, free trials, or who ultimately decide to make a purchase. It’s worth tracking conversion rates across all aspects of your website to see which marketing tools are delivering reliable results.

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your brand rank higher with popular engines such as Google, in turn making it easier for customers to find your site.

Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you identify ways to improve your SEO, and you can quickly test how you stack up by searching for your brand’s target keyword and seeing where you show up in current search rankings.

Social Media Performance

Social media marketing is now critical to generate organic engagement and customer referrals. As a result, it’s worth tracking metrics such as the increase in follower numbers on a certain platform over a specific period, the number of comments left on your posts, and the number of times your posts are shared.

Tools to Track Marketing Objectives

You’ve got the model. You’ve identified the objectives, and you’ve defined the metrics. Now you need the right tools to track marketing objective success across your organization.

1. HubSpot Marketing Hub

The HubSpot Marketing Hub offers all the marketing tools and data you need, and all under one roof. From SEO strategy tools to ad tracking, social media management and live chat support, and a robust content creation platform, HubSpot can help your brand reach more people more quickly and boost total ROI.

2. Real-time Dashboards

Real-time dashboard tools provide right-now, single-pane-of-glass analysis of current sales performance, KPI progress, and other key metrics. Often hosted in the cloud, real-time dashboards make it possible for everyone in the organization to view current marketing goals and ensure business operations are aligned with specific outcomes.

3. Spreadsheets

While spreadsheets are often considered relatively low-tech and legacy deployments when compared to more robust marketing tools, they nonetheless offer actionable value. Tools such as Google Sheets and Excel are easy to use, easy to view, and offer an understanding of specific metric performance at a glance that can help inform current marketing efforts.

4. Website Analytics Trackers

Tools such as Webtrends and Google Analytics provide in-depth statistics about the number and type of users that visit your web page, along with key data such as how long they stayed, what they clicked on, and which actions (if any) were taken.

While website analytics alone aren’t enough to inform marketing efforts, they’re essential to help marketing teams refine overall strategy for maximum effect.

Starting SMART

Once you understand the importance of vision, identifying broad goals, and using the SMART goal framework to make concrete marketing objectives for those goals, it’s time to identify the gaps in your marketing and begin outlining your objectives.

Once you do, it’s important to write those objectives down and commit to creating a solid plan of action to achieving them.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in [Insert original publish date] and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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A free template to help you create SMART goals for marketing campaign success.

Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform

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Marketing Objectives: How to Define, Measure, and Achieve them

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Main Takeaways:

  • Marketing objectives are actionable goals that provide overall directions to a specific campaign.
  • The mnemonic SMART goals can help remember how to set your marketing goals.
  • Examples of marketing plans include sales growth, lead generation, grow brand awareness, website traffic, and conversion .
  • Use key performance indicators to monitor your objectives.

According to a CoSchedule study, top marketers always set goals. In fact, goal-setting marketers are  376 percent  more likely to report success in their campaigns. Before exploring how to do that, let’s begin with a simple question.

What does Marketing Objectives Mean?

Marketing objectives are actionable goals that provide overall directions to a specific campaign. Think of your marketing plan as a target that your team is looking to reach within a particular timeframe. Also, it comes with a metric that serves as a symbolic finish line. For example, a marketing objective might entail increasing your social media post’s conversion rates by 30 percent. Objectives extend beyond picking an arbitrary number. You also have to specify how you intend to reach your goal and measure that endpoint.

This brings us to the next part of the post.

How to set Marketing Objectives for your Business

Marketing plans should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. The acronym SMART goals can help remember these words.

Consider using specific metrics in your marketing objectives . For example, you can’t just say you want to increase sales. Instead, outline how much you want to increase using either percentage or dollars.

Clearly outlining your goals ensures that your team understands the objective and why it’s vital. Moreover, marketers with a documented strategy are 313 percent more likely to report success.

It’s not enough to simply outline a marketing strategy . You must also outline how you intend to measure your success.

Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness or search traffic , your plan must include how to key performance indicators . That way, you’ll know if you are on track to achieve your objectives .

Your objective might be to increase organic traffic to your website by 200 percent. But, is this goal attainable?

When setting your marketing target , consider picking a benchmark that’s reasonable and achievable. As tempting as it may be to set the bar high, you could unintentionally set your team up for failure.

An image of a ruler and a bar chart

Consider setting goals that are relevant to your brand’s mission and the company’s overall plan. It should also account for current trends in your industry.

For example, you could reassess whether growing your site’s search traffic is feasible after a Google algorithm change. Considering such relevant factors allows you to set more realistic goals.

Consider attaching a reasonable timeframe for reaching specific benchmarks. Not only will this help you stay consistent, but it’ll also put pressure on your team to accomplish the goal.

Making your goals time-bound could also help avoid falling into the trap of procrastination.

Most brands set their marketing objectives based on a financial quarter or year. However, this timeframe may vary based on how much work is required to reach the benchmark.

Five Examples of Marketing Objectives

The image shows a laptop surrounded by other messaging images

1. Sales Growth

The primary goal of every business is to increase revenue , and this only happens with rising sales. As a result, sales growth is a direct marketing objective for brands.

Your goal might be to increase online sales by 15 percent in the next three months. After identifying your target, the next step is to outline how you’ll get there. It could entail actions such as:

  • Increasing lead generation
  • Average customer orders
  • Automating your email marketing

2. Lead Generation

The objective of lead generation is simple. It involves increasing the number of people who land in your sales pipeline. That way, you can work to convert these leads into sales.

In other words, lead generation increases the probability that your sales team will close more deals.

For example, your objective might be to increase the number of leads by 25 percent in the coming quarter. This usually involves launching new lead generation funnels.

3. Conversion Rates

Conversion rates refer to the number of people who perform the desired action when presented with an option. It could include an audience clicking on a link in an email or a website visitor signing up for a free trial.

Expectedly, boosting conversion rates on various mediums should be one of your marketing objectives . These include website opt-in, email links, free trial sign-ups, and other call-to-actions.

4. Grow Brand Awareness

Brand awareness refers to how well your target audience knows or recognizes your brand. Businesses with high brand awareness are often described as “trending” of “buzzworthy.”

Tracking brand awareness can be challenging without a well-defined goal. That’s why it’s essential to write out your objective .

You may aim to increase your brand awareness next quarter through different digital marketing channels .

5. Increase Website’s Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is responsible for  53 percent  of all site traffic and 40 percent of revenue. So, it makes sense that you would want to add it to your marketing plans.

The goal here is simple — it entails ranking your page at the search results’ top spots. This will likely lead to an exponential jump in traffic, and it’ll ultimately increase your revenue.

Again, it’s crucial to measure your objectives . That way, you’ll know when you’ve achieved the goal.

How to Measure your Marketing Objectives

An arrow line with each points labeled as KPI aiming to hit a target.

KPI for Sales Growth

Your revenue is the primary key performance indicator for sales growth. It refers to the amount of income that your business is generating or the number of units sold.

Here are other KPI examples for monitoring your sales growth:

  • Year-to-date sales growth: The amount of profit realized since the first day of the current calendar year.
  • Churn rate: The percentage of customers that leave your service within a specific period.
  • Customer retention : The ability to engage existing customers to continue buying products or services.
  • Gross profits: The profit made after deducting the costs of the products.

Consider monitoring these metrics over a specific timeframe, interval, or through the campaign duration.

KPI for Lead Generation

Choosing the key performance indicator to measure lead generation can be confusing, depending on your marketing objective . Besides the percentage increase in leads, any of these metrics will do the trick.

  • Conversion rates: The percentage of visitors to your website that completes the desired goal.
  • Marketing-qualified leads (MGL): Leads that are more likely to make a purchase.
  • Sales-qualified leads (SQL): Leads that are further along in the buyer journey and are sales-ready.
  • Cost per lead: It measures how cost-effective your campaigns at generating new leads.

Since your KPI for lead generation will come from various sources, the data could get scattered quickly.

Luckily, the right software could help simplify the process. Examples of such include  Dashthis  and  Scoreboard .

KPI for Conversion Rates

The key performance indicator depends primarily on your company’s industry, campaign, and growth stage. However, here are a few things to consider when focusing on conversion rates.

  • The open rate for email marketing: The percentage of subscribers who opened an email campaign.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors that leave a web page without taking an action such as clicking a link.
  • Cost per conversion : It refers to the cost of obtaining a real customer.
  • Time spent on page : It records the amount of time a visitor spent on the page.

A website’s unique and returning visitor can also serve as a KPI. This is especially true when you’re just starting.

KPI for Brand Awareness

As with other marketing goals , you must define what you intend to achieve by building brand awareness . Ranging from increasing brand mention to direct web traffic, here are a few ways to measure brand awareness:

  • Social listening: It involves monitoring social media platforms for mentions of brand name or product.
  • Google alerts: Use Google alert to track mentions across the web.
  • Brand awareness survey: Compile a list of questions to measure how much your audience recognizes your brand.
  • Brand mention: It measures online references to your brand, company, or product.

Before measuring, you may want first to create content that can boost awareness. These usually include guest articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, e-books, to name a few.

KPI for Website Traffic

With digital marketing being a part of the brand’s strategy, it’s essential now more than ever to keep an eye on web analytics . Several online KPIs can tell you how well your site is performing. These include:

  • Pageviews per visit: It measures how many pieces of content a particular user views on a website.
  • Average visit duration: It refers to the average amount of time visitors spend on a website within a session.
  • The number of unique visitors: It refers to the number of distinct individuals visiting a page or multiple pages on your website.

Along with providing insight into your website, these metrics are also useful for assessing your competitors’ performance.

Some tools for monitoring website traffic include   Alexa’s Site Overview Tool ,  Ahrefs ,  and SEMRush .

Final Word: Use a Marketing Objectives Checklist to Plan and Execute

Effective marketing always begins with a clear, measurable objective relevant to your brand’s short-term goals. But, memorizing details of the plan can be challenging — unless you have an eidetic memory.

That’s where a checklist comes in.

A marketing plan checklist can help inform your team on your goals and the tactics required to achieve them. It also allows you to set milestones and essential success components to accomplish along the way.

Read More: 10 Tips for Creating a Successful Video Marketing Strategy

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  • Business plans

Develop your marketing plan

On this page

Why you need a marketing plan

Download our marketing plan template.

Having a marketing plan can help you to:

  • identify your target market and how your product or service can benefit it
  • identify how you might attract new customers
  • encourage your existing customers to continue purchasing your product or service
  • set goals and time frames for your marketing activities
  • map out a strategy to reach your target audience, including the messages, channels and tools you’ll use
  • evaluate your marketing activities
  • provide a marketing budget and see your return on investment.

Our marketing plan template helps you identify who your customers are, how you'll meet their needs and what marketing tactics you might undertake.

Marketing plan template

Our template steps you through the process of developing a succession plan with links to extra information if you need it.

You may want to check our tips below before you start.

1. Analyse your market

Market research can help you to understand your strengths, weaknesses and the opportunities that you can take advantage of. Analysing your own business and your competition can help you identify where you're positioned in the market.

It’s important to analyse your competition to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This can help you refine your marketing strategy and what's unique about your business.

A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis can help you determine where your business fits within the market and your unique selling point. Use it to help identify what your business is doing well and how you can improve.

Identifying and understanding your customers is an essential part of your marketing plan. Not everyone is your potential buyer, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your target market early on.

Identify your target market, competitors and potential customers .

2. Set your goals and objectives

Once you're clear about your business and its positioning, you can start thinking about what you want to achieve. Think about your main business goals, whether it's the size of your business, expansion plans or desired sales. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) goals to increase your chances of success in achieving them.

3. Outline your marketing strategies

Once you’ve set some goals, consider what marketing activity, process or price will help you achieve them.

Try and choose marketing activities that suit your business and your customers. For example, if you want to target young adults, newspaper advertising may not be as effective as a social media campaign.

Choosing multiple activities that complement each other is a good way to help you get your message across. For example, if you're trying to establish a new product in the market, you may choose to advertise on the local radio, as well as setting up  social media channels  and introducing a low-cost pricing strategy for first-time buyers. When used together, these strategies complement each other and help you reach a broader market.

4. Set your marketing budget

Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing and how to spend it is critical to the success of your business. A marketing budget will ensure you accurately calculate your marketing campaign or advertising.

When developing your marketing budget, make sure you're only spending money on the activities that contribute to your current marketing goals. Advertising and promotion can be expensive. Make sure to pick options that will give you the best value while still reaching your target customers.

5. Keep your marketing plan up-to-date

It's important to evaluate your marketing activities. Analysing your results and being aware of new marketing trends is important to keeping your marketing plan up-to-date and reaching your business goals. You should tweak and change your plan as your business and market grow and change.

Find out the different types of advertising.

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Marketing Plan

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What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a document that lays out the marketing efforts of a business in an upcoming period, which is usually a year. It outlines the marketing strategy, promotional, and advertising activities planned for the period.

Marketing Plan

Elements of a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan will typically include the following elements:

Marketing objectives of the business : The objectives should be attainable and measurable – two goals associated with SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Current business marketing positioning : An analysis of the current state of the organization concerning its marketing positioning.

Market research : Detailed research about current market trends, customer needs, industry sales volumes, and expected direction.

Outline of the business target market : Business target market demographics.

Marketing activities : A list of any actions concerning marketing goals that are scheduled for the period and the indicated timelines.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) to be tracked

Marketing mix : A combination of factors that may influence customers to purchase products. It should be appropriate for the organization and will largely be centered on the 4Ps of marketing – i.e., product, price, promotion, and place.

Competition : Identify the organization’s competitors and their strategies, along with ways to counter competition and gain market share .

Marketing strategies : The development of marketing strategies to be employed in the coming period. These strategies will include promotional strategies, advertising, and other marketing tools at the disposal of the organization.

Marketing budget : A detailed outline of the organization’s allocation of financial resources to marketing activities. The activities will need to be carried out within the marketing budget .

Monitoring and performance mechanism : A plan should be in place to identify if the marketing tools in place are bearing fruit or need to be revised based on the past, current, and expected future state of the organization, industry, and the overall business environment.

A marketing plan should observe the 80:20 rule – i.e., for maximum impact, it should focus on the 20% of products and services that account for 80% of volumes and the 20% of customers that bring in 80% of revenue.

Purpose of a Marketing Plan

The purpose of a marketing plan includes the following:

  • To clearly define the marketing objectives of the business that align with the corporate mission and vision of the organization. The marketing objectives indicate where the organization wishes to be at any specific period in the future.
  • The marketing plan usually assists in the growth of the business by stating appropriate marketing strategies, such as plans for increasing the customer base.
  • State and review the marketing mix in terms of the 8Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, Physical Evidence, and Performance.
  • Strategies to increase market share, enter new niche markets, and increase brand awareness are also encompassed within the marketing plan.
  • The marketing plan will contain a detailed budget for the funds and resources required to carry out activities indicated in the marketing plan.
  • The assignment of tasks and responsibilities of marketing activities is well enunciated in the marketing plan.
  • The identification of business opportunities and any strategies crafted to exploit them is important.
  • A marketing plan fosters the review and analysis of the marketing environment, which entails market research, customer needs assessment, competitor analysis, PEST analysis , studying new business trends, and continuous environmental scanning.
  • A marketing plan integrates business functions to operate with consistency – notably sales, production, finance, human resources, and marketing.

Structure of a Marketing Plan

The structure of a marketing plan can include the following sections:

Marketing Plan Objectives

This section outlines the expected outcome of the marketing plan with clear, concise, realistic, and attainable objectives. It contains specific targets and time frames.

Metrics, such as target market share, the target number of customers to be attained, penetration rate, usage rate, sales volumes targeted, etc. should be used.

Market Research – Market Analysis/Consumer Analysis

Market analysis includes topics such as market definition, market size, industry structure, market share and trends, and competitor analysis. Consumer analysis includes the target market demographics and what influences their buying decisions – e.g., loyalty, motivation, and expectations.

Target Market

This defines the target customers by their demographic profile, such as gender, race, age, and psychographic profile, such as their interests. This will assist in the correct marketing mix for the target market segments.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis will look at the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. SWOT analysis includes the following:

  • Strengths are the organization’s competitive advantages that are not easily duplicated. They represent the skills, expertise, and efficiencies that an organization possesses over its competitors.
  • Weaknesses are impediments found in the operations of an organization, and they stifle growth. These can include outdated machinery, inadequate working capital, and inefficient production methods.
  • Opportunities are prospects for growth in the business through the adoption of ways to take advantage of the chances. They could include entry into new markets, adopting digital marketing strategies, or following new trends.
  • Threats are external factors that can affect the business negatively, such as a new powerful competitor, legislative changes, natural disasters, or political situations.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy section covers actual strategies to be included according to the marketing mix. The strategy centers on the 8Ps of marketing. However, firms are also at liberty to use the traditional 4 P’s of marketing – product, price, place, and promotion. The 8 P’s are illustrated below.

The correct marketing mix is determined by the target market. The most expensive options are advertising, sales promotions, and PR campaigns. Networking and referrals are less costly.

Marketers also need to pay attention to digital marketing strategies that make use of technology to reach a wider market and have also proven to be cost-effective.

Digital marketing channels, which became popular in the early 21 st century, may eventually overtake traditional marketing methods. Digital marketing encompasses trending methods, such as the use of social media for business.

Other strategies within the marketing strategy include pricing and positioning strategy, distribution strategy, conversion strategy, and retention strategy.

Marketing Budget

The marketing budget or projection outlines the budgeted expenditure for the marketing activities documented in the marketing plan. The marketing budget consists of revenues and costs stated in the marketing plan in one document.

It balances expenditures on marketing activities and what the organization can afford. It’s a financial plan of marketing activities to be carried out – e.g., promotional activities, cost of marketing materials and advertising, and so on. Other considerations include expected product volume and price, production and delivery costs, and operating and financing costs.

The effectiveness of the marketing plan depends on the budget allocated for marketing expenditure. The cost of marketing should be able to make the company break even and make profits.

Performance Analysis

Performance analysis aims to look at the variances of metrics or components documented in the marketing plan.  These include:

Revenue variance analysis : An analysis of positive or negative variance of revenue. A negative variance is worrisome, and reasons should be available to explain the cause of deviations.

Market share analysis : An analysis of whether the organization attained its target market share. Sales may be increasing whilst the organization’s share of the market is decreasing; hence, it is paramount to track this metric.

Expense analysis : An analysis of marketing expense to sales ratio . This ratio needs to be compared to industry standards to make informed comparisons.

The ratio enables the organization to track actual expenditures versus the budget. It is also compared to other metrics, such as revenue analysis and market share analysis. It can be dissected into individual expenditures to sales to get a clearer picture.

Administration of a Marketing Plan

The marketing plan should be revised and adapted to changes in the environment periodically. The use of metrics, budgets, and schedules to measure progress towards the goals set in the marketing plan is a continuous process by marketing personnel.

There should be a continuous assessment to verify that the goals of the marketing plan are being achieved. The marketing manager should be able to review if the strategies documented are being effective, given the operating environment.

It is irrational for the marketing manager to notice anomalies and wait to review at year-end when the situation might have already deteriorated.

Changes in the environment may necessitate a review of plans, projections, strategies, and targets. Therefore, a formal periodical review – such as monthly or quarterly – may need to be in place. This may mean preparing an annual marketing plan but reviewing the plan quarterly to keep targets and plans aligned closely to environmental changes. It goes without saying that plans are as good as their feasibility to succeed in the given environment.

More Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Marketing Plan. To keep learning and advancing your career, the additional CFI resources below will be useful:

  • 4 P’s of Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Competitive Advantage
  • See all management & strategy resources
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></center></p><h2>What Is A Marketing Plan & How To Write An Effective One?</h2><ul><li>May 20, 2024</li><li>37 min read</li></ul><p><center><img style=

A marketing plan outlines the strategies and tactics a company will use to promote its products or services. It helps guide marketing efforts to achieve business goals. 

A basic plan includes identifying target markets, defining objectives, developing strategies, and outlining budgets and timelines. Components of a thorough marketing plan cover situation analysis, objectives, positioning, messaging, budget allocation, measurement, and oversight. 

There are strategic plans outlining long-term efforts and tactical plans detailing specific actions. An effective marketing plan is essential for businesses to connect with customers, grow revenue, and compete in their industry. To succeed, a plan must have buy-in across the organization, adapt to market changes, and translate strategy into measurable results.

Components Of The Marketing Plan

Components Of The Marketing Plan

The core components of a marketing plan can be remembered as the 7 Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, Packaging, Positioning, and People. Each component plays a vital role in ensuring the success of a marketing strategy.

Product refers to what your business offers to the market, which can be either a tangible good or an intangible service that fulfills a need or desire of consumers. When focusing on the product, consider its key features, benefits, and the problem it solves for the customer. 

It’s also important to think about the lifecycle of the product, any potential for future development, and how it differs from competitors.

Price is the amount of money customers must pay to acquire your product. Pricing strategies are crucial as they affect demand, profitability, and market positioning. 

Factors to consider include production and operational costs, competitor pricing, perceived value by the customer, and pricing methods (e.g., cost-plus, value-based, or competitive pricing).

Promotion encompasses all the ways you tell your customers about your products or services and how you then sell to them. This can include advertising, sales promotions, direct marketing, social media marketing, and public relations. 

The key is to understand your target audience and design a promotion strategy that effectively communicates the benefits and features of your product.

Place, also known as distribution, involves making your product available to the target market at the right time, location, and quantity. This includes selecting appropriate distribution channels (e.g., online, retail, direct sales) and logistics planning to ensure products are easily accessible to customers when they are ready to buy.

Packaging is not just about physically wrapping your product; it’s also about the first impression it gives. 

Effective packaging can attract customers, offer convenience, and communicate the brand’s message. It should be designed considering functionality, aesthetic appeal, and environmental impact.


Positioning refers to how your product is perceived by the target market in relation to your competitors. It’s about carving out a unique space in the market and in the minds of consumers that differentiates your product from competitors. 

Effective positioning is achieved through a combination of the other P’s, particularly product features, price, and promotion.

People are a crucial element of any marketing plan, encompassing everyone involved in the production, promotion, and sale of the product, as well as customer service. 

Employees should be trained to ensure their performance aligns with the brand’s values and promises. Additionally, understanding the target audience’s demographics, needs, and preferences is essential for tailoring marketing strategies.

Essentially, it serves as a roadmap for a company’s marketing efforts, aligning marketing activities with business goals to effectively promote products or services.

Types of Marketing Plans 

When creating a strategic marketing plan, there are several common approaches:

Product Marketing Plan 

Product Marketing Plan 

A product marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines the marketing strategies and tactics for promoting and selling a specific product or service.

A product marketing plan typically includes a detailed analysis of the target market, competitive landscape, product positioning, pricing strategy, promotional mix, and distribution channels.

It outlines the marketing goals, target audience, unique selling propositions, and the specific tactics to be employed, such as advertising campaigns, content marketing, social media strategies, and promotional events.

Who Should Create This Plan And Why?

A product marketing plan should be created by product marketing teams or product managers within a company. The plan is essential for ensuring the successful launch, positioning, and ongoing promotion of a product. It helps align the marketing efforts with the product’s unique features, target audience, and business goals .

Who Shouldn’t Create This Plan And Why?

Companies or individuals that do not have a specific product or service to market should not create a product marketing plan. It is a specialized document tailored to a particular offering and is not applicable to general marketing or branding efforts.

Social Media Marketing Plan

Social Media Marketing Plan

A social media marketing plan outlines an organization’s strategy, objectives, tactics, and metrics for leveraging social platforms to increase brand awareness, website traffic, lead generation, and sales. It identifies target buyer personas and documents the optimal social media channels to engage them. 

A sound plan establishes posting schedules and assigns responsibilities while setting benchmarks for social media KPIs like audience growth, engagement, and click-throughs. Overall, the plan works to boost marketing ROI via social.

Any business actively utilizing social platforms as a marketing channel should create a social media marketing plan. It ensures strategic alignment on social goals across teams and more effective campaign execution. With clear documentation of target audiences, positioning, channel mix, resources, and metrics, a plan maximizes ROI.

Businesses just starting out on social media may not need an in-depth plan if still experimenting to identify ideal platforms, content, and audiences. Similarly, a business with just a Twitter or Facebook profile for basic announcements won’t require a complex plan. But lacking strategy and intentionality, social media efforts risk poor engagement and results.

Content Marketing Plan

Content Marketing Plan

A content marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines the content creation and promotion strategies that will be used to attract and retain customers.

The content marketing plan includes goals for traffic, leads, and sales, an analysis of the target audience, key customer messages, formats for content, content themes, and distribution channels.

It outlines the overall content marketing goals, target audience and buyer personas, unique value propositions conveyed in the content, specific content formats that will be leveraged, overarching content themes and focus areas, and the channels used to distribute content to reach and engage customers.

Businesses aiming to build a long-term relationship with their audience should create a content marketing plan. This includes companies with a clear understanding of their audience’s needs and interests. Content marketing is vital for those wanting to establish authority in their industry, improve search engine rankings, and drive inbound leads.

If your target audience is from London, using a content marketing agency in the UK is a key way to attract specific clientele.

Businesses looking for quick sales or those without the resources to consistently produce quality content should not create a content marketing plan. If a company can’t commit to regular content creation or lacks a clear strategy for engaging its target audience, content marketing may not yield the desired results.

Email Marketing Plan

Email Marketing Plan

An email marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines the email campaigns and nurture tracks that will be used to engage customers and prospects.

The email marketing plan includes expected open, clickthrough, and conversion rates, an analysis of the target email segments and buyer stages, the planned message strategy and offers/incentives to include, and the types of emails to be sent.

It outlines the goals for email engagement, the target audience and customer lifecycle stage, the promotional offers and messages used in campaigns, the specific email formats to use such as newsletters or alerts, and personalization approaches to improve relevancy.

Who Should Create This Marketing Plan And Why? 

Businesses with an existing customer base or those building an email list should utilize email marketing. It’s crucial for companies looking to directly communicate offers, updates, and content to their audience, fostering loyalty and repeat business.

Who Shouldn’t Create This Marketing Plan And Why?  

Businesses without the capability to collect and manage an email list, or those in industries where email communication is less effective, should reconsider. If you cannot commit to producing regular, valuable content, email marketing may not yield the desired results.

Direct Marketing Plan

Direct Marketing Plan

Direct marketing plans outline how direct mail and phone campaigns will generate new sales leads

The direct marketing plan includes the number of prospects to target, expected response rates and call volumes, an analysis of the target audience, the planned offers, and messages, and the tracking mechanisms to monitor results.

It outlines the quantitative lead and response goals, the ideal customer profile to target, the promotional offers and script messaging to be used, and the monitoring processes to continually refine direct marketing campaigns.

Who Should Create This Marketing Plan And Why?

Companies with access to customer data and the ability to personalize communication should employ direct marketing. It’s ideal for businesses seeking measurable responses from targeted marketing campaigns.

Who Shouldn’t Create This Marketing Plan And Why?

Businesses lacking direct access to customer data or those in sectors where personalization is challenging may find direct marketing less effective. It requires a significant investment in data management and campaign tracking.

Buzz Marketing Plan

Buzz Marketing Plan

A buzz marketing plan is a document that outlines viral marketing tactics that will generate brand awareness through word-of-mouth.

The buzz marketing plan includes goals for social engagement and website references, the target consumer demographic, the key brand messages to promote, influencer outreach tactics, and promotional contests/hashtag campaigns.

It outlines the goals for social followers, mentions, and engagement, the target consumer most likely to amplify messages, the unique brand positioning and messages to convey, the approaches to fuel organic sharing, and the campaigns designed to facilitate viral spread.

Brands with unique, innovative, or highly appealing products that can naturally generate public interest and conversation should implement buzz marketing. It’s particularly effective for launches or special promotions aiming to quickly elevate brand visibility and engagement.

Who Shouldn’t Create This Marketing Plan And Why? 

Companies with products or services that lack novelty or a compelling angle may struggle to generate buzz. Additionally, businesses not prepared to handle rapid public response or those lacking in social media savviness should approach with caution, as buzz marketing requires active engagement and monitoring.

Cause Marketing Plan

Cause Marketing Plan

The cause marketing plan details a strategic approach for building awareness and supporting a non-profit through product marketing campaigns.

It includes goals for funds and donations raised, target audience Identification, key messaging focused on shared values, planned partnerships, tie-in promotions, and measurement approaches for impact created.

The cause marketing plan outlines the quantified fundraising and donation targets, ideal target audience aligned to the cause, brand purpose and values-based messaging, prospective partnerships and joint marketing campaigns, and tracking metrics to showcase awareness and funds raised.

Businesses committed to social responsibility and looking to build a brand that resonates on a deeper level with their audience should engage in cause marketing. It’s suitable for companies seeking to enhance their brand image, customer loyalty, and community impact.

Businesses without a genuine commitment to social causes or those unable to authentically integrate social issues into their brand narrative should avoid cause marketing. Inauthentic campaigns can lead to public backlash and damage brand reputation.

Digital Marketing Plan

Digital Marketing Plan

A digital marketing plan is a strategic guide focused on customer acquisition, engagement, and retention in online channels, including Bulk SMS . It encompasses setting objectives for website traffic, leads and sales, technical SEO priorities, paid and organic search plans, content creation, social media strategy, bulk sms, online advertising channels, campaign execution timeline, and budget.

The digital marketing plan maps out the goals for digital KPIs, SEO diagnostics and actions, owned, earned, and paid media plans across search, social, content and online ads, and details on campaign timing, resources, and costs.

Every business aiming to establish or expand its online presence should develop a digital marketing plan. It’s essential for reaching today’s digitally savvy consumers, increasing brand awareness, and driving online sales or leads.

Companies without the resources to consistently execute and manage digital campaigns across multiple channels might not benefit as much from a digital marketing plan. Additionally, businesses targeting a demographic less active online may need to prioritize other marketing strategies.

Growth Marketing Plan

Growth Marketing Plan

A growth marketing plan is a data-driven customer acquisition blueprint that details strategic levers that will be prioritized to achieve aggressive growth targets over the next 12 months.

It includes market analysis, goals for market share, metrics, and trends analysis, cohort analysis of high-value buyer traits, channel optimization priorities, partnership and referral opportunities, and a performance evaluation framework.

The growth marketing plan dissects category and consumer trends, maps out goals, analyzes historical performance, models target audience commonalities, prioritizes customer acquisition channels, identifies partnership and cross-promotion potential, and outlines a measurement system to track progress against growth goals.

Who Should Create This Marketing Plan And Why?  

Startups and businesses looking for aggressive growth should adopt growth marketing. It’s crucial for companies aiming to quickly discover scalable marketing strategies and product improvements that drive user acquisition and retention.

Businesses with limited capacity for rapid experimentation or those in highly regulated industries where rapid changes could pose compliance risks may find growth marketing challenging. It requires a culture of innovation and flexibility not all organizations possess.

Relationship Marketing Plan

Relationship Marketing Plan

Relationship marketing is a customer loyalty and retention game plan that involves a strategic approach to building lasting relationships, boosting customer lifetime value, and generating referrals and repeat purchases.

It encompasses satisfaction surveys, segmentation by value tiers, loyalty program creation, customer journey analysis, retention triggers and plays, referral program design, and expansion revenue modeling.

The plan outlines Voice of Customer insights, tiering criteria, customized loyalty program parameters, identifying at-risk purchase triggers, targeted win-back offers and re-engagement campaigns, structured referral plays, and projections for retention lift and reduced churn impact.

Businesses aiming to increase customer lifetime value and foster loyalty should implement a relationship marketing plan. It’s essential for companies that rely on repeat business and referrals, such as service providers, subscription-based models, and high-value product sellers.

Companies looking for quick sales without the intention to invest in ongoing customer relationships may not benefit from this approach. If resources are limited and the focus is on short-term growth, relationship marketing might not align with business goals.

Marketing Launch Plan

Marketing Launch Plan

A marketing launch plan is a strategic document that outlines the strategies and tactics to successfully introduce and promote a new product or service.

The marketing launch plan includes launch objectives and KPIs, target audience identification and segmentation, pre-launch market conditioning, launch creative such as branding and messaging, paid/owned/earned channel strategies, lead/sales conversion plans, and budgeting.

It outlines the business goals, ideal target market and customer segments, market education needed prior to launch, branding style and key messages, promotional strategies across channels, sales process post-lead capture, and allocation of resources.

Any business launching a new product or entering a new market should have a marketing launch plan. It’s crucial for creating buzz, ensuring a coordinated launch across all channels, and achieving early adoption goals.

Companies not ready to fully support a new product launch, whether due to budget constraints, market conditions, or internal readiness, should delay creating a launch plan. A premature or underfunded launch can harm the product’s market entry and long-term success.

PR Marketing Plan

PR Marketing Plan

A PR marketing plan typically focuses on earned media strategies, brand narrative messaging, and thought leadership positioning.

The PR marketing plan includes content creation for earned media pitching, reporter/outlet relationships and coverage targets, brand messaging strategies, securing speaking opportunities and panel participation, influencer engagement tactics, and media monitoring/sentiment tracking.

It outlines the content plan to support PR, target media and journalists, planned brand narrative and positioning, event participation and speaking opportunities, influencer identification and engagement approaches, and tools to monitor brand mentions and qualitative sentiment.

Organizations that rely on public perception, need to build or repair their reputation or want to establish thought leadership in their industry should develop a PR marketing plan. It’s essential for managing how the brand is perceived and engaging with the media and public.

Businesses without newsworthy stories or those that operate in industries where public opinion has minimal impact on purchasing decisions may find a PR marketing plan less critical. If resources are limited, focusing on direct marketing efforts might yield a higher ROI.

Brand Marketing Plan

Brand Marketing Plan

A brand marketing plan is a strategic document that cultivates and reinforces brand identity and equity through specific positioning.

The brand marketing plan includes branding vision and objectives, brand architecture strategy, target audience research and segmentation, brand persona frameworks, brand asset inventories, guidelines for identity, voice, and experience, and brand tracking over time.

It outlines the brand definition and goals, structure of sub-brands/product lines, analysis of customers and segments, brand personality attributes, current creative assets and gaps, usage protocols for visuals/voice/interactions, and frameworks to measure brand health quantitatively.

Companies seeking to establish a strong, recognizable brand or rebrand to better align with their audience’s values should implement a brand marketing plan. It’s crucial for businesses aiming to build loyalty, justify premium pricing, and create an emotional connection with customers.

Businesses that operate in highly commoditized markets with little differentiation or those not ready to invest in long-term brand building may find brand marketing less effective. If immediate sales and lead generation are priorities over brand affinity, focusing on direct marketing tactics might be more beneficial.

Conversational Marketing Plan

Conversational Marketing Plan

A conversational marketing plan is a strategic document focused on two-way engagement with customers across messaging channels.

The conversational marketing plan includes objectives for response times and satisfaction, analyzing historical conversations at scale, evaluating message platforms and features, mapping common questions and answers, building a customer service content library, and tracking efficiency improvements over time.

It outlines goals for response rates and satisfaction levels, aggregate analysis of past conversations to identify improvements, audit of conversation channel tools and functionality, development of self-service answer libraries pertaining to common questions, centralized knowledge base of support materials, and quantifiable metrics showcasing conversation streamlining impact.

Businesses looking to improve customer engagement, provide instant support, and personalize the buying experience should adopt conversational marketing. It’s especially effective for companies in industries where quick decision-making is part of the purchase process.

Companies without the technology infrastructure to support real-time communication or those in sectors where the purchase process requires less immediacy might not benefit as much. If the target audience prefers traditional communication channels, conversational marketing may not be the best fit.

SEO Plan

An SEO plan outlines the strategies to optimize web presence and improve search engine rankings organically over time.

The SEO plan includes auditing of site architecture, technical health evaluations, keyword research and mapping, metadata recommendations, link-building tactics, content optimization, search performance baselines, and reporting cadences.

It outlines site information architecture reviews, technical diagnostics, analysis of highest value search terms and topics, optimizations to on-page elements and markup, link-earning strategies for earned placements, content creation prioritization, establishing search KPI benchmarks, and frameworks to measure and report on progress.

Any business looking to increase its visibility online and attract more traffic through organic search should have an SEO plan, including the hiring of one or two backlink agencies . It’s essential for companies aiming to establish authority in their industry, reduce reliance on paid advertising, and reach customers at the moment they’re searching for related products or services.

Companies in highly competitive industries where SEO investment may not provide a short-term ROI, or those without the capacity to produce consistent, high-quality content, might find SEO challenging. If immediate visibility is required, paid advertising might offer quicker results.

Event Marketing Plan

Event Marketing Plan

An event marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines promotional events to bolster brand awareness and customer engagement through experiential interactions.

The event marketing plan includes goals for event metrics and ROI, target audience identification and segmentation strategies, event format options and venue considerations, messaging and experience design, promotional tactics to drive registration and participation, and measurement/analysis plans.

It outlines the business development goals supported by events, ideal attendee profiles, types of event formats and location/vendor options, brand experience and content plan for the event, promotional campaign to create awareness and event sign-ups, and frameworks to quantify event impact and ROI.

Companies looking to build community, enhance customer loyalty, or launch products in an interactive setting should consider an event marketing plan. It’s effective for businesses aiming to create memorable experiences that strengthen brand affinity and facilitate direct interaction with their audience.

Related Article: Best Project Management Software for Event Planning

Businesses without the resources to plan and execute events, or those whose target audience is not geographically concentrated, might find event marketing challenging. If virtual or digital channels offer a more cost-effective way to reach and engage your audience, focusing on those might be preferable.

Inbound Marketing Plan

Inbound Marketing Plan

An inbound marketing plan outlines content, social and other inbound strategies to attract and engage defined audiences.

The inbound marketing plan includes goals for site traffic, leads, and revenue, buyer persona development, messaging strategy and content mapping, conversion optimization tactics, nurture track design, and metrics for impact analysis.

It outlines website visits, lead generation and sales goals, detailed target audience profiles and segments, unique value propositions and content plan by persona, website and landing page optimization opportunities, lead nurturing campaigns, and measurement/reporting of inbound program ROI.

Businesses committed to building long-term relationships with their audience by providing value through content should implement an inbound marketing plan. It’s particularly effective for companies looking to establish thought leadership, improve website traffic, and generate leads organically.

Companies looking for quick sales or those unable to consistently produce relevant, high-quality content may not find inbound marketing effective. If your market is highly competitive or your audience prefers traditional marketing methods, alternative strategies might be more successful.

Each plan starts with core objectives and builds integrated strategies across pricing, distribution, advertising, and other areas to execute the plan and measure ROI. The specific approach depends on your overall business strategy and goals.

Furthermore, the traditional marketing plans may not work for millennials. So, if your target customers are mostly millennials, you need to know how to market toward millennials or Generation Y .

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy is the overarching purpose behind your marketing efforts, shaped by your business goals. It defines the solution you offer, its alignment with your company’s mission, and its significance in addressing your prospect’s challenges. It’s the foundation that guides the direction of your marketing activities, focusing on long-term goals and the overall approach to reach your target audience.

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is the execution roadmap of your marketing strategy. It details the tactical marketing efforts—the specific actions, timelines, and resources—needed to achieve your marketing goals. 

It encompasses the what, where, when, and how of your strategy implementation, including planned campaigns, budgeting, and metrics for tracking success.

So, these were the basic differences between a marketing plan and marketing strategy. In addition to this, many people confuse between business plan and marketing plan as well. Let’s find out how they differ:

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

Marketing Plan is a part of the business plan. A marketing plan is a document that outlines the strategy and tactics a company will use to acquire and retain customers. It focuses specifically on how a business will promote its products or services.

A business plan is a broader document covering all aspects of a company’s operations. It includes the marketing plan as well as sections on company overview, financial projections, operations, management team, and more.

In essence:

  • A marketing plan is tactical and centers on the marketing strategy and activities.
  • A business plan covers the entire business strategy and operations, of which the marketing plan is one component.

While the marketing plan is included in the business plan, it also serves as a standalone document that guides a company’s marketing efforts. But the business plan provides the overarching vision and direction for the whole company.

Here’s a comparison table to highlight their differences:

While both plans aim to support the business’s success, the business plan provides a comprehensive overview, and the marketing plan delves into the specifics of marketing the business effectively.

How Do A Marketing Plan and A Business Plan Work Together?

A marketing plan and a business plan work together like a map and a compass, guiding a business toward its goals. The business plan lays out the overall direction and objectives of the company, including its vision, mission, financial goals, and operational structure. It’s the big picture that shows where the business wants to go.

The marketing plan, on the other hand, focuses on how to attract and retain customers to achieve the sales and revenue objectives outlined in the business plan. It details specific marketing strategies, target audiences, promotional tactics, and budgets. It’s about getting the right message to the right people to turn them into customers.

Together, they ensure that the company’s efforts are aligned and coordinated. The business plan sets the destination, while the marketing plan maps out the route to get there. By working in tandem, they help a business stay on track, efficiently use its resources, and achieve its overarching goals.

How to Write an Effective Marketing Plan?

Steps of writing an Effective Marketing Plan

Writing a effective marketing plan helps a business figure out how to tell people about its products or services. Here’s how to do it step by step, in a simple way:

Step 1: Writing an Executive Summary

The executive summary is a short overview at the beginning of a marketing plan, typically 1-2 paragraphs. It should include your key goals, metrics, company background, future plans, and other high-level details that summarize the main points of your full plan. However, it should not get too detailed or provide specifics that will come later in the full plan.

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t include:

  • Do include : Key goals, a bit about your company’s background, and a sneak peek into your future plans.
  • Don’t include : Deep details or specific figures that you will discuss later in the document.

The executive summary introduces readers to your marketing strategy and gets them interested to read further. It sets the tone and acts as a primer for the rest of the plan. An effective executive summary grabs attention while being concise.

After drafting your full marketing plan, you can come back and write the executive summary to encapsulate all the key pieces into a simplified snapshot upfront. The details and specifics will then be elaborated on in the complete plan that follows.

Step 2. Craft Your Mission & Value Proposition Statement

A mission statement explains why your business exists, what values guide it, and the goals it wants to achieve. It should mention the impact you aim to make but not specific strategies.

A mission statement is like your company’s promise to the world. It tells everyone what you stand for and what you want to accomplish. Here’s how to make a great one:

  • Reflect on your purpose : Think about why you started your company and the good you want to do.
  • Define your core values : Write down the big beliefs that guide how your company acts.
  • Set your goals : Decide what big achievements you’re aiming for.

When writing your mission statement, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do keep it short and sweet : Make it easy to remember and inspiring.
  • Do make it about the big picture : Focus on your company’s impact and values.
  • Don’t get into the nitty-gritty : Leave out the specific methods or plans. That’s for other parts of your business plan.

Your mission statement is a big deal because it’s the heart of your company. It’s not just for you but for everyone who interacts with your business. It helps them understand what you’re all about and why they should care. So, take your time, make it meaningful, and don’t be afraid to change it as your company grows.

Step 3. Conduct a Market Analysis

A market analysis looks at potential customers and competitors. It helps you understand who wants to buy your product and what other companies you’re up against. Don’t include guesses or untested ideas; stick to real data and facts.

In a market analysis, you dive deep into understanding your business environment. This means looking at three big areas:

  • Industry analysis : Learn about the business world you’re entering. How big is it? Is it growing or shrinking? Who are the big players?
  • Target market analysis : Figure out who will buy your product. What do they like? How old are they? Where do they live?
  • Competitive analysis : Find out about the companies you’re competing with. What do they do well? Where could they improve?

Here’s what to do and not to do in your market analysis:

  • Use real numbers to talk about your industry and target market.
  • Look at both your direct competitors and others who might not be exactly the same but still compete for your customers’ attention.
  • Make guesses without data to back them up.
  • Ignore smaller competitors or different business models that could disrupt your market.

Your market analysis is like a map for your business journey. It shows you where you’re going, the obstacles you might face, and the opportunities you can grab. This step is crucial because it tells you if your business idea can succeed and how you can make it happen. 

Step 4. Address the “Four Ps” of Marketing

This step is about planning your superhero strategy:

  • Product : What are you selling? Make sure it meets your customers’ needs.
  • Pricing : How much will your product cost? It should be a price that makes sense for your customers and covers your costs.
  • Place : Where will you sell your product? Think about the best way to reach your customers.
  • Promotion : How will you tell people about your product? Choose the best ways to get the word out.

Step 5. Set Marketing Objectives and Goals

Marketing goals are broad targets like getting more website visits. Objectives are specific and measurable, like increasing site traffic by 20% in six months. Include clear, achievable objectives but don’t include vague or unmeasurable goals.

When setting your marketing objectives and goals, think of goals as your destination and objectives as the steps to get there.

Goals are big and inspirational, like “become the top seller of organic snacks in the Midwest.” Objectives are concrete and actionable, with a clear deadline and a way to measure success, like “increase online sales of organic snacks by 30% in the next year.”

Here’s how to make your marketing goals and objectives work:

  • Align them with your company’s mission statement. This ensures your marketing efforts support the overall purpose of your business.
  • Be broad but focused. For example, “Increase brand awareness among health-conscious consumers.”
  • Use the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Break down your big goal into smaller, detailed objectives. For example, “Launch a social media campaign targeting health-conscious consumers to gain 10,000 followers in three months.”

Remember, your objectives should directly support achieving your goals. Keep tracking and adjusting both as needed. This way, you’ll not only dream big but also take the right steps to make those dreams a reality.

Detail Your Objectives: Plan Your Path

After you know what you want to achieve, the next step is to get into the details. If your goal is to sell more cookies, how will you do it? Maybe you decide to create fun posts on social media or offer a cookie of the week.

  • Action Steps: List what you’ll do to reach your goals, like posting on social media three times a week.
  • Timeline: Set deadlines for when you want to achieve your goals.
  • You have a clear plan to follow, making it easier to achieve your goals.

Using SMART goals means your objectives are clear and reachable. Think about what success looks like and how you’ll know when you get there.

Step 6: Design Marketing Strategies

Designing marketing strategies means planning how to show your products to customers. Include steps like defining your brand and knowing your audience. Don’t include unclear or impossible plans.

Marketing strategies are your game plan for reaching your customers and making them want to buy from you. Think of it as a map that guides you from having a great product to making sure people know about it and want to buy it. Here’s what to focus on:

  • Define Your Brand : This is all about what your company stands for. Make sure your ads and products show what’s special about your brand.
  • Know Your Audience : Understand who wants your product. Are they young people, parents, or sports fans? This helps you make ads that speak to them.
  • Check Out Trends and Competition : Stay updated on what’s in and what other companies are doing. This helps you stay relevant and competitive.
  • Choose the Right Channels : This could be social media, emails, or ads on websites. Pick where your customers are most likely to see your stuff.
  • Set a Budget : Know how much you can spend and make sure it’s used wisely to reach your goals.
  • Measure Success : Use tools to see if your strategy works. If not, be ready to change things up.

Your strategy should be like a recipe that combines all these ingredients in the best way to make your product irresistible to customers. Keep it clear, make sure it matches what your brand is all about, and always be ready to tweak things based on what works best.

Step 7. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are targets used to measure success. They focus on important aspects of business performance. Include specific, measurable goals. Don’t include vague or irrelevant measures.

KPIs help you understand how well your business is doing in reaching its goals. They are like a scoreboard for your business, showing if you’re winning or need to improve. Here’s how to set them up:

  • Choose KPIs related to your main goals : If your goal is to increase sales, a KPI could be “increase monthly sales by 10%”.
  • Make them SMART : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. For example, “grow email subscribers by 500 in 3 months”.

You should:

  • Connect KPIs with your business strategy : This ensures every team’s efforts align with broader company goals.
  • Regularly review and adjust KPIs : As your business grows and market conditions change, your KPIs should evolve too.
  • Avoid too many KPIs : Focus on a few that really matter. This prevents confusion and keeps your team focused on what’s important.

By clearly defining your KPIs, everyone in your team knows what success looks like and can work towards achieving it. This makes it easier to spot areas that need improvement and celebrate when targets are hit.

Step 8. Action Plans/Tactics

Action plans are specific steps to reach your marketing goals. Include tasks, timelines, and who’s responsible. Don’t include vague ideas or actions without deadlines.

Action plans turn your marketing goals into reality. They break down what you need to do when you need to do it, and who will do it. Here’s how to make them work:

  • Outline each task : List everything that needs to be done to reach your goals.
  • Assign responsibilities : Decide who in your team does what.
  • Set deadlines : Give each task a finish date to keep things on track.
  • Be specific : Each action should be clear and direct.
  • Monitor progress : Check how things are going regularly.
  • Adjust as needed : If something isn’t working, be ready to change your plan.

Good action plans are flexible and clear. They guide your team step by step toward your marketing goals. Make sure your plans are easy to follow and focus on results.

Step 9. Budget Allocation

This step involves deciding how much money to spend on marketing activities. Include costs for each tactic. Don’t ignore unexpected expenses or limit flexibility.

Budget allocation is like planning how much money to spend on a shopping trip. You need to know what you want to buy (your marketing activities) and how much each item costs (the expenses for each tactic). Here’s what to do:

  • List all your marketing activities : For example, social media ads, email marketing, and billboards.
  • Estimate the cost for each activity : Find out how much money you need for each part of your plan.
  • Set aside money for surprises : Sometimes things cost more than you expect. Save some of your budget just in case.
  • Be ready to move money around : If one activity is working really well, you might want to spend more on it.

Having a clear budget helps you spend your money wisely. It makes sure you have enough for all the things you want to do without running out.

Step 10. Implementation and Monitoring Plan

This step is about putting your marketing plan into action and keeping an eye on how it’s doing. It involves starting the marketing activities and checking their progress.

To bring your marketing plan to life, you need to do a few important things:

  • Start the activities : Get all the parts of your marketing plan going. This might include posting on social media, sending out emails, or putting ads online.
  • Check on things regularly : Keep an eye on how these activities are going. Are people visiting your website? Are they buying your product? This is called monitoring.

You should include:

  • A schedule : When will each part of your plan start and finish?
  • Who is responsible : Who will do each task?
  • Tools you’ll use : What software or tools will help you keep track of everything?

Don’t include:

  • Unrealistic goals : Make sure what you’re planning to do is possible.
  • Vague tasks : Be clear about what each task involves so everyone knows what to do.

Having a plan for action and monitoring means you can make sure your marketing is doing what you want it to do. If something isn’t working, you can change it. This way, you can get better results and help your business grow.

Let’s look at some examples of marketing plans to see how different businesses plan to reach their customers and sell their products or services. Remember, a marketing plan is like a recipe for how a business can attract and keep customers.

Example of a Marketing Plan

Here are eight commonly discussed examples of marketing plans that you can model and modify for your own use:

Visit Baton Rouge Marketing Plan Example

Visit Baton Rouge Marketing Plan Example

The Visit Baton Rouge Marketing Plan is designed to boost awareness and visitation to the Greater Baton Rouge area. 

It’s a comprehensive strategy that includes situational analysis, SWOT analysis, identification of the target audience, setting overall goals, and detailed plans for leisure marketing, meetings, and conventions marketing, destination sales, and services, special projects, and events. 

An event calendar and recommended evaluation methods ensure the plan’s effectiveness and adaptability.

How It Works:

The plan operates by dissecting Baton Rouge’s market environment and potential, defining clear objectives, and deploying targeted marketing strategies across different segments. 

It leverages Baton Rouge’s unique offerings, focusing on leisure, meetings, and conventions to attract diverse visitor demographics. Special projects and events, coupled with effective sales and service strategies, play crucial roles in enhancing the city’s appeal.

Why It Works:

This marketing plan is effective due to its comprehensive and strategic approach to understanding and targeting potential visitors. By conducting a thorough situational and SWOT analysis, the plan ensures that strategies are built on solid foundations. 

It works by aligning marketing efforts with the city’s strengths and opportunities, ensuring that all actions are targeted, measurable, and tailored to meet the defined goals. The inclusion of a detailed event calendar and evaluation methods ensures that the plan remains dynamic and responsive to market changes​

Naperville Park District Strategic Marketing Plan Example

Naperville Park District Strategic Marketing Plan Example

The Naperville Park District Strategic Marketing Plan spans multiple departments to promote a consistent brand image and increase revenue. 

Outlined sections include an introduction, situational analysis, marketing and financial objectives and goals, detailed marketing strategies and tactics, public relations plan, budget challenges, and a conclusion. This cross-departmental plan allows Naperville to strategically align its marketing efforts for greater efficiency and impact.

How It Works: 

This plan starts by analyzing the market and identifying growth opportunities. It sets measurable marketing goals and details promotional strategies across various media channels. The plan also outlines PR and community outreach plans while examining budget limitations. Recommendations and next steps are provided to ensure a clear path forward.

Why It Works: 

The effectiveness of the Naperville Park District’s plan stems from its strategic alignment across departments, ensuring a cohesive marketing effort. Actionable strategies and tactical plans leverage a blend of marketing channels and approaches. Community-building through PR and transparency around budget constraints further strengthen the plan. A clear, forward-moving path with defined strategies and goals ensures the plan’s success in promoting the Park District and enhancing its brand image.

Wisconsin Public Library Systems Marketing Plan Example

Wisconsin Public Library Systems Marketing Plan Example

The Wisconsin Public Library Systems Marketing Plan Template offers libraries a customizable framework to strategically plan, execute, and monitor marketing activities. 

Key sections include research, segmentation, messaging, strategies, execution, evaluation cycles, and conclusions. This step-by-step process empowers libraries to connect offerings to community needs.

This plan starts with researching patron needs to define target user groups and craft campaign messaging. Promotional channels are planned for executing marketing activities, with feedback gathered to refine the approach continuously. The step-by-step process ensures libraries can effectively reach and engage their audience.

The plan’s success comes from its patron-centric model, allowing for custom messaging and ongoing refinement of strategies. By combining various promotional strategies with a systematic evaluation process, libraries can maintain a sustainable approach to marketing. This ensures that library offerings remain aligned with community needs, making the plan both effective and adaptable.

Agricultural Extension Service Marketing Plan Example

The Agricultural Extension Service Marketing Plan example walks through developing a successful plan using a hypothetical farm products business. 

Outlined sections include research, objectives, strategies, budget, response monitoring, and a checklist. This guides agricultural businesses through tactical promotions rooted in thorough market analysis.

This plan begins with researching customer needs and market dynamics to set quantifiable goals. It details both online and offline marketing tactics, defines budgets and timelines, and tracks campaign responses. This ensures that promotional efforts are well-informed and strategically aligned with business objectives.

The effectiveness of this marketing plan is rooted in its data-driven decision-making process and the establishment of measurable objectives. By employing a multi-channel approach and maintaining transparency around budgeting, the plan facilitates effective performance benchmarking. The comprehensive checklist further aids in ensuring that all marketing activities are systematically executed and evaluated for ongoing improvement.

University Of Illinois Marketing Plan Example

University Of Illinois Marketing Plan Example

The University of Illinois Marketing Plan offers a strategic overview of initiatives to increase student interest and admissions. 

Outlined sections provide context on admissions funnels, upcoming market research efforts, objectives, detailed marketing programs, and success metrics. This data-driven plan allows the University to connect messaging to key student segments more effectively.

The plan begins by analyzing stages of the enrollment funnel and conducting further research on student demographics. Specific goals for student outreach are set, with messaging and promotions tailored by student segment. Performance is benchmarked using indicators to measure the success of various initiatives.

This marketing plan’s effectiveness stems from leveraging detailed knowledge of the admissions funnel and incorporating extensive market research. By segmenting the audience strategically and customizing marketing tactics, the University can directly address the interests and needs of potential students. 

Trackable objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) ensure that efforts are focused and results are measurable, facilitating ongoing refinement and optimization of strategies.

Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network Marketing Plan Example

The Massachusetts Small Business Marketing Plan provides an outline for small business owners to promote their companies effectively. 

Key sections include mission, diagnosis, products/services, market analysis, distribution, promotions, competition, and an action plan. This framework turns marketing analysis into an organized blueprint for SMB growth.

The plan starts by defining the business purpose and offerings, and assessing the company’s position in the market. It then researches target customers and markets, plans routes to market, strategizes promotional campaigns, and examines the competitor landscape. This comprehensive approach ensures that every aspect of the marketing strategy is aligned with the business’s goals and the market environment.

Its effectiveness comes from the alignment with the company’s mission, thorough diagnosis of the current situation, and a clear understanding of product-market fit. By considering multi-channel distribution and targeted promotions, the plan addresses competitive differentiation and outlines a strategic action plan. 

This methodical approach allows small businesses to leverage their unique strengths, optimize resources, and navigate the competitive landscape effectively, setting a clear path for growth and success.

ProfitWorks Small Business Marketing Plan Example

ProfitWorks Small Business Marketing Plan Example

The ProfitWorks Small Business Marketing Plan template assists SMBs in strategizing positioning, products, pricing, distribution, and promotions. 

Key sections include current customer demographics, target markets, brand positioning, products/services, pricing models, distribution channels, and promotional tactics. This guides small businesses in aligning strategies to audience needs.

This template begins with an evaluation of existing branding and customer profiles to pinpoint ideal target markets. It then refines product or service offerings, establishes competitive pricing, selects optimal distribution channels, and plans a comprehensive promotional mix. The process is designed to ensure that marketing strategies are closely aligned with audience needs and business objectives.

The template’s effectiveness lies in its ability to optimize brand elements and focus on data-driven audience targeting, ensuring a product-market fit. The inclusion of competitive pricing strategies and omnichannel distribution plans allows for a cohesive approach to market engagement. 

Integrated promotions further enhance the ability to reach and resonate with the intended audience. By providing a structured framework, the ProfitWorks template enables SMBs to align their marketing efforts with strategic goals, facilitating growth and market penetration.

Business.com Small Business Marketing Plan Example

Business.com Small Business Marketing Plan Example

The Business.com Small Business Marketing Plan template allows SMBs to outline strategies by filling in proprietary templates. 

Sections include executive summaries, company overviews, target markets, go-to-market strategies, marketing goals, action plans, budgets, tools, and resources. This interactive plan turns templates into an actionable roadmap.

This template facilitates the process by pre-formatting foundational summaries and standardizing the sales process planning. It helps in analyzing target customers and capturing measurable marketing goals. 

Tactical campaigns are scheduled, and budgets are outlined, along with curating a list of helpful assets and resources. This structured approach ensures that businesses have a clear plan of action for their marketing efforts.

The effectiveness of this template is due to its built-in frameworks and customizable templates, which integrate sales processes with marketing strategies. Quantifiable objectives ensure that marketing efforts can be measured and adjusted as necessary. 

The documented game plan provides clarity on budget allocation and resources, helping SMBs to navigate their marketing activities with a clear direction and focus on achieving their business goals.

Each of these examples shows a different way to reach out to people and make them interested in what the business offers. By following a plan, businesses can focus their efforts and use their resources wisely to achieve their goals.

Free Marketing Plan Template

Creating a marketing plan can seem tough, but with the right template, it’s like filling in the blanks on a worksheet. Here are some templates to help any business get its marketing plan down on paper, making it easier to understand and follow.

1. Basic Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : This template covers the basics. It has sections for the business’s goals, target audience, marketing strategies, budget, and a schedule of activities. It’s perfect for small businesses or anyone new to marketing.

Download: Doc , Word , Open Document

  • How to Use : Fill in each section with your plans. For example, write down who you want to sell to and how you plan to tell them about your product.

2. Digital Marketing Plan Template

Digital Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : This one is for businesses focusing on online marketing. It includes plans for social media, email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), and online ads.

Download: PDF , Excel , Open Document , Google Sheet

  • How to Use : Write down which online platforms you’ll use, what kind of content you’ll share, and how much money you can spend on online ads.

3. Social Media Marketing Plan Template

Social Media Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : It’s all about social media. This template helps you plan your posts, decide which social media channels to use, and track your growth.
  • How to Use : Choose which social media sites you want to use (like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter) and plan out what you’ll post each week or month.

4. Event Marketing Plan Template

Event Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : This template is for planning marketing activities around a specific event, like a sale, workshop, or grand opening.

Download: PDF , Excel , Google Sheet , Open Document

  • How to Use : Plan out how you’ll tell people about the event, what kind of promotions you’ll offer, and how you’ll follow up with attendees afterward.

5. Content Marketing Plan Template

Content Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : It focuses on creating and distributing valuable content to attract and engage a clearly defined audience.
  • How to Use : Map out the types of content you’ll create (blogs, videos, infographics), where you’ll share it (your website, social media), and how often.

6. Annual Marketing Plan Template

Annual Marketing Plan Template

  • What’s Inside : This is a big-picture template for the whole year. It helps you set long-term goals and outline strategies for reaching them over 12 months.
  • How to Use : Break down your yearly goals into smaller, manageable tasks, decide when to do each one, and figure out how much money to allocate.

Each template is like a guidebook for your marketing journey, helping you stay on track and reach your destination successfully. Pick the one that fits your needs, fill it out with your ideas, and start making your marketing plan come to life!

How to Implement a Marketing Plan Effectively?

How to Implement a Marketing Plan Effectively

Implementing a marketing plan effectively is like following a recipe for your favorite dish. You need the right ingredients, steps, and timing to make sure everything turns out just right. Here’s how to do it, step by step:

Step 1: Review Your Marketing Plan

  • What to Do : Go over your marketing plan carefully. Understand every part of it, from your goals and target audience to your strategies and budget.
  • Why It Matters : This ensures everyone involved knows what the plan is and what you’re trying to achieve.

Onethread-Task Assign

Streamline your marketing plan review with Onethread . This project management software allows you to collaborate with your team , assign tasks, and track progress towards your marketing goals. By centralizing your plan in Onethread, everyone involved can easily access it, understand their roles, and contribute to its success.

Step 2: Set Up Your Team

  • What to Do : Decide who will do what. Assign tasks based on your team members’ strengths and skills.
  • Why It Matters : Everyone should know their responsibilities to work efficiently and avoid confusion.

Onethread-User Permissions

Onethread’s role-based permissions and task management features can help you effectively assign tasks and ensure each team member has clear ownership and deadlines. This promotes accountability and keeps your marketing plan moving forward smoothly.

Step 3: Schedule and Deadlines

  • What to Do : Create a timeline. Mark down when each task should start and finish.
  • Why It Matters : This keeps your plan on track and ensures that marketing activities happen at the best time.

Onethread-Gantt Charts and Visualization

Onethread’s calendar view and Gantt chart features provide a visual representation of your marketing plan timeline. This allows you to easily track deadlines, identify potential bottlenecks, and adjust your schedule as needed.

Step 4: Allocate Resources

  • What to Do : Make sure you have everything you need to carry out the plan, like money, tools, and people.
  • Why It Matters : Having all your resources ready prevents delays and problems later on.

Step 5: Execute the Plan

  • What to Do : Start doing the tasks in your plan. Follow your schedule and use your resources as planned.
  • Why It Matters : This is where your plan comes to life. Doing it right can help you reach your goals.

Onethread-Project Tracking

Onethread empowers your team to execute your marketing plan effectively. Assign tasks to specific team members , set due dates , and track progress in real-time . Utilize Onethread’s communication features to keep everyone informed and collaborate seamlessly throughout the execution phase.

Step 6: Monitor Progress

  • What to Do : Keep an eye on how things are going. Use your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure success.
  • Why It Matters : Monitoring helps you see what’s working and what’s not. You can fix problems quickly.


Onethread’s insightful analytics dashboards provide real-time data on your marketing campaign performance. You can track key metrics, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your marketing efforts.

Step 7: Make Adjustments

  • What to Do : If something isn’t working, change it. Update your strategies based on what you learn from monitoring.
  • Why It Matters : Being flexible allows you to improve your plan and get better results.

Step 8: Review and Report

  • What to Do : At the end of your plan’s timeline, look back at what you did and how it worked. Share the results with your team and stakeholders.
  • Why It Matters : Reviewing helps you understand what was successful and what could be better next time.

Onethread facilitates a seamless review and reporting process for your marketing plan. Utilize its collaboration tools to gather feedback from your team and stakeholders , and leverage its reporting functionalities to create insightful presentations that showcase your campaign’s performance. This streamlines the process and ensures everyone is on the same page moving forward.

Step 9: Update Your Plan

  • What to Do : Use what you learned to update your marketing plan for the future.
  • Why It Matters : Continuous improvement helps you adapt to changes in the market and keep growing.


Onethread’s flexible platform allows you to easily update your marketing plan based on your learnings and analysis. Utilize its features like project templates and task management to adapt your strategy, assign new tasks, and adjust timelines as needed . This ensures your marketing plan remains dynamic and responsive to market changes, helping you stay ahead of the curve and achieve sustained success.

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Following these steps can help you implement your marketing plan effectively, leading to better performance and more success for your business.

What Is A 5 Point Marketing Plan?

A 5 point marketing plan includes defining your target audience, setting clear objectives, devising a strategy, executing tactics, and measuring results. It’s a concise framework for organizing marketing efforts.

What Are The 7 C’s Of Marketing?

The 7 C’s of marketing are Customer, Cost, Convenience, Communication, Content, Consistency, and Computational. These elements help businesses focus on customer needs and effective marketing strategies in the digital age.

What Are The 7 Of Digital Marketing?

The 7 of digital marketing are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-per-Click (PPC), Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, and Marketing Analytics. These strategies enhance online presence and engagement.

Closing Words

Crafting a comprehensive marketing plan is the key to unlocking business growth and success in the competitive marketplace. By meticulously planning and executing marketing strategies that resonate with target customers, businesses can effectively use their resources to achieve measurable results. 

Whether you’re launching a new product or aiming to expand your market reach, a well-thought-out marketing plan is your blueprint to success.

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  • Oct 29, 2020

The Top 5 Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan

Whether you’re starting a business or exploring ways to expand an existing one, a Marketing Plan is an important tool to help grow your business and increase sales. An effective Marketing Plan will enable you to take a targeted and cost effective approach with regard to your marketing activities to drive increased revenue and ROI (return on investment), rather than the far too common and wasteful "spray and pray" approach.

The purpose of a Marketing Plan is to help articulate a strategy for promoting your brand and growing sales or revenue for your business. It also provides insights into your market, your ideal customers and how to engage them in meaningful ways.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

A Marketing Plan should also provide clarity regarding how your products / services are unique in comparison to your competitors, how you will price and distribute your products /services, and how you will target your ideal customer(s) with a specific and defined set of marketing activities, matched to your marketing objectives. A targeted approach will include the definition of marketing objectives, which may include increased brand awareness, or actual revenue increases through more sales, etc.

An effective Marketing Plan, carefully implemented, will drive the growth of your business through the use of carefully selected marketing tools and activities that are matched to your unique selling position, your brand and your target audience buying behaviours.

For existing businesses, a Marketing Plan should be updated annually as a way to guide growth and navigate the expansion into new markets. Your Plan should include explicit objectives for specific marketing activities such as your overall marketing strategy, sales strategy, SWOT, distribution channels, sales / marketing personnel, products / services, promotional plan and budget. A Marketing Plan is a complement to your Business Plan and the marketing budget is an input into your overall business budget .

Preview and d ownload your comprehensive Marketing Plan template for $49.99 + GST here.

The Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan:​

1. Identifies your Target Market

Through market segmentation, an effective Marketing Plan will enable you to identify and understand your ideal customers, their needs, problems and values; and how your product / service meets their needs or addresses their problems in a way that creates value.

2. Identifies your Competitors

An effective Marketing Plan includes the identification of your competitors from a SWOT perspective so that you can determine how you can improve or augment your offering to be favourably compared to the offerings of your competitors.

3. Defines your Unique Selling Position

An effective Marketing Plan requires the definition of how your brand, products and services will be positioned in comparison to your competitors in the market, in such a way that makes your offering unique and preferable in comparison to your competitors in the eyes of your target customers.

4. Supports ROI on Marketing Spend

An effective Marketing Plan includes the definition of specific and measurable marketing goals, time-frames and activities. This ensures that you only invest in promotional activities that drive a positive ROI, ie: promotional activities that match your target market's purchase behaviours, etc.

5. Sets out Strategy to Target Ideal Customers

An effective Marketing Plan utilises market research to map out a strategy to reach your target audience, including the messages, channels and tools that you will use. Again, this will prevent investment in marketing activities that don't support your defined strategy.

Many people engage us as business coaches to take a weekly / fortnightly step-by-step approach to the development of their own Marketing Plans and Business Plans, with the added benefit of our expertise and guidance throughout the process. In this way, you learn the essential aspects of running a successful business, while crafting your very own Marketing Plan or Business Plan over 8-12 weeks.

If you would like more information about how to create an effective Marketing Plan for your business, with our guidance in a coaching format, then please don't hesitate to contact us. Deb Banning , Co-Founder of Business Agility, has a Bachelor of Business / Commerce with double majors in Marketing and Business Law; and has also studied Digital Business Strategy at MIT. Read more about Deb's background, experience and qualifications here .

We are competent and qualified business coaches who are former CEOs and MDs. We know what it takes to be successful in business. We can help you to grow and improve your business. Book your free initial consultation now .

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Align Marketing Objectives with Business Goals

Metrics, quarterly benchmarks, data based on user insights ⁠— are all very important factors in drafting a marketing strategy for your business. But an aspect that isn’t mentioned as often is that you have to keep in mind the overall picture, and most importantly your business objectives, in order to have efficient marketing results.

At the core of all marketing efforts (should) always stand the business perspective and the desired outcomes you plan to achieve for it. Needless to say, an effective marketing strategy follows the business goals and further transposes them into actionable steps.

Or if it were to put these marketing efforts more simply, we could take the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook’s , straightforward words:

“We’re not focused on the numbers. We’re focused on the things that produce the numbers.”

In this blog post, we’re going back to the roots of marketing and emphasizing the importance of aligning marketing objectives with business goals, in order to identify what suitable efforts must be for each business.

Step 1: Define Your Business Goals

Broadly, business success looks the same for everybody — revenue, increasing customer base, ranking better in customer preferences than other businesses. But for creating a powerful, long-term strategy, the specifics in setting goals make the difference.

Defining business goals are a great way to:

  • Create a well-outlined path for your actions, while having the bigger picture in mind.
  • Decrease time for the decision-making process.
  • Have all the company departments aligned on the same mission.

The first step in successfully setting business goals is analyzing your short-term and long-term priorities. Giving your strategy a temporal dimension is essential in drafting all the necessary steps. Not to mention that short-term goals are most often essential in achieving long-term ones. 

Short-Term Goal Example:

Hire two more members in the sales department by the end of the month.

Long-Term Goal Example:

Launch 5 new products by the end of the year.

After identifying 3-5 important business goals that you want to achieve, try to prioritize them not only in order of importance but also in an order that can complement one another. For example, if you want to expand the project load of a department, and hire new people, the natural course would be to hire first.

Step 2: Set Realistic Marketing Objectives

The good news is, marketing efforts can sustain the majority of your business goals, but it is important to remain realistic and direct the company’s activities accordingly. For example, if one of your business goals is to increase sales, you can drive more leads and traffic with your marketing efforts, but it will ultimately be in the Sales Department’s hands to drive up the numbers.

So, how do we set realistic marketing objectives?

An effective marketing strategy thrives on two aspects: 

  • it revolves around a company’s USP — marketing the “ what makes our company different” to the right audience at the right time.
  • it follows the SMART goal framework , which covers all the necessary angles of a goal-setting strategy.

Specific: Using metrics is a must-do in marketing, and this is why our goals have to be specific. When aligning your business and marketing goals, identify the particular metric you want to improve and all the essential tools, team members, and action plans for it. Increasing site visitors, event attendees, or leads can be qualified as specific goals. 

Measurable: As previously mentioned, success can be broadly defined the same for businesses. But another important aspect in achieving success is making it measurable. As part of setting your realistic marketing objectives, always set measurable goals like increasing site visitors by x% or achieve 100 eBook downloads by the end of the month.

Attainable: Even though we live in the viral era, where you can dream of outstanding numbers of page likes or visitors on social media, marketers set attainable goals for their strategies. This ensures realistic outcomes and helps in creating a strategy to work towards them.

Relevant: Algorithms change, trends go outdated, and even your initially planned marketing activities can become irrelevant after a time. It is important to analyze all these factors when setting your goals, and identify how relevant your plan is according to your business, the platforms you’re using and the approach you’re adopting.

Time-Bound: Attaching deadlines to goals is a common practice in any sector, and your marketing goals are no exception to this rule. In order to measure and see results, you have to set your activities for certain periods of time.

Step 3: Concentrate On the Right Efforts for Your Business

It’s easy to get distracted by all the marketing efforts other companies are choosing and think of them as necessary. But the truth is that not everything works for everyone.

This is why steps 1 & 2 are vital to go through before creating the right strategy for your business. Only after having all the goals aligned, you can visualize the necessary steps towards them.

💡 Let’s take a previous goal example and transform it into marketing efforts — your business goal is to extend your sales department. What does this mean in marketing terms? That you need to work on your company’s employer branding profile and:

  • Position your company as a thought leader through dedicated blog posts.
  • Increase your site’s visitors, especially on your Careers page.
  • Drive more leads on your employing form.

Step 4: Start Measuring Your Impact

Increasing subscriptions, driving more sales on a product, gathering more site visitors. Measuring all this impact is important for business and it is essential for companies to understand their customers. 

An aspect worth mentioning in marketing strategies is that, more often than not, the results are surprising. Because no matter how well-defined a strategy is, we ultimately have to work with human behavior which we can not predict, only intuit. And while measuring the impact of our campaigns, we can conclude that we have reached broader audiences, that people prefer to take other actions on our site, or that the market isn’t ready for a certain product yet.

Step 5: Analyze and Adapt

Measuring naturally leads to further analyzing and adapting to the new information. Business and marketing can be volatile and we have to always keep an open mind to what’s working and what’s not if we want to achieve success. 

All the data gathered from these strategies can be used to fine-tune the next ones and better respond to our customers’ needs.

Bottom Line

Marketing objectives should always follow business goals and not the other way around. At Trustway Marketing, we listen to the business’s needs before imagining any marketing activity and adapt to market trends in order to put it into the best light. Contact us and let’s transform your business goals into effective marketing strategies!

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Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan

Back to Business Plans

Written by: Carolyn Young

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by: David Lepeska

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

Published on March 3, 2023 Updated on December 11, 2023

Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan

Starting a business usually requires both a business plan and a marketing plan. The first has many components, including a marketing section, and covers all facets of the business. The second is essentially an expanded and more detailed version of the marketing section of your business plan.

Both are dynamic documents that will change over time as you learn more about your business. This guide lays out all the details of what goes into a business plan and what is in a marketing plan.

AspectBusiness PlanMarketing Plan
PurposeOutlines the overall mission, vision, and direction of a business.Focuses on strategies and tactics to promote products/services.
Primary Focus Overall operation, financial projections, organizational structure.Market research, positioning, and promotional strategies.
ComponentsExecutive Summary
Company Description/Overview
Products/Services Offered
Market Analysis
Marketing and Sales Strategies
Operations and Management
Financial Plan
Marketing Objectives
Target Market
Value Proposition
Marketing Activities
Marketing Budget
DurationTypically covers 3-5 years of business operations.Generally covers a shorter term, like 1 year.
AudiencePrimarily for investors, banks, partners, and stakeholders.Mainly for the marketing team, partners, and stakeholders.
RoleProvides a comprehensive view of the business, including its challenges, strategies, and financial expectations.Focuses solely on attracting, retaining, and growing a customer base.
RevisionsUpdated as major shifts or changes occur in the business landscape.Frequently updated to adjust to market dynamics and trends.
Outcome ExpectationA roadmap for business growth, resource allocation, and management decisions.A blueprint for increasing sales, brand visibility, and market share.
  • Business Plan Components

A business plan has eight essential components .

1. Executive Summary 

The executive summary opens your business plan, but it’s the section you’ll write last . It summarizes the key points and highlights the most important aspects of your plan. Often investors and lenders will only read the executive summary; if it doesn’t capture their interest they’ll stop reading, so it’s important to make it as compelling as possible.

The components should include:

  • The business opportunity – what problem are you solving in the market?
  • Your idea, meaning the product or service you’re planning to offer, and why it solves the problem in the market better than other solutions.
  • The history of the business so far – what have you done to this point? When you’re just getting started, this may be nothing more than coming up with the idea, choosing a business name , and forming a business entity.
  • A summary of the industry, market size, your target customers, and the competition.
  • A strong statement about how your company is going to stand out in the market – what will be your competitive advantage?
  • A list of specific goals that you plan to achieve in the short term, such as developing your product, launching a marketing campaign, or hiring a key person. 
  • A summary of your financial plan including cost and sales projections and a break-even analysis.
  • A summary of your management team, their roles, and the relevant experience that they have to serve in those roles.
  • Your “ask”, if applicable, meaning what you’re requesting from the investor or lender. You’ll include the amount you’d like and how it will be spent, such as “We are seeking $50,000 in seed funding to develop our beta product”. 

Remember that if you’re seeking capital, the executive summary could make or break your venture. Take your time and make sure it illustrates how your business is unique in the market and why you’ll succeed.

The executive summary should be no more than two pages long, so it’s important to capture the reader’s interest from the start. 

2. Company Description/Overview

In this section, you’ll detail your full company history, such as how you came up with the idea for your business and any milestones or achievements. 

You’ll also include your mission and vision statements. A mission statement explains what you’d like your business to achieve, its driving force, while a vision statement lays out your long-term plan in terms of growth. 

A mission statement might be “Our company aims to make life easier for business owners with intuitive payroll software”, while a vision statement could be “Our objective is to become the go-to comprehensive HR software provider for companies around the globe.”

In this section, you’ll want to list your objectives – specific short-term goals. Examples might include “complete initial product development by ‘date’” or “hire two qualified sales people” or “launch the first version of the product”. 

It’s best to divide this section into subsections – company history, mission and vision, and objectives.

3. Products or Services Offered 

Here you’ll go into detail about what you’re offering, how it solves a problem in the market, and how it’s unique. Don’t be afraid to share information that is proprietary – investors and lenders are not out to steal your ideas. 

Also specify how your product is developed or sourced. Are you manufacturing it or does it require technical development? Are you purchasing a product from a manufacturer or wholesaler? 

You’ll also want to specify how you’ll sell your product or service. Will it be a subscription service or a one-time purchase?  What is your target pricing? On what channels do you plan to sell your product or service, such as online or by direct sales in a store? 

Basically, you’re describing what you’re going to sell and how you’ll make money.

4. Market Analysis 

The market analysis is where you’re going to spend most of your time because it involves a lot of research. You should divide it into four sections.

Industry analysis 

Research and describe exactly what’s happening in your industry, such as growth rate, market size, and current trends. Where is the industry predicted to be in 10 years? Provide links to your sources. 

Detail your company’s place in the market. Will your product fit a certain niche? Is there a sub-industry your company will fit into? How will you keep up with industry changes? 

Competitor analysis 

Now you’ll dig into your competition. Detail your main competitors and how they differentiate themselves in the market. For example, one competitor may advertise convenience while another touts superior quality. Also highlight your competitors’ weaknesses.

Next, explain how you’ll stand out. Detail your competitive advantages and how you’ll sustain them. This section is extremely important and will be a focus for investors and lenders. 

Target market analysis 

Here you’ll describe your target market and whether it’s different from your competitors’.  For example, maybe you have a younger demographic in mind? 

You’ll need to know more about your target market than demographics, though. You’ll want to explain the needs and wants of your ideal customers, how your offering solves their problem, and why they will choose your company. 

You should also lay out where you’ll find them, where to place your marketing and where to sell your products. Learning this kind of detail requires going to the source – your potential customers. You can do online surveys or even in-person focus groups. 

Your goal will be to uncover as much about these people as possible. When you start selling, you’ll want to keep learning about your customers. You may end up selling to a different target market than you originally thought, which could lead to a marketing shift. 

SWOT analysis 

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and it’s one of the more common and helpful business planning tools.   

First describe all the specific strengths of your company, such as the quality of your product or some unique feature, such as the experience of your management team. Talk about the elements that will make your company successful.

Next, acknowledge and explore possible weaknesses. You can’t say “none”, because no company is perfect, especially at the start. Maybe you lack funds or face a massive competitor. Whatever it is, detail how you will surmount this hurdle. 

Next, talk about the opportunities your company has in the market. Perhaps you’re going to target an underserved segment, or have a technology plan that will help you surge past the competition. 

Finally, examine potential threats. It could be a competitor that might try to replicate your product or rapidly advancing technology in your industry. Again, discuss your plans to handle such threats if they come to pass. 

5. Marketing and Sales Strategies

Now it’s time to explain how you’re going to find potential customers and convert them into paying customers.  

Marketing and advertising plan

When you did your target market analysis, you should have learned a lot about your potential customers, including where to find them. This should help you determine where to advertise. 

Maybe you found that your target customers favor TikTok over Instagram and decided to spend more marketing dollars on TikTok. Detail all the marketing channels you plan to use and why.

Your target market analysis should also have given you information about what kind of message will resonate with your target customers. You should understand their needs and wants and how your product solves their problem, then convey that in your marketing. 

Start by creating a value proposition, which should be no more than two sentences long and answer the following questions:

  • What are you offering
  • Whose problem does it solve
  • What problem does it solve
  • What benefits does it provide
  • How is it better than competitor products

An example might be “Payroll software that will handle all the payroll needs of small business owners, making life easier for less.”

Whatever your value proposition, it should be at the heart of all of your marketing.

Sales strategy and tactics 

Your sales strategy is a vision to persuade customers to buy, including where you’ll sell and how. For example, you may plan to sell only on your own website, or you may sell from both a physical location and online. 

On the other hand, you may have a sales team that will make direct sales calls to potential customers, which is more common in business-to-business sales. Sales tactics are more about how you’re going to get them to buy after they reach your sales channel. 

Even when selling online, you need something on your site that’s going to get them to go from a site visitor to a paying customer. By the same token, if you’re going to have a sales team making direct sales, what message are they going to deliver that will entice a sale? 

It’s best for sales tactics to focus on the customer’s pain point and what value you’re bringing to the table, rather than being aggressively promotional about the greatness of your product.

Pricing strategy

Pricing is not an exact science and should depend on several factors. First, consider how you want your product or service to be perceived in the market. If your differentiator is to be the lowest price, position your company as the “discount” option. 

Think Walmart, and price your products lower than the competition. If, on the other hand, you want to be the Mercedes of the market, then you’ll position your product as the luxury option. 

Of course you’ll have to back this up with superior quality, but being the luxury option allows you to command higher prices. You can, of course, fall somewhere in the middle, but the point is that pricing is a matter of perception. 

How you position your product in the market compared to the competition is a big factor in determining your price. Of course, you’ll have to consider your costs, as well as competitor prices. Obviously, your prices must cover your costs and allow you to make a good profit. 

Whatever pricing strategy you choose, you’ll justify it in this section of your plan.

6. Operations and Management 

This section is the real nuts and bolts of your business – how it operates on a day-to-day basis and who is operating it. Again, this section should be divided into subsections.

Operational plan

Your plan of operations should be specific , detailed and mainly logistical. Who will be doing what on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? How will the business be managed and how will quality be assured? Be sure to detail your suppliers and how and when you’ll order raw materials. 

This should also include the roles that will be filled and the various processes that will be part of everyday business operations. Just consider all the critical functions that must be handled for your business to be able to operate on an ongoing basis. 

Technology plan

If your product involves technical development, you’ll describe your tech development plan with specific goals and milestones. The plan will also include how many people will be working on this development, and what needs to be done for goals to be met.

If your company is not a technology company, you’ll describe what technologies you plan to use to run your business or make your business more efficient. It could be process automation software, payroll software, or just laptops and tablets for your staff. 

Management and organizational structure 

Now you’ll describe who’s running the show. It may be just you when you’re starting out, so you’ll detail what your role will be and summarize your background. You’ll also go into detail about any managers that you plan to hire and when that will occur.

Essentially, you’re explaining your management structure and detailing why your strategy will enable smooth and efficient operations. 

Ideally, at some point, you’ll have an organizational structure that is a hierarchy of your staff. Describe what you envision your organizational structure to be. 

Personnel plan 

Detail who you’ve hired or plan to hire and for which roles. For example, you might have a developer, two sales people, and one customer service representative.

Describe each role and what qualifications are needed to perform those roles. 

7. Financial Plan 

Now, you’ll enter the dreaded world of finance. Many entrepreneurs struggle with this part, so you might want to engage a financial professional to help. A financial plan has five key elements.

Startup Costs

Detail in a spreadsheet every cost you’ll incur before you open your doors. This should determine how much capital you’ll need to launch your business. 

Financial projections 

Creating financial projections, like many facets of business, is not an exact science. If your company has no history, financial projections can only be an educated guess. 

First, come up with realistic sales projections. How much do you expect to sell each month? Lay out at least three years of sales projections, detailing monthly sales growth for the first year, then annually thereafter. 

Calculate your monthly costs, keeping in mind that some costs will grow along with sales. Once you have your numbers projected and calculated, use them to create these three key financial statements: 

  • Profit and Loss Statement , also known as an income statement. This shows projected revenue and lists all costs, which are then deducted to show net profit or loss. 
  • Cash Flow Statement. This shows how much cash you have on hand at any given time. It will have a starting balance, projections of cash coming in, and cash going out, which will be used to calculate cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.
  • Balance Sheet. This shows the net worth of the business, which is the assets of the business minus debts. Assets include equipment, cash, accounts receivables, inventory, and more. Debts include outstanding loan balances and accounts payable.

You’ll need monthly projected versions of each statement for the first year, then annual projections for the following two years.

Break-even analysis

The break-even point for your business is when costs and revenue are equal. Most startups operate at a loss for a period of time before they break even and start to make a profit. Your break-even analysis will project when your break-even point will occur, and will be informed by your profit and loss statement. 

Funding requirements and sources 

Lay out the funding you’ll need, when, and where you’ll get it. You’ll also explain what those funds will be used for at various points. If you’re in a high-growth industry that can attract investors, you’ll likely need various rounds of funding to launch and grow. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure your company’s performance and can determine success. Many entrepreneurs only focus on the bottom line, but measuring specific KPIs helps find areas of improvement. Every business has certain crucial metrics. 

If you sell only online, one of your key metrics might be your visitor conversion rate. You might do an analysis to learn why just one out of ten site visitors makes a purchase. Perhaps the purchase process is too complicated or your product descriptions are vague. 

Learning why your conversion rate is low gives you a chance to improve it and boost sales. 

8. Appendices

In the appendices you can attach documents such as manager resumes or other documents that support your business plan.

  • Marketing Plan Components

A marketing plan, as mentioned above, is a more detailed version of the marketing strategy section of your business plan. It includes six components.

1. Marketing Objectives

Start by detailing your short-term marketing goals. This could be “Reach 10,000 monthly site visitors by next year’” or “Acquire 500 new customers by May”. Be sure to set clear and attainable goals so your marketing team understands its targets. 

2. Target Market

You’ll want to document exactly who you’re trying to reach with your marketing. You should’ve already done a target market analysis for your business plan, and you’ll use it here. 

What Problem Are You Solving?

Whatever your product or service, it needs to solve a problem in the market. So, ask yourself, what problem does my business solve? Next, consider who faces that problem. 

A plumbing company, for instance, solves the problem of broken pipes. Who deals with that problem?  Homeowners and property owners and managers. 

Depending on your business, it may not be obvious who has the problem you’re solving. If it’s not clear, do more research. Either way, knowing who faces the problem you’re solving is just the beginning. You need to know much more about your target customers.

Research Your Market and Competition

Now, dig into your market with some online research. Do some Google and Bing searches about your target demographic, where they shop and live, what appeals to them and so on. 

Next, check out your competition to see who they’re marketing to. It may help to study their marketing through the eyes of a consumer. 

What need do they fill? Who would find their marketing appealing? Where do they advertise? If their ads appear on TikTok, they’re looking to attract a younger market. 

This market research should give you a general profile of your target market – but that’s not enough.

Talk to Potential Customers

To learn more about your target market, go straight to the source. The best way to learn their needs and wants, why they’d buy your product and how they’ll use it, is to ask them via a phone or email survey. 

If you’ve yet to make any sales, it’s probably best to post your survey online then promote it on social media by offering a small reward, such as a gift certificate. Just make sure you ask the right questions to get the information you’re looking for. 

You can also hold in-person focus groups and offer your goods at a discount for participants. 

Create Customer Profiles

Now it’s time to build detailed profiles of your target customers. You may have found that your product will appeal to more than one group of people. These are called customer segments, and all your segments together make up your target market. 

Create descriptions of each group with all the information you’re learned. These profiles should include:

  • Pain points: the problems they have that you’re solving
  • Benefits your product provides
  • Their interests: what do they care about?
  • Buying patterns: where do they shop?
  • Age, location, income level, other factual information 

3. Value Proposition

Now you can use these profiles to craft a value proposition that will serve as the foundation of all your marketing. You may need to devise more than one value proposition to target different segments.

Your value propositions should be no more than two sentences long and answer the following questions:

  • How is it better than competitors’ products

An example might be “Payroll software that handles all the payroll needs of small business owners, making life easier for less.” 

Remember that you need to align your value proposition with the wishes of your target market.

4. Marketing Activities

Now you’ll layout the specific marketing activities that you plan to conduct. Your target market analysis should have told you where you’re most likely to find potential customers, so if you found out that your potential customers use TikTok, you can post and run ads there. 

You’ll want to only perform the marketing activities that are most likely to reach your potential customers so that you’re not wasting marketing dollars. If getting found online is important to you, focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and social media ads.

Make the activities as specific as possible, such as “Run a TikTok ad promoting ____ for three months.”

5. Marketing Budget

Now, determine what these activities will cost and set a budget. When you go through this process, you may find that you need to adjust your marketing to stick to the budget you can afford.

Your marketing budget needs to align with your goals. If one of your goals is to obtain 500 new customers, which will generate $10,000 in revenue, you can’t spend more than that on marketing. You have to make sure you’re getting a good return on your investment, or at least breaking even. 

Now you’ll determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the success of your marketing.

If you sell only online, one of your key marketing metrics might be your visitor conversion rate. You might do an analysis to learn why just one out of ten site visitors makes a purchase. 

Perhaps the purchase process is too complicated or your product descriptions are vague. The point is, learning why your conversion rate is low gives you a chance to improve it and boost sales. 

Similarly, if you’re not getting enough site visitors, you may need to revisit your SEO strategies. 

A business plan outlines the overall mission, objectives, and strategies of a business, encompassing aspects like operations, finances, and organizational structure.

In contrast, a marketing plan focuses specifically on strategies and tactics to promote products or services, detailing target audiences, promotional methods, and market positioning.

While the business plan provides a comprehensive view of the entire business, the marketing plan hones in on attracting and retaining customers.

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10 Components You Need In Your Marketing Plan

Stefanie Moore | Thursday, January 25, 2024

10 Components You Need In Your Marketing Plan

As a strategic document, a marketing plan outlines an organization's marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics. It is important for a marketer to launch campaigns and achieve business goals. Let’s explore the marketing plan and key components that must be included.

What is a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a comprehensive and strategic document that outlines a business’s marketing objectives, strategies and tactics over a specified period. It is a roadmap for the marketing team, guiding their efforts to promote products or services and achieve specific business goals.

A marketing plan provides direction, goal alignment, resource allocation, target audiences, guidance for decision-making and provides resource and budget allocation. It plays a central role in aligning marketing efforts with business objectives.

Components of a Marketing Plan

Executive summary.

The executive summary provides a comprehensive overview of the entire marketing plan. It condenses the key points to capture leadership's attention and serves as the hook to encourage further exploration into the plan's details. This is generally completed as the final element of the marketing plan but is first in the final plan presentation.

Situation Analysis

A marketer needs to know what the situation of the business, product or service is before they can promote it. The situation analysis includes background research into the brand, competitive research, industry insights and a look at current promotions.

The situation analysis will examine all aspects of the company so you can understand the capabilities within the market and become a leader in your industry. It also gives insight into whether previous efforts have worked and insight into different decisions that have been made.

Another component of the situation analysis is a SWOT Analysis. The SWOT is the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  • Strengths: Internal attributes that enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives. Ask yourself, what things does the company do well? What internal resources do we have that create value? What tangible assets do we own? What unique qualities set us apart from our competitors?
  • Weaknesses: Internal limitations that hinder an organization’s performance or potential. Ask yourself, where do we have fewer resources than our competitors? What things do our competitors do better than us? What operational processes do we need to improve?
  • Opportunities: External possibilities that can lead to an organization’s growth or advantage. Ask yourself, what market opportunities are present? What trends can we take advantage of? What’s the best way to leverage our strengths?
  • Threats: External challenges that could negatively impact an organization. Ask yourself, what macro-environmental factors may negatively affect our business? How do our weaknesses expose us to threats? What is our competition doing that could harm our business?

Target Audience Identification

You’ll define at least two audiences you want to target for this marketing plan. This can be a new audience for your brand, or focus on reaching more people like your current audiences. You cannot reach all people. Your audience must be targeted and you’ll want to define both demographic and psychographic characteristics.

Some common characteristics to define include:

  • Marital or family status
  • Ethnic background
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Personality
  • Interests and hobbies

You’ll also often see the target audiences built out further into personas. Knowing these specifics helps with building out strategies, tactics, messaging and creative briefs.

With the marketing goal and target audiences in mind, you’ll build research the brand perception and plan the brand personality and positioning needed to resonate with the target audiences. It’s important to have a strong, consistent brand message.

Examples of a brand voice:

  • Passionate: A legacy as a fiercely loyal, spirited community
  • Innovative: Cutting-edge and relevant, focused on staying ahead
  • Caring: Selfless and dedicated to the community, supporting each other and those in need

Marketing Goal and IMC Campaign Objectives

You can’t make a plan without outlining the goal of the marketing plan and a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objective. Your marketing goal will generally support the company’s business goals or the specific product or service goal.

An example of a marketing goal:

By positioning Under Armour as a high-quality brand for top-performing athletes, leading the way in innovative new products, public confidence and awareness will grow and increase sales in both its primary and secondary target audiences.

Common goals include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Increasing sales
  • Increase profit
  • Develop brand loyalty
  • Target a new audience
  • Launch new products or services
  • Expanding into a new market

Your campaign objectives will be supportive of that goal. You’ll generally have a few objectives to reach one goal. Here is an example of SMART objectives aligned with the goal above:

  • To increase news flow from the company by 25% during the calendar year.
  • To increase sales by 15% from the secondary target audience March-December.
  • Grow public approval by 20% by June.
  • Increase brand visibility of Under Armour Products by 30% over 8 months.

Integrated Communications Strategy Statement

With the audience in mind, use a venn diagram to outline rational and emotional factors your audience would want to use your product or service. Use these factors to brainstorm a strategy statement that will be the focus of the campaign.

Creative Brief

A creative brief is a document that provides a clear and concise overview of a creative project, typically used in marketing, advertising, and design industries. It serves as a roadmap for creative teams, guiding them in developing solutions that meet the client's objectives.

You’ll want to note your Integrated Communications Strategy Statement, the goal, the audience, what the audience thinks currently, what persuasive idea we want to convey, what we want them to think, why they should believe us and the creative and media guidelines.

Here you’ll outline the SMART media objectives and strategies. You’ll then break out the strategies into different media sources and note the strategies, tactics, rationale and budget for those media sources. Objectives, strategies and tactics often get confused, so we’ll explore each with examples.

An objective is a broad, overarching goal or outcome that marketing aims to achieve. It typically focuses on long-term results and should provide direction and purpose. An example:

Target 25 percent of the media budget to reach mid-career professionals in the marketing space without a master's degree a minimum of six times between February through July.

A strategy is a high-level plan or approach designed to achieve a specific objective. Strategies outline the overall approach or method for achieving goals and address the how for reaching objectives. An example:

Leverage a paid social media campaign to increase visits to the website’s academic pages with inquiry forms.

Tactics are specific actions, techniques or methods used to implement a strategy sn achieve objectives. They are more detailed and focused than strategies and involve the execution of specific tasks or activities. An example:

Purchase continuous frequency Google Ads for search and display to drive traffic to the website to specific pages with inquiry forms and contact forms for the recruiter.

Key Differences

  • Objectives answer the question "What do we want to achieve?" They are the desired outcomes.
  • Strategies answer the question "How will we achieve our objectives?" They are the overall plans or approaches.
  • Tactics answer the question "What specific actions will we take to implement our strategy?" They are the detailed actions or methods.

Putting it Together

  • Objective: Increase market share by 10% within the next year.
  • Strategy: Expand distribution channels to reach new customer segments.
  • Launch a targeted online advertising campaign.
  • Partner with retailers to offer exclusive promotions.
  • Attend industry trade shows to showcase products.

Timing Flowchart and Campaign Budget

You’ll take the different tactics and plot out a calendar for timing, as well as budget allocation per month or week, depending on the length of the campaign.

Breaking up the tactics into a flowchart will give you a macro game plan for bringing your marketing strategy to life. A marketing plan’s timeline offers a roadmap for meeting your marketing goal.

The budget allocation will support integrated communication activities, including staffing, technology, and external partnerships. You’ll want to keep a column of the budget for actual spending to stay on track.

Creative Executions

Here you’ll want to put together examples of ads for this campaign. You’ll want to make sure you cover your planned tactics and provide examples for the different platforms you plan to use.

Evaluation Plan

You will need to be able to know if the plan is successful or if you need to pivot. A marketing strategy is not set in stone. By evaluating your efforts, you can make adjustments to the plan to see what is resonating with your audience. Use your media plan and plot out how you can evaluate each step for performance evaluations.

Each of these components plays a crucial role in creating a comprehensive and effective marketing plan tailored to the specific needs and goals of the organization. Are you ready to take your marketing expertise to the next level? Check out WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications Online Graduate Program .

With our program, you will gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's dynamic marketing environment. Our capstone class offers students an immersive, hands-on learning experience that distinguishes our program. You'll be able to work closely with industry professionals and apply your learning to real-world marketing challenges and create a marketing plan for a real-world client as a student.

Plus, the WVU IMC degree can be customized so that you get exactly the education you’re looking for. Choose from more than 25 electives or specialize in one of our areas of emphasis. Learn what’s happening in our industry now and what’s coming next from faculty who are literally practicing what they preach every day.

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Meet the Author

Stefanie Moore

Stefanie Moore Marketing Manager

Stefanie is a marketing manager in the Marketing Communications Online Programs through the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. She is an alumna of WVU's M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and has been working in marketing for over 6 years after beginning her career in the newspaper business. She's a marathon runner and she recently ran a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

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Marketing Communications Today is a collection of resources for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Learn industry insights through the Marketing Communications Today blog, podcast, as well as Integrate Online.

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Marketing is an often misunderstood profession. Peers often stereotype marketing with massive budgets, loosey-goosey timelines, haphazard tactics, high-profile influencers, and Snapchat filters. In reality, modern marketing plans are more complex and orchestrated than a Premier League-winning football team.

Businesses have big goals to hit and fine margins to walk—and they need realistic, yet imaginative, marketing plans to make it happen. Sure, bigger companies can spend all willy-nilly hiring Taylor Swift for a commercial op and dropping a quarter million on Facebook advertising, but small businesses and startups have to get downright strategic with every dollar they spend.

If your business is trying to stretch every penny, you’ve come to the right place. This article will show you how to create a marketing plan in 2024 that actually works with a down-to-earth budget. We’ve included step-by-step actions, outlines, examples, and more to give you everything you need to take an idea to the market with laser precision.

Table of Contents

What is a marketing plan?

How to create a marketing plan

Marketing plan template

Marketing plan example

Marketing Plan FAQs

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What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a documented roadmap for how you plan to drive awareness, sales, signups, attendance, or other marketing initiatives. It outlines your KPIs, budget, and timeline, dictating everything from the critical milestones to the nitty-gritty to-do items.

Marketing plans come in all shapes and sizes. You could build an overarching marketing plan to document and guide your entire department’s annual goals and strategies for the upcoming year. Or you might create a marketing plan detailing the launch strategy for the brand-new product release coming out next quarter. Big plans can even include small plans, just like an adorable collection of Russian nesting dolls.

Plans can be short, long, fat, or thin—just remember what your plan is trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to pitch an idea to a team of venture capitalists or a local bank, you might need a chunky document with accompanying spreadsheets and financial figures. However, if you’re trying to communicate the plan to your marketing team leads, you’ll want to skip straight to the point with tactics, deadlines, and deliverables.

Regardless of your use case, the next section will give you the building blocks you need to create a marketing plan that works.

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How to Create a Marketing Plan

This section will show you the 7-step process to creating a marketing plan. Plans are fluid and versatile, so we don’t recommend filling out one of these with pen and paper—get your eraser ready because a marketing plan is never perfect from the get-go.

Here’s an overview of the 7-step process:

  • Establish Your Marketing Goal
  • Identify Your Audience and Competitors
  • Set Your Marketing Budget
  • Determine Your Deadline(s)
  • Pick Your Marketing Channels and Tactics
  • Outline the To-Do List and Make Assignments
  • Track Performance and Review Analytics

Don’t worry too much about making it all nice and pretty right now. Later, you can use our provided marketing outline to copy, paste, and format a more articulated version for widespread distribution. For now, just focus on hashing out each section and answering the thought-provoking questions.

1. Establish Your Marketing Goal

Define exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to drive more sales? How much? What about recurring customers? How many? Do you need to increase brand awareness? To whom and by how much?

Work out the details of what you want to accomplish, why, and how you’re going to measure it. Establish your KPIs early on to measure the success of your marketing campaign. You’ll refer to these numbers throughout the rest of your marketing plan, so get specific.

For example, how many website visitors you’re trying to drive will affect your marketing budget, deadlines, and tactics. And if you’re targeting a specific demographic, you may need to engage different marketing teams to use the appropriate channels and messaging.

Fine-tune your marketing goal so that you can communicate it simply in a single sentence. For example: “The goal is to drive 25,000 key decision-makers to the new product page by the end of October with a limited marketing budget of $75,000.”

2. Identify Your Audience and Competitors

Explain who this campaign is targeting. If you’ve already built out your buyer personas, you’ll just plug in the persona appropriate to this campaign. However, if this is your first time thinking long and hard about your target audience, really get to know the person you’re marketing to.

Depending on your product, industry, and market, you’ll want to know demographics like:

  • Marital status

These details help you identify a broad audience, but you’ll want to narrow it down with psychographics.

Psychographics dig deeper . They cover your audience’s:

  • Influencers
  • Shopping behaviors

Demographics explain the “who,” while psychographics explain the “why.”

Think about if you were trying to sell a baseball glove. How you market that glove is going to be very different depending on the buyer. Are your messaging and channels targeting a college athlete, recreational youngster, mom, dad, or low-income family? It’s hard to know what to say and how to say it unless you know who you’re talking to.

Don’t just gloss over this section. Without a target audience, you’ll be blindly throwing darts at a board—sure, some plans might work out, but it’ll come down less to strategy and more to sheer luck. A target audience and replicable formula make your success a science and not a game of Russian roulette.

Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to figure out who’s also targeted the same people. Competition research is a way to understand who you are up against for eyeballs, SEO rankings, and influence, but it also can serve as an opportunity to fill gaps in our needs that your competitors are missing.

One easy way to do this is to look at comment sections or reviews of similar companies in your industry. Look for:

  • Frequent complaints about product design.
  • Consistent issues with customer service.
  • Ads or branding language that falls flat.
  • If the competitor hasn’t made a product their customers are asking for.

By identifying your competitor’s weaknesses or gaps their missing with their customers, you’ll have a treasure trove of marketing copy to use in order to differentiate your business from the pack.

3. Set Your Marketing Budget

Marketing plans need budget constraints. Without a cap, plans could hypothetically include:

  • 60-second Super Bowl commercial
  • Cristiano Ronaldo as a celebrity endorser
  • Billboard advertisements along the entirety of Route 66

For most startups, that’s just not a possibility.

And it’s not where the magic happens. Powerful marketing plans turn tiny marketing budgets into impressive ROI. They prioritize the right channels, messaging, and tactics to stretch every dollar to the max.

Decide beforehand how much budget you’ll need to allocate to meet the goals you set in Step 1. When push comes to shove, you may need to throw additional money at the campaign later to get it across the finish line, but stay strong and do your best to create a marketing plan that works with the budget constraints.

Tight on budget but full on creativity? Check out our Small Business Marketing Guide: From Scratch to Success .

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4. Determine Your Deadline(s)

Deadlines create the boundaries to your marketing campaign—you can’t have a plan without them. No deadlines mean there’s a never-ending period to achieve your objective, and it’s probably not a good idea to have a 20-year free pass to accomplish that sales goal you set.

Set your deadline. Be realistic, but also be ambitious. The faster you achieve this goal, the faster you can move on to the next one—and each progressive goal should be moving your business forward.

Establish the final deadline for achieving your primary KPI. Then, set the necessary milestones along the journey. For example, you might set milestones for launching different aspects of your campaign, such as hosting 4 webinars, publishing 10 supporting blog posts, or earning a callout in 2 prime news outlets.

Finally, set the start date for when you’ll need to get the ball rolling to meet your deadlines. Don’t assume it’s ASAP—you might have a few weeks to get your ducks in a row instead of immediately heading off into a chaotic marketing battle.

5. Pick Your Marketing Channels and Tactics

This is arguably the funnest part of creating a marketing plan. This is the step where you get to choose the channels, tactics, and deliverables. The right channels and tactics will vary depending on your audience and product or service, but here are the most popular ones to consider:

  • Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the tried-and-true tactics of the digital marketing world. It generates an average ROI of $40 for every $1 invested —you can’t get much more bang for your buck than that. (Check out our complete email masterclass to learn how to conquer this lucrative channel.)
  • Social Media Marketing: Whether you’re running organic strategies or targeted paid campaigns , social media marketing is an excellent modern-day tactic for reaching consumers where they’re most comfortable: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, or TikTok.
  • PPC Marketing: Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing lets you run advertising campaigns on search engine pages and other websites across the internet. It’s a competitive way to get your content in front of the right eyeballs.
  • Content Marketing: Content marketing paired with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is a long-term tactic that can drive organic traffic (read: free) to your website for years to come.

And do you know what all these channels have in common? They each give you the ability to monitor your results and track your progress to prove if a channel is worth your time and money. Unlike traditional outbound advertising and its estimated impressions and influence, you know exactly what you’re getting with these digital marketing strategies.

6. Outline the To-Do List and Make Assignments

Here’s where you get into the nitty-gritty of your marketing plan. Step 6 is where you’ll outline everything that needs to get done:

  • Launch meeting
  • Recurring meetings and syncs
  • Creative assets
  • Promotional channels
  • Post-mortems

And that’s just the start. Outline everything that needs to happen to make your plan a reality. Once you know what needs to happen, it’s time to start making assignments. Someone needs to be responsible for every deliverable.

Here’s where you may run into roadblocks. You may discover that your creative team is overwhelmed and won’t be able to handle the creative requests until later, or you may find that other email campaigns or social media advertisements are the top priority.

If that’s the case, go back to Step 4 to revisit your timeline. Make adjustments to ensure there’s bandwidth available to make your marketing plan a reality.

7. Track Performance and Review Analytics

No marketing plan will go off without a hitch. That’s why you need your ear to the ground to understand what’s working. Through analytic tools, you can understand if your marketing plan’s target audience, messaging, or creative needs adjusting. Thankfully, most digital tactics allow you to do this on the fly.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with these basic marketing analytics tools:

  • Facebook Ads Manager
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Semrush or Ahrefs for SEO

For more on analytics, read our marketing metrics guide .

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Marketing Plan Template (Copy/Paste)

Marketing Plan Template: [Name of Project]

Marketing Plan Example (Filled Out)

Here’s a fake content marketing plan example for a fictitious shoe company.

Marketing Plan Template: [Project Zeus Running Collection]

Marketing Goal Drive $200,000 in sales for the new Zeus running collection within the first 4 months of launch day.

Target Audience The primary audience is 35 to 50-year-old male recreational runners who tend to run 30-40 miles a week at an average page of 8:00-10:00 minutes per mile. They’re not overly competitive, but they like to race 5K and 10K races occasionally throughout the year and are always trying to beat their personal best. Many have experienced mild injuries over the last few years that the Zeus Running Collection can help alleviate.

Marketing Budget We have a budget of $40,000 for the initial launch period. If we can prove out the Zeus Running Collection, we’ll allocate additional budget after the first 4 months.

  • Launch Day: June 1
  • Marketing Assets Ready to Go: May 28
  • Pre-Launch Teaser: May 24
  • Creative Assets Finished: May 21
  • Product Beta Tester Reviews Submitted: May 10
  • Written Content Creation Period: April 12 – May 7
  • Enlist Beta Testers: April 12
  • Project Kickoff Meeting: April 5

Marketing Tactics

  • Social Media Marketing: Target runners on Instagram and Facebook with paid ads featuring our endorsed runner racing in the shoe.
  • Email Marketing: Email existing customers with a 15% off discount code on the new Zeus Running Collection. Email prospects with a link to the product breakdown page with a code for free shipping.

Responsibilities and Assignments

  • Lizzy K: Creative assets
  • Mark B: Blog post announcement + product page
  • Spencer S: Beta tester outreach
  • Larry G: Email and social media marketing campaigns
  • Carly M: Project manager

Do I need to write a marketing plan for everything?

As stated earlier, marketing plans can come in all shapes and sizes. But that doesn't mean you need one for every single Facebook ad or whitepaper your team creates. The best marketing plans serve as a source of truth for your team to reach a goal. Within the marketing plan, you should have enough wiggle room to adjust your strategy and tactics. Marketing is an art and science, so there are bound to be surprises once you start executing your plan.

How do I know if my marketing plan is a success?

One of the most common mistakes marketers make is creating a seemingly perfect marketing plan and then going off script as soon as there's a sign of trouble or distraction. Using the SMART goal method (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound) is a simple way to ensure your marketing plan is applicable. Every marketing plan should be a success, whether you hit your goal or not, because you'll learn something new about your customer, tactics, and business throughout the process.

Who should make a marketing plan?

If you're reading this article, ideally you. A marketing manager or marketing team member typically writes marketing plans, but marketing strategy should start at an enterprise level. The more people understand the marketing plan for your business, the more you can work together (not in silos) to achieve a common goal. You'll see this happen in larger organizations where the marketing team works plan that the product or sales team have no idea about.

Plan It Out—Make It Happen

Every great campaign starts with an even better plan. Don’t leave your startup’s success up to chance—give it all the thought and attention you can.

With the right plan in place, you won’t be crossing your fingers on launch day or during the quarterly review. You’ll be sitting confidently, knowing that everything is running according to plan.

Need a high-level plan for your startup? We got you covered with our foundr+. Get access for $1. .

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps [Free Template]

Creating your social media marketing strategy doesn’t need to be painful. Create an effective plan for your business in 9 simple steps.

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps (Free Template) | Hootsuite

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing.

The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make it so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure.

In this post, we’ll walk you through a nine-step plan to create a winning social media strategy of your own. We’ve even got expert insights from Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing.

How to create a social media strategy:

Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template   to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.

What is a social media marketing strategy?

A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.

Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy.

Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Create. Schedule. Publish. Engage. Measure. Win.

Creating your own social media marketing strategy (video guide)

No time to read the whole article? Let Amanda, Hootsuite’s own Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing, guide you through our free social media marketing strategy template in less than 10 minutes:

How to create a social media marketing strategy in 9 steps

Step 1. choose goals that align to business objectives, set s.m.a.r.t. goals.

The first step to creating a winning social media strategy is to establish clear objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI) .

Each of your social media marketing goals should be SMART : s pecific, m easurable, a ttainable, r elevant and t ime-bound.

Psst: Need help getting started? We’ve got social strategy guides for small businesses , financial services , government , higher education , healthcare , real estate , law firms , and non-profits .

Oh, and if you need examples of smart social media goals , we’ve got you covered there too.

track your social media goals in a social media strategy doc, like this one.

Once you’ve decided on your goals, track them in a social media strategy doc — grab our free template if you don’t have one already.

Track meaningful metrics

Vanity metrics like number of followers and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.

For inspiration, take a look at these 19 essential social media metrics .

You may want to track different goals for different social media networks, or even different uses for each network.

For example, if you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs. If Instagram is for brand awareness, you might track the number of Instagram Story views. And if you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric.

Social media goals should align with your overall marketing objectives. This makes it easier to show the value of your work and secure buy-in from your boss.

Screenshot of chart showing how social media goals should align to business objectives for an effective social media marketing strategy.

Start developing a successful social media marketing plan by writing down at least three goals for social media.

“ It’s easy to get overwhelmed by deciding what to post and which metrics to track, but you need to focus on what you want to get out of social media to begin with,” says Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing. “Don’t just start posting and tracking everything: match your goals to your business, and your metrics to your goals.”

Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience

Get to know your fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs, and you will know how to target and engage them on social media.

When it comes to your ideal customer, you should know things like:

  • Average income
  • Typical job title or industry

Here’s a simple guide and template for creating audience/buyer personas .

Document important information about your target customers in your social media strategy doc

Don’t forget to document this information in your strategy doc!

Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, and how they interact with your brand on social media. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your audience.

Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90% of their users who referred other customers were between 18- and 34-years-old, and 65% of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40% lower cost per referral.

Check out our guide to using social media analytics and the tools you need to track them .

Step 3. Get to know your competition

Odds are your competitors are already using social media, and that means you can learn from what they’re doing.

Conduct a competitive analysis

A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.

It will also help you spot opportunities and weaknesses you can document in your social strategy doc.

track essential information about your competitors in your social strategy doc

Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into X (Twitter) or Instagram. You might want to focus on the social media platforms where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.

Use social media listening

Social listening is another way to keep an eye on your competitors.

Do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them. If they’re using influencer marketing, how much engagement do those campaigns earn them?

Pro tip : Use Hootsuite Streams to monitor relevant keywords, hashtags and accounts in real-time.

Try Hootsuite for free. You can cancel anytime.

As you track, you may notice shifts in how your competitors and industry leaders are using social media. You may come across new, exciting trends. You might even spot specific social content or a campaign that really hits the mark—or totally bombs.

Use this kind of intel to optimize and inform your own social media marketing strategy.

Just don’t go overboard on the spy tactics, Amanda advises. “ Make sure you aren’t ALWAYS comparing yourself to the competition — it can be a distraction. I’d say checking in on a monthly basis is healthy. Otherwise, focus on your own strategy and results.”

Step 4. Do a social media audit

If you’re already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working, and what’s not?
  • Who is engaging with you?
  • What are your most valuable partnerships?
  • Which networks does your target audience use?
  • How does your social media presence compare to the competition?

Once you collect that information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve.

We’ve created an easy-to-follow social media audit guide and template to walk you through each step of this process.

Screenshot of a social media audit spreadsheet for building an effective social media marketing strategy

Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, think about whether it’s worth keeping.

To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my audience here?
  • If so, how are they using this platform?
  • Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?

Asking these tough questions will keep your social media strategy focused.

Look for impostor accounts

During the audit, you may discover fake accounts using your business name or the names of your products.

These imposters can be harmful to your brand—never mind that they’re capturing followers that should be yours.

You may want to get your accounts verified too to ensure your fans know they are dealing with the real you.

Here’s how to get verified on:

  • X (Twitter)

Step 5. Set up accounts and improve profiles

Decide which networks to use.

As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.

Benefit Cosmetics’ social media manager, Angela Purcaro, told eMarketer : “For our makeup tutorials … we’re all about Snapchat and Instagram Stories. [X], on the other hand, is designated for customer service.”

Hootsuite’s own social team even designates different purposes for formats within networks. On Instagram, for example, they use the feed to post high-quality educational infographics and product announcements and Stories to cover live events or quick social media updates.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite)

Pro tip : Write out a mission statement for each network. A one-sentence declaration to keep you focused on a specific goal.

Example: “We will use X for customer support to keep email and call volumes down.”

Or: “We will use LinkedIn for promoting and sharing our company culture to help with recruitment and employee advocacy.”

One more: “We will use Instagram to highlight new products and repost quality content from influencers.”

If you can’t create a solid mission statement for a particular social media channel, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Note : While larger businesses can and do tackle every platform, small businesses may not be able to — and that’s ok! Prioritize social platforms that will have the most impact on your business and make sure your marketing team has the resources to handle content for those networks. If you need help focusing your efforts, check out our 18-minute social media plan .

Set up your profiles

Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, it’s time to create your profiles. Or improve existing ones so they align with your strategy.

  • Make sure you fill out all profile fields
  • Include keywords people would use to search for your business
  • Use consistent branding (logos, images, etc.) across networks so your profiles are easily recognizable

Pro tip : Use high-quality images that follow the recommended dimensions for each network. Check out our always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet for quick reference.

We’ve also got step-by-step guides for each network to walk you through the process:

  • Create a Facebook business page
  • Create an Instagram business account
  • Create a TikTok account
  • Create a X (Twitter) business account
  • Create a Snapchat account
  • Create a LinkedIn Company Page
  • Create a Pinterest business account
  • Create a YouTube channel

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Remember, it’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every network.

Optimize your profiles (and content) for search

Never heard of social SEO ? It’s time to learn.

44% of Gen Z consumers use social platforms to research their purchase decisions, which means it’s extra critical that your channels are optimized for social search.

That means making sure your profile names are clear and descriptive, you’re including relevant hashtags and keywords in your bio and on every post, and you’re using features like alt text and captions to include your target keywords as naturally as possible.

Step 6. Find inspiration

While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social.

“ I consider it my job to stay active on social: to know what’s trending, which campaigns are winning, what’s new with the platforms, who’s going above and beyond,” says Amanda. “This might be the most fun step for you, or the hardest one, but it’s just as crucial as the rest of them.”

Social media success stories

You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. ( Here’s Facebook’s , for example.)

Case studies can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own social media plan.

Award-winning accounts and campaigns

You could also check out the winners of The Facebook Awards or The Shorty Awards for examples of brands that are at the top of their social media game.

For learning and a laugh, check out Fridge-Worthy, Hootsuite’s bi-weekly awards show highlighting brands doing smart and clever things on social media.

Your favorite brands on social media

Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?

National Geographic, for example, is one of the best on Instagram, combining stunning visuals with compelling captions.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)

Then there’s Shopify. The ecommerce brand uses Facebook to sell themselves by showcasing customer stories and case studies.

And Lush Cosmetics is a great example of superior customer service on X. They use their 280 characters to answer questions and solve problems in an extremely charming and on-brand way.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Source: lushcosmetics on X

Notice that each of these accounts has a consistent voice, tone, and style. That’s key to letting people know what to expect from your feed. That is, why should they follow you? What’s in it for them?

Consistency also helps keep your content on-brand even if you have multiple people on your social media team.

For more on this, read our guide on establishing a compelling brand voice on social media .

Ask your followers

Consumers can also offer social media inspiration.

What are your target customers talking about online? What can you learn about their wants and needs?

If you have existing social channels, you could also ask your followers what they want from you. Just make sure that you follow through and deliver what they ask for.

Step 7. Create a social media content calendar

Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact.

Your social media content calendar also needs to account for the time you spend interacting with the audience (although you need to allow for some spontaneous engagement as well).

Set your posting schedule

Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images, link sharing, and re-shares of user-generated content to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns.

Your calendar also ensures your posts are spaced out appropriately and published at the best times to post .

Pro tip: You can plan your whole content calendar and get recommended best times to post on every network based on your past engagement rate, impressions, or link click data in Hootsuite.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Hootsuite’s Best Time to Publish feature

Determine the right content mix

Make sure your content strategy and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.

(We know, it’s tempting to jump on every meme, but there should always be a strategy behind your social media marketing efforts!)

You might decide that:

  • 50% of content will drive traffic back to your website
  • 25% of content will be curated from other sources
  • 20% of content will support lead-generation goals (newsletter sign-ups, ebook downloads, etc.)
  • 5% of content will be about your company culture

Placing these different post types in your content calendar will ensure you maintain the right mix.

If you’re starting from scratch and you’re not sure what types of content to post, try the 80-20 rule :

  • 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience
  • 20% can directly promote your brand.

The 80-20 rule of social media publishing

You could also try the social media content marketing rule of thirds :

  • One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • One-third of your content shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third of your content is personal interactions with your audience

The social media marketing rule of thirds

Whatever you decide on, be sure to document it in your strategy doc.

document your content pillars in your strategy doc

Don’t post too much or too little

If you’re starting a social media marketing strategy from scratch, you may not have figured out how often to post to each network for maximum engagement yet.

Post too frequently and you risk annoying your audience. But, if you post too little, you risk looking like you’re not worth following.

Start with these posting frequency recommendations:

  • Instagram (feed): 3-7 times per week
  • TikTok: 3-5 times per week
  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • X (Twitter): 1-5 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 1-5 times per day

How often to publish on social media by each platform

Pro tip : Once you have your social media content calendar planned out, use a scheduling tool to prepare messages in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day.

We might be biased, but we think Hootsuite is the best social media management tool. You can schedule social media posts to every network and the intuitive calendar view gives you a full picture of all your social activity each week.

Try It Free

Step 8. Create compelling content

Remember those mission statements you created for each channel in Step 5? Well, it’s time to go a bit deeper, a.k.a. provide some examples of the type of content you’ll post to fulfill your mission on each network.

If you’re not sure what to post, here’s a long list of social media content ideas to get you started. Or (to make it even easier) you can use an AI tool like OwlyWriter to generate on-brand content in a flash.

The idea here is to:

  • Keep your content aligned with the purpose of each network;
  • Show other stakeholders (if applicable) what kind of content they can expect to see on each network.

This last point especially will help you avoid any tension when your colleagues want to know why you haven’t posted their case study/whitepaper/blog post to TikTok yet. It’s not in the strategy, Linda!

Ideally, you will generate content types that are both suited to the network and the purpose you’ve set out for that network.

For example, you wouldn’t want to waste time posting brand awareness tweets if you’ve designated X/Twitter for primarily customer support. And you wouldn’t want to post super polished corporate video ads to TikTok, as users expect to see short, unpolished videos on that platform.

It might take some testing over time to figure out which type of content works best on which type of network, so prepare to update this section frequently.

We won’t lie: content creation isn’t as easy as everyone not on the social team seems to think. But if you’re struggling, Amanda suggests going back to basics.

The first question to ask is: is there cohesion between your content types? Is your content providing value? Do you have a good mix of entertaining, or educational content? What does it offer that makes a person stop and spend time? Creating a few different content pillars or categories that encompass different aspects of storytelling for your brand, and what you can offer your audience is a good start.

This brings us to Step 9.

Step 9. Track performance and make adjustments

Your social media marketing strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try.

As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.

That’s why it’s important to document your progress along the way.

how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Look at performance metrics

In addition to the analytics within each social network (see Step 2), you can use UTM parameters to track social visitors as they move through your website, so you can see exactly which social posts drive the most traffic to your website.

Benchmark your results

You’ve got your numbers, but how do they stack up to the competition in your industry? Industry benchmarks are a great way to evaluate your performance against other businesses in your category.

If you’ve got Hootsuite Analytics , you can use our built-in social media benchmarking tool to compare the performance of your social accounts against the average of brands in your industry with just a couple of clicks.

You can set up custom timeframes, switch between networks — Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and TikTok — and look up benchmarks for metrics like followers, audience growth rate, engagement rate, clicks, shares, and much more.

You’ll also find resources to improve your performance  right in the summary section:

Industry benchmarking in Hootsuite Analytics: Performance summary with dedicated resources for improvement

Re-evaluate, test, and do it all again

Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, social marketing campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your social media marketing strategy in real time.

You’ll want to check the performance of all your channels at least once a week and get to know the basics of social media reporting so you can track your growth over time.

Pro tip: If you use Hootsuite, you can review the performance of all your posts on every network in one place. Once you get the hang of checking your analytics, you may even want to customize different reports to show specific metrics over a variety of different time periods.

Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your social media strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.

Finalizing your social media strategy

Spoiler alert: nothing is final.

Social media moves fast. New networks emerge, others go through demographic shifts.

Your business will go through periods of change as well.

All of this means that your social media marketing strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans.

When you update your social strategy, make sure to watch our 5-step video on how to updating your social media strategy for 2024:

Social media strategy template

Ready to start documenting? Grab your free social media strategy template below!

the cover page of Hootsuite's social media strategy template

What’s next? When you’re ready to put your plan into action, we’re here to help…

Save time managing your social media marketing strategy with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can easily:

  • Plan, create, and schedule posts to every network
  • Track relevant keywords, topics, and accounts
  • Stay on top of engagement with a universal inbox
  • Get easy-to-understand performance reports and improve your strategy as needed

Try Hootsuite for Free

With files from Shannon Tien .

Do it better with Hootsuite , the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

Become a better social marketer.

Get expert social media advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Christina Newberry is an award-winning writer and editor whose greatest passions include food, travel, urban gardening, and the Oxford comma—not necessarily in that order.

Amanda Wood is a senior social marketing professional who combines analytical and creative thinking to build brands.

As head of social at Hootsuite, Amanda oversees the global social strategy encompassing organic and paid social on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn, a social engagement and listening strategy, and an employee advocacy program.

As the leader of a high-performing social team, she has extensive experience collaborating with creatives to bring campaigns to life on social and drive business results.

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how does a marketing plan complement business plan objectives

Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses (2024)

Use this free business plan template to write your business plan quickly and efficiently.

A good business plan is essential to successfully starting your business —  and the easiest way to simplify the work of writing a business plan is to start with a business plan template.

You’re already investing time and energy in refining your business model and planning your launch—there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing a business plan. Instead, to help build a complete and effective plan, lean on time-tested structures created by other  entrepreneurs and startups. 

Ahead, learn what it takes to create a solid business plan and download Shopify's free business plan template to get started on your dream today. 

What this free business plan template includes

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Products or services offered
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financial plan

This business plan outline is designed to ensure you’re thinking through all of the important facets of starting a new business. It’s intended to help new business owners and entrepreneurs consider the full scope of running a business and identify functional areas they may not have considered or where they may need to level up their skills as they grow.

That said, it may not include the specific details or structure preferred by a potential investor or lender. If your goal with a business plan is to secure funding , check with your target organizations—typically banks or investors—to see if they have business plan templates you can follow to maximize your chances of success.

Our free business plan template includes seven key elements typically found in the traditional business plan format:

1. Executive summary

This is a one-page summary of your whole plan, typically written after the rest of the plan is completed. The description section of your executive summary will also cover your management team, business objectives and strategy, and other background information about the brand. 

2. Company overview

This section of your business plan will answer two fundamental questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you plan to do?” Answering these questions clarifies why your company exists, what sets it apart from others, and why it’s a good investment opportunity. This section will detail the reasons for your business’s existence, its goals, and its guiding principles.

3. Products or services offered

What you sell and the most important features of your products or services. It also includes any plans for intellectual property, like patent filings or copyright. If you do market research for new product lines, it will show up in this section of your business plan.

4. Market analysis

This section includes everything from estimated market size to your target markets and competitive advantage. It’ll include a competitive analysis of your industry to address competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Market research is an important part of ensuring you have a viable idea.

5. Marketing plan

How you intend to get the word out about your business, and what strategic decisions you’ve made about things like your pricing strategy. It also covers potential customers’ demographics, your sales plan, and your metrics and milestones for success.

6. Logistics and operations plan

Everything that needs to happen to turn your raw materials into products and get them into the hands of your customers.

7. Financial plan

It’s important to include a look at your financial projections, including both revenue and expense projections. This section includes templates for three key financial statements: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement . You can also include whether or not you need a business loan and how much you’ll need.

Business plan examples

What do financial projections look like on paper? How do you write an executive summary? What should your company description include?  Business plan examples  can help answer some of these questions and transform your business idea into an actionable plan.

Professional business plan example

Inside our template, we’ve filled out a sample business plan featuring a fictional ecommerce business . 

The sample is set up to help you get a sense of each section and understand how they apply to the planning and evaluation stages of a business plan. If you’re looking for funding, this example won’t be a complete or formal look at business plans, but it will give you a great place to start and notes about where to expand.

Example text in a business plan company overview section

Lean business plan example

A lean business plan format is a shortened version of your more detailed business plan. It’s helpful when modifying your plan for a specific audience, like investors or new hires. 

Also known as a one-page business plan, it includes only the most important, need-to-know information, such as:

  • Company description
  • Key members of your team
  • Customer segments

💡 Tip: For a step-by-step guide to creating a lean business plan (including a sample business plan), read our guide on how to create a lean business plan .

Example text in a business plan's marketing plan section

Benefits of writing a solid business plan

It’s tempting to dive right into execution when you’re excited about a new business or side project, but taking the time to write a thorough business plan and get your thoughts on paper allows you to do a number of beneficial things:

  • Test the viability of your business idea. Whether you’ve got one business idea or many, business plans can make an idea more tangible, helping you see if it’s truly viable and ensure you’ve found a target market. 
  • Plan for your next phase. Whether your goal is to start a new business or scale an existing business to the next level, a business plan can help you understand what needs to happen and identify gaps to address.
  • Clarify marketing strategy, goals, and tactics. Writing a business plan can show you the actionable next steps to take on a big, abstract idea. It can also help you narrow your strategy and identify clear-cut tactics that will support it.
  • Scope the necessary work. Without a concrete plan, cost overruns and delays are all but certain. A business plan can help you see the full scope of work to be done and adjust your investment of time and money accordingly.
  • Hire and build partnerships. When you need buy-in from potential employees and business partners, especially in the early stages of your business, a clearly written business plan is one of the best tools at your disposal. A business plan provides a refined look at your goals for the business, letting partners judge for themselves whether or not they agree with your vision.
  • Secure funds. Seeking financing for your business—whether from venture capital, financial institutions, or Shopify Capital —is one of the most common reasons to create a business plan.

Why you should you use a template for a business plan

A business plan can be as informal or formal as your situation calls for, but even if you’re a fan of the back-of-the-napkin approach to planning, there are some key benefits to starting your plan from an existing outline or simple business plan template.

No blank-page paralysis

A blank page can be intimidating to even the most seasoned writers. Using an established business planning process and template can help you get past the inertia of starting your business plan, and it allows you to skip the work of building an outline from scratch. You can always adjust a template to suit your needs.

Guidance on what to include in each section

If you’ve never sat through a business class, you might never have created a SWOT analysis or financial projections. Templates that offer guidance—in plain language—about how to fill in each section can help you navigate sometimes-daunting business jargon and create a complete and effective plan.

Knowing you’ve considered every section

In some cases, you may not need to complete every section of a startup business plan template, but its initial structure shows you you’re choosing to omit a section as opposed to forgetting to include it in the first place.

Tips for creating a successful business plan

There are some high-level strategic guidelines beyond the advice included in this free business plan template that can help you write an effective, complete plan while minimizing busywork.

Understand the audience for your plan

If you’re writing a business plan for yourself in order to get clarity on your ideas and your industry as a whole, you may not need to include the same level of detail or polish you would with a business plan you want to send to potential investors. Knowing who will read your plan will help you decide how much time to spend on it.

Know your goals

Understanding the goals of your plan can help you set the right scope. If your goal is to use the plan as a roadmap for growth, you may invest more time in it than if your goal is to understand the competitive landscape of a new industry.

Take it step by step

Writing a 10- to 15-page document can feel daunting, so try to tackle one section at a time. Select a couple of sections you feel most confident writing and start there—you can start on the next few sections once those are complete. Jot down bullet-point notes in each section before you start writing to organize your thoughts and streamline the writing process.

Maximize your business planning efforts

Planning is key to the financial success of any type of business , whether you’re a startup, non-profit, or corporation.

To make sure your efforts are focused on the highest-value parts of your own business planning, like clarifying your goals, setting a strategy, and understanding the target market and competitive landscape, lean on a business plan outline to handle the structure and format for you. Even if you eventually omit sections, you’ll save yourself time and energy by starting with a framework already in place.

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Business plan template FAQ

What is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of your business plan is to describe a new business opportunity or an existing one. It clarifies the business strategy, marketing plan, financial forecasts, potential providers, and more information about the company.

How do I write a simple business plan?

  • Choose a business plan format, such as a traditional or a one-page business plan. 
  • Find a business plan template.
  • Read through a business plan sample.
  • Fill in the sections of your business plan.

What is the best business plan template?

If you need help writing a business plan, Shopify’s template is one of the most beginner-friendly options you’ll find. It’s comprehensive, well-written, and helps you fill out every section.

What are the 5 essential parts of a business plan?

The five essential parts of a traditional business plan include:

  • Executive summary: This is a brief overview of the business plan, summarizing the key points and highlighting the main points of the plan.
  • Business description: This section outlines the business concept and how it will be executed.
  • Market analysis: This section provides an in-depth look at the target market and how the business will compete in the marketplace.
  • Financial plan: This section details the financial projections for the business, including sales forecasts, capital requirements, and a break-even analysis.
  • Management and organization: This section describes the management team and the organizational structure of the business.

Are there any free business plan templates?

There are several free templates for business plans for small business owners available online, including Shopify’s own version. Download a copy for your business.

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