This article will explore what a marketing plan is and how you could create one to achieve more business growth.
You’re also going to learn two different types of marketing plans for various purposes so that you’re not overplanning and instead focusing on action and delivering the goals for your business.
Entrepreneurs and companies use marketing plans to figure out how they will achieve their goals in the future through the power of marketing.
Every company and team that wishes to achieve something with marketing will need a plan around it. Some will require more in-depth plans, while others need only reference points for benchmarking their results.
Whether you’re curious about marketing, an entrepreneur, a small business, a startup, a marketing team within a company, marketing plans play a crucial role in our day-to-day marketing when achieving our companies’ growth.
But before we start developing the plan, let’s see what it is.
What Is A Marketing Plan?
Companies and organizations use marketing plans as a strategic tool to track, achieve, and execute business goals with a marketing strategy.
Marketing plans can be large, small, precise, or motivational, but what binds them is the goals they want to achieve.
Concretely a marketing plan will consist of all the planned marketing strategies a company will use to get to their goals achieved.
In your marketing plan, you want to establish the goals and how you will achieve them while setting up the proper measurements to analyze and benchmark results.
A marketing plan combines all your marketing strategies under one goal, metrics, single-purposely drive your company’s marketing efforts.
Traditionally a marketing plan is a part of a business plan that helps companies achieve their business goals.
Since the inception of new marketing strategies, whether online and offline, a traditional marketing plan also has to evolve into something more flexible, actionable, and measurable.
In the past, we would only create a marketing plan once a year or quarterly. Nowadays, a more data-driven approach that evolves through time is necessary to achieve success in the marketplace.
A marketing plan for executives in a corporation will still be overarching the whole business and its teams. The teams within a company (or small companies and startups) require specific marketing plans for each marketing strategy to win in a new marketing channel.
Marketing Plan Benefits
A marketing plan has many benefits to our businesses, and we have many reasons to need one for multiple approaches and companies’ stages.
Through these benefits, you’ll see why we even need marketing plans in the first place, so you have reason to create one further down this article.
Marketing plan benefits:
- Helps you realize your business strengths and weaknesses
- Enables you to focus on a singular goal that you need to achieve
- The creation of subgoals you need to achieve
- As documentation helps you benchmark past strategies and their results to new ones.
- Learn new marketing strategies
- Learn to implement new methods
- See the bigger picture of your business’s position in the marketplace
- Helps you organize your resources to one goal
- Combat uncertainty
- Enables you to understand your goals and performance in a data-driven way
- Improve your business plan and the business model it includes
The Two Marketing Plans We Need
Traditionally a marketing plan is part of a business plan and how one could achieve their business goals through marketing.
However, a static marketing plan nowadays isn’t the most suitable option for most companies.
Marketing and its strategies and methods develop and change regularly. And a static marketing plan can undo our progress in most cases if we are not carefully implementing it.
What we suggest is to have two separate marketing plans.
One is for our daily, weekly, and monthly objectives.
On the other hand, the second marketing plan is for our business’s strategic marketing goals for the future.
We need to separate how we do marketing and its planning because if we set on a path and are not willing to change it, in the future, we might see that something isn’t working.
But rest assured, we need both styles of plans to succeed, and in some cases, if you’re seeking funding or loans from institutions, you need to show a realistic marketing plan that shows you understand your market you target.
Without a simple marketing plan that can develop through time, experience, and data, we risk using outdated methods to target something we know isn’t going to work.
And you need to realize the amount of time you use for any marketing plan. A simple marketing plan should only take you a couple of hours. You plan for a couple of hours, and then you start executing it.
A complete marketing plan can take a long time to create, and if you find yourself planning too much, cut off things that you know are not realistic.
In the end, a plan is for ourselves to help us be on a path we created, and a too complicated one isn’t going to help us.
Simple Marketing Plan Template
The goal of a simple marketing plan template is to have a basic understanding of:
- What you want to achieve with marketing
- How you’re going to achieve it
- What are your available resources?
When you answer these three simple yet challenging questions, you’re already 90% ready with your plan. And the question functions as a template for any marketing strategy for the future.
A simple marketing plan is also flexible. When you can answer and reiterate the three questions into every marketing problem, you’ll always know what to do next.
When creating marketing plans, our goal is that it doesn’t take too much time, is 100% actionable, and measurable.
We can’t spend all of our time planning for unpredictable modern marketing methods in a fast-moving world. All of us need to aspire for a growth mentality. And we strive for growth through fast execution and analysis.
Simple Marketing Plan Example
As an example, let’s answer these questions as simply as we can:
- I want to grow my online traffic 100% in the next 60 days
- I will use a combination of search engine marketing (SEM) and content marketing to achieve it.
- I have a marketing budget of $ 2000 available, and I have the people to run the campaigns.
You can either run through your plan for the whole 60 days or change it up when you learn new insight.
For example, if your only goal is online traffic, then content marketing (like blogging with SEO) wouldn’t likely produce the traffic goals you want in the time you gave the plan.
So, it’s time to change the plan again.
Say, the goal still is unchanged. But with new insights, you learn that if you want to double online traffic in 60 days, you’ll need another strategy other than content marketing.
You’ll research again and decide using Facebook ads. You then split the budget between SEM and Facebook ads for the remaining time left.
After this, you’ll start analyzing how did you perform. Did SEM or Facebook produce more results compared to each other? Did you achieve 100% growth?
If you did, great. Take the winning strategy and implement it into a new marketing plan again in the future if you want more traffic fast or need online traffic to produce another business goal you have, like sales.
The process is simple; when we don’t overthink it. You create the preliminary plan and execute it, and if it works, continue. If it didn’t, disregard it as soon as possible, and try with a new plan.
As your plan will go through many versions, it’s essential to remember that goals are subject to change, even if you don’t realize it.
How To Create A Marketing Plan
Now, as you have a basic understanding of a marketing plan and what it entails, let’s look more at these essential questions to go deeper into our planning process when we need to.
Always be realistic about what you truly want to achieve and when and how.
Think about it like this: you’ll use the simple marketing plan template to plan, evaluate, and execute your everyday marketing objectives, and you’ll use the larger marketing plan on the background on which you benchmark your results.
Essentially, more extensive marketing plans require more effort and thought, as their primary purpose is for others to understand how you’re going to achieve what you say you want to achieve.
And it primarily plays with the three questions we went through in the template.
One marketing plan tip is to go about it from a product-first mentality. We mean trying to understand what makes your product, service, or business model unique in the marketplace and use those strengths to your advantage when planning your marketing plan.
By default, a product-first marketing plan helps you understand the core of what makes your product unique and what your customers would potentially see as worth their money and time.
When creating a marketing plan, understanding and using the concepts that make the marketing mix are also helpful.
A plan is void without a goal, and in a marketing plan, the same applies. Without a goal, you’ll never know whether you succeeded with it or not.
A goal also determines the end of the marketing plan. A single marketing plan can’t go forever; therefore, an ending is crucial.
Every goal has to be measurable. Whether that’s sales, traffic, or brand awareness, you will need to set the right KPIs to analyze whether you achieved the goal or not.
A goal in a marketing plan has to be realistic and achievable with the resources you have. An aim too optimistic isn’t going to help you in the long-term, and while it’s great to have aspirations of where we want to be if we don’t bring the aspirations back to reality, we will have a more challenging time to achieve our goals.
Leave the aspirations in your mission statements.
A good goal is something that you can visualize. If you don’t see where to start to get you closer to the goal and if you can’t see the goal’s first step, re-evaluate said goals or research and develop your plan until you see how to achieve the first step.
And goals don’t have to be complicated either. Just something you can realistically achieve, and the goal itself is helpful for the business.
Setting KPIs For Your Marketing Plan Goals
You start assigning KPIs to your goal by breaking it down further. You want to have sub-goals within your primary goal. Breakdown sub-goals into their steps as well.
When you figure subgoals, you need to achieve, then plan out the metrics and KPIs they represent in your goals.
When you have your subgoals and metrics ready, design a funnel around all the steps and goals.
By doing this, you’ll have an easier time measuring steps (or subgoals) independently from each other. If you were to measure the primary goal only, you’d risk not learning enough to implement your marketing strategies eventually.
Measuring is crucial in marketing plans. It shows that you can understand the elements of achieving what you want.
All the data you gather during your marketing efforts can be helpful for later, even if you’re not successful the first time.
Plan Your Target Audience
When deciding what your target audience is, remember that assumptions are dangerous. We can never be sure whether the decisions we make about our target audience are right or even worth pursuing.
We’ll use the data we collect to build our target audiences, but we always need a starting point.
Every product and business will have a set of main criteria for their target audience.
For example, whether you’re:
- Business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C)
- Serving local or international customers
- Selling a cheaper service or an expensive product
- Selling online-only or physical only
You will see clearly that some hard characteristics will mold your target audience in the beginning.
But the profitability comes through the details we find in our audiences through data instead of relying on stereotypical features or common knowledge.
But for a starting point on which you begin your marketing journey, you will need the basics of building a buyer persona or starting with analyzing online data if you have enough of it through web analytics.
Plan Your Marketing Budget
Whether your main cost comes from advertising itself or content marketing and hiring marketing specialist, you will need to define your plan’s marketing costs.
Defining your budget and handling the marketing plan’s cost is the constant in your plans; you will always have control of how much you’re spending.
Set clear targets on the spending by going back to your goals and KPIs. You can be as strict as you want. For example, a marketing strategy has to deliver a KPI under $X, or it isn’t working enough.
If you understand even roughly how much a new customer costs (CAC), it will make testing new marketing strategies more effective. Customer acquisition costs change a lot more often than not, and we can’t be super strict on how much we are willing to spend on each customer to achieve a KPI.
But we can make sure we are not losing money or overspending on underperforming strategies.
Budgets limit our opportunities and available marketing channels by default, and that’s why we need to be sure how much we can spend to reach our goals. Otherwise, we might overspend all of our budgets before we even know it.
And take all the cost associated with marketing into consideration, this includes the costs of:
- Content creation & distribution
- Marketing fees
- Employees or freelancers
- Marketing tools
- Include everything that costs money or time to execute your marketing plan.
Plan The Use Of Marketing Resources
As with the budget, we need to plan the use of available resources in our marketing plans.
The goal here is to maximize how we use the resources we have to achieve our goals.
Whether that’s planning which teams do what in marketing, or employee allocation, it’s crucial to have them planned.
It’s easy to over-allocate resources to parts of your plan that won’t produce the most results. In some cases, under allocation leads to not gaining the maximum potential of strategy within your plan.
Then there’s the use of marketing tools (like social media marketing tools). Research whether there are tools that could save you time on marketing or improve overall marketing ROI.
Depending on what you’re trying to achieve through marketing, resource allocation can be a massive part of your plan.
But for small teams, businesses, or startups, resources will be limited, and the main factor is how we manage our budgets in our marketing plans. Regardless, it’s something essential to note when and if a situation where you have more resources is available to your business.
If you have non-monetary resources like connections, leads, people willing to help, and other marketing advantages, planning their use can be beneficial.
Understand Your Competitor’s Marketing strategy
Learn and get inspired without copying because a marketing plan that you build upon competitors’ front-facing marketing strategies might not be the best idea.
Here most of us make a lot of mistakes. We tend to look for the competition for guidance because they succeeded with methods X. Why couldn’t we? Our products and services are always different.
Whether that’s a difference in products, or how it’s delivered, service quality, or branding, it’s always different, and our marketing plans have to be unique in that regard.
We can’t succeed by copying everything. Our strengths should be the guiding force in our plans.
We never know the details or data our competitors have, which means, by copying without acknowledgment, we might even end up copying a test marketing strategy that your competitors have failed.
And the best marketing strategies utilize our businesses’ strengths over their weaknesses. While we might think that we know our competitors’ weaknesses and strengths, we shouldn’t base our plans around them.
Suppose you want to achieve a competitive advantage through marketing. In that case, you have to develop your way of thinking and executing because if you’re successful in your methods, your competitors will have a hard time catching up.
And crucial things we need to understand that while businesses might offer similar products and services, we are not alike, and there’s always a variety of people who like your competitors more than you. And these reasons might be hard to quantify in how it could benefit your marketing.
But if you have no idea where to start from, then looking at your competitor’s strategies will give a starting point. If they invest heavily in some channel or strategy, there might be something more than meets the eye.
Choose The Right Marketing Strategies To Get In Front Of Your Target Audience
While goals are crucial when deciding the marketing strategies, your audience will play an essential part in forming the marketing strategy. If you use the wrong channels to target your audience, your audience will never see you.
And the budget determines to what extent you can use these channels to target your audiences.
So after you have a grasp on your goals, budget, audience, and what your competitors do, it’s time to choose the marketing strategies that enable you to reach your marketing end goals.
The key is not to try every channel at once. Decide on a couple of channels to try first, and then expand when you’re gaining results.
When deciding what channels to go for, try choosing channels that complement each other well.
For example, social media marketing channels with search-based channels such as search ads and SEO complement each other.
In digital marketing, we have all sorts of channels we can try to achieve what we want, and all companies, regardless of their business models, can find new methods that benefit them the most.
That is why we need to test these channels all the time to discover the best channels for our business.
But choosing your first channel for testing can be daunting, and one tip to help you is to look out your initial resources.
Do you have a content marketing team, or can you deploy online ads quickly, or can you use product marketing to your advantage?
After you discover a channel and the strategy for using it, maximize the performance until you can’t extract more results out of it.
You can learn more about specific strategies here:
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- LinkedIn Ads
- Pinterest Ads
- Influencer Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Email marketing
Plan How You’re Going To Measure and Analyze Data
Every plan’s success comes down to the way we measure, analyze, and how accurately our data reflects our marketing plan’s success or failure.
Simply said, without measuring and analyzing, a plan is worthless.
Like we already explained, in the KPIs section, how you should measure goals, but your marketing has to include how you’re going to measure the data and KPIs.
Only by setting up the right analytics tools for each marketing plan can we be sure that we build our plans for success. Each plan always requires its tools. They might be the same every time, but you need to be critical about choosing them.
If you’re always relying on the same set of tools, metrics, and KPIs, your plans will more or less work the same way, which does not’ help us grow further.
Sometimes our plans do need the same tools every time, but the point is to make sure of it.
Every business, product, service, or marketing strategy requires its unique analytics setups for understanding their performance.
In an online marketing setting, analytics is crucial as if you don’t measure, you’ll never know whether a strategy brought results or was it even worth it at all.
Luckily, online marketing has plenty of tools to choose from depending on the marketing plan goals and the method you’re going to use.
And again, critically evaluate what you need and why you need it. But always start with the necessary tools that offer flexibility on measuring different marketing plan goals efficiently and broadly enough.
Essential tools such as:
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Facebook Analytics with The Pixel
- Platform-based analytics (For example, YouTube Analytics for YouTube)
Reiterate, Change Goals, Win Again
A good marketing plan evolves and requires adjustments all of the time. So always include in your marketing plan how you’re going deal with changes in:
- Low or high performance
- Newly found opportunities
When you plan and think about the possible changes that can affect your marketing plan, you’ll know what to do instead of having to create a new plan altogether every time an opportunity strikes.
When a company, or team within it, can quickly mold themselves to new changes, you’ll always want your marketing plan to be more updated to the current goals and methods available to you.
And reacting fast to the changes in a marketplace for most companies is a measurement of success by itself.
Next, let’s look at this topic more in-depth and how to change marketing plans quickly.
How To Change A Marketing Plan Quickly
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to make a marketing plan for your business, it’s time to understand a core mechanic of the planning process. It would be best if you were flexible in adapting your plans to the real world.
In every marketing plan, there should be goals that align with the business goals.
The very second your marketing efforts won’t achieve said business goals, a change must happen immediately.
And how do you know when to change the plans?
It comes down to the goals we set upon earlier and why the goals must be right from the get-go.
And not every change has to be due to failure. We might even find success where we didn’t anticipate it. In these beautiful cases, we need to change our marketing plan to accommodate the newfound growth avenues properly.
The core idea comes down to understanding that nothing is static; growth is not static, business ideas and products are also not static, which means their marketing can’t be static.
Even if we thoroughly plan and imagine for years for a product marketing plan, realizing that the product doesn’t work can come faster than we even want to admit.
So, how to change marketing plans quickly?
Take what you’ve learned before, and make a plan and strategy around those facts. Understand these facts can also change on a whim.
A great marketing plan designs its destruction, works around its demise, and uses the learned data to its benefit.
How To Experiment With New Marketing Plans
So, by now, you’ve figured that your old plan isn’t suitable for the business, but your old plans also bring results, just not enough of them.
What you want to do is, while you figure out the best marketing plan for your business, don’t let the old plans completely out of the equation.
Experiment first, double down later.
A simple rule of thumb for these tests is to have similar metrics and goals for measuring these plan’s successes.
Give both plans a try, so you are more capable of understanding what could work better.
And because we are using the same or similar metrics to measure each plan’s success, we can decide which one is better for our future.
In the end, when we test marketing plans and whether they work or not, we can combine the best of both worlds to create a new marketing plan. This method would bring out the best strategy.
In a nutshell, this is how we experiment with new marketing plans.
Marketing plans play a crucial role in how businesses manage and concentrate their marketing efforts towards the singular goals they need to achieve.
However, marketing plans for most will create unnecessary barriers and obstructions and excuses for not doing the steps laid out in their plans for achieving what they want.
When creating marketing plans, we need to have a healthy skepticism level and embed our planning capabilities into reality to achieve our real-world goals.
Planning too much takes time away from the execution, and not planning enough creates mistakes that we might’ve seen earlier.
The balance is what we need, and that is also why a simple marketing plan can get you started while you can develop it further as time goes on while you learn about your business, best marketing strategies, and more.
But for some, marketing plans are detrimental to their success. For example, you need it to showcase to others how you’re trying to achieve something and how much it will cost you.
Regardless of your use case, you can use the methods shown in this article to get you started, get new ideas, modify and improve your marketing plan.