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What Is a Marketing Plan?

Understanding marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, marketing plan vs. business plan.

  • Marketing Plan FAQs

The Bottom Line

  • Marketing Essentials

What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Investopedia / Zoe Hansen

A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market . A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:

  • Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries
  • Tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas
  • Platform selection for product and service promotion: digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign
  • Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines

A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • The marketing plan details the strategy that a company will use to market its products to customers.
  • The plan identifies the target market, the value proposition of the brand or the product, the campaigns to be initiated, and the metrics to be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.
  • The marketing plan should be adjusted on an ongoing basis based on the findings from the metrics that show which efforts are having an impact and which are not.
  • Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration.
  • A marketing plan is part of a business plan, which describes all of the important aspects of a business, such as its goals, values, mission statement, budget, and strategies.

The terms marketing plan and marketing strategy are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

Types of Marketing Plans

There are a variety of different marketing plans that suit different businesses and different business needs.

New Product Launch: This is a marketing plan that outlines how a new product will enter the market, who it will target, and in what way advertising will be done.

Social Media: A social media marketing plan focuses on the advertising strategies on different social media platforms and how to engage with the users on these platforms.

Time-Based: Time-based marketing plans, such as those that are executed quarterly or annually, focus on the time of the year, the current condition of the business, and the best strategies in that period.

Mission and Value Proposition

A marketing plan considers the value proposition of a business. The value proposition is the overall promise of value to be delivered to the customer and is a statement that appears front and center of the company website or any branding materials.

The value proposition should state how a product or brand solves the customer's problem, the benefits of the product or brand, and why the customer should buy from this company and not another. The marketing plan is based on this value proposition to the customer.

Establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to measure the success of your marketing plan in relation to your company's value proposition. For example, if your goal is to engage with a certain demographic in a certain region, you can track social media and website visits.

The most effective digital marketing techniques in 2020 according to marketers are content marketing and marketing automation.

Identify Your Target Market

The marketing plan identifies the target market for a product or brand. Market research is often the basis for a target market and marketing channel decisions. For example, whether the company will advertise on the radio, on social media, through online ads, or on regional TV. 

Knowing who you want to sell to and why is an extremely critical component of any business plan. It allows you to focus your business and measure its success. Different demographics have different tastes and needs, knowing what your target market is will help you market to them.

Strategy and Execution

The marketing plan includes the rationale for these decisions. The plan should focus on the creation, timing, scheduling, and placement of specific campaigns. The plan will include the metrics that will measure the outcomes of your marketing efforts. For example, will you advertise on the radio or on social media? What time will you air advertisements if they are on the radio or TV? The strategy may include flighting scheduling , which includes the times when you can make the most of your advertising dollars.

Set Your Budget

A marketing plan costs money. Knowing your budget for a marketing plan will allow you to create a suitable plan within that context, stick to it, and prevent runaway costs. It will also help you allocate to different areas of your marketing plan.

Adjust Your Plan

A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results from the metrics. If digital ads are performing better than expected, for example, the budget for a campaign can be adjusted to fund a higher-performing platform or the company can initiate a new budget. The challenge for marketing leaders is to ensure that every platform has sufficient time to show results.

Without the correct metrics to assess the impact of outreach and marketing efforts, an organization will not know which campaigns to repeat and which ones to drop; maintaining ineffective initiatives will unnecessarily increase marketing costs.

Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration. In the traditional marketing mix model, a marketing plan would fall under the category of "promotion," which is one of the four Ps , a term coined by Neil Borden to describe the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and place.

A business plan details how a business will operate and function in its entirety. A business plan is a roadmap for a business. It will cover the goals, missions , values, financials, and strategies that the business will use in day-to-day operations and in the achievement of its objectives.

A business plan will include an executive summary, the products and services sold, a marketing analysis, a marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget , to name but a few items.

As mentioned, a business plan will include a marketing plan, which focuses on creating a marketing strategy on how to bring awareness to the public of the company's product or service, how to reach the target market, and generate sales.

Example of a Marketing Plan

John came up with a new business idea that he believes is a niche offering in the market. He decides to start a business and his first step is creating a business plan that outlines all of the objectives, goals, values, pitfalls, and finances of his company.

John is able to raise enough capital from friends and family to get started, hires a few employees, and eventually creates his product. He now has to start selling his product and generate sales to keep his business operating.

To achieve this, John, with the help of a marketing company, creates a marketing plan. The marketing plan consists of market research that details the target market for John's product, which is recently retired men.

The marketing plan then comes up with the best methods of reaching this target market. The marketing plan stresses radio and television as opposed to social media as older, retired men use social media less than traditional forms of media, according to the market research that was conducted.

The ads are tailored to the target market, showing how John's product will benefit their lives, particularly when compared to market alternatives. Once the marketing plan has been executed, the marketing team analyzes how the efforts translate into sales.

What Is a Marketing Plan Template?

A marketing plan template is a document that an individual can use to create a marketing plan. The marketing plan template will contain all the important elements and the various needed language with blank sections. A user can insert their own information related to their business in the blank sections to ultimately create their own marketing plan.

What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?

The executive summary of a marketing plan provides a brief overview of the entire marketing plan. The executive summary will contain the key findings of the market research, the company's objectives, marketing goals, an overview of the marketing trends, the description of the product or service being marketed, information on the target market, and how to financially plan for the marketing plan.

What Is a Top-Down Marketing Strategy?

A top-down marketing strategy is a traditional marketing strategy. This is where a business determines who it should sell to and how, and the customer base is largely passive and spurred to take action once they hear the advertisement. For example, a top-down marketing strategy would include ads on radio or television. Top-down marketing strategies are usually determined by the executives of a firm. It usually consists of what a firm desires to do and then determining a way to do it.

What Is a Bottom-Up Marketing Strategy?

A bottom-up marketing strategy focuses on discovering a workable strategy and then building on that strategy to create an impactful advertising campaign. Today's consumer wants to relate to a product or service in a meaningful way and a bottom-up marketing strategy is better suited to this. A bottom-up marketing strategy should focus on the target market and how better to create value for them.

How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?

The cost of a marketing plan will vary based on the company, the complexity, and the length of the overall strategy. The cost can range anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.

A marketing plan is the advertising strategy that a business will implement to sell its product or service. The marketing plan will help determine who the target market is, how best to reach them, at what price point the product or service should be sold, and how the company will measure its efforts.

Constantly monitoring and adjusting a market plan is an important part of running a business as it shows what are the best and worst ways to generate sales. Without a successful marketing plan, a business may not be able to continue operating for very long.

Statista. " Most Effective Digital Marketing Techniques According to Marketers Worldwide in 2020 ."

Laire. " How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost? "

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what is an marketing plan in a business plan

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What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: December 27, 2023

For a while now, you've been spearheading your organization's content marketing efforts, and your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.

marketing plan and how to write one

Now, your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan, but you‘ve never done something like that before. You don't even know where to start.

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template [Get Your Copy]

Fortunately, we've curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete plan that's rooted in data and produces results. But first, we'll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans include strategies that serve their respective businesses.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategy over a given period. Marketing plans can include different marketing strategies for various marketing teams across the company, all working toward the same business goals.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organized manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns.

Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign‘s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. You'll also discover what works and what doesn't. Thus, measuring the success of your strategy.

Featured Resource: Free Marketing Plan Template

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

Looking to develop a marketing plan for your business? Click here to download HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template to get started .

To learn more about how to create your marketing plan, keep reading or jump to the section you’re looking for:

How to Write a Marketing Plan

Types of marketing plans, marketing plan examples, marketing plan faqs, sample marketing plan.

Marketing plan definition graphic

If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. However, a marketing plan is an important part of your business plan.

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics.

A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your business grows.

I like to think of a marketing plan as a subset of a business plan; it shows how marketing strategies and objectives can support overall business goals.

Keep in mind that there's a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Free Marketing Plan Template

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

  • Pre-Sectioned Template
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You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular goal or mission. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they'll use to execute that mission and track its success.

For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.

A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It's the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.

For example, suppose your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. The marketing department needs to develop a marketing plan that'll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.

The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject. All this serves to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.

To summarize, the business's marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups for that product. The business will execute that plan with three marketing strategies : a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.

Of course, the business might consider these three things as one giant marketing strategy, each with its specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, every marketing plan goes through a particular set of steps in its creation.

Learn what they are below.

  • State your business's mission.
  • Determine the KPIs for this mission.
  • Identify your buyer personas.
  • Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
  • Clearly define your plan's omissions.
  • Define your marketing budget.
  • Identify your competition.
  • Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

1. State your business's mission.

Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business‘s main mission statement.

From my experience, you want to be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you'll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.

mission-statement-examples

Need help building your mission statement? Download this guide for examples and templates and write the ideal mission statement.

2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.

Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission‘s progress. To do so, you need to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) .

KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.

Let's take our example of a marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track website visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.

These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4.

3. Identify your buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a description of who you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. Each buyer persona should directly reflect your business's current and potential customers. So, all business leaders must agree on your buyer personas.

buyer-persona-templates

Create your buyer personas with this free guide and set of buyer persona templates.

4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.

Here's where you'll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there's a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, you must choose wisely and explain how you'll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.

When I write this section , I like to stipulate:

  • Which types of content I'll create. These might include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
  • How much of it I'll create. I typically describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on my workflow and the short-term goals for my content.
  • The goals (and KPIs) I'll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
  • The channels on which I'll distribute my content. Popular channels include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.

Build out your marketing plan with this free template.

Fill out this form to access the template., 5. clearly define your plan's omissions..

A marketing plan explains the marketing team's focus. It also explains what the marketing team will not focus on.

If there are other aspects of your business that you aren't serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn't on the hook for something, you need to make it known.

In my experience, this section is particularly important for stakeholders to help them understand why certain decisions were made.

6. Define your marketing budget.

Whether it's freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.

marketing-budget-templates

You can establish your marketing budget with this kit of 8 free marketing budget templates .

7. Identify your competition.

Part of marketing is knowing whom you're marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one.

Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.

competitive-analysis-templates

Easily track and analyze your competitors with t his collection of ten free competitive analysis templates .

8. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it's time to explain who’s doing what. I don't like to delve too deeply into my employees’ day-to-day projects, but I know which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.

Now that you know why you need to build an effective marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if you haven't done it before. That’s why there are many helpful resources that can support your first steps. We’ll share some of the best guides and templates that can help you build effective results-driven plans for your marketing strategies.

Ready to make your own marketing plan? Get started using this free template.

Depending on the company you work with, you might want to create various marketing plans. We compiled different samples to suit your needs:

1. Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans

These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you'll take on in a certain period.

marketing plan examples: forbes

Forbes published a marketing plan template that has amassed almost 4 million views. To help you sculpt a marketing roadmap with true vision, their template will teach you how to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Target Customers
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Pricing & Positioning Strategy
  • Distribution Plan
  • Your Offers
  • Marketing Materials
  • Promotions Strategy
  • Online Marketing Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy
  • Joint Ventures & Partnerships
  • Referral Strategy
  • Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
  • Retention Strategy
  • Financial Projections

If you're truly lost on where to start with a marketing plan, I highly recommend using this guide to help you define your target audience, figure out how to reach them, and ensure that audience becomes loyal customers.

2. Social Media Marketing Plan

This type of plan highlights the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media. A specific subtype is a paid marketing plan, which highlights paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.

Shane Snow's Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team is a great example of a social media marketing plan:

Contently's content strategy waterfall.

When Shane Snow started promoting his new book, "Dream Team," he knew he had to leverage a data-driven content strategy framework. So, he chose his favorite one: the content strategy waterfall. The content strategy waterfall is defined by Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach.

Snow wrote a blog post about how the waterfall‘s content strategy helped him launch his new book successfully. After reading it, you can use his tactics to inform your own marketing plan. More specifically, you’ll learn how he:

  • Applied his business objectives to decide which marketing metrics to track.
  • Used his ultimate business goal of earning $200,000 in sales or 10,000 purchases to estimate the conversion rate of each stage of his funnel.
  • Created buyer personas to figure out which channels his audience would prefer to consume his content.
  • Used his average post view on each of his marketing channels to estimate how much content he had to create and how often he had to post on social media.
  • Calculated how much earned and paid media could cut down the amount of content he had to create and post.
  • Designed his process and workflow, built his team, and assigned members to tasks.
  • Analyzed content performance metrics to refine his overall content strategy.

I use Snow's marketing plan to think more creatively about my content promotion and distribution plan. I like that it's linear and builds on the step before it, creating an air-tight strategy that doesn't leave any details out.

→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

3. Content Marketing Plan

This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you'll use content to promote your business or product.

HubSpot's Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy is a strong example of a content marketing plan:

marketing plan examples: hubspot content marketing plan

At HubSpot, we‘ve built our marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees. Along the way, we’ve learned countless lessons that shaped our current content marketing strategy. So, we decided to illustrate our insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a successful content marketing strategy, regardless of their team's size.

Download Now: Free Content Marketing Planning Templates

In this comprehensive guide for modern marketers, you'll learn:

  • What exactly content marketing is.
  • Why your business needs a content marketing strategy.
  • Who should lead your content marketing efforts?
  • How to structure your content marketing team based on your company's size.
  • How to hire the right people for each role on your team.
  • What marketing tools and technology you'll need to succeed.
  • What type of content your team should create, and which employees should be responsible for creating them.
  • The importance of distributing your content through search engines, social media, email, and paid ads.
  • And finally, the recommended metrics each of your teams should measure and report to optimize your content marketing program.

This is fantastic resource for content teams of any size — whether you're a team of one or 100. It includes how to hire and structure a content marketing team, what marketing tools you'll need, what type of content you should create, and even recommends what metrics to track for analyzing campaigns.

4. New Product Launch Marketing Plan

This will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you‘ll implement to promote a new product. And if you’re searching for an example, look no further than Chief Outsiders' Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product :

marketing plan examples: chief outsiders

After reading this plan, you'll learn how to:

  • Validate a product
  • Write strategic objectives
  • Identify your market
  • Compile a competitive landscape
  • Create a value proposition for a new product
  • Consider sales and service in your marketing plan

If you're looking for a marketing plan for a new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a great place to start. Marketing plans for a new product will be more specific because they target one product versus its entire marketing strategy.

5. Growth Marketing Plan

Growth marketing plans use experimentation and data to drive results, like we see in Venture Harbour’s Growth Marketing Plan Template :

marketing plan examples: venture harbour

Venture Harbour's growth marketing plan is a data-driven and experiment-led alternative to the more traditional marketing plan. Their template has five steps intended for refinement with every test-measure-learn cycle. The five steps are:

  • Experiments

Download Now: Free Growth Strategy Template

I recommend this plan if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns. Experimentation always feels risky and unfamiliar, but this plan creates a framework for accountability and strategy.

  • Louisville Tourism
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Visit Oxnard
  • Safe Haven Family Shelter
  • Wright County Economic Development
  • The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
  • Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Visit Billings

1. Louisville Tourism

Louisville Tourism Marketing Plan

It also divides its target market into growth and seed categories to allow for more focused strategies. For example, the plan recognizes Millennials in Chicago, Atlanta, and Nashville as the core of it's growth market, whereas people in Boston, Austin, and New York represent seed markets where potential growth opportunities exist. Then, the plan outlines objectives and tactics for reaching each market.

Why This Marketing Plan Works

  • The plan starts with a letter from the President & CEO of the company, who sets the stage for the plan by providing a high-level preview of the incoming developments for Louisville's tourism industry
  • The focus on Louisville as "Bourbon City" effectively leverages its unique cultural and culinary attributes to present a strong brand
  • Incorporates a variety of data points from Google Analytics, Arrivalist, and visitor profiles to to define their target audience with a data-informed approach

2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University Illinois

For example, students who become prospects as freshman and sophomore will receive emails that focus on getting the most out of high school and college prep classes. Once these students become juniors and seniors — thus entering the consideration stage — the emails will focus more on the college application process and other exploratory content.

  • The plan incorporates competitive analysis, evaluation surveys, and other research to determine the makeup of its target audience
  • The plan lists each marketing program (e.g., direct mail, social media, email etc.) and supplements it with examples on the next page
  • Each marketing program has its own objectives, tactics, and KPIs for measuring success

3. Visit Oxnard

This marketing plan by Visit Oxnard, a convention and visitors bureau, is packed with all the information one needs in a marketing plan: target markets, key performance indicators, selling points, personas, marketing tactics by channel, and much more.

It also articulates the organization’s strategic plans for the upcoming fiscal year, especially as it grapples with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Lastly, it has impeccable visual appeal, with color-coded sections and strong branding elements.

  • States clear and actionable goals for the coming year
  • Includes data and other research that shows how their team made their decisions
  • Outlines how the team will measure the success of their plan

4. Safe Haven Family Shelter

marketing plan examples: safe haven family shelter

This marketing plan by a nonprofit organization is an excellent example to follow if your plan will be presented to internal stakeholders at all levels of your organization. It includes SMART marketing goals , deadlines, action steps, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages , and metrics.

The plan is detailed, yet scannable. By the end of it, one can walk away with a strong understanding of the organization’s strategic direction for its upcoming marketing efforts.

  • Confirms ongoing marketing strategies and objectives while introducing new initiatives
  • Uses colors, fonts, and formatting to emphasize key parts of the plan
  • Closes with long-term goals, key themes, and other overarching topics to set the stage for the future

5. Wright County Economic Development

marketing plan examples: wright county

Wright County Economic Development’s plan drew our attention because of its simplicity, making it good inspiration for those who’d like to outline their plan in broad strokes without frills or filler.

It includes key information such as marketing partners, goals, initiatives, and costs. The sections are easy to scan and contain plenty of information for those who’d like to dig into the details. Most important, it includes a detailed breakdown of projected costs per marketing initiative — which is critical information to include for upper-level managers and other stakeholders.

  • Begins with a quick paragraph stating why the recommended changes are important
  • Uses clear graphics and bullet points to emphasize key points
  • Includes specific budget data to support decision-making

6. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

marketing plan examples: cultural council of palm beach county

This marketing plan presentation by a cultural council is a great example of how to effectively use data in your plan, address audiences who are new to the industry, and offer extensive detail into specific marketing strategies.

For instance, an entire slide is dedicated to the county’s cultural tourism trends, and at the beginning of the presentation, the organization explains what an arts and culture agency is in the first place.

That’s a critical piece of information to include for those who might not know. If you’re addressing audiences outside your industry, consider defining terms at the beginning, like this organization did.

  • Uses quality design and images to support the goals and priorities in the text
  • Separate pages for each big idea or new strategy
  • Includes sections for awards and accomplishments to show how the marketing plan supports wider business goals
  • Defines strategies and tactics for each channel for easy skimming

7. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau

marketing plan examples: carrabus county

Cabarrus County’s convention and visitors bureau takes a slightly different approach with its marketing plan, formatting it like a magazine for stakeholders to flip through. It offers information on the county’s target audience, channels, goals, KPIs, and public relations strategies and initiatives.

We especially love that the plan includes contact information for the bureau’s staff members, so that it’s easy for stakeholders to contact the appropriate person for a specific query.

  • Uses infographics to expand on specific concepts, like how visitors benefit a community
  • Highlights the team members responsible for each initiative with a photo to emphasize accountability and community
  • Closes with an event calendar for transparency into key dates for events

8. Visit Billings

marketing plan examples: visit billings

Visit Billing’s comprehensive marketing plan is like Cabarrus County’s in that it follows a magazine format. With sections for each planned strategy, it offers a wealth of information and depth for internal stakeholders and potential investors.

We especially love its content strategy section, where it details the organization’s prior efforts and current objectives for each content platform.

At the end, it includes strategic goals and budgets — a good move to imitate if your primary audience would not need this information highlighted at the forefront.

  • Includes a section on the buyer journey, which offers clarity on the reasoning for marketing plan decisions
  • Design includes call-outs for special topics that could impact the marketing audience, such as safety concerns or "staycations"
  • Clear headings make it easy to scan this comprehensive report and make note of sections a reader may want to return to for more detail

What is a typical marketing plan?

In my experience, most marketing plans outline the following aspects of a business's marketing:

  • Target audience

Each marketing plan should include one or more goals, the path your team will take to meet those goals, and how you plan to measure success.

For example, if I were a tech startup that's launching a new mobile app, my marketing plan would include:

  • Target audience or buyer personas for the app
  • Outline of how app features meet audience needs
  • Competitive analysis
  • Goals for conversion funnel and user acquisition
  • Marketing strategies and tactics for user acquisition

Featured resource : Free Marketing Plan Template

What should a good marketing plan include?

A good marketing plan will create a clear roadmap for your unique marketing team. This means that the best marketing plan for your business will be distinct to your team and business needs.

That said, most marketing plans will include sections for one or more of the following:

  • Clear analysis of the target market
  • A detailed description of the product or service
  • Strategic marketing mix details (such as product, price, place, promotion)
  • Measurable goals with defined timelines

This can help you build the best marketing plan for your business.

A good marketing plan should also include a product or service's unique value proposition, a comprehensive marketing strategy including online and offline channels, and a defined budget.

Featured resource : Value Proposition Templates

What are the most important parts of a marketing plan?

When you‘re planning a road trip, you need a map to help define your route, step-by-step directions, and an estimate of the time it will take to get to your destination. It’s literally how you get there that matters.

Like a road map, a marketing plan is only useful if it helps you get to where you want to go. So, no one part is more than the other.

That said, you can use the list below to make sure that you've added or at least considered each of the following in your marketing plan:

  • Marketing goals
  • Executive summary
  • Target market analysis
  • Marketing strategies

What questions should I ask when making a marketing plan?

Questions are a useful tool for when you‘re stuck or want to make sure you’ve included important details.

Try using one or more of these questions as a starting point when you create your marketing plan:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What are their needs, motivations, and pain points?
  • How does our product or service solve their problems?
  • How will I reach and engage them?
  • Who are my competitors? Are they direct or indirect competitors?
  • What are the unique selling points of my product or service?
  • What marketing channels are best for the brand?
  • What is our budget and timeline?
  • How will I measure the success of marketing efforts?

How much does a marketing plan cost?

Creating a marketing plan is mostly free. But the cost of executing a marketing plan will depend on your specific plan.

Marketing plan costs vary by business, industry, and plan scope. Whether your team handles marketing in-house or hires external consultants can also make a difference. Total costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. This is why most marketing plans will include a budget.

Featured resource : Free Marketing Budget Templates

What is a marketing plan template?

A marketing plan template is a pre-designed structure or framework that helps you outline your marketing plan.

It offers a starting point that you can customize for your specific business needs and goals. For example, our template includes easy-to-edit sections for:

  • Business summary
  • Business initiatives
  • Target market
  • Market strategy
  • Marketing channels
  • Marketing technology

Let’s create a sample plan together, step by step.

Follow along with HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template .

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

1. Create an overview or primary objective.

Our business mission is to provide [service, product, solution] to help [audience] reach their [financial, educational, business related] goals without compromising their [your audience’s valuable asset: free time, mental health, budget, etc.]. We want to improve our social media presence while nurturing our relationships with collaborators and clients.

For example, if I wanted to focus on social media growth, my KPIs might look like this:

We want to achieve a minimum of [followers] with an engagement rate of [X] on [social media platform].

The goal is to achieve an increase of [Y] on recurring clients and new meaningful connections outside the platform by the end of the year.

Use the following categories to create a target audience for your campaign.

  • Profession:
  • Background:
  • Pain points:
  • Social media platforms that they use:
  • Streaming platforms that they prefer:

For more useful strategies, consider creating a buyer persona in our Make My Persona tool .

Our content pillars will be: [X, Y, Z].

Content pillars should be based on topics your audience needs to know. If your ideal clients are female entrepreneurs, then your content pillars can be: marketing, being a woman in business, remote working, and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.

Then, determine any omissions.

This marketing plan won’t be focusing on the following areas of improvement: [A, B, C].

5. Define your marketing budget.

Our marketing strategy will use a total of [Y] monthly. This will include anything from freelance collaborations to advertising.

6. Identify your competitors.

I like to work through the following questions to clearly indicate who my competitors are:

  • Which platforms do they use the most?
  • How does their branding differentiate?
  • How do they talk to their audiences?
  • What valuable assets do customers talk about? And if they are receiving any negative feedback, what is it about?

7. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

Create responsible parties for each portion of the plan.

Marketing will manage the content plan, implementation, and community interaction to reach the KPIs.

  • Social media manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Content strategist: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Community manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Sales will follow the line of the marketing work while creating and implementing an outreach strategy.

  • Sales strategists: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Sales executives: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Customer Service will nurture clients’ relationships to ensure that they have what they want. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Project Managers will track the progress and team communication during the project. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Get started on your marketing plan.

These marketing plans serve as initial resources to get your content marketing plan started. But, to truly deliver what your audience wants and needs, you'll likely need to test some different ideas out, measure their success, and then refine your goals as you go.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure t o learn more about how we use AI.

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Blog Marketing

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

By Sara McGuire , Oct 26, 2023

Marketing Plan Venngage

After employee salaries, marketing is typically the biggest expense for most businesses.

As a business owner or marketer, don’t you want to make sure your marketing dollars are being spent in the most productive way possible? Yeah, me too.

But what often ends up happening is most businesses try different marketing tactics without a clear plan, and walk away with little success.

Or they’ll get lucky and score a big marketing win but soon find themselves unable to  scale their marketing tactics, goals and strategies  to drive consistent growth.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to grow your business strategically and maximize ROI  generated from your marketing dollars with a well-defined marketing plan.

Don’t know how to create a marketing plan? Start with one of Venngage’s templates today. You don’t need any design skills to make a great plan that helps align your team and grow your business.

Click to jump ahead:

What is a marketing plan.

  • How to create a marketing plan
  • Marketing plan vs. Marketing strategy
  • Types of marketing plans
  • 9 marketing plan templates
  • Marketing plan design and writing tips

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. You’ll also get helpful webinars and presentations delivered right to your inbox, like this one:

Growth By Content Webinar Banner

How to write a marketing plan 

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 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

Marketing plan outline

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.

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

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 is (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:

Competitor-Analysis-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

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:

Simple-Blue-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan

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:

Creative-Modern-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

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:

Blue-Simple-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan-Template

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

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.

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

9 marketing plan examples to inspire your growth strategy

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.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

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

7 tips to keep in mind while you’re creating your marketing plan

While a marketing plan doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty, an impressive design certainly helps if you want your plan to be more convincing.

Presentation is especially important if you’re presenting your marketing plan to investors, or if you need to convince your boss to approve your requested marketing budget.

That’s where a marketing plan template can help. If you don’t have a designer available, or even if you want a framework to base your own design on, a template gives you a solid foundation to work with.

Start creating your marketing plan with a template and then customize the design to fit your information and to incorporate your own branding .

Here are seven marketing plan templates to get you started, along with some report design best practices you should follow when creating your plan.

1. Identify, describe and illustrate your target audience

Knowing your target audience is one of the most fundamental steps that every marketing team should take before making any marketing decisions. So by the time you begin writing your marketing plan, you should have your target audience identified.

In your marketing plan, you should dedicate a section to introducing your target audience.

To help keep your target audience top-of-mind when planning and executing your marketing strategies, it can be helpful to visualize your audience personas. Faux images of your personas, illustrations and icons are all great ways to put a face to your personas’ “names”.

Take this page from a marketing plan example that includes imagery and icons:

A photo of “Cassandra Vane”, their “head of marketing” persona, is provided to make the character seem more real. You can incorporate photos seamlessly into your page design by using image frames.

Icons are also used to visualize the different components that make up this persona (their identifies, their demographic information, their goals and their unique challenges).

2. Visualize important process flows and strategy roadmaps

To effectively outline new marketing strategies, processes, and timelines, it can be very helpful to visualize the flows.

You could opt for a classic flow chart or a more creative marketing plan infographic . Whatever type of visual you choose to create, the goal should be to make the information easier for people to follow.

The first step is to organize your flow into distinct steps. Remember to clearly label each step and to use symbols  like lines or arrows to indicate the direction in which the flow should be read.

It can also be helpful to visualize each step using different shapes, or attaching an icon to each step.

For example, this page visualizes an email campaign flow:

Marketing Business Proposal Email Campaign

Icons represent each email as an individual block, to make it easier for readers to visualize the process. Concise descriptions give readers context to understand the flow chart.

Take a look at how information flows visually throughout this promotional marketing plan template thanks to strategically placed visual cues:

Marketing Business Proposal

3. Emphasize important statistics, metrics, and numbers in your marketing plan

To make your plan both more convincing, and easier to scan, you should create a hierarchy of information in your page design.

For example, you can use charts and pictograms to visualize important stats or metrics. Or you could write important numbers in a bright-colored font so they stand out from the rest of the text.

This is an opportunity to get creative with your page design. Look at how speech bubble pictograms are used in this marketing plan example to show key statistics:

Content Strategy Plan

In that same marketing plan, important content-related data is emphasized using brightly colored shapes, illustrative icons and big fonts:

Content Strategy Plan Content Inventory

Color choice , icons and font styles all help bring key information forward in this content strategy plan template:

Content Strategy Marketing Plan Example

4. Use your main marketing goal to guide your design

One of the main goals of your marketing plan is to identify your high-level marketing goals. Your marketing plan design should be driven by this goal–in your page layouts and in the design elements you use.

You can do this by picking a design motif that reflects your goal and using that throughout your marketing plan. This could be a particular shape or item (for example, using images of plants in a work plan to represent growth) or a color scheme that reflects the mood of your mission.

This social media marketing plan example identifies their goal as being the go-to source of inspiration and information for runners:

Blue-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan-Template-

Take a look at how they use chat bubble icons and a bright, bold color scheme to give their marketing plan a friendly and energetic design:

Creative Social Media Marketing Proposal

Pro Tip: You don’t need to create a comprehensive marketing plan yourself. With our real-time collaboration feature , you can leverage your entire team to help you shape your marketing plan together anytime, anywhere. In real-time.

Real-time-Collaboration-Venngage-1

5. Vary your page designs to make your marketing plan engaging

Putting in the extra bit of effort to use visuals will not only make your marketing plan more engaging, it will also make it easier for readers to retain information.

That’s why while you could use the same page layout throughout your whole plan, it’s a good idea to vary your page design. Mixing up your design will prevent your plan from being too predictable. Plus, you will have more flexibility to visualize information creatively .

For example, this SEO plan template simply inverts the color scheme on each page. While the overall color scheme for the whole plan is cohesive, each individual page is varied:

SEO Marketing Proposal

6. Visualize your top channels using charts, icons, and pictograms

It’s important for your team to understand your highest-performing channels. That way, you can identify areas you may want to funnel more resources into, whether it be social media, paid ads , mobile app advertising , organic or referral traffic.

This is where visual communication can be highly effective. A simple but effective way to analyze your channels is to visualize the data. You can do this using charts , pictograms and infographics with Venngage’s infographic creator .

For example, a pie chart can put into perspective where the bulk of your traffic is coming from:

Green Business Marketing Plan Presentation Template

A stacked bar would also work well to visualize this information.

You can also use icons to emphasize and differentiate between channels, like in this marketing plan slide:

White Business Marketing Plan Presentation Template

Take a look at how charts, icons and color-coding make it easy to scan this marketing agenda presentation for information about specific channels:

Marketing Agenda Business Presentation

7. Use borders or color blocks to organize your pages into sections

Generally, it’s good practice to stick to one topic per page. This will help keep your marketing plan more organized and make it easier for readers to scan for information.

That being said, you may want to put more than one topic on the same page, like if both topics are directly related. In that case, you can organize the page into sections using borders or blocks of background color.

For example, look at how this page is clearly divided into two sections, thanks to the use of a color block background:

Promotional Marketing Plan Messaging

Blocks of color are also used to make the sections headers stand out. Take a look at the different pages in this promotional plan template:

Promotional Marketing Plan

A few more marketing plan design best practices:

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when start designing your marketing plan.

Keep your design elements like fonts, icons and colors consistent

While it’s good to switch up the layout of your pages to keep your marketing plan engaging, it’s important to keep your design consistent. That means:

  • Using the same font styles for your headers, body text, and accent text (generally, try to stick to only using 2-3 different font styles in one report)
  • Using the same color scheme throughout your plan, and using the same colors for specific types of information (ex. blue for “social media goals” and green for “SEO goals”)
  • Using the same style of icons throughout your report, like flat icons, line art icons, or illustrated icons

marketing plan example

Download your marketing plan as a PDF

It’s important that your team is on the same page. Sharing your marketing plan via Google Docs or a file-sharing service can be unreliable. In most cases, it’s easier to simply download your marketing plan as a PDF and share it with your team that way.

You can download your marketing plan in high-quality PDF digital flipbook or interactive PDF format with Venngage.

Include a table of contents to make it easy to find specific information

This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Even if you’re putting together your marketing plan as a presentation, a simple table of contents at the beginning will give your audience an idea of what they can expect.

Marketing Plan FAQs

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:

More marketing design guides and templates:.

15 Marketing Infographic Templates and Tips to Boost Audience Engagement

12 Business Pitch Deck Templates and Design Best Practices to Impress Investors

10 Page-Turning White Paper Examples and Design Tips

The Evolution of Marketing [Infographic]

  • Marketing |
  • How to create a winning marketing plan, ...

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.

Sony Music boosts creative production capacity by 4X

In recent years the music industry has gone through a pivotal transition—shifting from album sales to a streaming business model. For marketing and creative teams at Sony Music, that meant adopting an “always on” campaign plan. 

The team successfully executed this campaign plan by centralizing creative production and approvals in one project. By standardizing processes, the team reduced campaign production time by 75%. Read the case study to learn more about how Sony Music successfully scaled their creative production process.

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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The Marketing Plan Section of the Business Plan

Writing The Business Plan: Section 5

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

  • Products, Services, and Your USP

Pricing and Positioning Strategy

Sales and distribution plan, advertising and promotion plan.

The marketing plan section of the business plan explains how you're going to get your customers to buy your products or services. The marketing plan, then, will include sections detailing your:

  • Products and services and your unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Pricing strategy
  • Sales and distribution plan
  • Advertising and promotions plan

The easiest way to develop your marketing plan is to work through each of these sections, referring to the market research you completed when you were writing the previous sections of the business plan . (Note that if you are developing a marketing plan on its own, rather than as part of a business plan, you will also need to include a target market and a competitors' analysis section.)

Let's look at each of these four sections in detail.

Products, Services, and Your Unique Selling Proposition

Focus on the uniqueness of your product or service and how the customer will benefit from what you're offering. Use these questions to write a paragraph summarizing these aspects for your marketing plan:

  • What are the features of your product or service?
  • Describe the physical attributes of your product or service and any other relevant features such as what it does or how it differs from competitors' offerings.
  • How will your product or service benefit the customer?
  • Remember that benefits can be intangible as well as tangible; for instance, if you're selling a cleaning product, your customers will benefit by having a cleaner house, but they may also benefit by enjoying better health. Brainstorm as many benefits as possible to begin with, then choose to emphasize the benefits that your targeted customers will most appreciate in your marketing plan.
  • What is it that sets your product or service apart from all the rest? In other words, what is your USP, the message you want your customers to receive about your product or service? This will be at the heart of your marketing plan.

Examples of Unique Selling Propositions

Unique selling propositions should be short (no more than a sentence) and concise. Here are a few great examples:

  • Domino's Pizza : "We deliver hot, fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less, or it's free."
  • FedEx Corporation : "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."
  • M&Ms : "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand ."
  • Dollar Shave Club: “Everything you need in the bathroom—from razor blades to grooming products—automatically delivered to your door. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.”

The pricing strategy portion of the marketing plan involves determining how you will price your product or service. The price you charge has to be competitive but still allow you to make a reasonable profit.

Being reasonable is key—you can charge any price you want to, but for every product or service there's a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay. Your pricing strategy needs to take this consumer threshold into account.

The most common question small business people have about the pricing strategy section of the marketing plan is, "How do you know what price to charge?" Basically, you set your pricing through a process of calculating your costs, estimating the benefits to consumers, and comparing your products, services, and prices to others that are similar.

Set your pricing by examining how much it cost you to produce the product or service and adding a fair price for the benefits that the customer will enjoy. You may find it useful to conduct a  breakeven analysis to determine your minimum threshold. Competitor pricing will also help guide you toward the fair market value and help you determine how high you can reasonably go.  

The pricing strategy you outline in your marketing plan will answer the following questions:

  • What is the cost of your product or service? Make sure you include all your fixed and variable costs when you're calculating this. The costs of labor and materials are obvious, but you may also need to include freight costs, administrative costs, and selling costs, for example.
  • How does the pricing of your product or service compare to the market price of similar products or services?
  • Explain how the pricing of your product or service is competitive. For instance, if the price you plan to charge is lower, why are you able to do this? If it's higher, why would your customers be willing to pay more? This is where the strategy aspect comes into play; will your business be more competitive if you charge more, less, or the same as your competitors, and why?
  • What kind of return on investment (ROI) are you expecting with this pricing strategy, and within what time frame?

Remember, the primary goal of the marketing plan is to get people to buy your products or services. Here's where you detail how this is going to happen.

There are usually three parts to the sales and distribution section, although all three parts may not apply to your business.

Distribution Methods

  • How is your product or service going to get to the customer? Will you distribute your product or service through a website, through the mail, through sales representatives, home delivery, or through retail?
  • What distribution channel is going to be used? In a direct distribution channel, the product or service goes directly from the manufacturer to the consumer. In a one-stage distribution channel, it goes from manufacturer to retailer to consumer. The traditional distribution channel is from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. Outline all the different companies, people and technologies that will be involved in the process of getting your product or service to your customer.
  • What are the costs associated with distribution?
  • What are the delivery terms?
  • How will the distribution methods affect production time frames or delivery? How long will it take to get your product or service to your customer?

If your business involves selling a product, you should also include information about inventory levels and packaging in this part of your marketing plan. For instance:

  • How are your products to be packaged for shipping and for display?
  • Does the packaging meet all regulatory requirements (such as labeling)?
  • Is the packaging appropriately coded, priced, and complementary to the product?
  • What minimum inventory levels must be maintained to ensure that there is no loss of sales due to problems such as late shipments and backorders?

Transaction Process

  • What system will be used for processing orders, shipping, and billing?
  • What methods of payment will customers be able to use?
  • What credit terms will customers be offered? If you will offer discounts for early payment or impose penalties for late payment, they should be mentioned in this part of your marketing plan.
  • What is your return policy?
  • What warranties will the customer be offered? Describe these or any other service guarantees.
  • What after-sale support will you offer customers and what will you charge (if anything) for this support?
  • Is there a system for customer feedback so customer satisfaction (or the lack of it) can be tracked and addressed?

Sales Strategy

  • What types of salespeople will be involved (commissioned salespeople, product demonstrators, telephone solicitors, etc.)?
  • Describe your expectations of these salespeople and how sales effectiveness will be measured.
  • Will a sales training program be offered? If so, describe it in this section of the marketing plan.
  • Describe the incentives salespeople will be offered to encourage their achievements (such as getting new accounts, the most orders, etc.).

Essentially the advertising and promotion section of the marketing plan describes how you're going to deliver your USP to your prospective customers. While there are literally thousands of different promotion avenues available to you, what distinguishes a successful plan from an unsuccessful one is the focus—and that's what your USP provides.

So think first of the message that you want to send to your target audience. Then look at these promotion possibilities and decide which to emphasize in your marketing plan:

Advertising

The best approach to advertising is to think of it in terms of media—specifically, which media will be most effective in reaching your target market. Then you can make decisions about how much of your annual advertising budget you're going to spend on each medium.

What percentage of your annual advertising budget will you invest in applicable methods of advertising, such as:

  • The internet (including business website, email, social media campaigns, etc.)
  • Direct mail
  • Door-to-door flyer delivery
  • Cooperative advertising with wholesalers, retailers, or other businesses
  • Directories
  • Bench/bus/subway ads

Include not only the cost of the advertising but your projections about how much business the advertising will bring in. 

Sales Promotion

If it's appropriate to your business, you may want to incorporate sales promotional activities into your advertising and promotion plan, such as:

  • Offering free samples
  • Point of purchase displays
  • Product demonstrations

Marketing Materials

Every business will include some of these in its promotion plans. The most common marketing material is the business card, but brochures, pamphlets, and service sheets are also popular.

This is another avenue of promotion that every business should use. Describe how you plan to generate publicity. While press releases spring to mind, that's only one way to get people spreading the word about your business. Consider:

  • Product launches
  • Social media
  • Special events, including community involvement
  • Writing articles
  • Getting and using testimonials

Your Business's Website

If your business has or will have a website and a business Facebook page, describe how these fit into your advertising and promotion plan.

Trade Shows

Trade shows can be incredibly effective promotion and sales opportunities if you pick the right ones and go equipped to put your promotion plan into action.

Other Promotion Activities

Your promotion activities are limited only by your imagination. But whether you plan to teach a course, sponsor a community event, or conduct an email campaign, you'll want to include it in your advertising and promotion plan. Sporadic, disconnected attempts to promote your product or service are bound to fail. Your goal is to plan and carry out a sequence of focused promotion activities that will communicate the message you want to send about your products or services.

No business is too small to have a marketing plan. After all, no business is too small for customers or clients. And if you have these, you need to communicate with them about what you have to offer.

Harvard Business Review. " How to Find Out What Customers Will Pay ." Accessed Jan. 16, 2020.

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How To Create an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Business

How To Create an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Business

Behind every successful company is a well-designed marketing plan.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategy a business develops and implements to sell products or services. The marketing plan defines the target audience and how to reach it best, sets goals, establishes the price for products and services, outlines tactics, and shows how the company will measure its marketing efforts.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Even though marketing plans don’t always produce immediate results, they are still a crucial component of a business plan and are worth considering.

A well-designed and effective marketing plan can reveal opportunities for a business. This can be through creating new audience segments, a change in pricing strategy, or differentiation from the competition .

The right marketing plan can help your business reach new heights.

A typical marketing plan includes:

  • A summary of your advertising and marketing goals
  • The current state of your business’s marketing
  • A timeline for completing the tasks within your strategy
  • KPIs (key performance indicators) you will track
  • An overview of your target market and customers’ needs
  • The methodology you’re using to evaluate the strategy’s performance

Why does your business need a marketing plan?

Often, a marketing plan is a missing link between business strategy  and marketing execution.

If you feel that you are trying many different things on an ad hoc basis without knowing which ones are working, then it is clear that you need a plan.

Here are some of the benefits of creating a marketing plan for your small business:

  • Understanding:  A thorough analysis of current market conditions and  where your company stands can help you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses and potential new markets.
  • Focus and Alignment:  It is easy to lose your sense of direction without a plan. A marketing plan ensures your marketing goals are aligned with your business’s mission, vision, and goals . A marketing plan keeps you motivated and on track so you don’t get sidetracked.
  • Coordination:  A working document of your marketing strategy facilitates collaboration between management, the marketing team, and the entire company. You can facilitate team collaboration with a tool like Canva Docs .
  • Informed decisions: Planning can prevent you from making rash decisions if difficult circumstances arise.
  • Max Value:  A cohesive marketing plan amplifies the value of every campaign.

How to create a marketing plan

Detailed marketing plans outline the  strategies  and specific actions your marketing team will take to reach your marketing goals.

If you created a business plan , you probably already have a section on marketing in that plan. But that section will be a high-level summary. You’ll need to expand it to create an effective marketing plan.

The following tips are starting points and best practices that will guide you in creating a comprehensive and effective marketing plan for your small business:

1. Start with an executive summary

The executive summary usually appears at the beginning of your marketing plan. It summarizes your business and the key takeaways from your marketing strategy. It should also outline your marketing objectives and demonstrate how campaigns are tied together.

An executive summary should also provide a quick overview of your company. Here, readers are introduced to the company’s objectives, marketing successes, and plans for the future.

A typical executive summary would include the following:

  • Simplified marketing goals
  • Milestones/achievements of the company
  • Future projects or plans
  • Relevant facts about your brand

Executive summaries are meant to pique interest in your marketing plan and excite people to read it.

Lastly, your summary helps set the tone for your marketing plan. Think carefully and select the tone that best reflects your brand.

brand identity grader hero

2. State your mission, vision, and values

Reviewing your company’s values, vision, and mission before starting marketing is a good idea. Your marketing plan becomes more meaningful when you put all the information in perspective.

In short, this section should answer why you do what you do.

This section aims to inform anyone who reads your marketing plan about your company’s overall goal. This will enable them to understand your marketing goals, activities, and future objectives.

3. Identify your target market

To write an effective marketing plan, you must first identify and understand your niche. Make sure you know the specific demographic you are aiming to reach.

This will help you pinpoint and nail your marketing from the get-go if you know your best customers. You will waste a lot less time and money and convert more leads by targeting your advertising campaigns and using the right messaging ,

A buyer  persona  represents your ideal customer .

Including information about your buyer personas, such as age, gender, and income, is helpful. Don’t forget to include behavioral and psychographic data, such as pain points and goals.

Ultimately, you’re trying to answer the following questions: What motivates  your audience? What problems do they have that your product or service can solve?

If your company already has buyer personas, this step might mean you need to refine them.

Some businesses might have several types of target customers. As such, it is typical to create more than one buyer persona.

Ultimately, when you outline your buyer personas, you can segment your marketing campaigns properly and create marketing materials that are more likely to influence and resonate with them.

All this knowledge will help you create a compelling positioning statement , a unique selling proposition , and a  strong brand .

You can outline the traits of your ideal customer by including the following:

The more you know about your customer, the more capable you are of giving them the best experience.

4. Research your competitors

Whatever your product or service, there is always competition for your target market.

It is rare for small business owners to  study their competitors  in depth or to identify companies outside their industry that have just as much ability to attract customers.

You can devise strategies by understanding your competitors’ competitive advantages and how they might respond to your offerings.

By identifying competitors, you can differentiate your business by providing consumers with what your competitors may lack.

As part of your market research, you can also conduct a SWOT analysis of your competitors . Learn what they are doing, what works for them, and how you can improve.

Consider looking into the following aspects when researching your competitors:

  • Leaders and marketers at their company
  • Financials and growth of the company
  • Products or services they are best known for
  • Social media marketing strategy
  • Check their top-performing blog posts

5. Establish accurate benchmarks and metrics

You can’t plan for your business’s future if you don’t know where it stands today. Increasing R.O.I. (return on investment) is impossible unless you know your goal.

Having baselines will allow you to monitor your progress. This will also allow you to analyze what worked and what didn’t to build a more robust strategy.

Determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to track and measure each marketing campaign element.

The indicators will assist you in communicating your progress to your business partners or investors. They will also aid you in determining whether or not your marketing efforts are yielding the desired results.

6. Determine your marketing goals

Marketing goals drive your marketing plan. They are the highest level of your strategic thinking . Ideally, you establish these goals after identifying problems and opportunities.

In general, these objectives will have a financial or communication focus and may include the following:

  • Maximizing sales revenue or volume
  • Lead generation
  • Improving customer satisfaction
  • Raising  brand awareness
  • Transforming customer perceptions
  • Increasing  customer retention

Clearly defining your goals will help you measure them effectively. That said, all of your marketing objectives should meet the following SMART criteria:

Be clear about what you want to accomplish. It is essential to clearly define the goal to ensure everyone is on the same page.

A quantifiable objective makes it easy for you to measure your progress. Decide what data will be used to measure the goal and how it will be collected.

It is essential to keep your goals realistic to remain motivated to achieve them. Setting lofty goals is fine, but you should break them down into smaller chunks to make them more manageable.

Goals must be aligned with the company’s mission—set goals for a purpose, not just to accomplish something. When determining whether a goal is relevant, deciding on the critical benefit to the organization is crucial.

Each goal should have a deadline. There isn’t much point in setting a goal without a deadline. How can you assess whether something was a success or failure? This is why S.M.A.R.T. goals include a due date. Although this doesn’t mean all the work is done, you can evaluate the endeavor and set new goals.

7. Identify your marketing channels and choose your marketing tactics

With more  marketing channels , selecting the best one for your business can be challenging.

Study all of your marketing options, including traditional and digital methods . The more you know about these tactics, the easier it will be to choose the ones most suitable for your business and to build effective marketing funnels .

Among the most popular digital marketing channels are:

Search engines

Nearly half of all online shoppers begin their research with a search engine. Including link-building outreach and optimizing for local SEO   in your marketing plan will enable you to reach people when they’re actively searching for your products and services.

Social media

90% of social media users have communicated with a brand due to their social media presence, and 53.6% of the population uses social media. Every type of consumer is on some  social media platform, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, so social media is essential to a business’s marketing strategy.

It may seem overwhelming to consider all the possibilities but take the time to concentrate on the sites that will generate the most significant benefit for your business.

Email marketing remains an effective and popular choice for small businesses. Companies can use email marketing techniques in many ways, including newsletters, promotional campaigns, and transactional emails.

Consumer behavior has changed due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets. Because people carry these devices with them almost wherever they go, companies seek to implement marketing strategies to reach their customers through their mobile devices .

Many businesses are trying to figure out how to make contextually relevant ads appear when people watch or read content on their devices. Contextual targeting helps companies make ads more relevant, increasing response rates and ad recall.

Having a well-rounded marketing mix is essential, giving yourself plenty of time for these channels to pay off and reach critical mass and leaving room for trial and error.

Algorithms primarily power digital marketing. Algorithms may help businesses provide personalized experiences to users, but any algorithm changes can quickly render marketing plans useless.

An eCommerce business must have a diverse media strategy to survive in this highly dynamic market. By driving traffic through SEO , email, and media coverage, we’re less vulnerable to a single tech platform unfavorably changing its algorithm.

Some of these channels and tactics will be challenging for you to execute without some expert help. For example, suppose you’re starting a business in the United Kingdom. In that case, you might look at United Kingdom marketing agencies that can help you define proper tactics for channels where you have little or no experience. Similarly, you’ll want to identify agencies in the U.S. (including those that specialize in the channels you care most about) if you’re building a marketing plan for the U.S. market.

8. Set your budget

A marketing budget describes how much money the business has allotted to the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals they have listed and identified.

When you draft the plan and evaluate your course of action, note the estimated cost, assets, and time required to achieve the stated goals; this will help when it comes time to set the actual budget.

Additionally, setting a marketing budget will ensure you don’t lose sight of the financial aspect of things during execution and implementation.

Even if your marketing team uses many free channels and platforms, preparing for “hidden” costs is best.

Depending on how many individual expenses you have, it might make sense to itemize this budget based on the specific things you intend to pay for.

Here are some examples of marketing expenses:

  • Outsourcing  marketing costs to a marketing agency or other provider
  • Application software for marketing
  • Paid promotions
  • Events (the ones that you will host and attend)

9. Establish guidelines for tracking and reporting

It would be best to conclude your marketing plan by explaining how you plan to track or measure your results. Standardizing tracking results across your team will save you time and frustration in the long run.

In this section, you can go as in-depth as you like. However, here is a minimum set of guidelines for tracking results you can start working with:

  • What you are tracking
  • How you are tracking
  • How often you are tracking

Marketing plans require a lot of effort. To create an effective strategy, you must dig deep into your target market’s competitive research, audience data, and research channels.

Remembering that marketing plans are not set in stone is also important. As your business grows and evolves, so should your marketing plan.

But if you have the fundamentals down, you are more likely to achieve your business goals if you create an effective marketing plan.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

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Your Guide to Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan

Table of contents.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

To have a successful business, you need a well-thought-out marketing plan to promote your products or services. Although making a few social media posts or blasting a few promotional emails may seem simple enough, disjointed marketing efforts not only confuse your target audience, but can ultimately harm your business. 

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategic road map for how you communicate (online and offline) with your target audience to successfully promote your products or services. Depending on your goal, marketing plans can be extremely basic or highly detailed.

According to Molly Maple Bryant, vice president of marketing at Vibrent Health, a marketing plan is not simply a list of things you want to accomplish. Instead, it should list the outcomes you seek — measurable and contextual, like the pipeline you’re developing, or leads you’re generating — and it should explain the high-level strategies you will use to achieve those outcomes. Developing strategies can be complicated, but they make a major difference in keeping you on track and avoiding diversions, also called scope creep .

“Once you have an agreed-upon plan, you are able to compare any incoming requests against your strategies to determine ‘Yes, this adheres to my strategy so we can add it,’ or ‘No, this sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t adhere to our agreed-upon strategy, so we won’t adjust resources,'” Bryant told us.

Download a copy of our free marketing plan template .

Types of marketing plans

There are several different types of marketing plans you can use based on certain strategies that make sense for your organization. Your business will likely need a combination of the following marketing plans to create an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy:

  • Advertising plan
  • Branding plan
  • Content marketing plan
  • Customer acquisition plan
  • Direct marketing plan
  • Email marketing plan
  • Public relation plan
  • Print marketing plan
  • Reputation management plan
  • Retention plan
  • Search engine optimization plan
  • Social media marketing plan

Depending on your product positioning, niche marketing plans like influencer marketing or video marketing can be incredibly effective.

Why is it important to have a marketing plan for your business?

A marketing plan is a crucial resource for any small business because it helps you identify the market needs your product or service meets, how your product is different from competitors, and who your product or service is for. Marketing plans also serve as a road map for your sales strategy, branding direction and building your overall business. This is important for successfully conveying your brand messaging to your target audience .

Another significant benefit of a marketing plan for your company is that rather than simply guessing metrics, it forces you to sit down and do the math about your business goals and how to realistically fulfill them. When you look at your growth outcomes, you can delve further to determine what it will take to get to those numbers.

Bryant offered the following example: “Need $100,000 in revenue? How many sales is that? If 10, what’s your close rate? Let’s say 10 percent from lead to closed deal. Now you have a metric to start with — to get to 10 sales, we need 100 leads. Where will they come from, and what strategies will you use? The plan helps you put it all on paper so you can map out resources and tactics later with a lot of preparation and realism,” said Bryant.

When analyzing outcomes and resources, you can save time and avoid scope creep by focusing only on strategies that are relevant to your marketing plan. A marketing plan helps you think realistically about your strategies, gets your stakeholders on the same page, and holds your marketing team accountable for their decisions.

“When everyone’s tasks and goals are laid out for the stakeholders and company partners to see, it is much easier for the entire team to feel at ease about reaching sales goals and allowing the marketing team the space and freedom needed to execute work without constant supervision,” said Cassady Dill, digital marketing consultant and owner of Ethos Agency.

Additionally, Dill said a marketing plan should be easily understood by your entire team, executives and outside departments. Your plan should also serve as an easy guide for future marketing managers and team members to understand and implement.

What are the key elements of an effective business marketing plan?

A marketing plan should be customized to fit your business; however, Dill said, all marketing plans contain five essential functions:

  • Your business goals
  • Key metrics (how you quantify and measure success)
  • Strategies (an overview of implementation and how that will achieve goals)
  • A plan (the details of execution and the human resources, departments and software that will be involved)
  • Reporting (what reports of progress will include and/or look like)

We broke down those five functions into 10 actionable categories to help you create a marketing plan that is unique and effective for your business.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is a great place to give the reader of your plan an overview of your business’s mission or goals, as well as the marketing strategy you’re looking to employ. An executive summary is often written after you’ve completed the rest of the marketing plan, to ensure it covers all the important elements of your plan. If the executive summary is the only part of your marketing plan that someone reads (which is highly possible), you want to be sure they understand the most crucial details.

2. Mission statement

The mission statement , not to be confused with a vision statement, is a statement that encompasses your company’s values and how they relate to your overall goals as an organization. Here are some good questions to get you thinking:

  • What does your company do today?
  • What’s important to your company?
  • What would your company like to do in the future?
  • What is your brand identity?
  • What’s your culture like ?
  • How does your company benefit customers, employees and stakeholders?

3. Target markets

Identifying your target market is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. Without a defined target audience, your marketing expenses will be wasted. Think of it like this: Some people need your service or product but don’t know it exists yet. Who are those people?

Here are some other questions to help you brainstorm your target market :

  • What is the demographic of your customers (gender, age, income, education, etc.)?
  • What are their needs and interests?
  • What’s their psychographic profile (attitudes, philosophies, values, lifestyle, etc.)?
  • How do they behave?
  • What are some existing products they use?

4. Products and services

In this section, don’t just list what your product or service is. Think critically about what you have to offer your customers and what that value proposition means to them.

  • What do you make or provide for customers?
  • What are your customers’ needs?
  • How does your product or service fulfill customers’ needs?
  • What value do you add to your customers’ lives?
  • What type of product or service are you offering?

5. Distribution channels

At this point in your report, you should transition your thinking into actual marketing theory and practices. Distribution channels are the avenues you’ll use to reach a prospective customer or business . Think of all current and potential sales channels on which your specific target audience is active. One distribution channel that works great for one organization may be useless to another. For example, one company may host their website for free on a site like HubSpot and solely rely on that as their sales channel, while another company may have a whole team of people using Pinterest to drive sales. [Learn how CRM systems can help track your marketing leads based on various distribution channels.]

Examples of sales channels include the following:

  • Mobile text message marketing
  • Social media
  • Print (newspapers, magazines, brochures, catalogs, direct mail)
  • Broadcast (TV, radio)
  • Press releases
  • Trade shows, product demonstrations, event marketing

6. Competitive profile

One of the major aspects of your marketing plan is developing your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is a feature or stance that separates your product or service from competitors. Finding your USP is all about differentiation and distinguishing your company as a sole proprietor of one type of good or service. Conduct a competitive analysis to identify your competitive profile and how you stack up against the competition. It is important to remain unbiased when conducting this analysis.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • What’s your USP?
  • Who are your competitors? What do they offer?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?
  • What needs of the market (or customer) are not being served? What can you do to meet those needs?

If you are creating your USP for the first time, here are seven surefire strategies to help you stand out from the competition .

7. A pricing strategy

Consider pricing when drafting your marketing plan. Developing the right pricing strategy helps you better market your product. Think about your current and projected finances when developing a long-term marketing strategy that is realistic and beneficial for your business. Here are some key questions to ask yourself about your pricing:

  • What are reasonable margins to make a profit and cover production costs?
  • Is there a market for products or services at your projected price point?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice profit margins in return for a greater market share?
  • What are your marketing and distribution costs?

8. Objectives

Consider your objectives when developing a marketing plan. This aspect of your plan should involve specific goals related to market penetration and revenue targets. Be sure to keep your marketing objectives on-brand with your business. Here are some things to consider:

  • Sales quotas
  • Number of new customers gained
  • Customer retention percentages
  • Revenue targets
  • Market penetration
  • Brand awareness
  • Website traffic

9. Action plans

With all of the above items outlined, determine what steps need to be taken to enact your marketing plan. This includes determining the proper steps, setting goals, breaking down responsibilities, and establishing an overall timeline.

It’s also important to brainstorm potential roadblocks your business could face and some solutions to overcome them. Your research is useless if you don’t have an actionable plan that can be realistically implemented to carry out your ideas.

10. Financial projections

This last step allows you to establish a realistic marketing budget and better understand your marketing plan from a cost perspective. In addition to setting a budget, consider the overall return on investment as well. Here are some other financial projections to consider:

  • Cost of implementation
  • Cost to produce product or service
  • Existing and projected cash flow
  • Projected sales
  • Desired profit margin on projected sales

What is a template for creating a successful marketing plan?

The internet is full of useful tools, including paid and free marketing plan templates, to help you build a successful marketing plan .

Whether you are looking for a free template generator to build a new marketing plan or a benchmarking tool to evaluate your current strategies, several great resources are available. Keep in mind that the best marketing plan for your business will be a customized one.

“Ultimately, you should design a marketing plan that best serves the needs of your team as you see fit,” said Dill. “Don’t force yourself into a plan that doesn’t fit your team. Use templates to shorten the workload time, but then adjust it for a more custom plan.”

Here are some tools and templates to get you started:

  • Free marketing plan template : business.com has developed a free template that is fully customizable based on the needs of your business. Each section provides in-depth explanations, examples and resources to help you create an impressive marketing plan.
  • Smart Insights: In addition to offering marketing plan templates, some companies, like Smart Insights, offer marketing benchmarking templates to help you evaluate your strategy performance. These are accessible with a free Smart Insights membership.
  • GERU: Similarly, GERU offers a funnel-planning, profit-prediction and simulation tool to help you assess mock business ideas and simulations. This can help you identify weak points in your marketing strategy that need improvement. Although GERU requires users to sign up for a paid account, you can access a free trial to test it out.

What mistakes should you avoid when creating your marketing plan?

When creating an effective marketing plan, you need to avoid falling for common missteps and mistakes. For starters, failing to identify any of the 10 actionable categories above is an obvious mistake.

Here are some other key mistakes to avoid:

  • Setting unrealistic budgets: Underestimating the costs of marketing activities or setting an unrealistic budget can limit your ability to execute your plan effectively. Marketing can be expensive, so it’s important to fully understand the estimated cost and budget before building a marketing strategy that you can’t afford.
  • Focusing on quantity over quality: “More” doesn’t always mean “better” if you are posting on irrelevant marketing channels or your efforts are bringing in unqualified leads. Prioritizing the quantity of marketing activities over their quality can lead to superficial engagement and a lack of meaningful results.
  • Not testing campaigns: Launching large campaigns without testing can lead to wasted resources if the messaging or tactics don’t resonate as expected. Test out your new campaigns to ensure they achieve your intended goal.
  • Ignoring customer feedback: You may be tempted to ignore negative feedback, but disregarding customer comments and failing to address their concerns can lead to negative perceptions of your brand. Instead, use customer feedback to your advantage to improve your product and marketing efforts.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering: Setting unrealistic expectations in your marketing messages that your products or services can’t fulfill can damage your brand’s reputation.
  • Ignoring seasonality and trends: Failing to account for seasonal trends and market changes can result in missed opportunities for timely marketing efforts.
  • Not reviewing and updating your plan: A rigid marketing plan that doesn’t allow for adjustments in response to market feedback and changing conditions can hinder your success. A marketing plan should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the market and your business’s goals.

Avoiding these mistakes and missteps can help you create a more effective and successful marketing plan that drives results for your business.

How can you take action with your new marketing plan?

Before you dive into marketing plan templates, it’s important to understand how to think about a marketing plan.

A good marketing plan targets who your buyers are, establishes the service or product you are offering, and determines your unique selling proposition. From here, you will tackle the marketing planning process and develop the best way to get your product in front of buyers who want your product or service.

Dill created a simple four-step process for how small businesses can take action with creating a marketing plan.

  • The first step is to hold a marketing meeting with all the marketing team and executives or stakeholders. This gives them time to offer questions, concerns and criticisms you haven’t thought of so you can go back to the board room and revise your strategy or plan.
  • Next, add a timeline to all your tasks and assign team members and all the help you’ll need to execute that plan.
  • Once your plan is in action, hold weekly check-ins in person or by email to keep everyone on track.
  • Share a weekly progress report with all parties involved and execs to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

In addition to drafting your own plan, you can work with a digital marketing agency or use internet marketing and pay-per-click management services to leverage your online presence.

Once you’ve established a general road map, update it annually. Developing an evolving marketing plan sets your business up for continued success because it allows you to prepare for the unexpected and establish a connection between your brand and your audience.

Matt D’Angelo contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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What is a marketing plan and why is it important?

Before you spend a cent on marketing, you first have to understand the market and your customers.

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses.  Starting small  is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.

A marketing plan is a blueprint for launching new products, understanding the intricacies of your market, growing your audience, and promoting your company to customers who want what you’re selling. 

With a well-designed marketing plan, you can design more effective promotions and impactful campaigns, reach your customers with targeted advertising, and track your business success with analytics. Without one, you might as well throw your marketing budget down a well and hope for the best. 

If you’ve been tasked with creating a marketing plan for your company, there are some basic elements to keep in mind. Though every marketing plan will reflect the specific business and industry it’s been created for, most share a few common features and can be boiled down to just one or two simple objectives. In this article, we’ll outline some of the basic elements of a marketing plan and how to write one.

When you’re ready to put the plan into action, WeWork All Access and WeWork On Demand are there to support you with hundreds of dedicated workspaces around the world, so you can seamlessly collaborate on marketing strategy in a professional and stylish office space.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a document outlining a company’s future marketing efforts and goals. It can be as short as a single page or made up of many smaller campaign plans from different marketing teams. 

However large and complex those plans are, the idea remains the same: A marketing plan is created to organize, execute, and eventually measure the success of a business’s marketing strategy .

Types of marketing plans

Marketing plans come in as many different shapes and sizes as there are different kinds of business, but they can be broadly placed into one (or more) of a few different categories. Here are some of the most common you’ll encounter.

  • Annual marketing plans. These types of marketing plans arrange campaigns according to when they’re expected to launch, rather than the content of the campaigns themselves. It’s a useful way to get an overview of a marketing strategy for the upcoming year, and to measure success continuously as time passes.
  • Content marketing plans. This is a more content-focused way of approaching a marketing strategy, and highlights the specific channels and audiences you want to reach. Content marketing plans can look very similar to annual marketing plans, but are less concerned with the “when” and more with the “what” and the “how.”
  • Product launch plans. Launching a new product or service requires a specific kind of marketing plan. The main goal is to successfully introduce the new product to the market. But these plans also include the strategies, tactics, and content needed in the buildup to the launch itself.
  • Social media marketing plans. Social media channels are such a vital part of a company’s marketing goals that it’s often wise to create a separate social media marketing plan dedicated to creating advertising and promotional content on these platforms.

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

A marketing plan lays out your business strategy for acquiring new customers and selling more products and services. But it also serves as a way of analyzing exactly how successful your marketing efforts have been so far. Knowing this information helps steer ongoing campaigns in the right direction, aligns your marketing with your company’s values, and ensures that future campaigns are better targeted and more effective.

To understand why a marketing plan is important, just consider what would happen without one. Your advertising budget would be spent based entirely on guesswork about where your potential customers can be found and what they’re looking for. You’d have no idea which of your campaigns contributed to increased sales figures. And you’d have no baselines from which to build more effective campaigns in the future.

How to create a marketing plan

Elements of a marketing plan.

The basic building blocks of any good marketing plan are focused on objectives, research, competitors, and content. These objectives should be clearly defined and easily measurable goals —ideally no more than two or three—and informed by as much consumer research as you can reasonably gather.

Whether your goal is increasing your Instagram followers, driving traffic to your site, or attracting more cheese fans to your cheese store, set a specific target by which to monitor the performance of any campaign. As you develop your marketing plan and learn what’s effective and what’s not, you can set more accurate targets and begin to hone in on the strategies that really work for your company.

A marketing plan should also describe your brand’s biggest competitors and the campaigns they’re running, as well as identify any openings in the market that would allow your company to grab market share. This is where SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis comes into its own, enabling a company to shape its marketing plan around its own strengths and weaknesses.

Lastly, a marketing plan should outline the content of each campaign. Will your pre-roll video content use animation or live actors? Can you offer discounts and voucher codes to new customers? Will you leverage your mailing list to notify existing customers of a new product launch?

Define a marketing plan strategy

If your marketing plan is a roadmap, then your marketing strategy is the road. The strategy describes which tools you’ll use to hit the targets laid out by the main marketing plan document, and how they’ll be applied.

Here’s where you get down to the fundamentals of selling. Depending on who you ask, there are as many as seven P’s of marketing, though most agree on four core elements: price, product, place, and promotion.

What are you selling? How much are you charging? Where will your customers see it? And how will you promote it to them? Marketing gurus will promise you that if you can answer all of these questions correctly, you’ll be guaranteed boundless success.

Of course, in the real world it’s not quite so straightforward. But the four main P’s are an ideal starting point for anyone creating a market plan from scratch.

How to measure the success of a marketing plan

An enormous amount of effort and investment is poured into monitoring the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, but at some level, consumer behavior becomes what’s known as a black box. You can measure what goes into it and what comes out the other end, but what happens inside the mind of a consumer can ultimately only be guessed at based on outcomes. Even the shoppers themselves can’t reliably report on why they choose certain products over others.

That’s why tracking a marketing plan’s performance alongside more specific KPIs (key performance indicators) is crucial. Advertising spend and sales figures aren’t linked in a simple or obvious way, so measuring success on a more granular level—such as increasing conversions or returning customers—helps create a much clearer picture of how well your marketing plan is doing.

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what is an marketing plan in a business plan

Final thoughts on creating a marketing plan

Marketing plans need to be squarely outlined and adhered to, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. You need to be able to course-correct when something isn’t landing, or lean more into campaigns when they’re working well. 

Quick aside: This is particularly true when it comes to the content of social media marketing plans, which are truly effective only when they’re timely and topical. Memes are a perfect example of this: How often have you seen a promoted tweet deploy some forgotten joke from months ago, presumably because it had been left in somebody’s annual marketing plan?

But while it’s useful to have a flexible approach , it’s important that your marketing plan is resilient and doesn’t flip-flop or bounce wildly between ideas. Move the goalposts too much and your plan will quickly fall apart, leaving your campaign in chaos. Allow your strategies some time to settle in, and even if you don’t reach success, you will gain invaluable performance data for future projects.

Steve Hogarty is a writer and journalist based in London. He is the travel editor of City AM newspaper and the deputy editor of City AM Magazine , where his work focuses on technology, travel, and entertainment.

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How to Write a Sales and Marketing Plan

Bag of money and a megaphone. Represents creating a sales and marketing plan.

2 min. read

Updated January 3, 2024

You’ve addressed what you’re selling and why in the products and services section. You now have an understanding of the market and an ideal customer in mind thanks to your market analysis. Now, you need to explain how you will actually reach and sell to them.

The marketing and sales section of your business plan dives into how you’re going to accomplish your goals. You’ll be answering questions like:

  • Based on your audience, how will you position your product or service in the current market?
  • What marketing channels, messaging, and sales tactics will you implement?
  • What’s your business model and how will your business operate day-to-day?

By the end of this section, you should have an outline of what growth looks like, what milestones you intend to hit, and how you’ll measure success. Basically, you’re backing up the opportunity you’ve identified with a solid go-to-market plan.

What to include in the sales and marketing section

The sections you should include act as a useful framework for exploring and defining your marketing and sales tactics.

Create a positioning statement

How does your business differ? What do you do that others don’t? If you’re unsure, work through a handful of strategic exercises to create a simple but convincing positioning statement.

Outline your marketing strategy

A marketing plan brings together strategic goals with tangible marketing activities designed to reach and engage your target market—ultimately convincing them to purchase your product.

Craft your sales plan

A good sales strategy provides actionable steps to reach your goals. Estimate how much you intend to sell and outline a process that anyone else in your business can execute.

Optional sales and marketing information to include

The basics of a marketing and sales plan are fairly straightforward. However, it’s also the perfect place to flesh out any details that you think will make your outreach efforts successful.

Create a unique value proposition

What makes your business unique? How does the solution you provide stand out? This is your chance to point to what you believe potential customers will find more valuable about your business over the competition.

Don't forget digital marketing

While we don’t recommend creating separate traditional and digital marketing plans, it may be wise to explore and address them separately within your plan.

Build your promotional plan

How will you convince your customers to buy your products or services? While actual ads and promotions may be months away, it’s best to think through and even mock up designs now.

Conduct a SWOT analysis

With this simple analysis, you’ll better understand your strengths and weaknesses, along with the opportunities and threats you should account for.

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Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

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Marketing91

What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One

July 19, 2023 | By Hitesh Bhasin | Filed Under: Marketing

A marketing plan is a pivotal document or guideline for any business or organization to remain competitive and thrive. It lays out the strategies, tactics, and goals that need to be implemented for the company to reach its desired objectives. With an effective and successful marketing plan in place, you can boost your chances of success! Through meticulous planning , you can maximize both your budget and the influence of your marketing campaigns .

A comprehensive marketing plan will assist you in recognizing and executing result-driven marketing activities for targeting your customer base , meeting your marketing goals and objectives, and boosting sales. It will also enable you to evaluate your success rate and objectively determine how successful each promotional activity has been.

Table of Contents

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is an organized approach that businesses take to identify, develop, and track their business objectives over a set period of time. With a detailed strategy in hand, businesses can implement and track their marketing plans to attain desired outcomes. A strategic roadmap is an effective way to achieve this goal.

An organized marketing plan is crucial for businesses to reach their desired target market and generate leads. This operational document outlines a clear advertising strategy with various outreach and PR campaigns, as well as how the company will measure its success in achieving these goals. Through a strategic collaboration of multiple teams within the organization and marketing department, they can all work together towards one unified business goal.

To gain a better understanding of what goes into constructing a marketing plan, the following examples may be beneficial –

Marketing Plan Examples

Marketing Plan Examples

1) Marketing plan for launching a new product

If you’re aspiring to introduce a revolutionary product , your marketing plan should include-

  • An efficient pricing strategy
  • Identification and segmentation of your target market
  • Comprehensive competitive analysis with allocated budgeting for necessary resources utilized in the communications strategy, etc

2) Marketing plan for increasing brand awareness

If your mission is to boost brand awareness and recognition, you should consider drafting a plan that encompasses-

  • Examining existing brand awareness
  • Determining target audiences and positioning strategies
  • Allocating funds, and creating an actionable timeline for campaigns

Moreover, crafting persuasive messaging techniques plus content strategy as well as assessing effectiveness are also essential considerations. Furthermore don’t forget to explore influencer marketing opportunities too!

3) Marketing plan for expanding into a new market

If you are eager to penetrate a new market , your strategy could incorporate an array of elements such as-

  • Delving into the target market and performing thorough research
  • Pinpointing potential source markets for products or services that maximize value propositions
  • Formulating a localized approach to cater products or services according to specific customer needs and preferences
  • Setting pricing strategies relative to competition in addition to packaging plans that optimize the user experience journey
  • Furthermore, outlining sales tactics designed towards engaging prospective customers while also monitoring performance metrics is paramount

Types of Marketing Plans

To guarantee your marketing strategies are successful and effective, it’s crucial to devise a well-detailed plan that is tailored to the goals you seek. When deciding on the ideal marketing plan for you, please consider these various options:

1) New Product Launch Marketing Plan

This guide will lay out the strategies and tactics you’ll use to successfully promote a new product. Crafting an effective marketing strategy for your new product requires understanding who your target audience is, setting achievable goals and objectives, establishing a budget that works best for you, and coming up with unique marketing campaigns .

2) Content Marketing Plan

With this plan, you can showcase various methods, marketing tools and initiatives that leverage content to promote your business or product. For example, you can focus on creating top-notch content that resonates with your target audience, optimizing existing pieces of content for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, and creating a content calendar to stay organized.

3) Social Media Marketing Plan

A detailed game plan for your social media channels, tactics, and campaigns is essential for success. Specifically targeting the paid marketing subtype allows you to concentrate on strategies like native advertising, PPC, or promoting your content with paid social media advertisements. Utilizing this type of focused approach can be invaluable in driving growth through targeted results-oriented planning.

4) Growth Marketing Plan

By leveraging experimentation and data, growth marketing plans can achieve amazing results. For example, with the aid of crucial metrics to measure progress, you can modify your campaigns to attain maximum return on investment. Such a strategy is designed for constructing an audience over the long term by running numerous campaigns all at once and crunching the figures along the way.

5) Time-Based (Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans)

Crafting marketing plans based on the time of year, canny business analysis , and effective strategies are key to successful quarterly or annual campaigns. This strategy is crafted to ensure optimal success and efficiency in budgeting, resource allocation , campaign creation, and progress tracking.

How to Write a Marketing Plan?

How to Write a Marketing Plan

If you’d like to craft a comprehensive and impactful marketing plan, use the following steps as your guide –

1) Define Mission and Value Proposition

Define your brand’s own mission statement and how your product or service stands for it. Subsequently, craft a succinct value proposition that summarizes the core benefits of what you offer. By doing so, you’ll be able to stay focused on the task ahead while guaranteeing all marketing tactics are consistent with your overall objectives.

2) Know your competition

Businesses need to conduct competitor research to gain insights into their rivals and how they are dominating the market. By using market share and understanding where their opponents’ weaknesses lie, companies can strategize on ways of effectively competing with existing products and services while making sure that theirs is differentially positioned but not excessively priced. Competitor research allows savvy businesses to stay ahead of the competition by staying abreast of industry trends and developments.

3) Run a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis provides an overview of a company’s capabilities and potential growth opportunities, by assessing its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities as well as any external Threats. By understanding these four factors better, organizations can gain valuable insights into their current state that will help them make informed decisions for the future. Additionally, it can help devise goals and objectives that align with the company’s mission.

4) Identify Your Target Market & Develop buyer personas

To be successful , companies must understand their target customers. That’s why creating buyer personas is so important; it allows businesses to define who they’re reaching out to by providing a comprehensive bio that outlines the qualities and traits of the ideal customer. This qualitative data help explain why someone would purchase what you offer – allowing you to market more efficiently without wasting resources targeting an uninterested larger audience.

Buyer personas are incredibly useful for understanding a company’s customer base. To create an accurate buyer persona , one should ask the following questions:

  • Who are the potential or current customers of this business?
  • What needs do they have and what can our organization do to fulfill them?
  • Where and how often do they shop?
  • What demographic factors (age, location) influence their decision-making process?
  • And finally, which social media platforms does the target audience use most frequently, allowing us to optimize our marketing efforts to effectively reach out and engage with them?

5) Set budget parameters

To maximize their ROI, businesses must carefully analyze and distribute funds for specific strategies. Budgets set the parameters of how much money marketers put into each plan, ultimately determining which channels are incorporated into an effective strategy. Businesses need to allocate a portion of their budget toward integrating both traditional and digital marketing strategies, including print advertisements, and TV spots as well as SEO optimization, social media promotion, and content creation.

6) Establish KPIs and goals

Developing relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and objectives before launching any marketing campaign is essential to ensure that campaigns meet the company’s desired expectations. By collecting data on KPIs throughout a campaign, organizations can detect when changes need to be made in order to reach their targeted goals and maintain successful results.

7) Determine the buying cycle patterns

Understanding buying patterns is key for marketers, as they provide invaluable insight into the customer’s journey through the sales funnel . Recognizing these purchase trends can help to refine your overall marketing strategy and improve conversion rates.

8) Identify the unique selling proposition (USP)

In order to comprehend the preferences of our ideal customer, we must take advantage of market research . Moreover, it is imperative that we precisely explain how our company satisfies a need not met by other competitors. To back up this claim and illustrate what makes us unique from others in terms of value proposition and competitive advantages , let’s list out the expertise held by staff at our organization.

9) Determine marketing channels and best practices

The analysis above helps us identify the most effective marketing channels and best practices for marketing mix that deliver expected results. Understanding our customers’ needs allows us to create strategies tailored to them, such as social media marketing. We must analyze each channel carefully in order to determine how we can leverage it for maximum effect.

10) Create an outline

Crafting the perfect marketing plan is key to any organization’s success. To ensure you have all that you need, consider including these elements:

  • Comprehensive business info
  • Analysis of competitors and your own strengths/weaknesses
  • Target buyer demographics
  • Buying cycle patterns unique to your business or product offering
  • A USP to set yourself apart from rivals
  • An established brand identity
  • Website considerations such as SEO optimization and KPIs
  • Strategies for implementation of tactics across various marketing channels

11) Strategy and Execution

Your marketing plan will strategically assess the rationale for your decisions, as well as focus on developing a timeline and ideal placement of planned campaigns. Additionally, it is essential to include metrics that can track success rates in order to ensure positive outcomes from all your marketing materials and tactics.

For instance, should you invest in radio or social media advertisements? If radio ads are selected, when would be an appropriate time frame to air them? These crucial factors must be considered before any final plans are implemented.

12) Track measurements through KPIs & Adjust Your Plan

As we determine the success of our marketing strategies, it’s important for us to remain agile and pivot when necessary. If digital ads are more successful than anticipated, then budget modifications should be made to fund higher-performing platforms or initiate new campaigns. The key challenge here is finding a balance between allocating enough time to measure results while still being able to make quick adjustments whenever needed.

Sample Marketing Plan

Now let’s construct a comprehensive plan together, one step at a time

1) Establish Marketing Objectives:

“Our entire marketing plan now is designed to facilitate a 10% rise in sales within the upcoming six months.”

2) Analyze Competitors & Your Own Strengths/Weaknesses

We are proud to stand out among our competitors ABC Corp and XYZ Inc with our dedicated customer service and unique product offerings. That said, we understand that being limited in terms of budget for marketing, lack of market research capabilities, as well as the size of our team can be seen as weaknesses.

3) Identify Target Buyers & create buyer personas

To maximize our campaign’s reach, we must define and hone in on a precise audience. Our goal should be to focus on small to mid-sized companies in the region as well as individual contractors by using customer segments and creating buyer personas with particular attributes and tastes.

To achieve this, consider utilizing these categories: age, gender, profession/background, interests/values/goals, and pain points they may have experienced previously—all while taking into account their social media platforms of choice along with what streaming services they favor most!

4) Determine Buying Cycles

As our customers usually acquire items every three months, when devising marketing strategies we must consider this cycle.

5) Create A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

With complete assurance, we guarantee satisfaction with all of our products – this is what sets us apart!

6) Develop An Identity

To craft an up-to-date, daring look for our branding , we will combine vibrant hues and assertive fonts.

7) Build Your Website & Ensure SEO Optimization

For optimal visibility, our website should be intuitive to navigate and optimized for search engine performance. Additionally, we ought to feature a dedicated FAQ section with product information as well as contact details available directly from the page.

8) Identify Marketing Channels

We’ll employ a mixture of SEO, email marketing, social media campaigns, and PPC advertising to reach our desired audience.

9) Determine KPIs

To ensure our success, we will closely monitor a variety of metrics, including website visits, click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per lead.

10) Develop Marketing Strategies & tactics

To achieve optimal marketing success , we must take a multifaceted approach that includes inventive campaigns, attention-grabbing marketing and content strategy, and well-targeted ads on all platforms. Additionally, it is pivotal to monitor customer interaction and tailor our material for maximum reachability.

With a marketing plan that features timelines, budget divisions, and performance objectives in place, we can guarantee our marketing initiatives are effective, and precise and will result in success.

To ensure our success, we should track website visits, CTRs (click-through rates), conversion rates, and cost per lead carefully. If any of these KPIs are not meeting their targets or objectives, then urgent corrections to the plan and budget are necessary.

Adopting an effective approach and constructing a plan can help your business accomplish its aspirations while connecting with potential customers , in meaningful ways.

What Is a Marketing Plan Template?

Developing a marketing plan can seem overwhelming, but with the help of a template, it’s easy! The ready-made document offers all the essential pieces and necessary language for your company. Simply fill in the blank sections with relevant information about your business to create an effective and tailored marketing plan – it’s that simple! To create your own marketing plan, you may find a free marketing plan template at different online portals .

What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?

The executive summary of the marketing plan should present a concise and comprehensive synopsis of all that is included in the document. This segment will encompass data from market research, objectives for the company, goals for marketing endeavors, an overview of relevant trends within this sector, descriptions of products/services being marketed to customers as well as insight on who exactly these items are intended for while also accounting any financial considerations needed to move forward with this strategy.

How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?

The cost of a well-crafted marketing plan can vary widely, depending on the size and complexity of the business as well as how extensive the strategy is. A comprehensive plan could set you back anywhere from $10K to $40K.

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

A business plan is a comprehensive guide that outlines how the company will be operated, with detailed information about its goals and objectives. It highlights mission statements, core values, financials, and strategies to ensure success in both short-term operations as well as long-term growth. This roadmap serves as an invaluable tool for navigating your venture on the way to achieving all of your intended goals!

A well-crafted business plan should include, at a minimum, an executive summary of the company’s objectives and services; a marketing plan with strategies to increase visibility; marketing budget ; financial projections for tracking progress and meeting goals; as well as a budget to ensure resources are allocated adequately.

While on the other hand, an effective marketing plan is an essential part of the business plan. It encompasses everything from increasing brand recognition , targeting specific audiences and customers, collaborating with key stakeholders or influencers, creating dedicated marketing strategy, leveraging digital resources, and producing content campaigns- all while adhering to predetermined timelines with consistent checkpoints for optimal performance.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy is an essential part of any business, outlining the specific pathways and tactics that are used to fulfill a particular marketing mission. A marketing strategy outlines which campaigns, content pieces, channels, as well as tracking and software tools, will be implemented to reach the desired result. As an example, while higher-level plans or teams might be in charge of social media marketing, you can still utilize a more personal approach by creating your individualized marketing strategy on LinkedIn .

An effective marketing plan is constructed to achieve tangible business goals . It should consist of one or more well-defined marketing strategies that guide your marketing team’s focus, in their efforts to promote and optimize key objectives, forming a comprehensive framework for each initiative within the larger scope of operations and objectives.

If your organization is launching a new product, the marketing team must create effective strategies to introduce it to its target market and increase signups. This marketing plan presentation needs to be designed carefully for customers to have an incentive that will encourage them to invest their time and money into this groundbreaking release.

Conclusion!

Ultimately, the fundamental of a solid marketing plan identifies with the following points –

  • Crafting a marketing plan is essential for any business, outlining the strategic steps necessary to reach its desired objectives and goals.
  • It serves as the blueprint for how companies will communicate, engage and interact with customers.
  • Careful thought should be given to the target customer, budget needs, how closely current market trends align with your goals, and the competitive landscape.
  • To make sure that marketing plans are effective, it is essential to frequently review and revise them.

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About Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Marketing91 and has over a decade of experience in the marketing field. He is an accomplished author of thousands of insightful articles, including in-depth analyses of brands and companies. Holding an MBA in Marketing, Hitesh manages several offline ventures, where he applies all the concepts of Marketing that he writes about.

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Creating a Marketing Plan: An Overview

Effective marketing cannot begin without an effective marketing plan. The marketing plan serves to define the opportunity, the strategy, the budget, and the expected results of product sales. In this…

  • Length: 16 page(s)
  • Publication Date: Nov 21, 2005
  • Discipline: Marketing
  • Product #: 2564BC-PDF-ENG

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This chapter is excerpted from Harvard Business Essentials: Marketer's Toolkit.

Effective marketing cannot begin without an effective marketing plan. The marketing plan serves to define the opportunity, the strategy, the budget, and the expected results of product sales. In this chapter, the individual elements that comprise the plan are introduced, as are details on how to implement adequate research in considering each decision therein.

This chapter can be used alone or in concert with other Harvard Business School Press chapters grouped together into learning clusters. Other basic-level chapters on marketing: products 2556BC, 2572BC, 2580BC, 2599BC, 2602BC, 2610BC, 2629BC, 2637BC, 2645BC, and 2653BC.

Learning Objectives

To introduce the key elements of the marketing plan.

Nov 21, 2005

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Harvard Business Press Chapters

2564BC-PDF-ENG

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what is an marketing plan in a business plan

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Marketing plan vs business plan: What’s the difference?

  • Marketing Plan

Marketing plan vs business plan: What’s the difference?

For business owners, nonprofit directors, and community group leaders, the process of writing a business plan or creating a marketing plan can seem intimidating. They may know the ins and outs of what they do every day and have fantastic ideas on how to grow and market their organizations, but the act of putting it on paper often feels like stepping into a world with opaque rules and confusing jargon.

Fortunately, the reality of both business and marketing plans is that they aren’t nearly as complicated as many people think. In fact, most business owners have written both without realizing it, even if only in an informal manner.

Creating a formal business or marketing plan uses a lot of the same steps business owners already take when sketching out new marketing ideas on a napkin or doing some quick back-of-the-envelope math to figure out how to expand into a new city.

But before moving forward with the process, it’s important to know which one you need. In other words, what’s the difference between a marketing plan and a business plan?

Create a marketing plan that works for your business with Jotform’s easy-to-use marketing form templates .

The biggest difference between a business plan and a marketing plan is the scope of what they cover. While both documents can be quite lengthy and thorough, they don’t address the exact same information.

A business plan is typically a much broader document that covers every aspect of your business: operations, supply chains, human resources, materials costs, and — yes — marketing. In fact, a marketing plan will usually be a section of a business plan.

Marketing plans tend to focus much more narrowly on the specifics of making customers aware of and likely to buy a product or service. A marketing plan may touch on some of the same things a business plan does, like the cost of goods sold, but only as they relate to being able to sell those goods to consumers.

Another key difference between the two is how far into the future they look. Business plans, for example, tend to cover a much longer period than marketing plans. A typical window for a business plan, for example, is about five years. A typical window for a marketing plan, on the other hand, will be a year to three years.

The two are updated differently as well. Business plans rarely need to be replaced or updated unless there’s a significant change in the business — a completely new product category, a new business model, or some global event that changes the way a company performs its core function.

Marketing plans are often updated every year. They tend to be part of the yearly budgeting activities that help business owners plan how they will allocate resources to various departments.

This makes sense when you think about it. Companies change their marketing much more often than they change their business model.

The reasons for creating a marketing plan and a business plan are often similar but not identical. Most often, business owners create both to secure financing. Banks and investors frequently ask for business and marketing plans before agreeing to loan money or invest in the company.

But external demands aren’t the only or even the most important reasons to write both kinds of plans. A business plan is a great way to formalize the ideas behind how and why a company works the way it does. It’s a fantastic way for business owners to put down on paper many of the things they’ve been intuitively doing, and cement processes and procedures for running a company.

Business plans are also great at helping you to prepare for future needs. By going through the exercise of writing a full business plan, business owners get an idea of where they are and what kinds of initiatives and resources they need to meet their goals.

Marketing plans are also incredibly useful internally. As we mentioned above, they are an important part of the annual budgeting process. Sitting down and thinking through all of the marketing needs can help both validate a company’s marketing initiatives as well as determine the ideal amount of money to allocate toward marketing.

The bottom line

A marketing plan is a part of a business plan. That’s the easiest way to remember the difference between the two. The business plan shapes everything about the way a company works, and lays out big-picture goals and ideas.

The marketing plan paints a more detailed picture of how the company will use marketing to achieve the goals laid out in the business plan. The marketing plan is department level and has to coexist with plans for other departments — HR, operations, legal and regulatory, and others.

Both plans are important in successfully running a company, but the business plan is more important because it will at least outline some marketing initiatives. For business owners who only have time to create one, the business plan is the logical choice.

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40 days ago

dear as far as i read your passage about marketing and business plan i would like to request that you send me some samples of business and marketing plan in FMCG scope thank you

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How to Create an Effective Sales and Marketing Plan

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

A comprehensive sales and marketing plan sets up organizations for long-term growth and success. In this guide, we’ll dig into the differences between sales and marketing plans, how to create your plan, and templates to get the ball rolling.

What is a Sales and Marketing Plan?

Sales plan vs. marketing plan, marketing plan template: the essential components, sales plan template: the essential components, steps to create a sales and marketing plan.

A well-crafted sales and marketing plan is indispensable for the success and growth of any company, whether it’s a startup, small business, or enterprise. This plan serves as a roadmap, outlining clear objectives, targeted customer segments, and actionable tactics to drive sales and promote brand awareness.

It enables companies to understand their market position, competitive landscape, and customer needs. On top of that, it provides a structured approach to buyer engagement , ensuring consistent and effective communication across various touchpoints.

By defining specific goals and identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), a sales and marketing plan provides a structured framework for marketing and sales to align their go-to-market efforts. And when teams are aligned, companies can generate up to 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.

While sales and marketing are integral to an overall business plan, they serve distinct purposes and focus on different aspects of the customer journey. Here are the key differences between a sales plan and a marketing plan:

Focus and Objectives

Sales Plan: Primarily focuses on the activities and strategies to drive direct revenue generation. It outlines the specific actions the sales team will take to achieve targets and goals.

Marketing Plan: Concentrates on creating awareness, generating interest, and positioning new products or services in the market. It aims to build and maintain the brand, nurture leads, and create favorable conditions for sales.

Sales Plan: Typically more tactical and operational, it details the sales team’s day-to-day activities. It addresses how sales representatives engage with prospects, close deals, and meet revenue targets.

Marketing Plan: Has a broader scope, encompassing the overall market strategy, brand positioning, promotional activities, and communication efforts. It sets the stage for sales by creating a favorable market environment.

Sales Plan: Often focuses on short-term goals and immediate revenue generation. It may have a more immediate and tactical orientation focusing on quarterly or annual targets.

Marketing Plan: Can have a longer-term perspective, building brand equity and customer relationships over time. It may include short-term and long-term initiatives aligned with the overall business strategy.

Sales Plan: Includes sales tactics, prospecting strategies, target setting, and customer relationship management (CRM) activities.

Marketing Plan: Encompasses market research, target audience identification, advertising, content creation, social media strategy, and overall brand positioning.

Sales Plan: Metrics focus on sales performance , revenue targets, conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and individual sales representative performance.

Marketing Plan: Metrics include brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, social media engagement, customer acquisition costs, and marketing ROI.

Collaboration

Sales Plan: Primarily involves collaboration within the sales team, setting individual and team goals, and coordinating efforts to meet targets.

Marketing Plan: Requires collaboration between marketing and other departments to ensure a consistent brand message and a seamless customer experience. This collaboration extends to content creation, advertising, and customer relationship strategies.

Here, you can see that a sales plan is more tactical and concentrates on direct revenue generation. In contrast, the marketing plan is strategic, focusing on creating a favorable market environment and building brand equity.

An effective marketing plan outlines a business’s strategies and tactics to achieve its marketing objectives. Here are the key components that typically go into creating a new marketing plan:

Executive Summary

  • Brief overview of the marketing plan, including goals, strategies, and key components.

Market Analysis

  • Analysis of the target market, including demographics, trends, and opportunities.
  • Competitor analysis, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis).

Target Audience and Buyer Personas

  • Detailed profiles of the target customers, specifying their needs, pain points, preferences, and behaviors.
  • Development of buyer personas to guide marketing strategies, messaging, and sales outreach.

Marketing Goals and Objectives

  • Clearly defined SMART goals for the marketing efforts.
  • Specific objectives, such as brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition, or market share.

Positioning and Messaging

  • Clear articulation of the brand positioning and competitive advantages.
  • Development of consistent messaging that resonates with the target audience.

Marketing Strategies

  • Overview of the overarching marketing strategies, including product positioning, pricing, distribution, and promotion.
  • Differentiation strategies and competitive positioning.

Marketing Mix (4Ps)

  • Product: Details about the products or services being marketed.
  • Price: Pricing strategy, discounts, and payment terms.
  • Place: Distribution channels and logistics.
  • Promotion: Advertising, public relations, digital marketing, content marketing, and other promotional activities.

Marketing Budget

  • Allocation of budget for each marketing activity and channel.
  • Cost projections and expected return on investment (ROI).

Marketing Calendar

  • Timeline for planned marketing activities, campaigns, and promotions.
  • Seasonal considerations and industry-specific events.

Marketing Channels

  • Identification and description of the marketing channels to be utilized (online and offline).
  • Social media strategy, content marketing plan, email marketing, advertising channels, etc.

Content Strategy

  • Development of a content plan, including types of content (i.e. case studies, one-pagers), frequency, and distribution channels.
  • Content creation and distribution strategy.
  • Regular content audit to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Measurement and Analytics

  • KPIs to benchmark the success of marketing activities.
  • Tools and methods for data collection and analysis.

A sales plan is a strategic document that outlines the tactics and activities a business will undertake to achieve its sales objectives. Here are the key components that typically go into a sales plan:

  • Brief overview of the entire sales plan, summarizing the goals, strategies, and key components.

Sales Objectives

  • Clearly defined and measurable sales goals, such as revenue targets, market share, or customer acquisition metrics.
  • Specific and realistic objectives for the sales team.

Target Market and Customer Segmentation

  • Identification of the target market and specific customer segments.
  • Create ideal customer profiles and characteristics to guide sales efforts.

Product or Service Offering

  • Detailed information about the products or services being sold.
  • Value propositions and key differentiators.

Sales Strategies

  • Overview of the overarching sales strategies , including prospecting, lead generation, and conversion tactics.
  • Strategies for acquiring new customers, upselling, cross-selling, and customer retention.

Sales Team Structure

  • Organization of the sales team, including roles, responsibilities, and reporting structure.

Sales Tactics and Techniques

  • Detailed description of the tactics and techniques the sales team will use to engage with potential customers and increase the bottom line.
  • Sales methodologies employed by the team.

Sales Forecast

  • Prediction of sales performance over a specific period.
  • Revenue projections, taking into account market conditions and other relevant factors.

Sales Territories and Distribution Channels

  • Definition of sales territories and distribution channels.
  • Strategies for reaching and serving customers in different geographic areas.

Sales Metrics and KPIs

  • Identification of key metrics to measure sales performance.
  • KPIs such as conversion rates, average deal size, and customer acquisition costs.

Sales Training and Development

  • Plans for training and developing the sales team.
  • Continuous improvement strategies.

Now that you have templates in place, let’s put them together to create an overall plan and what it could look like.

Look for trends in the data

Before you start digging into the meat of your plan, you need to gather data, drawing from internal company insights and external market trends. Internally, you can look at historical sales data, customer behaviors, and product performance, providing a foundation for understanding the company’s strengths and areas for improvement.

On the other hand, keeping a keen eye on external market trends, consumer preferences, and industry developments allows for a proactive approach to shifts in the market. This data-driven strategy enables businesses to effectively tailor their sales and marketing initiatives , aligning them with evolving customer needs. By combining internal insights with external trends, organizations can craft a dynamic plan that is not only grounded in historical performance but is also adaptable to the changing landscape of the business environment.

Know your customer

One of the most important steps when creating a sales and marketing plan is to know who you’re selling to. You should develop in-depth buyer personas based on demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes. By understanding your target audience’s characteristics, preferences, and pain points, you can tailor your sales and marketing strategies to resonate more effectively.

This key step not only enhances the efficiency of marketing campaigns but also streamlines the sales process by aligning efforts with the expectations and behaviors of your customers.

Set achievable goals

Now that you have a clear image of who you’re selling to, where you stand, and where the market is, you and various stakeholders can begin to set realistic goals and targets for your team.

Setting goals is crucial for your success. They allow you to track if you’re making a real impact on your business. They create alignment between teams so they know what they must do to achieve those goals. A recent study by HubSpot found that 25% of companies say their sales and marketing teams are either “misaligned” or “rarely aligned” on goals, leading to confusion and poor performance.

To get your teams on the same page, you should consider setting SMART goals. Here is a great example of how to think about goal setting:

Specific: Make sure your goals are clear. What will be accomplished? What actions will you take? Don’t just say you want to increase revenue — explain how you plan to achieve it. For example, you can say: We will increase revenue by 15% by using a guided selling approach.

Measurable: What metrics will you use to determine if you met your goal? This makes a goal more tangible because it provides a way to measure progress.

Achievable: Consider how to accomplish the goal, if you have the tools and skills needed, and what it would take to attain it. Don’t set objectives that are impossible to reach. The goals are meant to inspire motivation, not discouragement.

Relevant: Goals need to fit your current situation and sales strategy. They should align with the overall business goals and department objectives.

Time-Bound: Realistic timing for when you can achieve your goals is crucial. Provide deadlines and target dates to hold teams accountable.

Determine how you will measure success

Now that you’ve set goals, it’s time to start measuring them.

KPIs are crucial metrics that help measure the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts. Here’s a list of KPIs for a sales and marketing plan:

Sales KPIs:

  • Revenue: Total income generated from sales.
  • Sales Growth Rate: Percentage increase in sales over a specific period.
  • Conversion Rate: Percentage of leads that convert into customers.
  • Average Deal Size: Average value of a sales transaction.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Cost incurred to acquire a new customer.
  • Sales Cycle Length: Average time it takes to close a sale.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Predicted revenue generated throughout a customer’s lifecycle.
  • Win Rate: Percentage of opportunities that result in a sale.
  • Churn Rate: Percentage of customers lost over a given period.
  • Upsell and Cross-sell Rate: Percentage of existing customers who purchase additional products or services.

Marketing KPIs:

  • Lead Generation: Number of new leads acquired.
  • Website Traffic: Number of visitors to the website.
  • Conversion Rate (Marketing): Percentage of website visitors who take a desired action.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Percentage of people who click on a specific link.
  • Cost per Lead (CPL): Cost associated with acquiring a new lead.
  • Social Media Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, and other interactions on social media.
  • Email Open and Click-through Rates: Percentage of opened emails and clicked links.
  • Content Engagement: Interaction with blog posts, videos, or other content.
  • Brand Awareness: Measured through surveys, social media mentions, or search volume.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Ratio of the net profit from marketing campaigns to the cost of those campaigns.

Overall Business KPIs:

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Measurement of customer satisfaction.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Indicator of customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend.
  • Market Share: Company’s portion of the total market.
  • Brand Equity: Perceived value and strength of a brand in the market.
  • Customer Retention Rate: Percentage of customers retained over a period.

Regularly monitoring these metrics provides insights into performance, helping businesses make informed decisions and optimize their sales and marketing strategies.

Define your sales and marketing strategies

How are you going to generate demand for your product or service? At this stage in your plan, you can start to define how you will reach your ideal customers and move them through the buyer’s journey. Integrated marketing campaigns that use various channels, such as social media and paid ads, are a great way to get started. Additionally, you should include lead generation strategies such as content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and targeted promotions to nurture prospects and guide them through the sales funnel.

It’s important here that you work with your sales enablement team to create relevant content for the sales team .

Formulate a sales team structure and training program

A well-defined sales team structure and comprehensive training program are vital to a successful sales and marketing plan. The structure of the sales team should outline roles, responsibilities, and reporting hierarchies to ensure efficient workflow and clear lines of communication.

Along with getting the structure right, you must ensure that your sales reps have the right training and coaching to improve their skills, ramp up product knowledge, and stay aligned with the right messaging and communication techniques.

Teams should work closely with sales enablement to schedule regular training sessions that not only focus on enhancing existing skills but also address emerging market trends and customer expectations. Continuous improvement is key, and fostering a culture of learning within the sales team contributes to adaptability and responsiveness. This dual emphasis on structure and training ensures the sales team is well-organized and equipped to navigate challenges.

Download resource: What Good Onboarding, Training, and Coaching Look Like

Create a sales forecasting model

Creating a sound forecasting model provides a structured framework for predicting future sales performance. This model involves analysis of historical sales data, market trends, and external factors that might impact sales.

The sales forecasting model should incorporate variables such as product demand, pricing strategies, and market conditions to provide a comprehensive and accurate estimation.

A well-crafted model not only aids in resource allocation, inventory management, and budgeting but also serves as a proactive tool for anticipating challenges and capitalizing on emerging opportunities, contributing to the overall success of the sales and marketing plan.

Continuously Optimize

Recognizing that markets, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes evolve, an effective plan should be agile and responsive. This involves regularly reviewing KPIs, analyzing data, and soliciting feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Whether refining marketing strategies, adjusting sales tactics, or fine-tuning messaging, the goal is to stay attuned to shifts in customer preferences and market trends. By fostering a culture of continuous optimization, businesses can adapt swiftly, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and mitigate potential challenges.

Execute Your Sales and Marketing Plan with Highspot’s Sales Enablement Platform

Aligning your sales and marketing plans is no easy task. Highspot’s sales enablement platform aligns marketing initiatives with sales goals to maximize collaboration. By tracking key metrics across the buyer’s journey, you’ll know how to drive measurable revenue growth that improves lead acquisition and retention. Book a demo today !

The Highspot Team works to create and promote the Highspot sales enablement platform, which gives businesses a powerful sales advantage to engage in more relevant buyer conversations and achieve their revenue goals. Through AI-powered search, analytics, in-context training, guided selling, and 50+ integrations, the Highspot platform delivers enterprise-ready sales enablement in a modern design that sales reps and marketers love.

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Business News Daily

6 Tips for Creating a Great Business Marketing Plan

E very successful company needs a well-thought-out business plan to outline its course of action. A marketing strategy is one key part of that plan: It spells out critical information, including how a business will distinguish itself from competitors and what the team will aim to achieve.

While marketing plans don't always produce immediate results, they are still a crucial aspect of a business plan and should be given a considerate amount of attention. A complete and effective marketing strategy can reveal opportunities through new audience segments, changes in pricing strategy or by differentiating the brand from the competition.

Here's how to create an effective marketing plan for your business. 

How to develop a business marketing plan

A focused marketing plan sets two goals. The first is to maintain engagement and customer loyalty , and the second is to capture market share within a specific audience segment of your target audience.

Your marketing plan outlines the strategies you'll use to achieve both goals and the specific actions your marketing team will employ, such as the specific outreach campaigns, over which channels they will occur, the required marketing budget and data-driven projections of their success.

Marketing is a science-driven commitment that typically requires months of data to refine campaigns, and an interconnected marketing plan keeps your business committed to its long-term goals. 

All marketing guidelines will circle back to the four P's: product, price, place and promotion. The following tips are starting points that will ingrain the habit of continually returning to these four P's.

1. Create an executive summary.

Marketing campaigns should not be considered individual functions. Marketing is the story of your brand as told to customers; like any narrative, its tone and characters should remain consistent. An executive summary details your marketing goals for the next year and helps tie each campaign together. 

When establishing your marketing goals, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound – or SMART. These goals should work together to achieve both internal and external harmony, telling a consistent story that informs customers of your exact message while building on its previous chapters. 

For example, you may set a SMART goal to increase your company's social media traffic by 15% in a 90-day time frame, and plan to achieve this by creating four relevant, informative and high-quality posts per week on each platform, using your company's brand kit. 

2. Identify your target market.

Before you write a marketing plan, you need to find and understand your niche. Ask yourself who the specific demographic is that you're targeting. For example, if your business sells 30-minute meals, then those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs are likely in your market. Study that group of individuals to understand their struggles and learn how your business can solve the problem.

FYI: Targeting your audience can drastically improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and help you avoid wasting resources on fruitless campaigns.

3. Differentiate your brand with inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing utilizes internal tools – such as content marketing, social media activity and search engine optimization (SEO) – to attract a customer's attention primarily through online communication. Content marketing can include informative blog posts, interviews, podcasts with relevant industry figures or supplementary guides on how to best use your product. For example, if you sell cooking supplies, consider posting several fun recipes around the holidays that your tools can help prepare.

Each of these strategies empowers the others in a loop to achieve greater customer attention. A strong content offering can improve your search engine ranking, which brings more people to your website and social pages. You can then share those developed content pieces to that wider audience, who will again improve your search engine rankings. All of this can be done without the expense of a famous endorser or commercial advertising campaign. 

4. Identify competitors that also target your customers.

No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer's dollar. Small business personnel seldom take the time to study their competitors in-depth or pinpoint companies outside their industry that are just as capable of luring customers away. Knowing who your competitors are, their core competitive advantages, and how they might respond to your offerings – like price cuts or increased communication – helps you devise strategies to combat such losses. 

By seeking out these competitors, you can develop ways to differentiate your business by providing consumers with the things they may be lacking from your competition. Observe how your competitors operate to find ways in which you can stand out and steer your target audience toward your business. 

Did you know? According to SmallBizGenius, 19% of small businesses fail because of their competitors. 

5. State your brand position for your target customers.

Ultimately, your brand – and what it symbolizes for customers – is your strongest advantage. You should be able to write a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.

6. Budget the plan. 

When implementing a strategy, consider the marketing budget you will allot. Marketing requires money for various reasons, including paid promotions, marketing software, events and outsourced costs. Consider your budget when creating the plan so that there is money available to spend on marketing tactics to achieve your goals. 

While drafting the plan and evaluating your course of action, note the estimated cost, assets, and time required to achieve the stated goals; this will help when it comes time to set the actual calculated budget. Any goals that you create should be realistically achievable within the budget you have set. 

Key takeaway: When developing your marketing plan, you should know why a customer would use your product, differentiate your brand from competitors, and audit your product offering and message to ensure consistency.

Channels to include in your marketing plan

Once you know the elements of your plan, the next step is to develop the blueprint of how you will reach your target customers. Aside from traditional print and broadcast media, here are three digital marketing channels that many business owners utilize.

Social media

Social media is an essential part of businesses' marketing plans, because every type of customer is on some type of platform – such as Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn . You may feel overwhelmed at the possibilities, but focus on the sites that can benefit your business the most.

Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies starting out in social media to get to know their customers and the platforms they use.

"Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms," he told Business News Daily. "Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms."

Though email marketing is not as new as social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for small business owners. Companies can implement email marketing techniques in many ways, including newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. For instance, Mailchimp and Constant Contact help companies manage their email drip campaigns .

Farmiloe added to set your email marketing efforts apart from the others by segmenting your markets.

"Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast," he said. "Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers at the outset, and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity. Through segmentation, companies reduce the amount of unsubscribes, increase open rates and, most importantly, increase the amount of actions taken from an email send."

The popularity of smartphones and tablets has changed how companies target consumers. Since people have these devices with them nearly all the time, companies are looking to implement strategies that reach customers on their gadgets.   

"Mobile marketing is interruptive," Farmiloe said. "It's because of this power that a marketer has to let the consumer determine how and when to receive marketing material. That's why almost every app comes with the option to turn notifications on or off. The consumer has to hold the power with mobile marketing."

Key takeaway: Use digital marketing channels – such as social media, email and mobile – to reach customers, but only after researching each channel in depth and developing a strategy to capture consumers' interest. 

Monitoring results

Well-defined budgets, goals and action items – with appropriate personnel assigned to each – can make your marketing plan a reality. Think about how much you're willing to spend, the outcomes you expect and the necessary tasks to achieve those outcomes.

Analytical tools that track customer behavior and engagement rates can serve as a helpful guide for your marketing strategy . Unlike billboards or commercials, digital channels allow you to assess each step of the customer journey and gain insights on the individual patterns and intent of prospects. Intention can soon develop into prediction, empowering your marketing team to develop campaigns that consistently reach target audiences at the right time. 

You can find more tips for measuring your marketing ROI here.

Jordan Beier and Adryan Corcione contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Every successful company needs a well-thought-out business plan to outline its course of action. A marketing strategy is

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Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

Discover what a business plan includes and how writing one can foster your business’s development.

[Featured image] Woman showing a business plan to a man at a desk.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a written document that defines your business goals and the tactics to achieve those goals. A business plan typically explores the competitive landscape of an industry, analyzes a market and different customer segments within it, describes the products and services, lists business strategies for success, and outlines financial planning.  

In your research into business plans, you may come across different formats, and you might be wondering which kind will work best for your purposes. 

Let’s define two main types of business plans—the traditional business plan and the lean start-up business plan. Both types can serve as the basis for developing a thriving business, as well as exploring a competitive market analysis, brand strategy, and content strategy in more depth. 

There are some significant differences to keep in mind [ 1 ]: 

The traditional business plan is a long document that explores each component in depth. You can build a traditional business plan to secure funding from lenders or investors. 

The lean start-up business plan focuses on the key elements of a business’s development and is shorter than the traditional format. If you don’t plan on seeking funding, the lean start-up plan can serve mainly as a document for making business decisions and carrying out tasks. 

Now that you have a clear business plan definition, continue reading to learn how to start writing a detailed plan that will guide your journey as an entrepreneur.  

How to write a business plan 

In the sections below, you’ll build the following components of your business plan:

Executive summary

Business description 

Products and services 

Competitor analysis 

Marketing plan and sales strategies 

Brand strategy

Financial planning

Explore each section to bring fresh inspiration and reveal new possibilities for developing your business. Depending on which format you're using, you may choose to adapt the sections, skip over some, or go deeper into others. Consider your first draft a foundation for your efforts and one that you can revise, as needed, to account for changes in any business area.

1. Executive summary 

This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful. If you are seeking funding, summarize the basics of the financial plan. 

2. Business description 

Use this section to provide detailed information about your company and how it will operate in the marketplace.

Mission statement: What drives your desire to start a business? What purpose are you serving? What do you hope to achieve for your business, the team, and customers? 

Revenue streams: From what sources will your business generate revenue? Examples include product sales, service fees, subscriptions, rental fees, license fees, and more. 

Leadership: Describe the leaders in your business, their roles and responsibilities, and your vision for building teams to perform various functions, such as graphic design, product development, or sales.  

Legal structure: Are you operating as a partnership or a corporation? If you’re registering a specific legal structure within your province or territory, include it here and the rationale behind this choice. 

3. Competitor analysis 

This section will include an assessment of potential competitors, their offers, and marketing and sales efforts. For each competitor, explore the following:

Value proposition: What outcome or experience does this brand promise?

Products and services: How does each one solve customer pain points and fulfil desires? What are the price points? 

Marketing: Which channels do competitors use to promote? What kind of content does this brand publish on these channels? What messaging does this brand use to communicate value to customers?  

Sales: What sales process or buyer’s journey does this brand lead customers through?

4. Products and services

Use this section to describe everything your business offers to its target market. For every product and service, list the following: 

The value proposition or promise to customers, in terms of how they will experience it

How the product serves customers, addresses their pain points, satisfies their desires, and improves their lives.

The features or outcomes that make the product better than those of competitors

Your price points and how these compare to competitors

5. Marketing plan and sales strategies 

In this section, you’ll draw from thorough market research to describe your target market and how you will reach it. 

Who are your ideal customers?   

How can you describe this segment according to their demographics (age, ethnicity, income, location, etc.) and psychographics (beliefs, values, aspirations, lifestyle, etc.)? 

What are their daily lives like? 

What problems and challenges do they experience? 

What words, phrases, ideas, and concepts do consumers in your target market use to describe these problems when posting on social media or engaging with your competitors?  

What messaging will present your products as the best on the market? How will you differentiate messaging from competitors? 

On what marketing channels will you position your products and services?

How will you design a customer journey that delivers a positive experience at every touchpoint and leads customers to a purchase decision?

6. Brand strategy 

In this section, you will describe your business’s design, personality, values, voice, and other details that go into delivering a consistent brand experience. 

What are the values that define your brand?

What visual elements give your brand a distinctive look and feel?

How will your marketing messaging reflect a distinctive brand voice, including tone, diction, and sentence-level stylistic choices? 

How will your brand look and sound throughout the customer journey? 

Define your brand positioning statement. What will inspire your audience to choose your brand over others? What experiences and outcomes will your audience associate with your brand? 

7. Financial planning  

In this section, you will explore your business’s financial future. If you are writing a traditional business plan to seek funding, this section is critical for demonstrating to lenders or investors that you have a strategy for turning your business ideas into profit. For a lean start-up business plan, this section can provide a useful exercise for planning how you will invest resources and generate revenue [ 2 ].  

Use any past financials and other sections of this business plan, such as your price points or sales strategies, to begin your financial planning. 

How many individual products or service packages do you plan to sell over a specific time period?

List your business expenses, such as subscribing to software or other services, hiring contractors or employees, purchasing physical supplies or equipment, etc.

What is your break-even point, or the amount you have to sell to cover all expenses?

Create a sales forecast for the next three to five years: (No. of units to sell X price for each unit) – (cost per unit X No. of units) = sales forecast.

Quantify how much capital you have on hand.

When writing a traditional business plan to secure funding, you may choose to append supporting documents, such as licenses, permits, patents, letters of reference, resumes, product blueprints, brand guidelines, the industry awards you’ve received, and media mentions and appearances.

Business plan key takeaways and best practices

Remember: Creating a business plan is crucial when starting a business. You can use this document to guide your decisions and actions and even seek funding from lenders and investors. 

Keep these best practices in mind:

Your business plan should evolve as your business grows. Return to it periodically, such as every quarter or year, to update individual sections or explore new directions your business can take.

Ensure everyone on your team has a copy of the business plan, and welcome their input as they perform their roles. 

Ask fellow entrepreneurs for feedback on your business plan and look for opportunities to strengthen it, from conducting more market and competitor research to implementing new strategies for success. 

Start your business with Coursera 

Ready to start your business? Watch this video on the lean approach from the Entrepreneurship Specialization :

Article sources

BDC. “ Step 2—Prepare a winning business plan , https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/start-buy-business/start-business/create-effective-business-plan." Accessed November 13, 2022.

CBDC. " NEW fillable CBDC Business Plan ,   https://www.cbdc.ca/en/new-fillable-cbdc-business-plan." Accessed November 13, 2022.

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