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

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

Written by: Sara McGuire Oct 26, 2023

Marketing Plan Venngage

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

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

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

Click to jump ahead:

What is a marketing plan?

How to write a marketing plan .

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

9 marketing plan examples to inspire your growth strategy

Marketing plan faqs.

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

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

Typically, a marketing plan includes:

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

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

Orange Content Marketing Plan Template

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

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

Venngage for Marketers Page Header

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

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

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

content marketing plan template

A typical outline of a marketing plan includes:

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

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

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

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

1. Write a simple executive summary

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

Creative Marketing Plan Executive Summary

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

Standard Business Proposal Executive Summary

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

Include things like:

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

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

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

Content Marketing Proposal Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

2. Set metric-driven marketing goals

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

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

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

As a rule of thumb, be as specific as possible. The folks over at  VoyMedia  advise that you should set goals that impact website traffic, conversions, and customer success — and to use real numbers. Complement your goals with website optimization tools (e.g., A/B testing speed with Nostra – check Nostra AI review to learn more) to further improve conversions.

Avoid outlining vague goals like:

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

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

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

Creative Marketing Plan Goals

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

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

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

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

Growth Goals Roadmap Template for a Marketing Plan

3. Outline your user personas

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

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

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

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

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

Some ways to conduct user research are:

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

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

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

Persona Marketing Report Template

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

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

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

Marketing Persona

Next, list demographic information like:

  • Identifiers
  • Activities/Hobbies

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

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

Content Marketing Proposal Audience Personas

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

Social Media Plan Proposal Template Ideal Customers

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

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

Mobile App Market Report

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

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

4. Conduct an extensive competitor analysis

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

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

Typically, your competitor research should include:

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

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

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

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

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

Competitive SWOT Analysis

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

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

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

Content Marketing Proposal Competitive Research

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

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

Marketing plan v.s business plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of marketing plans that can transform your business strategy

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

1. General marketing strategic plan / Annual marketing plan

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

marketing strategy template marketing plan

Another good example would be this Starbucks marketing plan:

Starbucks marketing plan example

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

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

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

Cengage marketing plan example

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

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

Lush marketing plan

2. Content marketing plan

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

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

contently marketing plan

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

nonprofit content marketing plan

3. SEO marketing plan

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

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

SEO marketing plan example

4. Social media marketing plan

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

For B2C brands, you can target Facebook and Instagram. Gain Instagram likes to build trust for your brand’s profile and post engaging content on both platforms. Leverage AI social media tools to automate and scale your content plan..

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

social media marketing plan example

5. Demand generation marketing plan

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

promotional marketing plan

1. Free marketing plan template

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

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

What should marketing plans include?

Marketing plans should include:

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

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

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

What are the results when a marketing plan is effective?

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

What is the first section of a marketing plan?

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

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

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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 . It details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken and for how long, as well as the ways in which the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. It reflects 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, value proposition of the brand or product, campaigns to be initiated, and metrics to be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.
  • The marketing plan should be adjusted on an ongoing basis based on which efforts are having an impact and which are not.
  • Digital marketing shows results almost in 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 the former 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, a quarterly, or an annual basis, while the strategy delineates the overall  value proposition .

The components of a marketing plan include:

  • Market research – This provides information to support pricing decisions and new market entries.
  • Tailored messaging – This involves targeting certain demographics and geographic areas and can include the use of affiliate marketing with third-party publishers who bring customers to the table.
  • Platform selection – This looks at the best vehicles for disseminating product information for each advertising campaign: traditional venues such as radio, TV, newspapers, and commercial and trade magazines; digital methods such as websites, online ads, search engine results, informational videos, social media groups (Facebook, YouTube, etc.), email, and text messages; or any mix of these platforms.
  • Performance metrics – Metrics accurately assess the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines and are crucial to the success of the plan.

The four most important social media networks in 2023 for global marketers were, in descending order, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Types of Marketing Plans

There are a variety of marketing plans that suit different businesses and their needs. These include:

  • Product Launch – A product-launch marketing plan outlines how a new product will enter the market, the audience it will target, and the advertising methods used.
  • Social Media – A social media marketing plan focuses on the advertising strategies on different social media platforms and how to engage with their users.
  • 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.
  • Content Based – A content-based marketing plan looks in detail at what kinds of content (blogs, videos, graphics, etc.) will reach the target audience.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – An SEO marketing plan is all about getting the most hits online. It involves keyword research, content optimization, link building, and more, all with the goal of drawing customers to your website.

Mission and Value Proposition

The mission and value proposition is a statement that articulates the value that a product or brand will deliver to a customer. It should appear front and center on the company website and any branding materials.

The value proposition should delineate 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 it.

Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

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. In other words, they track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. For example, if your goal is to engage with a certain demographic in a certain region, you can track social media impressions and website visits.

There are a number of KPIs that help you measure success including the search engine ranking, click-through rate, cost per click, return on investment (ROI), and conversion rates, which tracks the percentages of visitors to your website that make a specific action such as buying a product or becoming a newsletter subscriber.

In 2023, Facebook and Instagram were tied for having the highest ROI across social media platforms for global marketers, while YouTube fell next in line.

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 via social media, online ads, or regional TV. 

Knowing to whom you want to sell 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 your target market 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 and include the metrics that will measure the outcomes of your marketing efforts. For example, will you advertise on social media or TV? What time will you schedule your marketing if they are through email newsletters? 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. Setting a budget will allow you to create a workable plan, prevent runaway costs, and properly allocate your funds.

Adjust Your Plan

A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results from its 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 to drop. In short, maintaining ineffective initiatives wastes money.

Digital marketing shows results almost immediately, 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 is a roadmap that details how a business will operate and function in its entirety. It should cover the goals, missions , values, financials, and strategies that the business will use in day-to-day operations and the achievement of its objectives. Among its many elements are an executive summary, the products and services sold, a marketing analysis, a marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget .

As mentioned, a business plan should include a marketing plan, which focuses on creating a strategy for creating awareness of the company’s product or service, reaching the target market, and generating sales.

Example of a Marketing Plan

Consider the following marketing plan framework that is designed to help direct marketing objectives:

  • Executive Summary: Describes company mission, key executives, and where it is headquartered.
  • SWOT Analysis: Describes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the company. This helps you define how to build on your strengths and how to find ways to improve on your weaknesses. It also helps a company analyze their competitors and how they may achieve an advantage based on their unique value proposition.
  • Business Initiatives: Outlines the goals of the marketing plan, such as the number of impressions, Google rankings, or email subscribers.
  • Customer Analysis: Describes your target market and audience characteristics based on market research. These may include age, pain points, and location, among other variables.
  • Competitor Analysis: Outlines the companies providing similar goods or services to your target audience. In addition, it describes their strengths, market share, pricing structure, and most importantly where your company can fill an important gap.

What Is a Marketing Plan Template?

A marketing plan template is a guide for writing a marketing plan. It contains all the important elements needed to create one, including its goals and KPIs, marketing channels, budget, content type, teams involved, and design.

What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?

The executive summary is a nutshell description of the marketing plan. It should contain the key findings of the market research, the company’s objectives and marketing goals, an overview of the marketing trends, the description of the product or service being marketed, information on the target market, and the plan budget.

What Is a Top-Down Marketing Strategy?

A top-down marketing strategy is a traditional one, in which a business decides how best to sell its product or brand, and customers are then spurred to take action through advertisements, generally found on radio and/or television. It is usually determined by company executives, which is then communicated with management to delegate to employees. These employees then develop tactics to meet the strategy's objectives.

What Is a Bottom-Up Marketing Strategy?

In comparison to a traditional top-down marketing strategy, a bottom-up strategy begins with employees who formulate marketing tactics based on their analysis of customer preferences and needs. This then may lead to collaboration with other employees to develop a concrete marketing plan, which is sent to executives for review.

Today’s consumer wants to relate to a product or service in a meaningful way, and a bottom-up marketing strategy seeks to achieve this through customer-centric tactics.

How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?

The cost of a marketing plan will vary based on the company, the plan’s complexity, and the length of the overall strategy. In 2023, marketing costs made up 10.1% of corporate revenues on average. The consumer packaged goods sector spent the most, at 18.5% of revenues while the mining and construction sector spent the least, at 1% of revenues.

A separate analysis shows that the cost can range anywhere from $10,000 to over $40,000 for a marketing plan.

A marketing plan is the advertising strategy that a business implements to sell its product or service. It determines the target market, how best to reach it, 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 the most effective ways to generate sales. As the consumer landscape evolves, it is important for businesses to adapt in order to meet customer needs and better achieve their marketing objectives.

Statista. " Marketing Worldwide – Statistics and Facts ."

American Marketing Association. " What Is a Marketing Plan and How to Write One? [Easy Guide] ."

HubSpot. " The 2024 State of Marketing & Trends Report: Data from 1400+ Global Marketers ."

Deloitte. " The CMO Survey: Managing Marketing Technology, Growth and Sustainability ." Page 16.

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

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

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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.

Also, make sure to check whether your current reporting software facilitates the KPIs you need. Some reporting tools can only measure a set of pre-defined metrics, which can cause massive headaches in particular marketing campaigns.

However, other tools, like HubSpot’s analytics software , can offer full flexibility over the KPIs you wish to track. You can generate custom reports that reveal anything from average website engagement rates to page visits via organic, email, social media traffic, and more.   

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 this 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 a 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. If you're aiming to establish or boost your online presence, leveraging tools like HubSpot's drag-and-drop website builder can be extremely beneficial. It helps you create a captivating digital footprint that sets the foundation for your content marketing endeavors.

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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Marketing Plan

A document that lays out the marketing efforts of a business in an upcoming period

What is a Marketing Plan?

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

Marketing Plan

Elements of a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan will typically include the following elements:

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

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

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

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

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

Key performance indicators (KPIs) to be tracked

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purpose of a Marketing Plan

The purpose of a marketing plan includes the following:

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

Structure of a Marketing Plan

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

Marketing Plan Objectives

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

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

Market Research – Market Analysis/Consumer Analysis

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

Target Market

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

SWOT Analysis

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

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

Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Budget

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

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

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

Performance Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Administration of a Marketing Plan

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

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

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

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

More Resources

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

  • 4 P’s of Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Competitive Advantage
  • See all management & strategy resources
  • Share this article

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  • Marketing /
  • General Marketing

What Is a Marketing Plan? (How to Create One + Examples)

Ravi Pandya

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the marketing strategies and tactics a business uses to promote its products, services, or brand to its target audience. It also includes information like target market, value proposition, proposed marketing campaigns, and success metrics. 

To create a successful marketing plan, you need to conduct thorough market research.

This helps you understand your market, target audience, competitors, and industry trends. With these insights, you can create customer-focused marketing campaigns that get results. 

As you create a marketing plan, the Semrush .Trends toolkit can speed up your market research process. It features multiple market intelligence tools like:

  • Market Explorer : Get an instant overview of your market
  • One2Target : Understand your target audience and how they engage online
  • EyeOn : Track your competitors’ online marketing activities
  • Traffic Analytics : Analyze your competitors’ traffic sources, stats, and growth strategies

We’ll talk more about using tools for market research later in the article. For now, let’s discuss why marketing plans are important for businesses.

Why Do You Need a Marketing Plan?

An effective marketing plan leads to more targeted marketing efforts. This can result in increased sales and greater brand visibility in your target market. 

Here are some more reasons why you need a marketing plan for your business: 

  • Provides clear direction : A marketing plan provides guidelines for your marketing activities. For example, it outlines the goals, strategies, and tactics you need to implement to achieve specific objectives. This helps your marketing team understand what they need to do and why. 
  • Ensures alignment with business goals : A well-developed marketing plan ensures that marketing goals align with the overall business objectives. 
  • Allows efficient resource allocation : A marketing plan helps allocate resources—financial, human, and time—effectively. For instance, you can allocate more resources to strategies and activities that maximize return on investment. 
  • Enables targeted marketing approach : To create an effective marketing plan, you need to define your target audience . And understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. This way, you can create more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with your ideal customers. 
  • Helps with performance measurement : An ideal marketing plan also defines benchmark metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your marketing activities. It helps you identify what's working well. And what needs improvement.
  • Ensures a consistent brand message : You can maintain consistency in your brand’s voice across different channels—like email, social media, website, and podcasts—by providing the marketing plan to your different marketing teams.

Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy vs. Business Plan

A marketing plan is often confused with a marketing strategy . Or a business plan. 

But they're not the same. 

Each one plays a different role in the overall success of a business. 

Let's consider the differences between the three.

 

A comprehensive document outlining the overall business strategy, goals, and action plan

A document detailing how a business engages its audience, conveys value, and drives sales

A tactical document outlining marketing tasks, schedules, and resources to achieve marketing goals

Business goals, financial projections, market analysis, and strategic planning

Target market analysis, brand positioning, competitive differentiators

Campaigns, budgets, timelines, specific marketing channels, and success metrics

To guide overall business strategy, including financial planning and operational strategy

To set the direction and goals for marketing efforts, informing resource focus

To implement the overarching marketing strategy with actionable steps

Here’s an example to help make the differences clearer: 

A pet supplies startup aims to become a leader in eco-friendly pet products. 

Their business plan highlights the startup’s mission to cater to eco-conscious pet owners. By offering sustainable products like biodegradable toys and organic pet food. 

It also includes financial projections, market analysis , and competitive analysis.

Their marketing strategy focuses on establishing the brand as eco-friendly and health-conscious. The strategy is to:

  • Target ​​environmentally conscious pet owners
  • Position the brand as a provider of high-quality, sustainable pet supplies 
  • Build awareness through green partnerships and educational content on sustainable pet care

To implement this strategy, their marketing plan includes:

  • Social media campaigns : Regularly showcasing products and sustainable pet care tips on platforms like Instagram and Facebook
  • Content marketing : Weekly blog posts on their website covering topics like “Eco-friendly Pet Care”
  • Email marketing : Newsletters to an email list of eco-conscious pet owners—featuring product updates and pet care tips
  • Community engagement : Participating in local eco-friendly pet events and partnerships with influencers
  • Paid advertising : Google Ads and social media ads targeting eco-conscious pet owners

Types of Marketing Plans

You can tailor marketing plans based on your goals, channels, and strategies.

For example: 

A small business that uses only one or two marketing channels may only need one marketing plan. But if you have complex marketing needs, you may require multiple plans. 

Let’s go over some of the most common types of marketing plans.

Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans

A quarterly or annual marketing plan is a high-level plan highlighting the marketing activities for the upcoming quarter or year. 

It’s the simplest and most popular type. Especially for giving an overview of the proposed marketing plan to stakeholders. 

You can also briefly mention your channel-specific marketing plans in your quarterly or annual plan.

Quarterly plans revolve around your short-term business goals. And the annual marketing plan caters to your medium and long-term goals. 

For example, if you are a clothing retailer, your quarterly marketing plan may include strategies such as:

  • Launching new product lines 
  • Running promotional campaigns
  • Leveraging social media influencers

And so on …

These high-level plans ensure your marketing efforts are cohesive. And aligned with your overall business goals.

Content Marketing Plans

Content marketing is about leveraging content to reach your target audience. And achieve your business goals. 

A content marketing plan highlights the specific channels and audiences you want to target with your content. It also includes different strategies, campaigns, or tactics you’ll use to attract and engage customers.

You can also add a content calendar . This outlines the topics, formats, and distribution channels for your content. 

Content calendar example

It helps you effectively manage your content production and publishing schedule. This way, your content efforts stay aligned with your content strategy and overall marketing objectives.

Further reading : 15 Effective Content Marketing Tips to Skyrocket Your Results

Social Media Marketing Plans

A social media marketing plan communicates how you’ll achieve your marketing goals with social media specifically.

It typically includes: 

  • Your social media marketing goals and KPIs (increase brand awareness, grow your follower count, lead generation , etc.) 
  • Your social content strategy , including types of content, posting frequency, and content repurposing guidelines 
  • The social media platforms you intend to use for marketing
  • Engagement plan (tactics to make your audience engage more with your content)
  • Social media marketing budget 
  • Details of social media team (names, responsibilities, and deliverables) 

Product Launch Marketing Plans

These plans are specifically tailored for introducing a new product to the market. They guide the positioning, pricing, and promotion of a new product or service. 

Here, the key is to create a sense of excitement and urgency. This ensures your product makes a significant impact upon its release.

You can achieve this by: 

  • Determining the right channels for reaching the intended audience
  • Generating buzz and anticipation before the launch
  • Creating targeted messaging to highlight the product’s unique value proposition 
  • Leveraging a mix of public relations, social media campaigns, influencer partnerships, and event marketing

Further reading : 15 Creative Product Launch Ideas to Ignite Your Brand’s Growth

Growth Marketing Plans

A growth marketing plan takes a broad approach that targets the entire marketing funnel . Growth marketing plans rely heavily on experiments and data analysis to drive growth. 

Here, the main focus is identifying optimization opportunities at all customer touchpoints. 

An illustration summarizing growth marketing process

Here is an example of how you could use a growth marketing plan:

If paid search is your top-performing channel, you may want to A/B test different versions of your ad copy. To find out which one gets more clicks. You can then scale your ad spend on the copy that yields the greatest return on your investment.

You can conduct similar experiments with all the other channels and campaigns in your marketing plan. And optimize their performance. 

With that, we’re done with the basics. Now, let’s learn how to write a marketing plan.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

To make it easy for you to follow along with our guide, we’ve created a brief quarterly marketing plan for a hypothetical business: Your Dream Home Consulting. 

You can download this sample plan and follow along. 

Let’s go over each step in detail. 

1. Write a Brief Executive Summary

Start with an executive summary that outlines the main points of your marketing plan. (If you’re writing a very detailed plan, you may want to add a table of contents at the very beginning for easy navigation.)

Your executive summary should provide a quick overview of your goals, target market, main strategies, and expected outcomes.

Here’s a concise executive summary of our example plan: 

An executive summary of marketing plan

If you’re writing a detailed marketing plan, your executive summary may also include details like: 

  • Company mission statement 
  • Industry and market analysis
  • Leadership team
  • Value proposition
  • Financial plan

Further reading : Unique Value Proposition: What It Is & How to Create One

2. Set Your Marketing Goals and KPIs 

Make sure your goals and KPIs align with your overall business objectives. The idea is to communicate what success looks like for your marketing plan. 

Use the SMART framework for setting useful goals. It’s a great way to check whether your marketing goals are S pecific, M easurable, A ctionable, R elevant, and T ime-bound (SMART). 

This infographic explains how SMART marketing objectives relate to your overall business goals: 

SMART goalsetting objectives explained

Here are some examples of SMART marketing goals:

  • Increase social media engagement by 30% within six months 
  • Generating an extra 500 leads per month compared to last year
  • Achieving a 10% increase in revenue in the next quarter

Well-defined goals will provide a clear direction for your marketing efforts.

Once you have determined your goals, establish marketing key performance indicators that tie back to your marketing goals. 

Simply put, KPIs are quantifiable metrics that track the progress and effectiveness of your marketing activities. 

Some common marketing KPIs include: 

  • Unique website visitors
  • Lead generation rates 
  • Conversion rates 
  • Customer acquisition cost 
  • Customer lifetime value 

Here are the Q4 marketing goals and KPIs of our example business, Your Dream Home Consulting. 

The Q4 marketing goals and KPIs of an example business from the marketing plan template

By setting specific KPIs, you can monitor the performance of your marketing campaigns. And make data-driven decisions.

Further reading : 16 Marketing KPIs You Need to Monitor in 2024

3. Research Your Target Market and Build Buyer Personas

For your marketing plan to be effective, you must understand your target market very well. It helps you understand your target audience and create campaigns that resonate with them.

To do this, conduct thorough market research . And get answers to these questions: 

  • What are the demographics (like age, gender, education, and occupation) of your target audience?
  • What are their interests and buying habits?
  • What is their opinion of your business or industry?
  • What problems can you solve for them?
  • How can you best engage with them?

Here are some key market research insights for our example.

Key target audience insights from the marketing plan sample

Semrush’s Market Explorer tool makes your market research process quick and easy. 

Here’s how:

Let’s say you want to analyze the furniture market in the U.S.

First, open the tool and click “ Analyze Category .” 

Then choose the location and business category. And click the “ Research a market ” button. 

"Real Estate" business category selected in Market Explorer tool

You’ll be taken to the “ Overview ” report. 

Here, you’ll see a market summary, which provides insights like:

  • Market Consolidation : The distribution of market share among companies in the market
  • Key Players : Main competitors
  • Market Domains : Number of websites in your market
  • Market Traffic : Total monthly traffic for these domains
  • Market Traffic Cost : The sum of the estimated costs of all domains in the market to rank for organic keywords over a selected period 
  • Market Size : A measure of the demand within your target market 

"Market Summary" dashboard in Market Explorer tool

Now, click the “ Audience ” tab. You’ll see the “Market Audience Summary.” 

It gives you a high-level overview of your target audience. And their unique attributes. 

"Market Audience Summary" section of the Audience report in Market Explorer tool

Moving further down this page, you can analyze the demographics and socioeconomic attributes of your target audience in more detail. 

This information can give you a better understanding of your ideal customers. Which can help you create a more effective marketing plan.

"Demographics," and "Socioeconomics" sections of the Audience report in Market Explorer tool

Similarly, you’ll also see their interests and the social media platforms they visit most often. 

For instance, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are the top three social media platforms for this target audience. 

"Interests," and "Social Media" sections of the Audience report in Market Explorer tool

This data can help you choose relevant content distribution and advertising platforms. 

Once you have all these insights, create your ideal customer profile (also known as a buyer persona ). So you can create relevant and personalized marketing campaigns for them. 

You can use our free buyer persona templates to fill in your audience research insights that you find with Market Explorer . And create customized customer profiles. 

4. Analyze Your Competitors

Competitor analysis is a crucial part of market planning. It helps you:

  • Understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Position your business with a better value proposition 
  • Identify gaps in the market and opportunities to differentiate your brand

So, you need to identify your main competitors. And analyze their marketing strategies, positioning, pricing, and messaging. 

For this example, let’s say you want to find competitors for your website that sells men’s shaving products.

To get a quick overview of the competitive landscape, open the Market Explorer tool again. 

Then click the “ Find Competitors ” tab. Enter your location and domain name. 

And click on “ Research a market .” 

Searching for "dollarshaveclub.com" in the "United States" location in Market Explorer tool

You’ll see the “ Market Summary ” and insights that we discussed in the previous section. 

Scroll to the “ Growth Quadrant ” widget to visualize the competitive landscape in your market. 

"Growth Quadrant" widget shown for "dollarshaveclub.com" in Market Explorer tool

The Growth Quadrant consists of four sections:

  • Game Changers : Comparatively small, but rapidly growing companies
  • Leaders : Large, well-known companies with high growth rate
  • Niche Players : Companies with smaller (and often very specific) audience 
  • Established Players : Big, popular, stable brands

Analyze where your key competitors stand. And how their traffic and audience engagement are growing compared to your site. 

Read our detailed guide to competitive analysis to learn the entire process.

Once you gather information about your competitors, perform a SWOT analysis ( S trengths, W eaknesses, O pportunities, and T hreats) for your business. To compare how you stand in the competitive landscape. 

Here are some questions you may want to consider for your SWOT analysis: 

How to do a SWOT analysis infographic

And here’s the brief competitive and SWOT analysis for our real estate consulting business example: 

A competitive and SWOT analysis for the real estate consulting business from the marketing plan sample

As you implement your marketing plan, you also need to keep tabs on your competitors’ marketing efforts. 

You can automate this task with Semrush’s EyeOn tool. 

It monitors your competitors’ online marketing activities 24/7. And sends you weekly emails about their newly published pages, blog posts, paid ads, and more.

"Top Competitors" report in EyeOn tool, showing data for Google search ads, blog posts, new pages and trends

You can use this information to keep track of your main competitors and to inform your own marketing plans going forward. You can access the EyeOn tool as part of the .Trends toolkit .

5. Present Your Marketing Strategy Overview

In this step, you need to outline the key tactics and channels you will use to achieve your marketing goals.

Consider the various marketing channels available. Such as social media, content marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) , and paid advertising. 

Based on your findings from the audience research stage (Step 3), determine which channels are most effective for reaching your target audience. And allocate resources accordingly.

Then create channel-specific campaigns to reach your audience.

For instance, this is how you could run the marketing campaigns for Your Dream Home Consulting. To achieve its goals in Q4. 

Marketing strategy overview section of the marketing plan sample from above

6. Define Your Marketing Budget

A well-defined marketing budget:

  • Ensures your financial resources are allocated efficiently across different marketing initiatives—you’ll want to prioritize campaigns that offer the best return on investment (ROI)
  • Requires you to set realistic and achievable marketing goals—based on the available financial resources
  • Helps you protect profitability by preventing overspending on marketing campaigns that don’t yield results

So, how do you allocate your budget effectively?

First, consider the costs associated with various marketing channels, campaigns, and initiatives.

Then compare the costs to the expected ROI for each of them. Allocate more budget to the campaign with the highest ROI. Followed by the campaign with the second-highest ROI and so on. 

However, this is a nuanced topic. 

In some cases, it’s wise to assign a significant budget to a specific channel. Even if it doesn’t pay off immediately but provides high returns in the long run. 

Case in point: SEO. 

While pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can generate nearly instant traffic, SEO takes time. But it builds a foundation for sustainable organic (unpaid) growth. 

Over time, a strong SEO strategy can lead to consistent and long-term organic traffic. But PPC ads stop driving traffic once you stop paying for them. So it’s worth considering long-term ROI along with short-term returns.

With that, here’s the budget allocation breakdown for our example business. 

Budget allocation breakdown for the example business from the marketing plan sample

Make sure you stay flexible and adjust your budget allocation based on the performance of different channels and campaigns.

Further reading :  SEO vs. PPC: What the Differences Are & When to Use Each

7. Identify Your Key Contributors

Besides the “ what ” and the “ how ,” your marketing plan should also communicate “ who ” will execute the plan.

This helps you:

  • Get buy-in from stakeholders
  • Ensure smooth execution of the plan
  • Align your marketing team to work toward the shared goal

For brief marketing plans, you can just highlight different teams and leaders in charge of specific campaigns.

A section of the marketing plan sample, showing the marketing team's leaders

And if you’re creating a more complex marketing plan, you can include additional details like:

  • Campaign/project details and timelines 
  • Deliverables or KPIs for each team
  • Detailed overview of each team member’s responsibilities 

8. Establish Performance Tracking Guidelines

Conclude your marketing plan with a section about performance tracking or reporting guidelines. 

Just like other sections, you can keep it concise or in-depth. Depending on how brief or detailed your marketing plan is. 

However, it’s important to set some straightforward tracking criteria.

At a minimum, you should include:

  • The metrics or KPIs you’re planning to track
  • Your tracking approach
  • Tracking frequency

For instance, here’s a simple performance tracking plan in our example: 

A performance tracking guidelines outlined in the marketing plan sample

Regularly review these metrics, analyze trends, and make adjustments to your marketing strategies as needed.

You can automate your performance tracking using Semrush’s My Reports tool. 

Here’s how: 

Say you want to create a KPI report for tracking the progress of your goal to grow your organic traffic.

Select one of the ready-to-use templates. Or click “ Create report ” to build a custom report. 

We’ll go ahead with a custom report. 

Semrush’s My Reports tool

You’ll see a list of widgets on the left panel. 

A list of widgets in Semrush’s My Reports tool

Go to “ Domain Analytics ” > “ Organic research .”

Drag and drop the relevant metrics into the report on the right. 

Creating a report titled "Traffic: Organic vs Paid" in the My Reports tool

Drag and drop all the metrics you want to track. And set your goals or thresholds. 

That’s it. Your automated KPI tracker is ready.

Marketing Plan Outline

In the last section, we learned how to create a brief marketing plan. 

However, you may want to add more information to make it easier for key players in your business to follow your marketing plan.

What to include in a marketing plan

If you want to create a comprehensive and detailed marketing plan, follow this outline: 

  • Executive summary : One or two-page summary giving an overview of your marketing plan
  • Business information : Key points about your brand, mission statement, and business goals 
  • Key marketing goals : Detailed discussion of your marketing goals and how they align with overall business objectives
  • Competitor analysis : Main findings of your competitive research (Step 4 above)—their marketing channels, traffic sources, successful products, top webpages, paid ads, etc.
  • SWOT analysis : Detailed SWOT analysis of your business
  • Target market overview : Market size, opportunities, limitations, and market consolidation—you can use the Market Explorer tool for this 
  • Customer journey map : Analysis of the customer journey in your sales funnel, including the sources/channels of lead generation
  • Unique selling proposition (USP) : What sets your brand apart from your competitors?
  • Branding : How is your brand currently perceived? How would you like it to be perceived?
  • Marketing channels : The platforms you’re planning to use—have goals and action items for each of them
  • Measurements and KPIs : How will you track the performance of your marketing plan?
  • Marketing strategy and tactics : Tactics and techniques you’ll use to achieve your marketing goals
  • Marketing budget : Budget allocation by channel—include reasons if you’re investing more in specific channels
  • Marketing team : Details like key people, responsibilities, and deliverables
  • Conclusion : Summary of the plan and reiteration of the main objectives

Let’s look at some examples of marketing plans to see all of this in action. 

3 Great Marketing Plan Examples

1. university of illinois.

In 2021, the University of Illinois created an in-depth marketing plan to boost its undergraduate admissions. 

This plan is made up of three main sections:

  • Section 1 : Explains overall context, admission funnel, target segments, and student demographics
  • Section 2 : Mainly talks about the market and audience research process
  • Section 3 : Details strategies/tactics for achieving goals and success metrics

Summary of the University of Illinois's marketing plan

Image Source: University of Illinois

Why This Is a Good Example

  • Demonstrates a thorough understanding of different audience segments. Such as prospects, inquiries, applicants, and admitted students. This helps in creating tailored marketing campaigns for maximum impact.
  • Clearly outlines objectives, tactics, and metrics for each marketing channel. Such as content marketing, digital ads, direct mail, and email. This clarity helps in the efficient execution and monitoring of the marketing plan.
  • Emphasizes building brand awareness and trust. Which are crucial for long-term engagement and reputation management (especially for a university).

2. The City of West Chicago

To reinvent its identity, the City of West Chicago created a strategic marketing plan.

It’s a good marketing plan example to follow if you’re planning to rebrand your business.

An image from the City of West Chicago's marketing plan

Image Source: The City of West Chicago

  • Acknowledges both challenges (like an outdated reputation) and opportunities (increasing diversity). As a result, they set realistic goals.
  • Includes research on successful marketing strategies and best practices of other cities
  • Comprehensive SWOT analysis
  • Identifies key demographic segments such as the Latino and Caucasian populations. And outlines tailored communication strategies for each.

3. Safe Haven Family Shelter

Check this 2022 Marketing Plan from non-profit organization: Safe Haven Family Shelter.

It’s comprehensive and well-organized. And there is a lot you could apply to your own business’s marketing plan. 

An overview of the Safe Haven Family Shelter's 2022 marketing plan

Image Source: Safe Haven Family Shelter

  • Uses a simple and easy-to-follow structure, with tables and bullet points
  • Clearly communicates four main goals: building industry authority, brand awareness, brand loyalty in established audiences, and event & fundraising campaign brands
  • For each objective, the plan outlines detailed action items. And assigns specific staff or board members to monitor these tasks. Such in-depth planning ensures accountability and effective execution.
  • Also talks about longer-term objectives. This indicates a commitment to sustained growth and development.

Create a Research-Driven Marketing Plan for Long-Term Success

Marketing plans are not meant to be set in stone. Keep them flexible and adaptable based on your goals and marketing platforms. 

And keep fine-tuning your marketing plan as the dynamics of your business change.

The success of your marketing plan depends on how well you understand your market. And potential customers. 

Use Semrush’s Market Explorer tool to get valuable insights about your industry, target audience, and competitors. And create a well-researched, effective marketing plan for your business. 

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what is an marketing plan in a business plan

What Is a Marketing Plan and How To Write One (+ Template)

Learn the key elements of a marketing plan, access templates to get started, and get tips on how to write an effective plan.

a funnel on a purple background representing a marketing plan

No matter how much you stick to a plan, things go wrong. As the famous quote by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower goes: “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

When it comes to ecommerce, consumer trends shift, circumstances change, and initial experiments don’t always go as planned. All of these things impact your marketing plan. 

Research shows that marketers who proactively write a marketing plan are 356% more likely to report success. So, what does a realistic ecommerce marketing plan look like? And how do you handle unexpected obstacles and overestimations that threaten your company’s marketing strategy? This guide shares the answers.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is the strategy a business uses to get its products or services in front of its target customer. It includes who the target market is, the channels used to reach them, and the messaging that will help the business sell its products. 

The purpose of a marketing plan isn’t to create a step-by-step, never-fail manual. Rather, it’s a roadmap to help you accomplish the best-case scenario, while also maintaining realistic expectations for your marketing initiatives and establishing backup plans if something doesn’t work.

Marketing plan vs. business plan

A business plan paints a bigger picture of how you plan to run your business. It includes a mission statement, products you’ll launch, and market research. A marketing plan, on the other hand, is a specific document that details how you plan to achieve these wider goals through marketing . 

Marketing plan vs marketing strategy

An overarching marketing strategy details how marketing will drive business results. A marketing plan is the route you’ll use to get there. It’s more specific than a strategy and includes a practical roadmap on how you’ll put your marketing activities into play. 

Free marketing plan template to help you get started

Creating your own marketing plan is no small job. You put hours into customer and competitor research to find the channels likely to have the biggest impact on your marketing goals. You can check out marketing plan examples , but when it comes to creating your own, you can save time with a template.

Ditch the intimidating blank screen by building a marketing plan using Shopify’s free marketing plan template. Use it to guide your marketing strategy, tweaking the template to meet your business needs.

Download the template now

Types of marketing plans

Digital marketing plan.

A digital marketing plan is a specific type of marketing plan that revolves solely around online channels like social media, email, and search engines. It doesn’t include offline channels like billboards or radio ads.

Social media marketing plan

A social media marketing plan focuses specifically on how a business will use social media to reach its target market. It gives you a framework of which channels you’ll use, the types of content you’ll create, whether you’ll invest in social media ads, and how you’ll drive product sales. This can take place either through your online store or a social media storefront such as Facebook and Instagram Shops .

Example Instagram checkout for a jewelry business that uses Shop Pay.

Content marketing plan 

A content marketing plan details how you’ll produce content that turns people into paying customers. This can span multiple formats, including an email newsletter, infographics, product documentation, and user-generated content (such as social media posts). 

Alongside the more traditional elements of a marketing plan, a content-marketing-specific strategy would include:

  • Keywords you plan to target
  • Who you’ll use to create the content (e.g., freelancers or in-house marketers)
  • How you’ll promote and repurpose your content

Offline marketing plan

An offline marketing plan details how a business will reach its target market without using digital channels. This might include billboards, radio ads, direct mail, event sponsorships, and outdoor advertising. 

How to write a marketing plan

Detail your unique value proposition, outline your buyer personas, run a swot analysis, detail product features and benefits, set key performance indicators, outline your marketing funnel.

  • Define your marketing channels

Decide on your content formats

  • Plan your marketing resources

Create a measurement and optimization plan

A unique value proposition underlines your entire marketing plan. Regardless of the channels and formats you plan to use, consistency is key. Mixed messages on what you sell and what your brand stands for will only confuse potential customers.

A simple way to refine your messaging is to focus on your unique selling point. Costco, for example, is cheaper than its competitors. Harper Wilde’s products are comfier than any other bra retailer. Find the marketing channels each retailer uses and you’ll see messaging centered around its adjective.

Harper Wilde’s YouTube channel homepage with seven videos in tiled format.

Consult your customers if you’re unsure what your value proposition adjective should be. Research is the biggest part of any copywriting process . Survey people who’ve already bought from you, run an Instagram poll to discover why people follow your brand, and see where your competitors’ weaknesses lie. Look for adjectives that crop up frequently during the process.

What overarching goal are you trying to accomplish with the business? Why does it exist? Summarize it in one sentence, and you’ll have a mission statement to inform everything you do, which includes your marketing strategies .

Going overboard with assumptions is a common mistake among marketers. The end result is a marketing plan that doesn’t actually result in revenue.

While data won’t give you a foolproof plan, every assumption is one more bit of uncertainty you’re folding into your marketing goals . If an amazing plan has a 40% chance of holding up to real-world scenarios, one without much rigor—and lots of assumptions—might hold up 10% of the time.

Consult your customer segments and buyer personas to get as much information as you can about the person buying your products, such as: 

  • Demographic data (location, age, and income level) 
  • Interests, goals, and challenges 
  • Channels they use to discover new products

Be careful not to confuse this with your target audience . Children would be the target audience of a toy brand; parents are the buyer persona. The latter is who you’ll be reaching out to with your marketing plan. 

A SWOT analysis helps uncover your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relative to your competitors. It’s useful to include one as part of your marketing plan because it can help anticipate problems you might encounter, make more data-driven decisions, and spot areas where you can get ahead of your competitors. 

Example SWOT analysis template from Oberlo with four sections of bullet points.

Dive deep into the data you already have about your customer base by investigating marketing analytics , social media audiences, and customer surveys . It reiterates who you’re trying to reach—and more importantly, the triggers that would make them buy your product over a competitor’s.

Remind yourself of your unique selling proposition (USP) throughout this process. Tailor your marketing plan around key takeaways from these. 

Include any special features, competitive advantages, or customer favorites your marketing plan will lean on.

You could have the best mattress in the world—one made with 100 springs and cotton stitching, vigorously tested by sleep experts. But you’d struggle to market it if you lean too heavily on product features. A customer cares more about getting a peaceful night’s sleep than detailed product specifications.

“Every great marketing plan needs one thing first: a product that is 10 times better than the next,” says Nick Saltarelli, co-founder of Mid-Day Squares . “Once you have that, marketing is about deep human connections.”

Mid-Day Squares product page with the title, “Functional chocolate squares that satisfy your sweet cravings”.

Nick says, “It felt obvious that there was a sweet spot somewhere in between: people who wanted to follow along, and a true behind-the-scenes look into building a massive chocolate business from the ground up.”

As a result, the Mid-Day Squares marketing plan doesn’t prioritize product promotion. The brand instead “focuses on getting people to fall in love with us, the founders, to scale the human connection,” Nick says.

What are you trying to achieve with your marketing plan? Create both short- and long-term business goals that relate to financial metrics like revenue growth, retention , or new customers .

Most marketers measure success using return on investment (ROI) —the revenue you expect to generate after spending your marketing budget. It’s every marketer’s dream to get $100,000 in sales from $1,000 in marketing spend. While that isn’t the most realistic expectation, knowing your target ROI will prevent overspending. If your ROI is hurtling beyond your predictions, you can better allocate that budget to be spent elsewhere.

But there’s more to marketing measurement than dollar returns. Revenue isn’t always the end goal. Brand awareness, website traffic, and social media followers are short-term marketing objectives that aim to get new people into your marketing funnel. Nail them early on and you set your business up for success later down the road.

Not everyone will see your products and convert into a customer instantly. Most people progress through a sales funnel. Content that will make someone progress to the next stage depends on the one they’re currently in. 

If you were to use Facebook ads to sell your products to a generic audience modeled on your buyer persona, for example, you might not get the highest conversion rate. These people don’t know who you are, what you stand for, or why they should choose you over a competitor. 

But if you used Facebook ads to specifically target people at the bottom of your marketing funnel, you could use retargeting ads to show items someone had in their shopping cart. You’re bound to get a better return on your investment with this strategy because you’re only investing money into reaching people who just need a final nudge to convert. 

Let’s break down how you might outline your marketing funnel in a marketing plan. 

Example marketing funnel showing the three different stages.

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

People at the top of your marketing funnel don’t understand who you are or what you sell. Social media, podcasts, and video content play huge roles here. Each channel is used by potential customers looking to learn or be inspired.

For this stage, prioritize metrics that give insight into how people are engaging with your top-funnel content, such as:

  • Video views
  • Website clicks
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

People reach the middle of the funnel when they know they have a problem that needs to be solved. Look at the marketing channels and formats you’re using to target these people. Most often, it’s search engines and retargeted ads.

Google Analytics is your best bet here. While the dashboard can feel overwhelming for a lot of people, you don’t need to look at every report. Use the following metrics to see how people engage with your middle-funnel content:

  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per session 
  • Users by traffic source
  • Email subscriber conversion rate 

To track the data above, especially for advertising campaigns, add the Meta pixel to all pages of your store.

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Going for the hard sell? For marketing messages where the only goal is to convert your audience into paying customers, consult the back end of your ecommerce store. It’s home to sales and product-related data that helps you understand whether your marketing plan is successful, such as:

  • Added to cart conversion rate
  • Average order value (AOV)
  • Number of orders
  • Reached checkout conversion rate
  • Sales conversion rate

Shopify Analytics dashboard showing metrics like total sales, sessions, and conversion rate.

Post-funnel and retention

Planning to build a steady stream of paying customers off the back of your ecommerce marketing plan? It's easy to assume revenue growth comes from audience growth. But oftentimes, the easiest way to grow your revenue is by focusing on the people we forget about: existing customers.

Resist the temptation to focus on flashy metrics like social media followers and YouTube subscribers. Instead, involve existing customers in your marketing plan. Use them as a source of testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals.

Graph shows how a small change in retention leads to more revenue.

“Happy customers have been powerful word-of-mouth catalysts for our brand, and it has made sense to keep them engaged,” says Chris Campbell, partner at The Charming Bench Company . “We’ve been getting a steady stream of five-star ratings on websites and social media, which we then share on our Facebook, X [formerly known as Twitter], Pinterest, and Instagram profiles. It’s a great alternative to pushing loud sales messages that don’t always work.”

Define your marketing channels 

Channels are the platforms you’ll use as part of your marketing plan. Go back to your market research and uncover the online and offline channels your target audience is using to shop and get entertained or inspired.

Some of the most popular channels for ecommerce businesses include:

  • Social media . Social media is used by more than six out of 10 people . Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are free to use (on the whole) and help brands reach their target audience. 
  • Search engines . Some 44% of online shoppers start their product research on search engines. By making search engine optimization (SEO) part of your marketing plan, you can generate new business by reaching people when they’re actively looking for your products or services.
  • Email marketing  and  SMS marketing . Email and text message inboxes are two of the most sacred places for a marketer to reach. A phone number or email address gives you a direct line of communication with your target customers, if they opt in to hear from you.
  • Podcasts . Record conversations you have with your team, customers, or experts in the industry and share them with your audience. By establishing yourself or your brand as a thought leader in your industry, you’ll inspire confidence that in turn builds trust in your products.
  • Offline channels. While digital marketing is vital in today’s world, offline and in-person marketing efforts can be equally powerful. Get in front of people when they’re not online, using channels like word-of-mouth recommendations , radio, billboards and outdoor advertising , or TV marketing campaigns.

There’s a sweet spot to how many channels your marketing plan should include. Go too wide and you burn resources on channels with poor returns. But become too reliant on one channel and you’re at risk.

Algorithms power most digital marketing channels. They’re praised as the type of technology that delivers personalized experiences for their users, but any changes to an algorithm can make marketing plans utterly useless overnight.

“If you rely on SEO, then any algorithm updates could potentially cut your revenue for months before you recover,” explains Marquis Matson, VP of Growth at Sozy . “If you rely on paid ads, then any changes to privacy policies can cut your revenue. If you rely on email marketing, then any ESP  [email service provider]  policy changes can cut your revenue. Diversifying your acquisition is crucial in a fast-paced digital marketing world.”

Footwear brand Hippy Feet is one ecommerce brand that failed to diversify channels. “The original marketing plan was to drive traffic to our Shopify store through ads—relying heavily on paid Facebook and Instagram traffic,” says Sam Harper, Hippy Feet’s co-founder and CEO. “While this is still a major component of our marketing strategy, the decreasing effectiveness of these ads has forced us to expand our marketing efforts.

“A diverse media strategy is crucial to helping an ecommerce business survive in this highly-dynamic market. By driving traffic through SEO, email, and media coverage, we’re more resilient and less impacted by a single tech platform changing their algorithm.”

For each channel, define which content formats you’ll use to capture attention and drive website traffic. That could include:

  • Audio. Reach podcast and radio listeners with audio content. 
  • Images. Capture visual learners and shoppers on visually dominant social media sites with infographics, GIFs, and memes.
  • Video. Get listed on YouTube , the world's second largest search engine, with explainer videos and product demonstrations. Many social media platforms— Instagram and TikTok included—are also evolving to prioritize video content. 
  • Written content. Most search engine results retrieve links to optimized written content, such as blogs , transcripts, or landing pages .

Content marketing is a beast that constantly needs to be fed. Customers want newer, fresher, more exciting content on a regular basis. That’s demanding for a small business to keep up with.

If this sounds unsustainable, consider a content marketing strategy that collects user-generated content (UGC) from existing customers. The more they share their experiences with others, the more content you have to repurpose on each channel. It’s an effective route to scale your content marketing plan and stretch your editorial calendar if your marketing department has limited resources. Don’t have time to invest in promoting the content you create? Partner with popular influencers in your niche—those whose loyal audience overlaps with your target market .

Your marketing budget is the dollar amount you expect to spend executing your marketing plan. If you’re bootstrapped, you can run a marketing plan on a tight budget .

As part of your own marketing plan, state whether you intend to use each channel organically or boost it with advertising. Most channels allow businesses to run sponsored content, which is guaranteed to reach your target market across online and offline channels, like door-to-door sales , social media, TV, billboards, and radio.

“I apply for any competitions, press opportunities, and awards to get my small business out there at any given opportunity,” says Terri-Anne Turton, founder of The Tur-Shirt Company . 

The strategy has worked: The Tur-Shirt Company has won a Junior Design Award for best fashion newcomer and a shoutout from media entrepreneur Steven Bartlett after entering his #DeserveToBeFound competition with Facebook.

“I focus on those my target market knows of to build credibility,” says Terri-Anne. “Plus, most of the awards I enter are free or low-cost; they just need some time investment and creativity to take part. It proves my USP to my target market—that my kids’ clothing products are unique—without investing thousands into advertising.”

what is an marketing plan in a business plan

While you can run a strategy with little to no budget, this section of your marketing plan needs to account for more than any planned advertising spend. Time is a resource that needs to be managed and accounted for. Be sure to detail how much time you plan to spend executing your marketing strategy.

If you have a designated marketing team, it’s also worth noting who will be responsible for each element of your marketing plan. Who’s responsible for this marketing plan? Which team members are executing it? What experience do they have with marketing?

More importantly, detail what you expect from the resources you’re putting into your marketing plan. If you plan to spend $40,000 throughout the coming year, how much revenue will you get in return? If you’re producing a marketing plan for a large or public company, this is what stakeholders really want to see.

Go back to the KPIs (key performance indicators) you set in the earlier section of your marketing plan. How will you determine whether you’ve met these KPIs? What happens if you’re exceeding or falling short of your target? It’s good to have a plan of action for either case.

Let’s put that into practice and say you expected to increase sales by 20% through your social media marketing plan. Detail exactly how you’d measure this, for example, you could say, “we’ll look at our Shopify sales report once per month and analyze which channel is meeting this KPI. If a channel falls behind, we’ll evaluate why and either adjust our marketing plan or deprioritize it in favor of more effective channels.” 

The best marketers approach their plans with an open mind. The hypothesis you started with might be proven wrong. Don’t take that as a negative. You just got closer to finding what will work. 

Tips for creating your marketing plan

Set conservative expectations.

While it’s good to approach your marketing goals with confidence, high expectations often lead to disappointment when we fail to meet them. That disappointment is magnified in a marketing plan, as stakeholders or founders will have already bought into unrealistic predictions and business objectives.

Start small

Don’t overwhelm yourself and your team by trying to generate results with all marketing tactics at once: running Facebook ads, tweeting like crazy, writing daily blog posts for SEO, and making constant changes to site and content strategy to improve your conversion rate.

If you’re very lucky, one of these tactics will bring you consistent traffic and sales. But more often than not, trying everything at once will make you extremely busy without anything to show for it.

Take it from Jameela Ghann, owner of Alora : “When we first started Alora, 10 years ago, our marketing plan was unrealistic. We were just a couple of people making plans that were good on paper but almost impossible to execute with a small team.” 

Alora’s website home with tiled images of earrings, necklaces, and jewelry gifts.

Originally, Jameela’s team planned to invest in several marketing channels—online and offline advertising, PR, trade shows, influencer marketing, and blogging included. However, the team changed its marketing plan. They went deep on one channel instead of spreading resources too thin by trying to be everywhere at once.

“We stuck to one course of action that was where our customers were, and ready to buy, and easiest for us to see a good ROI,” Jameela says. “What really worked for us was focusing on a handful of channels that we knew we could do well.”

Go back to your audience research and identify three channels your target audience uses most often. Put most of your energy into perfecting those before overcomplicating things with a more comprehensive marketing plan.

Use historical data as a guide

Past performance can help you temper your expectations for your marketing plan. If you know your click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads is 0.1%, don’t stray too far from that baseline with your social media marketing .

The same goes for website content optimized for search : If you’re currently getting 10,000 visitors per month from Google, scaling your traffic up to a million is a tough battle. Instead, 50,000 visitors is a more achievable goal.

Allow for flexibility

The purpose of a marketing plan isn’t to create a never-fail manual. Whether your marketing team has fallen victim to completion bias or focused too heavily on one channel, sticking rigidly to your original plan can be a big mistake.

Imine Martinez, assistant manager at Rainbowly , says: “Our regular campaigns targeting mainly birthday celebrations and anniversaries offered poor return on ad spend and inconsistent results over the months.

“That said, during festive seasons, such as Christmas or New Year’s, our targeted campaigns were particularly profitable, achieving five times return on ad spend with much cheaper cost per click and impression.”

Continuing with the same marketing strategies despite this data would only have resulted in heartbreak. Rainbowly would be pouring money down the drain on ads that wouldn’t perform, just because its marketing plan said to do so.

Creating a marketing plan is the first step

A lot of hard work goes into a successful marketing plan. To create an attainable one, you’ll need to spend hours diving into competitive research, audience data, and channels your target market consults when researching new products.

Most importantly, know that marketing is unpredictable. There are thousands of scenarios that fundamentally change the marketing strategy that’s best for your business. Global pandemics, PR crises, and the emergence of new social media platforms are unpredictable.

Treat your marketing plan like the best-case scenario. Plan SMART goals and strategies but remember to be flexible to give your marketing the best chance of success.

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Marketing plan FAQ

How much does a marketing plan cost, how often should a marketing plan be reviewed, what are the 4 steps of a marketing plan.

  • Conduct market research
  • Outline your marketing channels and formats
  • Create goals and measure performance

Why is marketing plan important?

What are some marketing plan mistakes.

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COMMENTS

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

    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.

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

    The marketing plan details the strategy that a company will use to market its products to customers. The plan identifies the target market, value proposition of the...

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

    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.

  4. Marketing Plan - Overview, Purpose, and Structure

    A marketing plan is a document that lays out the marketing efforts of a business in an upcoming period, which is usually a year. It outlines the marketing strategy, promotional, and advertising activities planned for the period. Elements of a Marketing Plan. A marketing plan will typically include the following elements:

  5. What Is a Marketing Plan? (How to Create One + Examples)

    A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the marketing strategies and tactics a business uses to promote its products, services, or brand to its target audience. It also includes information like target market, value proposition, proposed marketing campaigns, and success metrics.

  6. What Is a Marketing Plan and How To Write One (+ Template)

    A marketing plan is the strategy a business uses to get its products or services in front of its target customer. It includes who the target market is, the channels used to reach them, and the messaging that will help the business sell its products. The purpose of a marketing plan isn’t to create a step-by-step, never-fail manual.