It’s every business’s goal to increase its customer base and make more sales. And while there are countless marketing strategies and tactics you can utilise to achieve this goal, one thing remains the same: it all starts with a well-organised marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a vital tool for any business, from a one-man service provider to a major corporation. You must devote enough time and resources to crafting a marketing plan for your business. A great marketing plan can be a roadmap for your marketing success. Let’s start with first understanding what a marketing plan is.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan can be defined as a strategic roadmap that you can use to plan, execute and track your marketing strategy over a given period. It outlines how your business intends to get its products and services to its target markets, detailing the outreach plan and how you measure its success.
What is the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy?
Although they’re often used interchangeably, a marketing strategy and a marketing plan are two separate elements. Shaped by your business goals, your marketing strategy is your marketing purpose; it’s what you promise to deliver, how you’ll deliver it and how your marketing efforts will help you achieve your company’s mission. Ensure you have a clearly defined marketing strategy before jumping into action with your marketing efforts. Once you have your marketing strategy in place, then you’ll be able to develop an effective marketing plan.
Your marketing plan is the practical implementation of your strategy. As mentioned, it acts as a blueprint for your tactical marketing efforts that will help you achieve your marketing goals. It includes what you’ll do, where you’ll do it, when you’ll do it and how you’ll track success. Both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan are essential because they work together to grow your business.
Types of marketing plans
Depending on your business needs, you might need to leverage different kinds of marketing plans. Here are a few examples:
Annual or Quarterly Marketing Plans: These kinds of marketing plans outline the strategies and campaigns you’ll be executing over a certain time.
Content Marketing Plan: This plan highlights the different strategies, tactics and campaigns you’ll use with your content marketing to promote your business and its products or services.
Social Media Marketing Plan: This plan could feature the social channels, campaigns and tactics you intend to use to achieve your social media marketing goals.
Paid Marketing Plan: In this plan, you can highlight the various paid strategies you’ll be utilising to reach your audience. Some examples of this include; pay per click (PPC), cost per thousand (CPM), native advertising and display advertising.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
1. A marketing plan helps you to focus
As we said earlier, a marketing plan is a blueprint outlining how you plan to implement your marketing strategy. It gives you a clear direction of how your marketing activities need to take place. It’s often easy for entrepreneurs or smaller businesses to get excited by new opportunities and change tack regularly. While flexibility has its benefits, a lack of focus can mean many opportunities aren’t fully realised.
A marketing plan thus enables you to align your marketing activities with your business objectives rather than making you rely on instinct alone or working without a clear strategy.
2. A marketing plan ensures consistency by systemising your marketing activities
If you market your business sporadically, you might find yourself over-relying on just one marketing activity without an understanding of how it integrates with other parts of your business such as sales.
A marketing plan with the right resources allocated to it enables you to market your business continuously and consistently. It also ensures that all your teams, whether big or small, are on the same page.
Rather than creating a reactive environment where your decisions are based on gut instinct or a whim, having a marketing plan provides you with a solid foundation from which you can grow your business.
3. A marketing plan provides transparency
The purpose of your marketing strategy and accompanying marketing plan is to give you a positive return on investment (ROI) from your marketing spend. This thus means that your marketing plan will have measurable metrics that need to be tracked, measured and tested over time.
The data derived from your marketing plan provides transparency by giving you insight into your marketing activities, budget allocation and growth targets. Additionally, it can highlight possible flaws in your current strategy and help you identify underperforming metrics. A marketing plan gives you a clear picture of the performance of your marketing activities enabling you to understand what you can amp up, what you can stop and what you can improve.
4. A marketing plan enables you to allocate and manage your resources effectively
It’s likely that if you don’t have a marketing plan or marketing strategy for your business, then you also don’t have a marketing budget. Maybe you don’t see the value in having dedicated resources to your marketing function or maybe you’re a bit stuck on where to start and don’t know what you need.
With a clear marketing strategy and marketing plan in place, you get to understand the level of resources you’ll need for your specific activities and goals. You might even realise that you need external help and opt to outsource some of your marketing tasks to specialists such as a web agency, social media agency or digital agency.
5. A marketing plan helps you serve your customers better
The significance of your marketing plan will go beyond just systemising your marketing activities. It can also serve as a guide when dealing with your customers or clients. When you know what you need to do, then you can address your audience better.
A marketing plan breaks down your audience personas allowing you to have a deep understanding of their needs and behaviours and how these things influence how you’ll market them.
What should you include in your marketing plan?
Now that you know what a marketing plan is, the different types of marketing plans and why you need one, it’s time to understand how to make one. Marketing plans can vary depending on the type of business or the type of product/service - despite this, certain elements are integral to every marketing plan. Here’s a step by step guide of what you should include in your marketing plan:
1. Executive summary
This section introduces the main body of the plan with a reminder of the company's overall business strategy, including what the business is about (the business mission), the key business objectives, and the broad strategy for achieving those objectives.
2. Company details
This section contains your company details, mission and vision statements, as well as your branding assets.
3. Products and services portfolio
This section contains information about the products and/or services offered by your company.
4. Target audience
This section highlights who your company's products and services are designed for. You can use our buyer persona to gain a better understanding of your audience.
This section highlights who your company's main industry competitors are and their competitive advantage.
6. SWOT analysis
This section highlights the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and the external (opportunities and threats) factors that may influence the success of your business.
7. Objectives and goals
This section highlights your business goals. These goals should take the format of SMART objectives i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound.
8. Marketing mix strategies
This section highlights the tactical marketing mix tools that your company will use to get their desired outcome from your target audience.
9. Implementation plan
This section highlights a schedule of your company's key tasks that need to be done to achieve the marketing objectives. The plan includes costing projections so that your business can manage its marketing budget. This section also highlights your business plan controls and how they’ll be analysed to determine the plan's actual performance compared to the projections.
Ready to get started? Then we have some good news for you. Click the link below to access our marketing plan template.