5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan

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Do you take a good, hard look at your business’ marketing strategy every year..? You should.


Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy, and it’s nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you’ll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you’ll encounter over the course of a year if you don’t have a plan. To make your plan’s creation easier, we’ve put together a list of what to include in your plan to make life a little easier.

Marketing Plan Outline

The below marketing plan outline will help you create an effective plan that clearly and effectively guides your marketing efforts.


Marketing plans can get quite granular to reflect the industry you’re in, whether you’re selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how big your digital presence is. Nonetheless, here are the elements every effective marketing plan needs to includes:

In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organisation. It’s essential to include this information so that everyone involved, or just yourself, can take a moment to learn about your company in detail before delving into the more strategic components of your plan. Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who’ve been in the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page. This can also be a valuable exercise for solo business owners and SME's.


Most business summaries include:

  • The company name
  • Where it's headquartered
  • Its mission statement

Our marketing plan outline also includes information on marketing leadership, which is especially helpful for companies with large marketing teams.

Your marketing plan's business summary also includes a SWOT analysis, which stands for the business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s essential to include this information so you can create targeted strategies that help you capitalise on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.


However, be patient with your business' SWOT analysis; you'll write most of it as you conduct your market research and create your strategy. Feel free to come back to this section periodically, adjusting it as you discover more information about your own business and your competition.

The business initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you'd normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You'll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.


Every initiative should follow the SMART method for goal-making. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

In this part of the marketing plan outline, you get plenty of space to share all the data you collected during your market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Either way, try to do your research before collating it in a shareable document.


Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you're selling to and your ideal buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Title
  • Goals
  • Personal challenges
  • Pains
  • Triggering event

Including a competitive analysis is essential when creating a marketing plan. Your buyer persona has choices when it comes to solving their problems, choices in both the types of solutions they consider and the providers that can administer those solutions. In your market research, you should consider your competition, what they do well, and where the gaps are that you can potentially fill.


This can include:

  • Positioning
  • Market share
  • Offerings
  • Pricing

Ensure your marketing plan includes space to list out the specific products/services you compete with, as well as other facets of the other company’s strategy, such as their blogging efforts or customer service reputation. Keep this part of your plan simple, your full competitive analysis should be done separately.

Your market strategy should use the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your ideal buyer personas that your competitors aren't already offering them?


As you fill out the section, use the insights from your SWOT analysis, your competitive analysis, and your market research to create targeted, effective descriptions that will help you secure buy-in for your later tactics and strategies.


For instance, if you found that one of your competitors employs stronger social media marketing strategies, you might add “We’ll post 3 times per week on our social media profiles” under “Promotion.”


In our full-length marketing plan outline, the market strategy section contains the "seven Ps of marketing" (or the “extended marketing mix”):

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence

Don't mistake the marketing budget element of your plan with your product's price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted to your marketing efforts to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined.


Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemising this budget by what specifically you'll spend your budget on.


Example marketing expenses include:

  • Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers
  • Marketing software
  • Paid promotions
  • Events (those you'll host and/or attend)
  • Networking organisations you subscribe to under a paid membership

Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you'll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won't be 100% accurate, but can help with basic planning.


Remember: Your marketing plan only includes a summary of the costs. We recommend keeping a separate document, accounting software or Excel sheet to help you calculate your budget much more effectively.

Your marketing plan should also include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product or service itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you'll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.


If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you'll use this social network for, and how you'll measure your success on this network. Part of this section's purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.


Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan.

Last, but certainly not least, your marketing plan should include an overview of the tools you’ll include in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack. These are the tools that will help you achieve the goals you outlined in the previous sections. Since all types of marketing software usually need a generous investment, it’s essential to connect them to a potential ROI for your business.


For each tool, describe what exactly you’ll use it for, and be sure that it’s a strategy that you’ve mentioned elsewhere. For instance, we wouldn't recommend listing an advertising management tool if you didn’t list “PPC Advertising” under “Marketing Channels.”

How to Create a Marketing Plan

1. Conduct a situation analysis.

2. Define your target audience.

3. Write SMART goals.

4. Analyse your tactics.

5. Set your budget.

1. Conduct a situation analysis

Before you can get started with your marketing plan, you have to know your current situation. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Conducting a basic SWOT analysis is the first step to creating a marketing plan.


Additionally, you should also have an understanding of the current market. How do you compare to your competitors? Doing a competitor analysis should help you with this step. Think about how other products are better than yours. Plus, consider the gaps in a competitor’s approach.


  • What are they missing?
  • What can you offer that’ll give you a competitive advantage?

Think about what sets you apart. Answering questions like this should help you figure out what your customer wants, which brings us to step number two.

2. Define your target audience

Once you better understand the market and your company’s situation, make sure you know who your target audience is. If your company already has ideal buyer personas, this step might just mean you have to refine your current personas. If you don’t have a buyer persona, you should create one. To do this, you might have to conduct some vital market research.


Your ideal buyer persona should include demographic information such as age, gender, and income. However, it will also include psychographic information such as pain points and goals.


  • What drives your audience?
  • What problems do they have that your product or service can fix?

Once you have this information written out, it’ll help you define your goals, which brings us to step number three.

3. Write SMART goals

It's impossible to map out a route to your destination if you don't know where you're starting from.
- Suze Orman

This saying can also be applied metaphorically to marketing. You can’t improve your ROI unless you know what your goals are. After you’ve figured out your current situation and know your audience, you can begin to define your SMART goals.


SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that all your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete them.


For example, your goal could be to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months. Depending on your overall marketing goals, this should be relevant and attainable. Additionally, this goal is specific, measurable, and time-bound. Before you start any tactic, you should write out your goals. Then, you can begin to analyse which tactics will help you achieve that goal. 

4. Analyse your tactics

At this point, you’ve written down your goals based on your target audience and current situation. Now, you have to figure out what tactics will help you achieve your goals. Plus, what are the right channels and action items to focus on?


For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, your tactics might include hosting a giveaway, responding to every comment, and posting three times on Instagram per week.


Once you know your goals, brainstorming several tactics to achieve those goals should be easier. However, while writing your tactics, you have to keep your budget in mind too.

5. Set your budget

Before you can begin implementing any of the ideas that you’ve come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget.


For example, your tactics might include social media advertising. However, if you don’t have the budget for that, then you might not be able to achieve your goals. While you’re writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it’ll take to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase, such as ad space.


Now that you know how to create your marketing plan, let’s dive into creating a marketing campaign outline that will help you reach the goals outlined plan.

Marketing Plan Timeline

Rolling out a new marketing plan is a big lift. To make sure things are running smoothly with all of your projects, you’ll want to create a timeline that maps out when each project is happening.


A marketing plan timeline allows you, your team or your outsourced agencies to view all projects, campaigns, events, and other related tasks in one place, along with their deadlines. This ensures everyone knows what’s due, when it’s due, and what’s up next in the pipeline. Typically, these plans cover marketing efforts for the entire year, but some companies may operate on a bi-annual or quarterly basis. Remember: its whatever suits you and your business!


Once you’ve completed your analysis, research, and set goals, it’s time to set deadlines for your assignments. From new blog posts and content initiatives to product launches, everything will need a deadline. Take into account any holidays or events taking place over the course of the year.


While setting deadlines for the entire year may seem daunting, start by estimating how long you think each task will take and set a deadline accordingly. Track the time it actually takes for you to complete similar types of projects. Once you’ve completed a few of them, you’ll have a better idea of how long each takes and will be able to set more accurate deadlines.


For each project, you’ll want to build in time for:


  • Brainstorming: This is the first phase where your idea comes to life in a project outline. Decide what you want to achieve and who / which resources need to be involved to meet your goal. Set a due date and set up any necessary meetings.
  • Planning: This can include determining the project’s scope, figuring out how much budget will be allocated for it, finalising deadlines and who is working on each task. Map out any campaigns needed for each project (social media, PR, sales promotions, landing pages, events, etc.).
  • Execution: This third phase is all about your project launch. Decide on a date to launch and monitor the progress of the project. Set up a system for tracking metrics and KPIs.
  • Analysis: In this final phase you will analyse all of your performance data to see whether or not your marketing efforts paid off. Did you meet your goals? Did you complete your projects on time and within budget?

All projects and their deadlines should be in a central location where you and your team can access them whether that’s a calendar, shared document, or project management tool.

Start the Marketing Planning Process Today...

The best way to set up your marketing plan for the year is to start with quick wins first, that way you can ramp up fast and set yourself (and your team) up to hit more challenging goals and take on more sophisticated projects by Q4.

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