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Marketing Strategy: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Create One
A marketing strategy is a plan to achieve a defined marketing goal to reach consumers and convert them into customers.
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Build a Marketing Strategic Plan That Works — Even in Volatile Times!
Effective marketing strategic planning connects your enterprise strategy to specific initiatives for your function. Done well, your marketing strategic plan should provide a clear roadmap to deliver on your business goals.
Use this one‑page marketing strategic planning template to:
- Build a clear, measurable marketing strategic plan aligned to your organizational goals
- Combat 7 costly planning mistakes to develop a robust and agile strategy for your marketing department
- Capture and communicate your marketing strategy to stakeholders with an exclusive one-page template
The core components of a marketing strategy
The most effective marketing strategies are built for a dynamic environment to drive the business forward.
- Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Spend
- Strategic KPIs
- Marketing Mix
Build resilient marketing strategies aligned to enterprise goals
For CMOs , the challenge is not just to “do more with less” but rather “do the right less” due to unpredictable macro forces and pressure from new, wide-ranging and ambitious enterprise objectives. CMOs must focus on resilient methods for strategy development that help them define and communicate marketing’s contributions to organizational objectives.
Four themes are essential for marketing leaders to implement in their marketing strategies this year and beyond:
Customer journey orchestration
Marketing’s shifting role in the enterprise
Strategic brand management
Change and volatility management
Developing a succinct and compelling strategy also requires a balance between a high-level vision that captures stakeholders’ attention and tactical guidance for the marketing team. CMOs must articulate their marketing strategy by sharing highlights without overwhelming business stakeholders with too much information.
A common marketing strategy structure is to nest business objectives, marketing objectives, marketing initiatives and related marketing measurements. But this approach has gaps in each area and leads to wasted resources and a misalignment of business objectives. It may look tidy and organized, but it’s masking underlying problems. A successful marketing strategy is cognizant of potential gaps and addresses them by:
Probing for the drivers behind business goals and identifying issues both inside and outside of marketing that must be solved for you to achieve your goals
Selecting the right marketing initiative to support business objectives
Selecting key performance indicators that accurately show the impact of marketing initiatives and connect back to the business goals they are designed to support
Reduce, protect and invest to drive growth and efficiency
CMOs must prepare for the tough decisions required to address the economic headwinds that lie ahead. Even the most optimistic CMOs should be ready to make some tough cost decisions, especially in a volatile and changeable environment. To survive and thrive in the face of budgetary challenges, CMOs need marketing spend strategies that optimize costs, strengthen their ability to meet evolving business goals and deliver maximum business value.
By cost optimization, we mean a continuous business-focused activity to drive structured spend optimization while maximizing business value. When done effectively, it seeks to improve efficiency and productivity, shifting spend from lower-yield programs to those that can deliver greater return.
For marketing, that means assessing your spend in key areas such as agencies, media, martech , operations, digital commerce, campaigns, marketing analytics and projects — exploring how each one supports (or hinders) the customer journey and influences business revenue. Consider what programs actively create marketing value versus those that merely support it.
Take action now, even if your CFO has yet to start talking about reducing costs. The marketing spend playbook you must adopt has to reflect the specific challenges that lie ahead. These essential steps should be part of your playbook to navigate economic headwinds:
Step 1: Benchmark your budgets to identify how your current budget and spending stack up against peers and competitors.
Step 2: Build your understanding on the changing behaviors of your customers and consumers. Build your VoC capabilities to track how economic uncertainty is impacting your customers.
Step 3: Shore up your scenario-planning capabilities to build agile, adaptive marketing strategies.
Step 4: Make an assertive case for the value of marketing investments. Invest in marketing because it is essential to delivering results today and keeping your brands top of mind as buying cycles elongate and spending power is challenged. It also maximizes the chances of accelerating out of the economic headwinds tomorrow. Rather than accept that cuts are inevitable, make a confident and assertive case for strong and continued investment.
Step 5: Cut marginal marketing costs. Build a cost management plan that balances potential fiscal benefits with risks.
Step 6: Refocus your investments in media, agencies and technology. Identify the investments across marketing’s operating model that enable you to deliver efficiency today and growth tomorrow.
For more on marketing spend, download: Marketing Cost Optimization Framework
Define the performance metrics that link strategy to execution
Marketing has traditionally been seen as a cost center rather than a revenue-generating function, which has led to CMOs having to justify investments and keep costs in check. This is happening even more now, as CMOs seek to restore their postpandemic marketing budgets.
To position marketing as a value creator, strategies need to be informed by data and the use of consistent measurement frameworks. This prevents the cherry-picking of results, helps connect activities to the business and therefore helps articulate value to others.
However, calculating how marketing creates value can be elusive when trying to make a direct connection between a marketing activity (such as a digital campaign) and a business outcome (such as a sale). To show value, it’s imperative to deliver marketing metrics based on the roles and decisions supported — from the CEO, who needs to know about business outcomes, to campaign managers and analysts, who leverage granular metrics to optimize marketing tactics. Establishing a clear hierarchy of marketing metrics ensures the right people see the right measures at the right time — and are using those metrics for the right purpose.
If ROI cannot be easily measured, CMOs must frame marketing activities by the value they will deliver to business objectives. The key performance metrics for a demand generation program, for example, are more leads, higher-quality leads and an increase in funnel velocity. The value of these metrics collectively can be measured as return on objectives (ROO). ROO is an alternative way of measuring value when marketers are unable to show the return on investment (ROI) either directly or indirectly.
Using the right KPIs with the right people also helps drive more confident decision making, making it easier to evaluate activities, understand when and where to shift direction, and respond to new changes and challenges.
Build capabilities that enable agile execution
CMOs naturally assess the readiness of their teams to quickly adapt to waves of change. But too often they turn to the extremes of full-scale reorganization or isolated, role-based hiring tactics to alleviate short-term pressures. Rather than focus on jobs or reporting structure, CMOs should focus on sourcing the mix of capabilities they will require to adapt and execute their strategic initiatives in the mid- to long term.
Accurately assessing capabilities and capacity requirements is a key component of strategic planning and is critical for proper execution. To develop adaptive marketing capabilities to deliver on your strategic objectives, implement these four major steps:
Identify capability gaps.
Align capabilities to structure.
Evaluate impact and emerging needs.
Identify capability gaps
Develop your own capability assessment to think about what capabilities your team will need to execute against your strategic plan. Collaborate with your leadership team and identify larger functional groupings of related job roles and specific skills or expertise, that will support the deliverables you require, create scenario plans for changes you anticipate, and address how to resource or align those capabilities.
Determine how you will resource missing capabilities or capacity. You may invest in upskilling current employees, acquire the capability by hiring or merger/acquisition, or partner to access the capability through agencies, freelancers, services or vendors.
Align capabilities to structure
Decide how to fit the desired capabilities for internal staff into your current organizational structure. Adding capabilities or redeploying talent doesn’t require a full-scale redesign. Instead, think about ways to incorporate them with the least impact to the existing organization. This will reduce disruption and the likelihood of change fatigue.
Evaluate impact and emerging needs
No matter how carefully you craft your organization design, it will need to adapt as your strategy changes. Rather than seeing organization design as a single project, you need to view it as an ongoing process that’s necessary to ensure that the capabilities of your team continue to adapt to support the requirements of your strategy.
Optimize the channel strategy with a holistic approach
Marketing channels, both online and offline, play a vital role in spreading the word about a brand and reaching potential customers. Marketing leaders realize the importance of a clear and cohesive cross-channel experience, but too often they struggle to break their marketing channel strategies out of organizational silos.
Our research shows that across industries, customers reported using an average of four unique channels throughout their interaction with a brand, such as a company’s website, email, SMS and social media, during their customer buying journey. To build an effective channel portfolio, successful brands first gather insights to identify target customer groups and establish key leadership priorities. These insights include:
Top marketing goals and how they can be supported across channels
Personas or segments that define the brand’s target customer
Brand research on customer sentiments and economic opportunities or threats
Existing customer journey map(s)
Ideal customer actions across the journey that would help meet the brand’s objectives
A thorough understanding of the target audience, business goals and available resources enables a brand to establish its overarching strategy across channels, versus at an individual channel level. An optimized channel strategy should:
Put the customer first. Brands that consider their target customers’ channel preferences and how they use those channels are less likely to invest in experiences that don’t align with customer expectations.
Factor in existing channel strategies. Achieving the right channel mix requires an honest look at a brand’s experiences to ensure they drive ideal customer actions. Successful marketers take an active approach to fine-tuning versus a “fix and forget” approach.
Prioritize. Every organization has its unique resource constraints. Having a thorough understanding of customer needs and how the existing channel strategy is (or isn’t) performing will help ensure that investments fuel the channels most likely to drive returns.
Improve performance, optimize investments and quantify marketing’s impact
CMOs are under tremendous pressure to prove the impact of marketing. But incomplete data across an ever-growing mix of marketing activities, channels, devices and touchpoints can lower trust in their performance metrics.
Marketing mix modeling (MMM) is a technique used to evaluate how the different elements of a marketing mix affect overall performance. By using MMM to identify which tactics have the strongest impact, CMOs can make data-driven decisions about their marketing strategies, track the return on marketing investments, allocate resources more effectively, and optimize their tactics to achieve their objectives successfully.
Marketers still struggle to answer foundational questions about the impact of marketing on the business. The goal of MMM is to determine the incremental impact of marketing activities and use those findings to answer strategic marketing questions. The details of the modeling approach differ, but most forms use aggregate (not user-level) data. As a result, MMM can consider a wide range of channels and external influences, including:
Digital media (e.g., social media and banner ads)
Traditional media (e.g., broadcast television, out-of-home and radio)
Company factors that can impact conversions (e.g., inventory levels, staffing or geographic footprint)
Market forces (e.g., relative price, competitive media spending and share of voice)
External factors (e.g., weather, seasonality, economic conditions or consumer confidence)
MMM has a long history, and it continues to evolve. If you looked at marketing mix a decade ago and dismissed it as “insights only at the channel level” or “results only updated quarterly,” you may want to reconsider. Recent improvements in MMM include faster turnaround times, greater depth of insights and more prescriptive recommendations.
In short, successful CMOs use MMM to ease challenges and uncertainty around marketing’s growing complexity.
To maximize the effectiveness of your marketing mix model, adopt these three practices:
Prioritize insights. Rank the outputs that will bring the most value from your marketing mix model. Then lean into scenario planning and model validation to improve program effectiveness.
Build trust through validation. Our research showed that marketing leaders with higher trust in their MMM were more likely to describe insights delivered by marketing analytics as “essential to our organization’s success.” But MMM findings often challenge conventional wisdom. Treat your marketing mix model as a credible suggestion, not a mandate.
Plan and optimize. Engage in what-if scenario planning to create resilient, higher-performing marketing plans over time.
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Frequently asked questions
What is a marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is a plan designed to achieve a defined marketing goal, generally to reach a particular audience of consumers and convert them into customers.
What makes a good marketing strategy?
A good marketing strategy is succinct, compelling and balances a high-level vision that captures stakeholders’ attention with tactical guidance for the marketing team. A good marketing strategy must also be built for a dynamic environment to drive the business forward.
Why is a marketing strategy important?
A marketing strategy is important because it defines what the function will do to help the enterprise be successful — how it plans to compete and win in its chosen markets or deliver expected services to consumers and fulfill its public mission.
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How to Write a Marketing Plan
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A marketing plan outlines your marketing strategy, which includes how you’ll attract new customers, retain current customers and promote your products or services. Creating a marketing strategy is key to ensuring you’re making the most of your money while targeting the right people through the right channels so you can grow your business.
When you create your business plan, the marketing plan will be an important component. Within a business plan, the marketing plan helps to explain how your business fits into the market, who your competitors are and how you’ll stand out. Small-business marketing is all about how you will promote your products or services to increase sales through customer engagement.
The first step when learning how to write a marketing plan for your business plan is research. You want to look at your market as a whole , your competitors, their marketing strategies and past marketing strategies you’ve used — if any. Your research will inform who your target customer base is, how to price your products , what marketing channels will best serve your business, how you want to interact with customers and what your marketing budget will be.
While not all your research will be included in your marketing plan, it will help to inform your marketing strategy. The final product will be a much condensed and synthesized version of what you discover from your research.
2. Know your business
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand the ins and outs of your own business. What makes your products or services unique? What’s your company’s mission? Why did you start this business in the first place? Reminding yourself what makes your business special will help you inform your marketing strategy and show potential customers why they should choose to work with you. Plus, looking at your business from the viewpoint of a potential customer may help you uncover some unique selling points you hadn’t previously considered.
» MORE: Can your small-business idea actually make money?
3. Understand your customer
Beyond your business and the products or services it offers, you also need to take your customer into consideration when writing your marketing plan.
Understand your customer: who they are, what they like, their pain points, how your product or service solves their problem, how and where they consume media and how to communicate with them. Much of the success of your marketing strategy depends upon knowing and communicating well with your customers.
Identify your target market and narrow your scope to a specific demographic — like athletes or parents, for instance — to help you pinpoint the best way to reach them. If you cast your net too wide, you may come off as insincere and struggle to attract any customers.
4. Highlight your unique selling proposition
Your business’s unique selling proposition, or USP, is the thing that makes you stand out. If you want your product or service to sell well, you need to make sure it offers something your competitors don’t. To do that, you need to find your USP.
You likely have a good idea already of what your USP is, but it’s time to synthesize all of the great ideas you gathered in the previous steps into an easily shareable description. Consider this your elevator pitch. You want to be able to tell someone why your product or service is best in less than 30 seconds. You may also find a catchy slogan comes out of this, as well.
5. Check out the competition
While you need to make decisions that are right for your business based on internal information, you also should have an understanding of what your competitors are doing and how it’s working for them.
Take a look at their products, pricing and marketing strategies. Check out their customer reviews to see what people like and dislike about their business. Then use this information to make your business — and marketing strategy — even better.
6. Know your numbers
A marketing strategy will cost money; however, it doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, there are plenty of free marketing ideas you can try. However, you will likely need to spend some money if you want to make money in the long run. Understanding your business financials to come up with a realistic marketing budget is crucial before you can decide on your concrete marketing plan.
7. Show, don't tell
If you have any marketing collateral already created, such as logos, ads or social media posts, be sure to include them in your marketing strategy. This will show potential investors or lending partners that you’ve made concrete progress on your business’s marketing plan.
8. Test your strategy and talk to customers
The only way to truly know whether your marketing strategy will work is to show it to real people and get their opinions. While you don’t need to have your entire marketing plan created to get feedback, it’s a good idea to run some general ideas past a focus group to get their input. These can be potential customers or friends and family — just make sure you’re getting their honest feedback. Use the results to tweak your strategy to better suit your customers.
» MORE: Common startup mistakes and how to avoid them
What to include in a marketing plan
Now that you've done the research for your marketing strategy, you need to synthesize it into an easily digestible plan that shows yourself and potential investors that you know how to market your business. You can use the following components as a sort of marketing plan template to organize your research:
Product or service overview. If your business sells products, include specifics like sizes, types, colors, features and pricing. For services, detail what they are, what problems they solve, why they will be in demand and what they cost.
Target customer personas. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live? How much do they make, on average? Are they married or single? Do they have kids and/or pets? What are their interests, wants, and needs?
USP. Through researching the market, your competition and customers, you know how your business stands out. Be sure you can explain what makes your business unique.
Marketing budget. Outline how much of your overall business budget you’re planning to allocate to marketing. Based on your research, you can also include projections for how this budget will grow your sales.
Marketing channels. For a fully comprehensive marketing plan, you’ll likely use a combination of several channels — email , social media, SMS , local , digital , etc. Detail which you'll focus on, the budget for each, expected returns and what numbers you'll track (views, clicks, subscribers, etc.).
Conversion and retention strategy. Outline a plan for converting leads into paying customers — and for retaining those customers and getting their repeat business. New customers are important, but so is customer retention. After all, it’s more expensive to find a new customer than it is to foster a relationship with an existing one.
Marketing collateral. In the interest of space, you may want to include just a couple of items within the marketing plan section itself, and you can include the rest in the business plan appendix.
» MORE: Best marketing tools for small businesses
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
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How To Write a Marketing Strategy for Your Business Plan
Potential investors want to see how you plan to sell
Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.
How Marketing Strategy Fits Into Your Business Plan
The 4 ps: product, promotion, price, and place, 7 tips for writing a marketing strategy, the bottom line, frequently asked questions (faqs).
Bulent Ince / E+ Collection / Getty Images
A marketing strategy is important for all businesses because it clearly outlines how they'll find new customers and promote their products and services to ultimately achieve more sales. You can use the marketing strategy as a stand-alone tool, as part of a marketing plan, or as part of a business plan, all with slightly different components.
Let's focus on some marketing strategy examples for your business plan.
- A solid marketing strategy addresses the four Ps: product, promotion, price, and place.
- Your success can depend on understanding your clients’ needs and being flexible enough to find a way to meet them.
- Keep your budget in mind. You can only do what you can afford to do, and you should plan for accommodating periodic shortfalls.
The marketing strategy section of your business plan builds upon the market analysis section . The marketing strategy outlines where your business fits into the market and how you'll price, promote, and sell your product or service. It can also act as a source of important information for potential investors who are analyzing your business.
You can break down the key information in the marketing strategy section using the 4 Ps of marketing concept: product, promotion, price, and place.
Product can refer to either a physical product or a service that you plan on offering. Some of the product areas that fall into this section include:
- Related products or services
Promotion covers the various aspects of how you plan on marketing your product or service. The areas you should address include:
- Marketing budget
- Promotional strategy
- Publicity and public relations
- Sales force
- Sales promotion
This addresses the way you plan on pricing your product or service. The aspects of pricing you should address are:
- Bundling (if you have related products/services)
- Pricing flexibility
- Pricing strategy
- Retail price
- Seasonal price (if applicable)
- Wholesale (volume) price
Also known as distribution, this part is all about the delivery of your product or service to your customers. Some areas you should cover include:
- Distribution centers
- Distribution channels
- Inventory management
- Order processing
Keep seven things in mind as you write the marketing strategy section of your business plan to make it as effective and relevant as possible.
Show How Unique You Are
The foundation of your marketing strategy should be your unique selling proposition (USP). This is the statement that outlines what differentiates you from everyone else in the market. Create your USP first, then build upon it by relating it to each of the 4 Ps.
The common thread through each part of your marketing strategy should be how your business solves a problem or meets a need better than anyone else.
Know Your Customers/Clients
The information you include in your marketing strategy should incorporate all the research you conducted in your market analysis . Make sure you have a clear idea of who your ideal customers or clients are, what they like, what they need, and what they expect. This will make your marketing strategy more accurate and applicable to your target audience.
The 4 Ps of marketing work well for physical products, but you may have to tweak them a bit for services. For example, you might use your website instead of a physical location for the place section. Your website should also be a part of your promotion section, as should any social media platforms that you participate in.
Do Your Research
When you’re determining your pricing, you should have plenty of data to back up your decision when you're determining your pricing. Include industry reports, competitor ads, and comparisons that demonstrate the research you conducted and how you came to the conclusion that you're pricing your product or service correctly.
As in other sections of your business plan, using charts, graphs, and images to illustrate your facts can make them easier for your audience to absorb and understand. Is your pricing right at the median of the industry? Are you planning to use a four-step distribution process?
Use visual aids to drive your point home.
Remember Your Budget
You'll outline the financial analysis of your company in another section of your business plan but keep those numbers in mind as you write your marketing strategy. Your marketing process may look good by itself, but you'll have a difficult time meeting your goals unless you tie it directly to your financial status.
Include Your Collateral
You should include samples as exhibits if you're going to talk about your marketing collateral in your marketing section. These might include brochures, fact sheets, videos, and photos.
Your marketing strategy is your overall plan for how you're going to make your business profitable. Larger enterprises might have different strategies for various arms of their operations. Sole proprietors carry the weight of a single plan on their own. But addressing all these components will increase your odds of success in any case.
What are the four types of marketing strategies?
Many consider the four Ps to be the basic types of marketing strategies, but others focus on four possible ways you can reach clients and consumers: search engine optimization, paid advertising, content marketing, and sales.
What are the seven Cs of marketing?
The seven Cs organize your marketing strategy. They can vary depending on who you talk to and the nature of your business, but you can tailor yours to best meet your goals and needs. Most include customer, consistency, creativity, and communication. Some include other factors, such as convenience, competition, credibility, culture, and change.
American Marketing Association. " The Four Ps of Marketing ."
Notes Learning. " 7 Cs of Marketing ."
OBC. " The 7 Cs of Marketing: How to Apply Them ."
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Written by Jesse Sumrak | December 12, 2022
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Marketing is an often misunderstood profession. Peers often stereotype marketing with massive budgets, loosey-goosey timelines, haphazard tactics, high-profile influencers, and Snapchat filters. In reality, modern marketing plans are more complex and orchestrated than a Premier League-winning football team.
Businesses have big goals to hit and fine margins to walk—and they need realistic, yet imaginative, marketing plans to make it happen. Sure, bigger companies can spend all willy-nilly hiring Taylor Swift for a commercial op and dropping a quarter million on Facebook advertising, but small businesses and startups have to get downright strategic with every dollar they spend.
If your business is trying to stretch every penny, you’ve come to the right place. This article will show you how to create a marketing plan in 2023 that actually works with a down-to-earth budget. We’ve included step-by-step actions, outlines, examples, and more to give you everything you need to take an idea to the market with laser precision.
Table of Contents
What is a marketing plan?
How to create a marketing plan
Marketing plan template
Marketing plan example
Marketing Plan FAQs
What is a marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a documented roadmap for how you plan to drive awareness, sales, signups, attendance, or other marketing initiatives. It outlines your KPIs, budget, and timeline, dictating everything from the critical milestones to the nitty-gritty to-do items.
Marketing plans come in all shapes and sizes. You could build an overarching marketing plan to document and guide your entire department’s annual goals and strategies for the upcoming year. Or you might create a marketing plan detailing the launch strategy for the brand-new product release coming out next quarter. Big plans can even include small plans, just like an adorable collection of Russian nesting dolls.
Plans can be short, long, fat, or thin—just remember what your plan is trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to pitch an idea to a team of venture capitalists or a local bank, you might need a chunky document with accompanying spreadsheets and financial figures. However, if you’re trying to communicate the plan to your marketing team leads, you’ll want to skip straight to the point with tactics, deadlines, and deliverables.
Regardless of your use case, the next section will give you the building blocks you need to create a marketing plan that works.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
This section will show you the 7-step process to creating a marketing plan. Plans are fluid and versatile, so we don’t recommend filling out one of these with pen and paper—get your eraser ready because a marketing plan is never perfect from the get-go.
Here’s an overview of the 7-step process:
- Establish Your Marketing Goal
- Identify Your Audience and Competitors
- Set Your Marketing Budget
- Determine Your Deadline(s)
- Pick Your Marketing Channels and Tactics
- Outline the To-Do List and Make Assignments
- Track Performance and Review Analytics
Don’t worry too much about making it all nice and pretty right now. Later, you can use our provided marketing outline to copy, paste, and format a more articulated version for widespread distribution. For now, just focus on hashing out each section and answering the thought-provoking questions.
1. Establish Your Marketing Goal
Define exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to drive more sales? How much? What about recurring customers? How many? Do you need to increase brand awareness? To whom and by how much?
Work out the details of what you want to accomplish, why, and how you’re going to measure it. Establish your KPIs early on to measure the success of your marketing campaign. You’ll refer to these numbers throughout the rest of your marketing plan, so get specific.
For example, how many website visitors you’re trying to drive will affect your marketing budget, deadlines, and tactics. And if you’re targeting a specific demographic, you may need to engage different marketing teams to use the appropriate channels and messaging.
Fine-tune your marketing goal so that you can communicate it simply in a single sentence. For example: “The goal is to drive 25,000 key decision-makers to the new product page by the end of October with a limited marketing budget of $75,000.”
2. Identify Your Audience and Competitors
Explain who this campaign is targeting. If you’ve already built out your buyer personas, you’ll just plug in the persona appropriate to this campaign. However, if this is your first time thinking long and hard about your target audience, really get to know the person you’re marketing to.
Depending on your product, industry, and market, you’ll want to know demographics like:
- Marital status
These details help you identify a broad audience, but you’ll want to narrow it down with psychographics.
Psychographics dig deeper . They cover your audience’s:
- Shopping behaviors
Demographics explain the “who,” while psychographics explain the “why.”
Think about if you were trying to sell a baseball glove. How you market that glove is going to be very different depending on the buyer. Are your messaging and channels targeting a college athlete, recreational youngster, mom, dad, or low-income family? It’s hard to know what to say and how to say it unless you know who you’re talking to.
Don’t just gloss over this section. Without a target audience, you’ll be blindly throwing darts at a board—sure, some plans might work out, but it’ll come down less to strategy and more to sheer luck. A target audience and replicable formula make your success a science and not a game of Russian roulette.
Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to figure out who’s also targeted the same people. Competition research is a way to understand who you are up against for eyeballs, SEO rankings, and influence, but it also can serve as an opportunity to fill gaps in our needs that your competitors are missing.
One easy way to do this is to look at comment sections or reviews of similar companies in your industry. Look for:
- Frequent complaints about product design.
- Consistent issues with customer service.
- Ads or branding language that falls flat.
- If the competitor hasn’t made a product their customers are asking for.
By identifying your competitor’s weaknesses or gaps their missing with their customers, you’ll have a treasure trove of marketing copy to use in order to differentiate your business from the pack.
3. Set Your Marketing Budget
Marketing plans need budget constraints. Without a cap, plans could hypothetically include:
- 60-second Super Bowl commercial
- Cristiano Ronaldo as a celebrity endorser
- Billboard advertisements along the entirety of Route 66
For most startups, that’s just not a possibility.
And it’s not where the magic happens. Powerful marketing plans turn tiny marketing budgets into impressive ROI. They prioritize the right channels, messaging, and tactics to stretch every dollar to the max.
Decide beforehand how much budget you’ll need to allocate to meet the goals you set in Step 1. When push comes to shove, you may need to throw additional money at the campaign later to get it across the finish line, but stay strong and do your best to create a marketing plan that works with the budget constraints.
Tight on budget but full on creativity? Check out our Small Business Marketing Guide: From Scratch to Success .
4. Determine Your Deadline(s)
Deadlines create the boundaries to your marketing campaign—you can’t have a plan without them. No deadlines mean there’s a never-ending period to achieve your objective, and it’s probably not a good idea to have a 20-year free pass to accomplish that sales goal you set.
Set your deadline. Be realistic, but also be ambitious. The faster you achieve this goal, the faster you can move on to the next one—and each progressive goal should be moving your business forward.
Establish the final deadline for achieving your primary KPI. Then, set the necessary milestones along the journey. For example, you might set milestones for launching different aspects of your campaign, such as hosting 4 webinars, publishing 10 supporting blog posts, or earning a callout in 2 prime news outlets.
Finally, set the start date for when you’ll need to get the ball rolling to meet your deadlines. Don’t assume it’s ASAP—you might have a few weeks to get your ducks in a row instead of immediately heading off into a chaotic marketing battle.
5. Pick Your Marketing Channels and Tactics
This is arguably the funnest part of creating a marketing plan. This is the step where you get to choose the channels, tactics, and deliverables. The right channels and tactics will vary depending on your audience and product or service, but here are the most popular ones to consider:
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the tried-and-true tactics of the digital marketing world. It generates an average ROI of $40 for every $1 invested —you can’t get much more bang for your buck than that. (Check out our complete email masterclass to learn how to conquer this lucrative channel.)
- Social Media Marketing: Whether you’re running organic strategies or targeted paid campaigns , social media marketing is an excellent modern-day tactic for reaching consumers where they’re most comfortable: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, or TikTok.
- PPC Marketing: Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing lets you run advertising campaigns on search engine pages and other websites across the internet. It’s a competitive way to get your content in front of the right eyeballs.
- Content Marketing: Content marketing paired with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is a long-term tactic that can drive organic traffic (read: free) to your website for years to come.
And do you know what all these channels have in common? They each give you the ability to monitor your results and track your progress to prove if a channel is worth your time and money. Unlike traditional outbound advertising and its estimated impressions and influence, you know exactly what you’re getting with these digital marketing strategies.
6. Outline the To-Do List and Make Assignments
Here’s where you get into the nitty-gritty of your marketing plan. Step 6 is where you’ll outline everything that needs to get done:
- Launch meeting
- Recurring meetings and syncs
- Creative assets
- Promotional channels
And that’s just the start. Outline everything that needs to happen to make your plan a reality. Once you know what needs to happen, it’s time to start making assignments. Someone needs to be responsible for every deliverable.
Here’s where you may run into roadblocks. You may discover that your creative team is overwhelmed and won’t be able to handle the creative requests until later, or you may find that other email campaigns or social media advertisements are the top priority.
If that’s the case, go back to Step 4 to revisit your timeline. Make adjustments to ensure there’s bandwidth available to make your marketing plan a reality.
7. Track Performance and Review Analytics
No marketing plan will go off without a hitch. That’s why you need your ear to the ground to understand what’s working. Through analytic tools, you can understand if your marketing plan’s target audience, messaging, or creative needs adjusting. Thankfully, most digital tactics allow you to do this on the fly.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with these basic marketing analytics tools:
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Semrush or Ahrefs for SEO
For more on analytics, read our marketing metrics guide .
Marketing Plan Template (Copy/Paste)
Marketing Plan Template: [Name of Project]
Marketing Plan Example (Filled Out)
Here’s a fake content marketing plan example for a fictitious shoe company.
Marketing Plan Template: [Project Zeus Running Collection]
Marketing Goal Drive $200,000 in sales for the new Zeus running collection within the first 4 months of launch day.
Target Audience The primary audience is 35 to 50-year-old male recreational runners who tend to run 30-40 miles a week at an average page of 8:00-10:00 minutes per mile. They’re not overly competitive, but they like to race 5K and 10K races occasionally throughout the year and are always trying to beat their personal best. Many have experienced mild injuries over the last few years that the Zeus Running Collection can help alleviate.
Marketing Budget We have a budget of $40,000 for the initial launch period. If we can prove out the Zeus Running Collection, we’ll allocate additional budget after the first 4 months.
- Launch Day: June 1
- Marketing Assets Ready to Go: May 28
- Pre-Launch Teaser: May 24
- Creative Assets Finished: May 21
- Product Beta Tester Reviews Submitted: May 10
- Written Content Creation Period: April 12 – May 7
- Enlist Beta Testers: April 12
- Project Kickoff Meeting: April 5
- Social Media Marketing: Target runners on Instagram and Facebook with paid ads featuring our endorsed runner racing in the shoe.
- Email Marketing: Email existing customers with a 15% off discount code on the new Zeus Running Collection. Email prospects with a link to the product breakdown page with a code for free shipping.
Responsibilities and Assignments
- Lizzy K: Creative assets
- Mark B: Blog post announcement + product page
- Spencer S: Beta tester outreach
- Larry G: Email and social media marketing campaigns
- Carly M: Project manager
Do I need to write a marketing plan for everything?
As stated earlier, marketing plans can come in all shapes and sizes. But that doesn't mean you need one for every single Facebook ad or whitepaper your team creates. The best marketing plans serve as a source of truth for your team to reach a goal. Within the marketing plan, you should have enough wiggle room to adjust your strategy and tactics. Marketing is an art and science, so there are bound to be surprises once you start executing your plan.
How do I know if my marketing plan is a success?
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is creating a seemingly perfect marketing plan and then going off script as soon as there's a sign of trouble or distraction. Using the SMART goal method (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound) is a simple way to ensure your marketing plan is applicable. Every marketing plan should be a success, whether you hit your goal or not, because you'll learn something new about your customer, tactics, and business throughout the process.
Who should make a marketing plan?
If you're reading this article, ideally you. A marketing manager or marketing team member typically writes marketing plans, but marketing strategy should start at an enterprise level. The more people understand the marketing plan for your business, the more you can work together (not in silos) to achieve a common goal. You'll see this happen in larger organizations where the marketing team works plan that the product or sales team have no idea about.
Plan It Out—Make It Happen
Every great campaign starts with an even better plan. Don’t leave your startup’s success up to chance—give it all the thought and attention you can.
With the right plan in place, you won’t be crossing your fingers on launch day or during the quarterly review. You’ll be sitting confidently, knowing that everything is running according to plan.
Need a high-level plan for your startup? We got you covered with our free content marketing training .
About Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
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What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One
Learn what a marketing plan is, how they help businesses, and the steps for building yours.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
In general, a marketing plan serves several purposes:
Streamline and organize marketing efforts
Guide businesses and their marketing teams through a sequence of marketing activities
Determine how to measure a campaign’s success
Effectively allocate the marketing campaign budget
A business might develop a marketing plan for a specific need, campaign, or goal within its larger mission. Here are some examples:
Launching a new product or service
Carrying out campaigns through different marketing channels, including social media , email marketing, print media, TV, or offline events
Implementing paid advertising
Measuring marketing efforts over specific periods of time, such as every quarter, six months, or year
Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy vs. business plan
In researching what a marketing plan is, you may come across the related concepts of marketing strategy and business plan. Think of all three as written roadmaps for developing your business. You’ll find similarities among them, including your business objectives and information on your target market, but there are some important differences to know as you build these roadmaps, as we’ve laid out in the chart below.
Review these roadmaps periodically to measure the success of your marketing and business efforts.
How to create a marketing plan
The following sections describe the components of a solid marketing plan and the steps to building each one. Develop each section in the order listed, and use insights from each section to guide your process in the ones that follow. Once you complete all of the sections, review your entire plan for areas that need refining.
1. Executive summary
Here, you will write a short summary, usually no longer than a few paragraphs, to introduce the sections that follow. In a few paragraphs, orient readers to the following:
General information about the business, such as its mission, past accomplishments and setbacks, and brand identity
Information specific to the marketing campaign driving this plan and how it will advance or improve upon past marketing efforts
You might choose to compose this section last, after you’ve written and refined the marketing plan as a whole.
2. Marketing campaign goals
Borrowing from your marketing strategy and business plan, state the marketing campaign's goals with specificity and data-driven metrics. For example:
Specify “get more email subscribers” as “increase email subscribers by 50 percent by next quarter.”
“Generate more online purchases” could be specified as “Drive traffic from paid Facebook ads to a sales page and increase the site’s conversion rate from 2 percent to 5 percent.”
3. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are the specific metrics you’ll monitor to measure the success of your marketing efforts. It’s important to determine KPIs so that you can continually optimize your tactics, reduce inefficiencies, and steer your marketing campaign toward success.
KPI examples include:
The number of website visitors
The number of new email subscribers
The number of event registrants
The rate of converting leads into customers
Sales revenue figures
4. Buyer personas
Refer to your marketing strategy and business plan to crystalize target market insights into detailed buyer personas. You can think of a buyer persona as a fictional character that you create based on your existing customers and extensive market research. Building clear buyer personas helps to focus your marketing efforts and drive campaign results.
Answer these questions to get started:
What is this persona’s demographic profile, including age, income, location, occupation, etc?
Where do they go to find information?
What keywords do they use to search?
How do they prefer to purchase products and services?
At what times of the day are they most likely active on social media or other marketing channels, online or offline?
What words, phrases, and questions do they use to describe their challenges and goals?
Use answers to tailor every detail of your marketing campaign to your buyer persona and guide potential customers toward an action, such as subscribing to your email list or making a purchase.
5. Competitor analysis
Refer again to your marketing strategy and business plan to extract key information about how competing brands are reaching customers in your target market. Then, examine competitors’ marketing strategies in more detail.
Here are three ways to generate marketing-specific information about competitors:
Use SEO tools like SEMRush to discover how your competitors are leveraging popular keywords, content, and ad copy to attract an audience.
Study competitors’ social media accounts and note the content they post to engage followers.
Subscribe to competitors’ email lists to learn how they market and sell to potential leads right in their inboxes.
6. Action plan
Your campaign’s action plan should include the specific tactics and methods you’ll use to market your products and services to potential customers.
Include the following information in your action plan:
The campaign budget and target date of completion
Key milestones you need to pass on your way to achieving the goals
The marketing channels you will use, offline and online
The kinds of content you will create and your schedule for delivering it
Organic and paid marketing activities
7. Method of analyzing results
Your marketing plan should describe how you will monitor KPIs and analyze your campaign results at each milestone. That way, you can find out what’s working and what’s not and adjust your plan accordingly.
Be sure to set up analytic tools for each of your marketing channels, including your social media accounts, email system, website and landing pages, and event registration pages. Set calendar alerts based on your action plan for reviewing KPIs.
Which channels see the most traffic?
Which channels are converting at the highest rates?
How are individual pieces of content performing?
How efficiently is your budget performing?
Which metrics are improving, staying the same, or declining over time?
Marketing plan key takeaways
Remember: Having a solid marketing plan can make it possible to allocate your marketing budget effectively and streamline your marketing activities. By following the seven steps above, you may be able to see improvements in your marketing efforts, from attracting more ideal customers to inspiring them to take action.
Improve your marketing with Coursera
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- How to create a winning marketing plan, ...
How to create a winning marketing plan, with 3 examples from world-class teams
A marketing plan helps leaders clearly visualize marketing strategies across channels, so they can ensure every campaign drives pipeline and revenue. In this article you’ll learn eight steps to create a winning marketing plan that brings business-critical goals to life, with examples from word-class teams.
To be successful as a marketer, you have to deliver the pipeline and the revenue.”
In other words—they need a well-crafted marketing plan.
Level up your marketing plan to drive revenue in 2024
Learn how to create the right marketing plan to hit your revenue targets in 2024. Hear best practices from marketing experts, including how to confidently set and hit business goals, socialize marketing plans, and move faster with clearer resourcing.
7 steps to build a comprehensive marketing plan
How do you build the right marketing plan to hit your revenue goals? Follow these eight steps for success:
1. Define your plan
First you need to define each specific component of your plan to ensure stakeholders are aligned on goals, deliverables, resources, and more. Ironing out these details early on ensures your plan supports the right business objectives, and that you have sufficient resources and time to get the job done.
Get started by asking yourself the following questions:
What resources do I need?
What is the vision?
What is the value?
What is the goal?
Who is my audience?
What are my channels?
What is the timeline?
For example, imagine you’re creating an annual marketing plan to improve customer adoption and retention in the next fiscal year. Here’s how you could go through the questions above to ensure you’re ready to move forward with your plan:
I will need support from the content team, web team, and email team to create targeted content for existing customers. One person on each team will need to be dedicated full-time to this initiative. To achieve this, the marketing team will need an additional $100K in budget and one new headcount.
What is the vision?
To create a positive experience for existing customers, address new customer needs, and encourage them to upgrade. We’ll do this by serving them how-to content, new feature updates, information about deals and pricing, and troubleshooting guides.
According to the Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) , CEOs and go-to-market leaders report that more than 60% of their net-new revenue will come from existing customers in 2023. By retaining and building on the customers we have, we can maintain revenue growth over time.
To decrease the customer churn rate from 30% to 10%, and increase upgrades from 20% to 30% in the next fiscal year.
All existing customers.
The main channel will be email. Supporting marketing channels include the website, blog, YouTube, and social media.
The first half of the next fiscal year.
One of the most important things to do as you create your marketing strategy is to identify your target audience . As with all marketing, you need to know who you’re marketing to. If you’re having a hard time determining who exactly your target audience is, try the bullseye targeting framework . The bullseye makes it easy for you to determine who your target audience is by industry, geography, company size, psychographics, demographics, and more.
2. Identify key metrics for success
Now it’s time to define what key marketing metrics you’ll use to measure success. Your key metrics will help you measure and track the performance of your marketing activities. They’ll also help you understand how your efforts tie back to larger business goals.
Once you establish key metrics, use a goal-setting framework—like objectives and key results (OKRs) or SMART goals —to fully flush out your marketing objectives. This ensures your targets are as specific as possible, with no ambiguity about what should be accomplished by when.
Example: If a goal of your marketing plan is to increase email subscriptions and you follow the SMART goal framework (ensuring your objective is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) your goal might look like this: Increase email subscription rate from 10% to 20% in H1 .
3. Research your competition
It’s easy to get caught up in your company’s world, but there’s a lot of value in understanding your competitors . Knowing how they market themselves will help you find opportunities to make your company stand out and capture more market share.
Make sure you’re not duplicating your competitors’ efforts. If you discover a competitor has already executed your idea, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm new ways to differentiate yourself. By looking at your competitors, you might be surprised at the type of inspiration and opportunities you’ll find.
To stay ahead of market trends, conduct a SWOT analysis for your marketing plan. A SWOT analysis helps you improve your plan by identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Example: If your competitor launches a social media campaign identical to what you had planned, go back to the drawing board and see how you can build off their campaign. Ask yourself: How can we differentiate our campaign while still getting our message across? What are the weaknesses of their campaign that we can capitalize on? What angles did they not approach?
4. Integrate your marketing efforts
Here’s where the fun comes in. Let’s dive into the different components that go into building a successful marketing plan. You’ll want to make sure your marketing plan includes multiple supporting activities that all add up into a powerful marketing machine. Some marketing plan components include:
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Knowing where your consumer base spends the most time is significant for nailing this step. You need to have a solid understanding of your target audience before integrating your marketing efforts.
Example: If your target audience is executives that spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, focus your social media strategy around placing branded content on LinkedIn.
5. Differentiate with creative content
Forty-nine percent of marketers say visual images are hugely important to their content strategy. In other words, a clear brand and creative strategy is an essential component to every marketing plan. As you craft your own creative strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Speak to your audience: When defining your creative strategy, think about your audience—what you want them to feel, think, and do when they see your marketing. Will your audience find your creative work relevant? If your audience can’t relate to your creative work, they won’t feel connected to the story you’re trying to tell.
Think outside the box: Find innovative ways to engage your audience, whether through video, animations, or interactive graphics. Know what screens your creative work will live on, whether desktop, mobile, or tablet, and make sure they display beautifully and load quickly across every type of device.
Tie everything back to CTAs: It’s easy to get caught up in the creative process, so it’s important to never lose sight of your ultimate goal: Get your audience to take action. Always find the best way to display strong Calls to Action (CTAs) in your creative work. We live in a visual world—make sure your creative content counts.
Streamline creative production: Once you’ve established a strong creative strategy, the next step is to bring your strategy to life in the production stage. It’s vital to set up a strong framework for your creative production process to eliminate any unnecessary back and forth and potential bottlenecks. Consider establishing creative request forms , streamlining feedback and approval processes, and taking advantage of integrations that might make your designers’ lives easier.
Example: If your brand is fun and approachable, make sure that shows in your creative efforts. Create designs and CTAs that spark joy, offer entertainment, and alleviate the pressure in choosing a partner.
6. Operationalize your marketing plan
Turn your plan into action by making goals, deliverables, and timelines clear for every stakeholder—so teams stay accountable for getting work done. The best way to do this is by centralizing all the details of your marketing plan in one platform , so teams can access the information they need and connect campaign work back to company goals.
With the right work management tool , you can:
Set goals for every marketing activity, and connect campaign work to overarching marketing and business objectives so teams focus on revenue-driving projects.
Centralize deliverables for your entire marketing plan in one project or portfolio .
Mark major milestones and visualize your plan as a timeline, Gantt chart, calendar, list, or Kanban board—without doing any extra work.
Quickly loop in stakeholders with status updates so they’re always up to date on progress. This is extremely important if you have a global team to ensure efforts aren’t being duplicated.
Use automations to seamlessly hand off work between teams, streamlining processes like content creation and reviews.
Create dashboards to report on work and make sure projects are properly staffed , so campaigns stay on track.
With everything housed in one spot, you can easily visualize the status of your entire marketing plan and keep work on track. Building an effective marketing plan is one thing, but how you operationalize it can be your secret to standout marketing.
Example: If your strategy focuses on increasing page views, connect all campaign work to an overarching OKR—like “we will double page views as measured by the amount of organic traffic on our blog.” By making that goal visible to all stakeholders, you help teams prioritize the right work.
See marketing planning in action
With Asana, marketing teams can connect work, standardize processes, and automate workflows—all in one place.
7. Measure performance
Nearly three in four CMOs use revenue growth to measure success, so it’s no surprise that measuring performance is necessary. You established your key metrics in step two, and now it’s time to track and report on them in step eight.
Periodically measure your marketing efforts to find areas of improvement so you can optimize in real-time. There are always lessons to be learned when looking at data. You can discover trends, detect which marketing initiatives performed well, and course-correct what isn’t performing well. And when your plan is complete, you can apply these learnings to your next initiative for improved results.
Example: Say you discover that long-form content is consistently bringing in 400% more page views than short-form content. As a result, you’ll want to focus on producing more long-form content in your next marketing plan.
Marketing plan examples from world-class teams
The best brands in the world bring their marketing plans to life every day. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these examples from successful marketing teams.
Autodesk grows site traffic 30% three years in a row
When the Autodesk team launched Redshift, it was initially a small business blog. The editorial team executed a successful marketing plan to expand it into a premier owned-media site, making it a destination for stories and videos about the future of making.
The team scaled content production to support seven additional languages. By standardizing their content production workflow and centralizing all content conversations in one place, the editorial team now publishes 2X more content monthly. Read the case study to learn more about how Autodesk runs a well-oiled content machine.
Sony Music boosts creative production capacity by 4X
In recent years the music industry has gone through a pivotal transition—shifting from album sales to a streaming business model. For marketing and creative teams at Sony Music, that meant adopting an “always on” campaign plan.
The team successfully executed this campaign plan by centralizing creative production and approvals in one project. By standardizing processes, the team reduced campaign production time by 75%. Read the case study to learn more about how Sony Music successfully scaled their creative production process.
Trinny London perfects new customer acquisition
In consumer industries, social media is crucial for building a community of people who feel an affinity with the brand—and Trinny London is no exception. As such, it was imperative that Trinny London’s ad spend was targeted to the correct audience. Using a work management tool, Trinny London was able to nail the process of creating, testing, and implementing ads on multiple social channels.
With the help of a centralized tool, Trinny London improved its ad spend and drove more likes and subscriptions on its YouTube page. Read the case study to learn more about how Trinny London capitalized on paid advertising and social media.
Turn your marketing plan into marketing success
A great marketing plan promotes clarity and accountability across teams—so every stakeholder knows what they’re responsible for, by when. Reading this article is the first step to achieving better team alignment, so you can ensure every campaign contributes to your company’s bottom line.
Use a free marketing plan template to get started
Once you’ve created your marketing strategy and are ready to operationalize your marketing plan, get started with one of our marketing templates .
Our marketing templates can help you manage and track every aspect of your marketing plan, from creative requests to approval workflows. Centralize your entire marketing plan in one place, customize the roadmap, assign tasks, and build a timeline or calendar.
Once you’ve operationalized your entire marketing plan with one of our templates, share it with your stakeholders so everyone can work together in the same tool. Your entire team will feel connected to the marketing plan, know what to prioritize, and see how their work contributes to your project objectives . Choose the best marketing template for your team:
Marketing project plan template
Marketing campaign plan template
Product marketing launch template
Editorial calendar template
Agency collaboration template
Creative requests template
Event planning template
GTM strategy template
Still have questions? We have answers.
What is a marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines the different strategies your team will use to achieve organizational objectives. Rather than focusing solely on the end goal, a marketing plan maps every step you need to reach your destination—whether that’s driving pipeline for sales, nurturing your existing customer base, or something in-between.
As a marketing leader, you know there’s never a shortage of great campaign and project ideas. A marketing plan gives you a framework to effectively prioritize work that aligns to overarching business goals—and then get that work done. Some elements of marketing plans include:
Current business plan
Current marketing mix
Key performance indicators (KPIs)
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
The purpose of a marketing plan is to grow your company’s consumer base and strengthen your brand, while aligning with your organization’s mission and vision . The plan should analyze the competitive landscape and industry trends, offer actionable insights to help you gain a competitive advantage, and document each step of your strategy—so you can see how your campaigns work together to drive overarching business goals.
What is the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy?
A marketing plan contains many marketing strategies across different channels. In that way, marketing strategies contribute to your overall marketing plan, working together to reach your company’s overarching business goals.
For example, imagine you’re about to launch a new software product and the goal of your marketing plan is to drive downloads. Your marketing plan could include marketing strategies like creating top-of-funnel blog content and launching a social media campaign.
What are different types of marketing plans?
Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, what your timeline is, or which facet of marketing you’re driving, you’ll need to create a different type of marketing plan. Some different types of marketing plans include, but aren’t limited to:
General marketing plan: A general marketing plan is typically an annual or quarterly marketing plan that details the overarching marketing strategies for the period. This type of marketing plan outlines marketing goals, the company’s mission, buyer personas, unique selling propositions, and more. A general marketing plan lays the foundation for other, more specific marketing plans that an organization may employ.
Product launch marketing plan: A product launch marketing plan is a step-by-step plan for marketing a new product or expanding into a new market. It helps you build awareness and interest by targeting the right audience, with the right messaging, in the right timeframe—so potential customers are ready to buy your new offering right away. Nailing your product launch marketing plan can reinforce your overall brand and fast-track sales. For a step-by-step framework to organize all the moving pieces of a launch, check out our product marketing launch template .
Paid marketing plan: This plan includes all the paid strategies in your marketing plan, like pay-per-click, paid social media advertising, native advertising, and display advertising. It’s especially important to do audience research prior to launching your paid marketing plan to ensure you’re maximizing ROI. Consult with content strategists to ensure your ads align with your buyer personas so you know you’re showing ads to the right people.
Content marketing plan: A content marketing plan outlines the different content strategies and campaigns you’ll use to promote your product or service. When putting together a content marketing plan, start by identifying your audience. Then use market research tools to get the best insights into what topics your target audience is most interested in.
SEO marketing plan: Your SEO marketing plan should work directly alongside your content marketing plan as you chart content that’s designed to rank in search results. While your content marketing plan should include all types of content, your SEO marketing plan will cover the top-of-funnel content that drives new users to your site. Planning search engine-friendly content is only one step in your SEO marketing plan. You’ll also need to include link-building and technical aspects in order to ensure your site and content are as optimized as possible.
Social media marketing plan: This plan will highlight the marketing strategies you plan to accomplish on social media. Like in any general or digital marketing plan , your social media strategy should identify your ideal customer base and determine how they engage on different social media platforms. From there, you can cater your social media content to your target audience.
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Find the marketing plan template to take your business to the next level
The ever-expanding scope of digital marketing leaves many modern executives feeling overstretched and under-resourced. Marketing decision-makers face a multitude of questions.
How can I improve engagement within the target market? How can I pivot to keep up with emerging trends and technologies? How can I meet deadlines more effectively and overcome bottlenecks?
Every executive knows that a solid marketing plan helps to solve each of these issues — and more. Marketing plans are vital to the success of your programs and campaigns, but creating one is a huge project in itself. Indeed, if your marketing plan needs to be refreshed — or overhauled completely — that can feel like an insurmountable task.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a headache. We’ve collected just a few of the very best marketing plan templates, so you can get what you need and get back to work. We’ve also compiled some key points to help you use these templates to tweak or create an effective marketing plan quickly.
In this guide to marketing plan templates, you’ll learn:
- What a marketing plan is
- Simple marketing plan templates
Elements of a good marketing plan
- Marketing plan examples
- How to get started with an effective marketing plan today
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a powerful, dynamic document that details an organization’s strategy for achieving key marketing objectives over a certain time period. It includes background analysis, a practical outline, tactics, and projections. Continuous analysis is required to assess the plan and revise it when necessary.
Marketing plans are customized for general use by any organization, including startups, small businesses, and large-scale corporations. They can even be created for one-time use, as for a specific product launch.
The term “marketing plan” is sometimes confused with a business plan or marketing strategy. But there are important differences to keep in mind.
- Business plan — details your company’s overall objectives and strategy. Marketing plans are a key component of the business plan but focus solely on products and services.
- Marketing strategy — the conceptual approach you take toward generating leads and customers. Marketing plans detail the practical steps you’ll take to put that strategy into action.
Four simple marketing plan templates
A marketing plan must be comprehensive to maximize impact. That takes time, effort, and money. Using a pre-built template not only means you get started faster, but it also saves on cost. And it lets your design team stay focused on creating great customer-facing content.
Here are four marketing plan templates to help you get started:
- Simple and straightforward. This template is a simple, easy-to-use document. It’s perfect for those who are making a marketing plan for the first time, or for those who simply need to get the job done. It includes all the essential elements of a robust marketing plan and leads you through them easily and succinctly. Use this template as a starting point and incorporate design elements further down the road. Or make this template your starting and stopping point and produce a completely comprehensive plan — efficiently and effectively.
- Process orientation and spectacular design. This template features expert design that is ready and waiting for your expert content. Structured in a presentation format, this template incorporates the best of Adobe design capabilities with Microsoft PowerPoint’s user-friendly functionality. It features 80 unique slide designs already formatted for the essential elements outlined. Seamlessly add your executive summary, mission statement, objectives, KPIs, and more. And you’ll be ready to present to stakeholders and decision-makers immediately.
- Versatile and professional. This template is advertised for a business plan but includes many important components of a marketing plan and is easily customizable to input the rest. It offers a printed or digital booklet format. Eye-catching visuals allow you to showcase important information quickly and memorably. Break down each phase of your timeline so you can project and track success across them all.
- Smartsheet solutions. In this article , Smartsheet offers several user-friendly templates catered to various styles of marketing plans. Choose anything from their simple, single-page plan offering to a comprehensive 11-section template. This option even includes an appendix for recording data findings upon plan implementation. Each template can be downloaded for use in Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or within the Smartsheet online platform.
A quality marketing plan isn’t determined by length — it’s determined by accuracy and comprehensiveness. How you structure your marketing plan is subjective. But the following elements are essential inclusions for success.
An executive summary is a short, summarized version of your marketing plan. It lists and describes briefly all the plan’s major components. Place it at the beginning of your plan so that readers can immediately grasp the whole picture even before getting into the details. Remember to write your executive summary for a specific intended audience. Pinpoint your goals and what the marketing plan will accomplish.
A mission statement answers what you want to do , why you want to do it , and who you are doing it for . A clear mission statement is a helpful anchor for key decisions down the road. It facilitates unity of purpose and thought for stakeholders and decision-makers. Make sure your mission statement is centered around the data-supported services you provide your customers. It should also go hand-in-hand with the goals expressed in your executive summary.
This section should describe your customers’ precise needs and how your offered solutions align with your brand values. Address the type of experience you want customers to have. Also, describe what your brand uniquely brings to the market. Maintaining a consistent brand identity throughout your marketing plan is essential. A well-written brand identity section helps ensure that.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Including a SWOT analysis in your marketing plan requires deeper, progressive thinking, but it yields more profitable, differentiated results. Address SWOT using data analytics as well as direct employee and customer feedback. Think creatively about how to leverage opportunities. And make sure not to overlook influences outside your industry that might still lead to internal threats.
In this section, go beyond simply addressing which companies and customer groups comprise your target market. Identify their unique needs, desires, and pain points. How can you solve those issues and communicate the solutions to your target market audience? What’s currently keeping users in your target market from utilizing your services?
Answering these questions will help you increase specialization within your target market. It will also help you identify more diverse methods of reaching potential users in that market who were previously unaccounted for. From there, you can develop tailored marketing strategies to serve your customers’ needs.
A buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of a specific type of customer. It is meant to conceptualize individual stakeholders, not companies. Creating a buyer persona lets you develop personalized solutions for customers — if you’ve done it well. You can interact with a thorough buyer persona as a one-stop representative sample of a larger customer base.
Conduct research to determine customer traits, tendencies, needs, and engagement. It’s best to do this using varied resources. These might include customer surveys and interviews, online reviews, social media accounts, and data analytics.
Your persona should include details like name, background, goals, challenges, values, and brand interaction. Make sure that the persona you generate is comprehensive enough to answer any relevant question you might put to it — whether peripheral or fundamental. Use these buyer persona templates to help you get started.
Objectives, goals, and KPIs
Although sometimes used synonymously, there are key differences between marketing objectives and goals. Marketing objectives are specific, measurable actions taken to achieve desired results. Marketing goals are broader aims that direct your strategy. Key performance indicators (KPIs) assign numerical values to how well you are reaching these targets.
Measuring results using KPIs is the best way to accomplish marketing objectives. KPIs should be tailored to your specific organization and marketing strategies. KPIs can reflect a wide range of metrics — engagement, conversions, or sales, to name a few. Make sure you select ones that are tied directly to your marketing objectives.
Establish goals and objectives based on the SMART framework. This stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-oriented. Set SMART goals using this template , then identify which KPIs are best suited for analyzing results.
Pricing strategy is the process of determining the optimal price for your product. Utilizing your buyer persona is valuable here in identifying customers’ unmet needs and how much they will pay to assuage them. Including this willingness-to-pay calculation in your strategy is key to profitability. And developing a thoughtful overall pricing strategy is crucial to your marketing plan’s success.
Determine what type of strategy you will use — price skimming, bundle pricing, penetration pricing, or another one entirely. What are the reasons behind your strategy selection? What do your tactics convey to customers about your brand values and identity? In order to develop an effective pricing strategy, you must ask yourself these questions. Actually pricing your products or services is the very last step.
A distribution plan is where you will determine the process for giving customers access to your products and services. Analyze your organization’s distribution capabilities honestly. Develop a plan that is financially feasible while maximizing output. Ask how your distribution methods will support your overall marketing goals and objectives. A proper distribution plan will sync with them seamlessly — and prioritize efficiency and cost-effectiveness while doing so.
Your distribution plan should identify your preferred distribution channel and why you’ve selected it over others. It should also explain any costs related to distributing your products and services and consider the appropriate distribution channels for those items.
A promotional plan gives a detailed description of the communication channels you will use to advertise your product. Drive traffic and sales by promoting your organization across a wide variety of platforms. Develop a plan that aims to build lasting customer relationships. Use it to establish a base of loyal, returning customers.
Promotional strategy is a smaller subset of your overall marketing strategy, meant to increase product or service demand. But remember that the most effective plan will look beyond that and connect to your larger marketing goals. A fully functional promotional plan will encompass message, target market, plan of action, budget, and strategy.
Be sure to consider online and offline strategies. Should you utilize social media? If so, which platforms are best suited to each product? Prioritize content value over quantity or frequency. For best results, select your top traction channels and schedule testing before rolling out the full promotion schedule.
Establish a marketing budget to account for all your marketing plan’s projected costs. And don’t be misled by the fact that it comes last on this list. Developing a sensible budget should be one of the first steps in forming your marketing plan. All key decisions must be made in consideration of it.
A comprehensive budget will inform your pricing, objectives, distribution and promotional plans, and even your SWOT analysis. Calculate cost projections for every category — including software, personnel, content creation, promotion, and distribution. Even if every other element in your marketing plan is executed perfectly, an inaccurate budget will hinder it all.
To ensure accuracy, make sure you’re accounting for external and operational spending. Identify costs and marketing channels across each phase of your sales funnel. Look at competitors’ marketing campaigns and calculate a cost estimate. Then compare that to your drafted budget. How can you save comparatively while still driving sales?
Examples of successful marketing plans
It can be valuable to see examples of other organizations’ marketing plans as you work to develop your own. Here are a few samples to help you get started:
- This Shopify blog features several of the marketing plan elements, including an executive summary, mission statement, marketing objectives, SWOT analysis, market research, market strategy, and budget. The examples come from well-established companies like Patagonia and Warby Parker. They are comprehensive while remaining easily readable. You also get a sense of how style and tone can differ across each element and across organizations.
- This article from MoreBusiness.com takes one company, Mobile News Games, and leads you through their entire marketing plan from start to finish. You get a sense of overall length, as well as which sections might need more content than others. And you can see firsthand how each element builds upon the others to facilitate a full-scale document solution.
- This sample marketing plan from Houghton Mifflin — for a fictional company — is simple and straightforward. It links KPIs to specific objectives, and its SWOT section demonstrates a multi-dimensional analysis. The plan also links unique marketing strategies to specific target market groups.
Get started with an effective marketing plan today
Initially, the thought of creating a marketing plan may seem overwhelming. But the final document provides such multifaceted solutions that delaying comes at a significant cost.
Marketing plans establish a united purpose among principal decision-makers. They tie together what are otherwise often-disconnected departments — like finance, design, sales, and marketing. And they increase internal awareness of the target audience and customer groups.
Using Adobe Marketo Engage as you develop your marketing plan enhances these benefits even further. Marketo Engage specializes in customer engagement for complex B2B buying journeys. As a complete solution for lead management, it brings marketing and sales together to nurture leads, orchestrate personalized experiences, optimize content, and measure business impact across every channel.
Marketo Engage natively supports both demand- and account-based marketing strategies, providing a single, integrated lead management platform from acquisition to advocacy. You can build engaging, personalized experiences at scale and prove impact with Adobe Marketo Engage.
Take the Marketo Engage product tour to learn more.
With these templates, tips, and tools, you are ready for the next step. Choose a marketing plan template to download and get started today.
- 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
- 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
- 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
- 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Review Questions
- Discussion Questions
- Case Questions
- Suggested Resources
- 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
- 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
- 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
- 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
- 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
- 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
- 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
- 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
- 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
- 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
- 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
- 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
- 5.3 Competitive Analysis
- 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
- 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
- 6.3 Design Thinking
- 6.4 Lean Processes
- 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
- 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
- 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
- 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
- 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
- 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
- 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
- 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
- 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
- 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
- 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
- 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
- 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
- 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
- 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
- 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
- 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
- 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
- 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
- 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
- 11.2 Designing the Business Model
- 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
- 11.4 The Business Plan
- 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
- 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
- 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
- 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
- 13.2 Corporations
- 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
- 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
- 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
- 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
- 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
- 14.1 Types of Resources
- 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
- 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
- 15.1 Launching Your Venture
- 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
- 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
- 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
- 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
- A | Suggested Resources
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Distinguish between a marketing strategy, a marketing plan, and a pitch
- Describe the elements of a marketing plan
Now that you have a better idea of what marketing is, you are ready to start developing a marketing strategy and plan. A marketing strategy describes how a company will reach consumers and convert them into paying customers. Having a solid-yet-flexible marketing strategy is a good business practice, no matter what kind of business you are in.
A marketing plan is a formal business document that is used as a blueprint or guide for how a company will achieve its marketing goals. A marketing plan differs from a business plan in that it focuses more on market research, attracting customers, and marketing strategies, whereas the business plan covers much more than that, as you will see in Business Model and Plan .
Marketing plans are important tools because they act as roadmaps for everyone involved in an enterprise. Writing a marketing plan forces you to specify goals and develop strategies to reach them, and encourages you to research markets and competition. A strong marketing plan will encourage entrepreneurs to think deeply about their business and profit potential, helping them make better business and marketing decisions. Additionally, a marketing plan can create greater involvement and cohesiveness among employees by clarifying goals and expectations.
A variety of marketing plan templates are available that can be modified to fit your business’s product and/or services. One thing to consider is why you are writing your plan and who your audience is. In addition to planning for your venture, will it be used by employees or potential investors? Different audiences will require different kinds of information. If it’s an employee, then you must include extra details about the operation of the business. If the plan is geared toward acquiring an investor, be sure to highlight the value that will be gained from investing.
Keep in mind that the various parts of a plan do not need to be written in a certain order. Plans should also be seen as flexible guides rather than absolute rules. All good marketing plans are living, breathing documents that help you measure success while allowing for course corrections when necessary. Table 8.8 provides the standard components of a marketing plan.
The executive summary is just that—a clear and concise summary of the major points of your marketing plan. Though it is placed first, it is generally written last because it is based on the information presented in other subsequent sections.
The executive summary is typically one or two pages long and includes key indicators of success for the business and its stakeholders, which may include company owners, managers, consultants, investors, and banks. Your goal is not merely to summarize everything in your plan but to highlight why people should be interested in your venture. Whether the reader is an employee or a potential partner or investor, the executive summary should seek to not only inform but to excite.
Focusing on the opportunity at hand, what makes your business model special, and the potential financial reward is a good way to capture a reader’s attention. For example, if your business’ strengths include a great marketing team and a significant competitive advantage, you should highlight them as reasons for success. Some readers may only read this section, so make sure you highlight what makes your company special and how you plan on turning that into profit.
In many ways, the basis of your marketing plan is found in your situation analysis , which is an examination of the internal and external circumstances relevant to your business and product. A good analysis will provide the logical support for the strategies you choose. For example, the research you conduct here explains why you will develop a certain product, how you will price it, and what you will do to reach your target market.
Good situation analyses often include a SWOT analysis , which looks at a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They also look at future and current competitors, and include market validation research that has surveyed potential customers. This information is critical because it proves that you have done your due diligence on your product and market.
Assuming your background research has led you to determine that there is a business opportunity, this is where you explain what and where that opportunity is. For example, if your research led you to discover a gap in the market for educational children’s toys, this is where you explain the depth of the opportunity. Here you use your research as evidence to prove to your reader that there is a market gap and that you know how to fill it. If your goal is to get an investor interested, this is where you would let them know what they stand to gain and when they would gain that.
Link to Learning
The US Small Business Administration strives to help business owners initiate and succeed in developing enterprises. Their website is loaded with helpful information, classes, and templates that can help the entrepreneur navigate the intricacies of marketing, as well as provides helpful tips on developing a marketing plan.
In this section, your job is to marry the opportunity you saw with the solution you have created. Here you articulate how your competitive advantage and points of differentiation (nature of the solution and its key features and benefits) will provide value to customers and earn profits that will sustain your business into the foreseeable future. What will you do to create value that attracts customers? How will you generate sales? Who is your target market? If you were opening a gym, this is where you would lay out how you will capture customers, the value they will receive, what types of membership contracts will be available to them, and so on.
A great tool for capturing this information is the Business Model Canvas ( Figure 8.13 ), which is discussed in Launch for Growth to Success and Business Model and Plan . The nine building blocks of this model will help you to determine the targeted customer segment, value proposition that you will present each of your segments, channels for the distribution of the proposition or touchpoints, type of customer relationship you will build with your target, types of cost structures and revenue streams based on pricing means, and key resources, activities, and partners that will help you to succeed.
The canvas also allows the entrepreneur to innovate and to change if something doesn’t work out. The point of this tool is to put the pieces of a plan together. 16
Here you present your specific goals and their tangible outcomes. It is not enough to say that you will be very successful without defining what exactly success means. The point of this section is to quantify your goals as units sold, sales/revenue, market share, or some other practical metric. Goals can also include creating measurable brand awareness and developing a certain number of distribution channels.
For example, good, measurable goals might be selling 300 units per month, selling $600,000 worth of product in a year, or gaining brand awareness of 10 percent of your target market in three months. Avoid goals that are unmeasurable or vague, as they won’t help you now or later.
No matter what your goals are, they should be reasonably achievable and as specific as possible. The reason for this is so that later on, you can determine whether you have been successful. If you haven’t, you will know something needs to change.
As mentioned earlier, having a good marketing mix will help your business succeed. As an entrepreneur, you want to segment the market and figure out if there are possible pockets of people whom you can serve. The process of segmenting, targeting, and positioning (STP) will help you figure out who is your best customer and allow you to allocate your resources effectively to serve that market.
After going through this process, you can look at the marketing mix, and depending on whether you have a product, service, or a mixture of both, which is usually the case, you will outline your approach to the 7Ps of the marketing mix.
In the action plan, you detail how things will get done in your business on a day-to-day basis, when they will get done, and who will be doing them. Often, new business owners develop extensive strategies, but they don’t have the people power to implement them. Obviously, ensuring that you have the necessary human resources in place to execute your goals is important. This is the section where you make it clear that you do. For example, if you have a marketing team in place, highlighting their ability to execute your plans will help convince potential investors that you can put your plan into action.
Here you include budgets, forecasts, and any other information that will give readers and potential investors a clear picture of your business’s financial situation. Being transparent and truthful will create trust and goodwill between your company and potential investors.
This section is also important because it will help you determine how profitable your business might be. One place to start is by determining your expenses and future profits. Since most entrepreneurs tend to overestimate these numbers, it is best to develop financial projections for best- and worst-case scenarios, as well as a projection for an average case scenario.
Many entrepreneurs develop one-, three-, or five-year projections to get a sense of future profits and to prove that their business model is sustainable over the long run. Figure 8.14 provides an example.
Key Performance Indicators
Finally, you need to determine your key performance indicators , or how you will evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, by looking at the progress you have made during a specific timeframe. These include the quantitative milestones that will tell you if you are on the right track, help you analyze your decision-making process and focus on specific strategies, and make changes if these don’t work.
For example, one of your milestones might be a sales goal of $50,000 within the first six months. If you are not on track by the time you hit this milestone, it can be an indication that you either overestimated your sales or your strategies are not working. In either case, you will need to make actionable steps to revise your projections or find more effective strategies.
- 16 “The Business Model Canvas.” Strategyzer . n.d. https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas
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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
- Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
- Publisher/website: OpenStax
- Book title: Entrepreneurship
- Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
- Location: Houston, Texas
- Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
- Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/8-5-marketing-strategy-and-the-marketing-plan
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The 9 Goals to Consider When Creating a Marketing Strategy
Published: February 09, 2022
If someone asks you to list a few marketing goal examples, could you?
When many think of marketing, they go to the big flashy examples – like SuperBowl commercials and Spotify’s annual "Wrapped" campaigns. But the truth is, that’s likely the result of months of strategizing.
Before you can build your strategy though, you first need a clear goal. What does your business want to accomplish? Maybe you need more traffic to your website or perhaps you want to generate more leads.
If you need help figuring out what that is, we’ve got you covered.
What are marketing goals?
A marketing goal is a specific and measurable objective that helps you meet your broader business goals. It can be anything from generating high-quality leads and raising brand awareness to increasing customer value and improving your referral rate.
A campaign without a clear goal is essentially a waste of money. Because you won’t know how to measure the impact or value of the work you’ve put in.
Goals are there to provide clarity, purpose, direction and vision. Whether personal or commercial, they are what lead to success for you, your department, and the business as a whole. Hitting your goal proves you're making an impact. We all want to feel like we're contributing, right?
Here, we're going to explore the major goals you should consider when creating and implementing a marketing strategy. These goals should help you achieve maximum results in 2022 and beyond.
SMART Marketing Goals Template
Fill out this form for a free marketing goal-setting template., marketing goal examples.
- Increase brand awareness.
- Generate high-quality leads.
- Acquire new customers.
- Increase website traffic.
- Establish industry authority.
- Increase customer value.
- Boost brand engagement.
- Increase revenue.
- Improve internal brand.
1. Increase brand awareness.
In 2021, we surveyed over 1,000 global marketers – 48% of marketers surveyed said their primary goal when running marketing campaigns was increasing brand awareness.
Brand awareness is key to gaining customers because after all, if consumers don’t know you exist, how will they know what you have to offer?
Every brand has a personality — a human voice shaped by the tone you strike and the platforms you're using and the subjects or topics you're talking about. If your goal is to raise brand awareness, figuring out what that personality is and how that voice sounds is the place to start.
From there, here are some tactical steps:
- Tell a story – Consumers engage with brands they feel connected to and storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool to do it. To craft your narrative, think about your origin story and what adds humanity to your brand.
- Consider where your target buyers spend the most time – Online, this might look like a particular social network like Instagram or TikTok. It could also be a specific channel like email and podcasts. You want to meet your audience where they are
- Share and engage constantly – Once you know what story you want to tell and where your audience is, all that’s left is to engage with them. This can look like posting interesting content on social media, having a blog or guest blogging to share industry insights, and conducting polls.
You're more than a business that sells a product or service. As you have a positive impact on your audience, they'll likely turn into advocates of your brand, sharing your content and passing along their positive experiences to friends, family, and colleagues.
Top brand awareness tip: It's not all ‘me me me'. A conversation goes two ways, so don't forget to stop and listen to what the people you're trying so hard to reach are saying back to you. You never know — they might just have some valuable insights or great ideas.
How do you measure brand awareness?
Although brand awareness can be a hard metric to track and measure, you can review the effectiveness of your activities by looking at your quantitative metrics such as:
- Brand mentions, reach, follower count for social media
- Branded search volume, website traffic, backlinks for SEO
To learn more about increasing brand awareness, read this Ultimate Guide to Brand Awareness .
2. Generate high-quality leads.
Your sales department depends on a consistent stream of leads to nurture and turn into new customers.
You're not their only source of leads, but it's safe to say your colleagues over in sales are depending on you to convert leads into new contacts to which they can reach out.
27% of marketers surveyed in 2021 by HubSpot Blog Research said generating leads and traffic was the biggest challenge they faced in 2021. What’s more, 21% say they expect to meet that same challenge in 2022.
From tried-and-tested methods like on-page forms to innovative features like chatbots, there are many ways to drive marketing-qualified leads .
Here’s an example of a lead-gen strategy:
- A website visitor discovers your site through an ad and arrives at a landing page.
- They click on the call-to-action to receive a content offer, otherwise known as a lead magnet.
- To download the form, they must first fill out a form (known as a lead capture form).
- After filling out their name and email, they access the content offer download page.
This is followed by a nurturing strategy to guide the user down the sales funnel.
There are many ways to generate leads, including:
- Email newsletters
- Retargeting ads
- Content marketing
- Social media
If you’re having trouble driving leads, create a report of all the leads coming in and section out those who've been disqualified, and why. This can help refine your marketing processes and continuously improve the quality of leads coming in.
How do you measure high-quality leads?
Analyze trends across the leads who eventually turn into customers. Create goals and custom reports such as multi-touch revenue attribution reports, customize your dashboards, report on revenue, and more.
If you're looking for tools to create and track effective marketing goals for an entire marketing team, check out HubSpot's Marketing Hub .
3. Acquire new customers.
Gaining customers is key to expanding your reach and growing your business. Many companies struggle to build a sustainable strategy that will scale.
For instance, say your main customer acquisition play is by leveraging content marketing. Do you have a strong team to build out a style guide and content strategy then execute on it for your chosen channels?
Or say you use a freemium model, by giving consumers a taste of your product to attract and hopefully convert them to the paid version. Do you have a strong conversion strategy and a team that can focus on optimizations?
To build a strong marketing strategy with the goal of acquiring new customers, focus on leveraging sustainable and flexible tactics that will scale with your business.
How do you measure customer acquisition?
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Total new customers
- Product sign-ups
4. Increase website traffic.
In this digital age, getting strong traffic to your website is one of the major signs of a successful marketing strategy.
In fact, 54% of marketers surveyed in 2021 say web traffic is the most important metric when measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.
So, how do you accomplish this? Here are a few strategies:
- Increase your paid ad campaigns.
- Double down on your SEO efforts to increase your search engine ranking.
- Start a blog.
- Ensure all marketing channels circle back to your website.
How do you measure website traffic?
- Total sessions
- Total unique pageviews
- Average time spent on page
- Bounce rate
- Conversion by traffic source
5. Establish industry authority.
It doesn't matter what industry you find yourself in — being recognized as an expert in your field is fundamental for proving a high level of knowledge and credibility.
Not to be confused with brand awareness, thought leadership is about consumers recognizing your brand — and the people within your business — as among the best and most trustworthy in the industry.
On the other hand, brand awareness is more about making sure your brand is heard, seen, and recognized at all.
There are different ways to develop and maintain thought leadership. One of those methods is by publishing and sharing content that inspires your audience and speaks to their pain points.
Leveraging partner networks to ensure you're able to reach a larger audience and appear up-to-par with other industry leaders is another approach to thought leadership.
For instance, building an external community through outreach and guest blogging is great for working with other trusted and reputable brands in the industry to create valuable content.
As you build your thought leadership strategy, consistency becomes essential to maintaining it. Publishing and sharing your content consistently is important to continue to appear relevant and forward-thinking in your industry.
Alternatively, you might consider hosting a webinar or panel discussion with other major industry leaders.
How do you measure thought leadership?
Similar to brand awareness, thought leadership can be tricky to measure.
One way to do it is through media mentions. If your brand is mentioned often in relation to your industry, that’s a good indicator that you have a strong thought leadership program. A high branded search volume and a high number of backlinks can also be indicators of success.
To learn more about thought leadership, take a look at The Content Marketer's Guide to Thought Leadership .
6. Increase customer value.
The marketing conversation has moved well beyond simply generating new business. Today, it's more important than ever that you're delighting your existing customer base, keeping the people your business depends on happy and, whenever possible, helping them to promote you.
Delighted people won't just buy from you again — they'll also refer you to their friends and colleagues, too.
If your goal is to help retain and grow your existing customers, there's plenty you can be doing to achieve it:
- Get your customer data in order, from purchases to net promoter score.
- Build a loyalty program where customers can get early access to products and discounts.
- Launch a referral program.
- Share customer success stories.
How can you tell if you're increasing customer value?
You'll want to measure your upsell targets or retention targets to evaluate whether you're increasing customer value and loyalty over time.
Additionally, closely monitor what content you share with customers that influenced the most deals, or the last piece of content they interacted with before a deal closed. This will help you visualize which content is most valuable to your existing and new customers.
7. Boost brand engagement.
Brand engagement tells you that your audience is listening to you and enjoys your content. What’s better than that?
Boosting brand engagement won’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take months to see the impact of your efforts. However, when it does happen, you can see strong results on your reach and more importantly, your revenue.
Here are the steps you can take to do so:
- Identify what your audience cares about.
- Be consistent about sharing valuable content.
- Encourage action by initiating conversation and inviting your audience to join.
- Host giveaways and contests.
- Personalize communications when possible.
What you’re doing through these steps is building a community. A loyal community will engage with your audience and better yet, they’ll spread the word to others.
How can you tell if you’re boosting brand engagement?
This will depend on the channel you’re checking and where on the funnel you’re focusing on. For instance, on social media, likes, shares, comments, and retweets are considered engagement.
With email, engagement will look like opens and clicks.
These are channels mostly used for top- to mid-funnel engagement. For customers, engagement metrics can be:
- Net promoter scores (NPS)
- Customer satisfaction score
- Average website session duration
8. Increase revenue.
According to 2021 HubSpot Blog Research data 43% of marketers surveyed say their primary goal when running marketing campaigns in 2021 was increasing revenue – making it the second highest goal behind brand awareness.
Marketing can play a huge role in increasing revenue as they can target consumers at every stage of the funnel.
Here are some marketing strategies you can use at every stage:
- Top of the funnel – Build a strong digital presence on social media and web, create content your audience cares about on the channels they consume, develop content offers to turn visitors into leads.
- Middle of the funnel – Identify signals that turn prospects into MQLs, automating lead nurturing emails, retargeting campaigns.
- Bottom of the funnel – Create tutorials, share product demos and customer success stories.
- After-purchase – Build a customer loyalty program.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive but it can help you get started.
What are some metrics to track increasing revenue?
- Annual Recurring Revenue
- Average Revenue Per User
- Quota Attainment
10. Improve internal brand.
Increasingly, marketing teams are also taking on responsibilities around internal communications and educating employees across the business on the tools and resources they need to succeed when selling or providing service to customers.
Do your colleagues understand your brand's target personas and what they need at their respective stage in the buyer's journey?
It's important to ensure all employees are given what they need in order to talk about the business with confidence to prospects and customers and become ambassadors for your brand.
How can you tell if you're empowering colleagues?
If you've delivered an internal newsletter, review its performance data to determine whether or not your colleagues across the company are actually opening it and clicking through the relevant resources contained within.
Alternatively, was your goal to educate the team about a new product or updated messaging?
A company-wide survey can take very little time to create and can provide you — and the rest of your team — with valuable feedback on your efforts.
By now, you should be well on your way to setting and achieving your own SMART marketing goals.
Remember, whichever goals you set for yourself and your team, they have to serve a purpose and benefit the business as a whole.
Whether that means generating high-quality leads for sales or stepping up your brand awareness game, you'll be ready to increase revenue and enable your business to grow better in no time.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
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What Is a Marketing Plan?
Understanding marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, marketing plan vs. business plan.
- Marketing Plan FAQs
The Bottom Line
- Marketing Essentials
What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One
James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.
Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.
Investopedia / Zoe Hansen
A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market . A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:
- Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries
- Tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas
- Platform selection for product and service promotion: digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign
- Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines
A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy.
- The marketing plan details the strategy that a company will use to market its products to customers.
- The plan identifies the target market, the value proposition of the brand or the product, the campaigns to be initiated, and the metrics to be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.
- The marketing plan should be adjusted on an ongoing basis based on the findings from the metrics that show which efforts are having an impact and which are not.
- Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration.
- A marketing plan is part of a business plan, which describes all of the important aspects of a business, such as its goals, values, mission statement, budget, and strategies.
The terms marketing plan and marketing strategy are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.
Types of Marketing Plans
There are a variety of different marketing plans that suit different businesses and different business needs.
New Product Launch: This is a marketing plan that outlines how a new product will enter the market, who it will target, and in what way advertising will be done.
Social Media: A social media marketing plan focuses on the advertising strategies on different social media platforms and how to engage with the users on these platforms.
Time-Based: Time-based marketing plans, such as those that are executed quarterly or annually, focus on the time of the year, the current condition of the business, and the best strategies in that period.
Mission and Value Proposition
A marketing plan considers the value proposition of a business. The value proposition is the overall promise of value to be delivered to the customer and is a statement that appears front and center of the company website or any branding materials.
The value proposition should state how a product or brand solves the customer's problem, the benefits of the product or brand, and why the customer should buy from this company and not another. The marketing plan is based on this value proposition to the customer.
Establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to measure the success of your marketing plan in relation to your company's value proposition. For example, if your goal is to engage with a certain demographic in a certain region, you can track social media and website visits.
The most effective digital marketing techniques in 2020 according to marketers are content marketing and marketing automation.
Identify Your Target Market
The marketing plan identifies the target market for a product or brand. Market research is often the basis for a target market and marketing channel decisions. For example, whether the company will advertise on the radio, on social media, through online ads, or on regional TV.
Knowing who you want to sell to and why is an extremely critical component of any business plan. It allows you to focus your business and measure its success. Different demographics have different tastes and needs, knowing what your target market is will help you market to them.
Strategy and Execution
The marketing plan includes the rationale for these decisions. The plan should focus on the creation, timing, and placement of specific campaigns and include the metrics that will measure the outcomes of marketing efforts. For example, will you advertise on the radio or on social media? What time will you air advertisements if they are on the radio or TV?
Set Your Budget
A marketing plan costs money. Knowing your budget for a marketing plan will allow you to create a suitable plan within that context, stick to it, and prevent runaway costs. It will also help you allocate to different areas of your marketing plan.
Adjust Your Plan
A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results from the metrics. If digital ads are performing better than expected, for example, the budget for a campaign can be adjusted to fund a higher-performing platform or the company can initiate a new budget. The challenge for marketing leaders is to ensure that every platform has sufficient time to show results.
Without the correct metrics to assess the impact of outreach and marketing efforts, an organization will not know which campaigns to repeat and which ones to drop; maintaining ineffective initiatives will unnecessarily increase marketing costs.
Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration. In the traditional marketing mix model, a marketing plan would fall under the category of "promotion," which is one of the four Ps , a term coined by Neil Borden to describe the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and place.
A business plan details how a business will operate and function in its entirety. A business plan is a roadmap for a business. It will cover the goals, missions , values, financials, and strategies that the business will use in day-to-day operations and in the achievement of its objectives.
A business plan will include an executive summary, the products and services sold, a marketing analysis, a marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget , to name but a few items.
As mentioned, a business plan will include a marketing plan, which focuses on creating a marketing strategy on how to bring awareness to the public of the company's product or service, how to reach the target market, and generate sales.
Example of a Marketing Plan
John came up with a new business idea that he believes is a niche offering in the market. He decides to start a business and his first step is creating a business plan that outlines all of the objectives, goals, values, pitfalls, and finances of his company.
John is able to raise enough capital from friends and family to get started, hires a few employees, and eventually creates his product. He now has to start selling his product and generate sales to keep his business operating.
To achieve this, John, with the help of a marketing company, creates a marketing plan. The marketing plan consists of market research that details the target market for John's product, which is recently retired men.
The marketing plan then comes up with the best methods of reaching this target market. The marketing plan stresses radio and television as opposed to social media as older, retired men use social media less than traditional forms of media, according to the market research that was conducted.
The ads are tailored to the target market, showing how John's product will benefit their lives, particularly when compared to market alternatives. Once the marketing plan has been executed, the marketing team analyzes how the efforts translate into sales.
What Is a Marketing Plan Template?
A marketing plan template is a document that an individual can use to create a marketing plan. The marketing plan template will contain all the important elements and the various needed language with blank sections. A user can insert their own information related to their business in the blank sections to ultimately create their own marketing plan.
What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?
The executive summary of a marketing plan provides a brief overview of the entire marketing plan. The executive summary will contain the key findings of the market research, the company's objectives, marketing goals, an overview of the marketing trends, the description of the product or service being marketed, information on the target market, and how to financially plan for the marketing plan.
What Is a Top-Down Marketing Strategy?
A top-down marketing strategy is a traditional marketing strategy. This is where a business determines who it should sell to and how, and the customer base is largely passive and spurred to take action once they hear the advertisement. For example, a top-down marketing strategy would include ads on radio or television. Top-down marketing strategies are usually determined by the executives of a firm. It usually consists of what a firm desires to do and then determining a way to do it.
What Is a Bottom-Up Marketing Strategy?
A bottom-up marketing strategy focuses on discovering a workable strategy and then building on that strategy to create an impactful advertising campaign. Today's consumer wants to relate to a product or service in a meaningful way and a bottom-up marketing strategy is better suited to this. A bottom-up marketing strategy should focus on the target market and how better to create value for them.
How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?
The cost of a marketing plan will vary based on the company, the complexity, and the length of the overall strategy. The cost can range anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.
A marketing plan is the advertising strategy that a business will implement to sell its product or service. The marketing plan will help determine who the target market is, how best to reach them, at what price point the product or service should be sold, and how the company will measure its efforts.
Constantly monitoring and adjusting a market plan is an important part of running a business as it shows what are the best and worst ways to generate sales. Without a successful marketing plan, a business may not be able to continue operating for very long.
Statista. " Most Effective Digital Marketing Techniques According to Marketers Worldwide in 2020 ."
Laire. " How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost? "
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Writing a marketing strategy and plan
Marketing strategy and planning set the foundation for everything you do. Doing it right enables you to focus your time and budget on the right marketing programs to reach your goals.
Video: Writing a marketing strategy and plan
Watch our video to help you understand why a marketing strategy is the key to what your business stands for.
- why it's important to write or update your marketing strategy
- why strategy must come before tactics
- the 7Ps of marketing and the marketing mix
- a step-by-step model to create a marketing strategy.
Effective marketing should be:
- based on your business plan and goals and shaped by your business strategy
- guided by a clear process and practical know-how.
Marketing strategy and planning set the foundation for everything you do. Start with your marketing strategy, then develop a marketing plan to make it real.
Your marketing strategy outlines the why and the what:
- why you're in business
- what you want to achieve.
It sets out your long-term marketing approach.
Your marketing plan describes the how and the when. It:
- is the tactical roadmap to make your strategy happen
- describes your short-term initiatives in the current year.
Having a clear marketing strategy and plan delivers significant benefits for your business. It will help to:
- keep your marketing efforts focused
- connect with the right customers
- make the most of your investment
- measure and improve your results.
Templates for developing your marketing strategy and plan
Choose one of these downloadable templates to customise and complete:
- a one-page marketing strategy template (a concise option, pictured)
- the Marketing Strategy and Plan section in the business plan template (a more comprehensive option).
Develop your marketing strategy in 6 steps
Your marketing approach influences the way you run your business, so it's important to consult your internal team and external partners.
As you work your way through the steps, capture your insights and findings in the relevant templates.
Know your market
Start by capturing insights about your industry and customers.
Market research is an essential part of your marketing strategy. It:
- involves gathering and analysing information about your customers and industry, such as size, growth and trends
- helps you to know more about your customers and the current and future demand for your products and services.
There are 3 main ways to do research:
- desktop research—accessing existing information that is readily available online from credible sources
- quantitative research—using questionnaires to get responses from a specific audience and interpreting the data
- qualitative research—using interviews, discussions or focus groups to explore themes in more detail.
You can do the research yourself or hire an external agency to carry out the research. Find out more about researching your market .
Know your business
Next, you need an honest appraisal of your business from an internal perspective.
A SWOT analysis can be a useful way to assess where you stand in your market relative to competitors. It highlights the major obstacles and business drivers and provides the direction necessary to:
- build on s trengths (S)
- minimise w eaknesses (W)
- seize o pportunities (O)
- counteract t hreats (T).
This diagnostic tool can help you uncover foundational insights to guide your marketing strategy.
Learn more about SWOT analysis and complete the template .
Based on your business plan and goals, the next step will be to define marketing objectives that are:
These objectives will typically have a financial or communication focus and may cover different areas, such as:
- building brand awareness
- shifting customer perception
- generating business leads
- increasing sales volume
- improving customer retention
- boosting customer satisfaction.
It's important to be as clear as possible so you can effectively measure the outcomes. Make sure that each of your marketing objectives meet the SMART criteria:
- Specific—state clearly what you want to achieve.
- Measurable—you must be able to measure and monitor your results and progress.
- Achievable—take your skills and resources into account.
- Relevant—focus on areas that will improve your business.
- Time-bound—set a timeframe to achieve the outcomes.
To measure and report your progress towards your marketing objectives, you should identify and define key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are quantifiable metrics (indicators that can be measured) that are meaningful for your business, such as:
- cost per acquisition
- customer lifetime value
- unique website visitors
- social media engagement.
Read more about tracking your digital performance .
You'll know when your marketing objectives are right when they:
- motivate you and your team
- enable you to track your business performance.
Review and adjust your marketing objectives based on your progress.
A classic and effective marketing framework is commonly known as STP:
To become a customer-focused business , you need to find ways to get and use insights into your market.
As a starting point, summarise the findings from any customer research you've done. This will reveal:
- customer attitudes and behaviours in your industry
- current and future needs for products and services.
Based on this analysis, follow these steps to define your target segments:
- Choose the most appropriate way for you to segment the market (e.g. demographic, geographic, psychographic, behavioural).
- Prioritise target segments based on relevant criteria for your business (e.g. potential value, brand differentiation, ability to serve).
- Document a profile for each of your preferred target segments and then create personas to bring these to life in a meaningful way.
Action item: segment your market
- Discover more about market segmentation .
- Download and complete the customer profile chart .
Your business most likely operates in a competitive market. Customers are typically spoilt for choice. That's why it's essential to establish your brand positioning in a way that achieves sustainable competitive advantage.
As part of your marketing strategy, you should maintain a profile of your key competitors. You can:
- talk to people who might have relevant information, for example, your sales teams and business partners
- review their digital presence, for example, website, social media
- collect readily available marketing material and price lists
- read online ratings and reviews from their customers
- purchase products and services at their premises or online.
If you don't know where to start, find out how to do market research .
Find information about each of your key competitors':
- products and services
- pricing model
- customer service
- supply chains
- brand difference
- marketing approach.
Use this information to help identify what sets your business apart.
- How do you meet the current needs of your customers better than the competition?
- How can you better meet the future needs of your customers?
Competitor profile chart
An easy way to better understand your competitors is to complete a competitor profile chart.
- download the print-optimised version of the competitor profile chart to fill out and save for future reference
- use the online template to profile your competitors .
Make sure your business complies with competition laws .
Brand positioning is much more than just your name or logo. This is your business purpose. It's why you exist. It’s about making sure that your communications, culture and customer experience are all working together in harmony.
The ambition is to build a distinctive brand. This is about what you want to:
- be known for
- want to own in the hearts and minds of your customers.
It will guide everything you do and don't do.
Work through the guidelines to help build your business brand .
It's also beneficial to define your value proposition. In simple terms, it's a statement of the benefits you provide in exchange for payment. Think of this like a win-win for your business and your customers. It explains:
- the promise of value you will consistently deliver to customers
- how your business model meets the needs and wants of customers.
Your value proposition will look closely at the problems you are solving for customers.
Remember to look at your value proposition in terms of the current situation and the ideal future. This will help you to prioritise future improvements.
Discover more about how you can bring your value proposition to life.
You can identify your high-priority marketing programs based on your:
- marketing objectives
- target segments
- brand positioning
- competitive analysis.
Think about these as your strategic themes.
For example, imagine you're running an innovative online store. Based on your analysis of the current situation and assessment of future opportunities, you might identify 4 marketing programs you need to drive growth:
- review and relaunch the brand
- increase new customer acquisition
- grow value though cross selling or upselling
- boost customer loyalty and advocacy.
These work packages will then direct your marketing actions and determine where you'll focus your marketing efforts. Be focused and consistent. If you're doing something outside of these themes, ask yourself why.
Checklist: from strategy to planning
Make sure you've completed the 6 steps discussed above before moving on to your marketing plan:
- I know my business and the current market.
- I've set clear, realistic, and measurable marketing objectives.
- I've defined meaningful target segments.
- I've defined my business's distinctive brand.
- I've completed an analysis of my competitors.
- I've identified the marketing programs I need to focus on.
Translate your strategy into your marketing plan
Once you have a marketing strategy, you can extend it into a marketing plan. The marketing plan reflects and builds on your thinking. It's your roadmap to get where you want to be.
A marketing plan:
- is a practical and detailed document
- sets realistic and measurable activities.
It's about the execution of:
- tactics (methods)
A structured and documented marketing plan has many benefits. It:
- takes the guesswork out of your marketing
- keeps your marketing activities targeted
- ensures that you can monitor your success.
Don't try to do everything at once. Adopt a phased approach based on the skills, time and staff you have available.
Your marketing plan will be implemented repeatedly and change over time. There are different stages to this process:
- Write your marketing plan.
- Implement marketing tactics.
- Measure against key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Refine your marketing plan.
To successfully achieve your marketing strategy, you'll need to:
- identify the tactics (methods) you want to use
- be able to describe these tactics
- be clear on why they're appropriate.
Remember: your tactics should address the needs and wants of your customers.
If you need inspiration, you can:
- read about the right combination of the 7 Ps of marketing
- look at the results of your SWOT analysis to identify opportunities.
Follow this 3-step process to guide your thinking:
- Select a marketing program (work package) from the ones you previously identified.
- Refer to the needs of your relevant target segment to make sure you will be addressing these needs.
- Document specific projects you will deliver.
Repeat this process for each of your high-priority marketing programs.
For example, you may have identified the need to increase awareness of 1 of your products amongst young adults aged 18 to 25 who live within 10km of your business. An appropriate tactic could be to implement a geo-targeted marketing campaign:
- across social media, online advertising and local publications
- with a dedicated website landing page to promote the offer.
Don't be scared to test and learn. Test some ideas on friendly customers, partners and employees. Using the right tactics over time will connect with your target segments and ultimately improve your sales results.
Once you've worked through your tactics for each marketing program, you need to turn this into an action plan . The action plan must capture all the actions you need to perform.
For each marketing tactic, list the specific steps required in as much detail as possible. (You can download and use the action plan template below to guide you through the process.) This can include the following fields:
Regularly refer to, and update, your action plan. This will help you to:
- keep track of your work in progress
- manage the implementation of projects.
Great marketing requires great people. The people in your business will determine how successful your marketing is. They need to be involved throughout the process and believe in what they are doing.
Your marketing approach will also inform your sales techniques . Marketing and sales need to work together. Link your marketing KPIs and sales targets.
Make sure you have assigned responsibility for each of the actions in your action plan.
This is the process that allows you to track and report on your marketing performance and make the necessary changes if needed.
Based on your business plan, you have developed a set of SMART marketing objectives. These will most likely be based on the following outcomes:
- financial (e.g. sales numbers)
- communication (e.g. brand awareness).
Within each of your high-priority marketing programs, you have assigned specific KPIs for each tactic. For example, these KPIs could be:
- responses to a targeted direct mail
- number of leads generated from an event.
Before you run your marketing programs, you need to know how you'll measure and evaluate the results. A review of each activity will then help to:
- identify how well your marketing has worked
- show what areas need to improve
- check if the activity gave a positive return on your investment (ROI)
- establish benchmarks that you can strive to outperform in the future.
Continue to review and revise your marketing. For example, on a quarterly basis, you should ask:
- How are we tracking with budget and timing?
- What tactics are working and not working?
- What has changed in the external market?
- What adjustments do we need to make?
Marketing action plan template
Download and complete the marketing action plan template .
This plan also forms part of your larger marketing strategy and plan.
Implement the marketing plan
To implement your marketing plan successfully, you need to confirm you have everything you need to implement it.
Resources and expertise
Ask yourself these questions about your skills and capacity:
- Have you allocated the right budget?
- Do you have the right knowledge and skills in-house?
- Will you need to upskill your current staff or employ new staff ?
- Should you consider engaging an external marketing partner based on your internal gaps?
Depending on the type of business and your marketing strategy, you may need to prioritise training and development. For example, with an online business, this could include website and social media management.
Communication and collaboration
Your staff need to be engaged and committed to make your marketing efforts to work.
- Make sure your staff understand how marketing fits in with your business plan and goals .
- Involve your staff throughout the marketing strategy and planning process.
- Mentor employees who are enthusiastic about marketing and provide opportunities to increase their skills.
- Keep communicating—your business marketing will always be changing and growing.
- View our marketing strategy and planning webinar for information, tips and resources from our Mentoring for Growth mentors.
- Read about how you can expand and retain your customer base by becoming a customer-focused business .
- Find advice on advertising your business .
- Learn more about branding your business .
- Read more about managing public relations and the media .
- Find tips and advice on using direct marketing .
- Learn more about strategy planning with free, online courses .
- Last reviewed: 29 Aug 2022
- Last updated: 22 Mar 2023
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Marketing Strategy Business Plan
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Cambridge Strategy Group
Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.
The start up businesses in Cambridge are in need of a consulting firm that helps them decide how to market themselves and build themselves to a successful business. Research shows that many of these businesses fail since they don’t have the resources to make the right choices. Helping them keeps people employed and the economy going strong.
The Cambridge Strategy Group (CSG), L.L.C. is dedicated to providing marketing and management consulting services to small and emerging businesses looking for opportunities to increase their potential for success.
The target market is defined by the customer needs that create the market, the structural forces that govern operation within the market, and the attractiveness of the market based on strategic value, market size, market growth, and potential for profit.
There are many rivals in the Cambridge area that fall into 4 categories: segment rivals, market rivals, generic rivals, structural rivals.
The Cambridge Strategy Group is focused specifically on helping small and emerging businesses maximize their potential for success.
The market for Cambridge Strategy Group’s services is enormous. Initially, the three founding members intend to work part-time on this venture while maintaining full-time positions with other corporations. As we determine how best to enlarge our operations, we will consider expanding the business as defined in our strategy.
Financial Highlights by Year
The three managing directors will contribute $115,000. John Gordon is contributing $40,000, Todd Kuczaj will be contributing $40,000 and Ben Cordell will be contributing $35,000.
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Marketing and Sales Strategy: Use it to Build Productivity at Your Small Business In a startup world where every move counts, strong synergy between sales and marketing is a cornerstone of productivity and success. It’s not just about aligning two distinct departments; it’s...
By John Boitnott • Nov 21, 2023
This story originally appeared on Calendar
In a startup world where every move counts , strong synergy between sales and marketing is a cornerstone of productivity and success. It’s not just about aligning two distinct departments; it’s about crafting a growth strategy that thrives on their seamless collaboration. That might sound like common sense, but the reality is that many small businesses drop the ball on marketing and sales strategy and overlook a vital connection.
Picture marketing as the mastermind behind your customer acquisition strategies and sales as the frontline warriors who bring in the revenue. When these two forces work in unison, you can unlock a world of opportunities. Bridging this gap isn’t just a good idea—it’s a game-changer. The big question is how to do it well.
Marketing and Sales Strategy Examples: A Key Growth Driver
Motivating sales and marketing to coordinate efforts is a secret sauce that can elevate success to new heights. Sam Levy, Senior Vice President of Growth and Operations at NetSuite, advocates aligning these two functions.
“For most organizations, it sits in silos, and there’s only tentacles that touch,” he says. “For us — it’s molded together. Everything marketing does, the field knows everything. What the field knows, marketing knows.”
The idea is that marketing can serve as a compass that points you toward potential customers. It provides the targeted lists, the messaging, and the campaigns. Now, think of your sales team as the navigators—armed with these resources, they chart the course and set out to acquire and grow customers. This alignment accomplishes a productive, synchronized approach where every effort, every penny spent, and every result achieved are closely connected.
Playbooks: A Strategy For Successful Alignment
One of the key strategies is developing “playbooks” that outline a step-by-step guide for identifying, pursuing, and converting leads into loyal customers. Playbooks can serve as the foundation of a company’s go-to-market efforts . The approach ensures sales and marketing understand each other’s roles, communicate effectively, and share responsibility for the company’s growth. The outcome? Better insights, stronger more productive campaigns, and a more compelling return on investment.
“Our playbook might be identifying a targeted list of accounts,” Levy says. “Marketing provides the targeted list of accounts, sales provides pursuits, marketing will provide the messaging, and sales will make the effort. And the outcome then is metrics.”
Metrics should show whether what you’ve been doing is successful. Teams can learn whether they’ve been spending enough or not enough. They can see if they got a return on investment or did not.
Smaller businesses can create their own version of playbooks, perhaps more streamlined and nimble. Start with a focused list of prospective clients, leveraging specific marketing tactics to cultivate leads. The difference? Small teams can craft marketing and sales strategies with greater flexibility, adjusting on the fly based on real-time feedback.
Harness the Power of Cohorts
NetSuite uses something called “cohorts” to boost customer acquisition and overall growth. Cohorts are groups of young hires who join as business development reps. Over 12 to 18 months, they’re coached and trained, learning how the business works. Then, they become the driving force for marketing, sales, and pre-sales as they “graduate.”
Even without the capacity for hundreds of new hires, small enterprises can apply the cohort concept on a smaller scale to spark growth. Cohorts let you bring in fresh, enthusiastic minds who, with the right mentorship , can quickly integrate into your business’s culture and goals. Letting a small group of team members embark on an intensive learning journey like this can result in dedicated, efficient sales and marketing teams that adapt and grow together.
Mentorship and Sponsorship: Nurturing Talent
Mentorship has long been hailed as a powerful way to improve both personal and professional effectiveness. But many people haven’t heard of sponsorship. You can use both to unite marketing and sales strategy — as well as support a healthy growing organization.
Mentorship involves guiding and teaching , whereas sponsorship is about actively endorsing and enabling career development of specific team members. It’s a crucial combination in a thriving small business, ensuring every team member feels guided and empowered to contribute their best.
Sponsorship is a kind of proactive counterpart to mentorship. A sponsor advocates for individuals within the organization, helping them seize new opportunities.
“So, for instance, I have worked with an individual in a different department, perhaps in finance,” Levy explains. “They don’t work for me, but as a new opportunity comes within the company and I’ve seen their skillset and work habits, I would then sponsor them for opportunities that come up in the organization. So sponsorship goes beyond teaching and is actually almost enabling you to do more, providing a platform to do more.”
In your small business, sponsorship might have an even more immediate impact. The close-knit environment allows for closer relationships and better visibility, making it easier for mentorships to develop and for sponsors to spot talent and create pathways for growth. Look for ways to encourage experienced employees to guide newcomers and actively endorse those ready for career progression.
Marketing and Sales Strategy: Walking a Path of Growth Together
In the fast-evolving landscape of modern business, the symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing is a powerful growth catalyst. As you’ve seen, successful businesses harness this synergy to drive their success. Whether you’re a small business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, you can apply these strategies to your venture. Align your sales and marketing strategy, cultivate a culture of collaboration, and remember the invaluable impact of mentorship and sponsorship.
The path to growth is paved with your team’s ability to work in harmony , driven by a shared purpose and the right strategies. By adopting these principles, you’ll not only supercharge your business but also create an environment where talent thrives, productivity rises, and success follows.
Featured Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!
The post Marketing and Sales Strategy: Use it to Build Productivity at Your Small Business appeared first on Calendar .
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What Is a Go-to-Market Strategy? (And Why You Need It to Beat Your Competition)
Learn how to create a go-to-market framework to turn your product ideas into growth opportunities for your company.
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Imagine a world where you create a new product that everyone wants. It’s a snap to make and it sells itself – a mega hit. Congratulations, you’ve smashed your goals! In this world, there is no overnight success. If you sell a product without attracting the right buyers and demonstrating how it meets their needs, it may just sit on the shelf. Meanwhile, a competitor does their research, knows what buyers want, and delivers it. Not only have you lost revenue, you’ve lost potential customers to the competition. Ouch.
How do you avoid this and capture customer interest? Build a comprehensive go-to-market (GTM) strategy that combines careful research with tailored messaging that hits on the right buyer pain points.
What you’ll learn:
What is a go-to-market strategy? Why is a go-to-market strategy important? How to build a go-to-market strategy framework Go-to-market strategy example
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a step-by-step plan for introducing a new product to buyers. This includes market, customer, and competitive research that uncovers problems your product can solve. Creating a buyer persona lets you target prospects with key messaging that emphasizes your product’s unique problem-solving value.
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Why is a go-to-market strategy important?
A well-crafted GTM strategy ensures target buyers see your product, understand and appreciate its value, and are compelled to buy. As Howard Brown, CEO of Revenue.io put it , “Meeting expectations early and often builds trust and is the foundation of any successful partnership.”
You can launch a product without a go-to-market strategy, but buyers who really need your product might not see or appreciate its value. They might turn to competitors who are already established in the marketplace and are percieved to be stable. In the early stage, it’s normal for someone to see your solution and say, “Oh, you’re just like [competitor],” even if they don’t offer what you offer. Research bears this out, especially for smaller companies. Of startups that fail, more than a third do so because there was no identified market need.
How to build a go-to-market strategy framework
A successful go-to-market strategy requires understanding your market, prioritizing buyers’ pains, and identifying your competitive advantage. Building a framework around these four elements can help deliver your product in a way that makes it “ready to buy.” Let’s run through how to do that in six steps.
1. Create your buyer persona
Selling is about delivering value to your target buyer, and that often takes the form of a solution to a unique problem. To make sure you’re targeting the right problem, build out a buyer persona that connects their pain points to your solution.
To surface this detail, you’ll start with your existing customers. Dig into customer data in your CRM , conduct interviews with buyers whose problems you’ve solved, and lead market research efforts to see where else these needs surface in your industry. (Check out our comprehensive guide on buyer personas for more guidance.)
If you sell B2B, your team will likely be coordinating a purchase with multiple people at each prospective company. The buying group might include end users, the CFO , an operations lead, and so on. Make sure you include problems and needs for these roles in your buyer persona.
2. Conduct competitive research
Going to market with a new product isn’t just about making sure you solve prospects’ problems. It’s also about separating yourself from the crowd of products already in market. To make sure you’re delivering unique value, conduct research on competitors with similar products to see how they’re positioned. Use these questions to guide you:
- What similar products are already in market?
- What do you offer (features, price, functionality) that your competitors don’t?
- If a competitor’s product is popular, why is it resonating with customers? How can you use that information to frame your own messaging?
If you have an AI-powered CRM, you can likely offload some of this research. Use AI tools to scan sales call transcripts for competitor mentions and pricing information. Pair this with automated online research based on industry, competitor, and product keywords. (Here’s how Sales Cloud does this.)
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3. map customer problems to your product solutions.
You know your target buyer’s problems. You know what competitors are doing to solve those problems. And, you know what your product offers. It’s time to connect all three and deliver a high-value solution that’s unique in your market. Build out a simple matrix so you can see all three and how they connect. Here’s what this might look like:
Product: Long-lasting, high-performance running shoes with extra arch support priced 20% below similar products Example buyer: Casual runner, mid-40s, median income
To keep the focus on the buyer during this value mapping, review your matrix and ask: “How would my target buyer see or understand this?” That’s a good gut check before you frame your messaging.
4. Develop key messaging for marketing and sales efforts
Using your matrix from the previous step, draft messaging for each prospect problem that shows why your product is uniquely qualified to serve as a solution with proof points to back it up.
Let’s continue with the example of our shoe buyer. You know from your research that they are between the ages of 40 and 50, like to run as a hobby, and want to stay active despite minor injuries. But, they’re also price-conscious. Here’s what key messaging might look like for this target buyer:
- Problem: Their feet hurt when they run, likely due to prior injuries, muscle strain, or bad shoes.
- Product value: A pair of running shoes designed with input from an orthopedic surgeon, with research that finds 60% of wearers felt less foot pain after a month.
- What competitors offer: Some shoe brands advertise “extra support” but don’t have medical experts contributing to design or research showing this support works.
- Key message: Running doesn’t have to end when you hit middle age. Buy orthopedist-designed running shoes that keep you on the trail, whatever your age. Don’t believe us? Just ask our runners: 60% of customers in their 40s say they felt less foot pain after a month of running in our shoes.
Complete this messaging for every problem you’ve identified, making sure to demonstrate clear and measurable ROI. You can also emphasize the potential downsides to sticking with the status quo or going with the competition.
5. Identify your sales channels
Now you need to reach your prospective customers. But how do you take your key messaging and combine it with the right buying channel ? Start by identifying the channels your buyers typically use to make a purchase, then select the right strategy to match. Here are the most common strategies:
- Direct sales: This involves a rep talking directly to a customer, building a personal relationship over time before closing a deal. This is perfect for longer sales cycles that require ongoing negotiation, typical for complex products at high price points. These deals are often high-touch, requiring a nurture-heavy strategy with lots of explanation and sharing of valuable resources to build trust.
- Self-service sales: This strategy is much more hands off, letting customers make a purchase on their own without speaking to a sales rep. Consider this option when you want to make it fast and easy for your customers to buy, and/or when you don’t have a large team to handle individual sales. It works best for simple products that don’t require a lot of explanation and are offered at a low price point. I typically see this strategy with B2C business models, where customers can buy products on a website, but I also see it with SaaS companies that offer subscriptions. For example, Salesforce lets small-business owners buy software through the Salesforce Starter page.
- Partner sales : Consider this strategy, also known as channel sales, if you want to get your product to market quickly without adding headcount. It’s ideal for smaller, resource-strapped companies launching a simple product that’s relatively low-cost, but best sold directly through reps because it requires some assistance with delivery, onboarding, or setup. The big benefit here is broader market reach via preferred vendors like online marketplaces, resellers, and third-party distributors.
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6. go to market and measure results.
With the core elements of your go-to-market strategy in place, it’s time to get your product to the right buyers. As you ramp up marketing and sales on your channel(s) of choice, start tracking total units sold, prospect engagement and objections, and sales cycle length. You can do this easily with an AI-powered sales analytics tool that delivers insights in real-time.
If you lag behind expectations, consider adjusting elements of your go-to-market strategy to compensate. Go through the steps above again periodically (at least once a quarter) to make sure your research and persona are up-to-date. By surfacing any new needs or problems of your target buyers, you can adjust messaging to keep customers interested.
Go-to-market strategy example
Mary, a software as a service (SaaS) company founder, is working on launching her new product to the market. Mary has created an innovative solution that automates data entry for companies with high volumes of customer information to manage. Her soft launch was a success, and she’s ready to sell.
To make sure she’s bringing in the right prospects, Mary develops a buyer persona based on conversations with her current customers, and conducting market research. After a few weeks, she lands on the target buyer: mid-sized retailers that take a lot of customer orders online and by phone. The problem: the only other software providers on the market are too expensive for mid-sized companies, and their solutions take too long to get up and running.
With this as a guide, Mary decides on key messaging:
- Spending your weekend entering customer orders (only to ship them too late)?
- Automate your data entry to save your weekends and keep customers happy.
Mary also knows from customer conversations that she needs a sales team to engage with prospects – it’s a long-term investment for her customers, so they need to see demos before they commit. So, she hires 10 sales reps to start conducting outreach and connecting with prospective customers.
Within a few weeks, the team has scheduled demos and is having in-person meetings. She even lands some initial clients, who find the software easy to set up out of the box and affordable for their budgets. Most of them are impressed with how it works, but there’s a problem: people say they need more app integrations to make data management easier. That’s excellent feedback, so Mary takes it to her team. After some investigation, they land on the top 10 most requested apps to start. As customers start using Mary’s software with the app integrations, they see real time savings for their teams. Because they don’t have to spend extra time entering customer data manually, they can also save on headcount and ensure customer orders are shipped promptly. Within a few months, Mary saw a 40% increase in sales, with many customers saying they’ll write positive product reviews and refer their friends.
Build your customer base with a strong go-to-market strategy
A go-to-market strategy may seem like more fuss than it’s worth, but it helps you accomplish the most important task in sales: solving customer problems. Just keep in mind that it’s not a “one and done” effort. Continually monitor your sales and customer engagement to see how you can adapt your strategy to meet evolving buyer needs.
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Use Enablement from Sales Cloud to help reps identify target prospect’s key problems, then deliver solutions that make it easy to buy.
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Richard has more than 20 years of SaaS experience and teaches revenue teams how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions to ask, and when to do it. Richard’s clients include Zoom, Salesforce, Google Cloud, PagerDuty, DoorDash, Salesloft, and Gainsight. He’s also the co-founder of Surf & Sales.
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