What is a marketing plan, and how can you use it to accelerate your company’s growth?
After employee salaries and product development, marketing often represents one of the biggest expenses for most companies. Investing in effective marketing is the only way for business leaders to ensure they’re constantly attracting new leads and revenue.
Unfortunately, many companies still make the mistake of assuming they can excel in marketing without a clear plan. Only 47% of companies in 2023 are actually researching their audience, and only 37% prioritize research-driven campaigns.
A marketing plan is how you ensure you’re actually reaching your marketing goals, using your budget effectively, and driving the best ROI from your campaigns.
Essentially, a marketing plan is a document that outlines the advertising strategies and efforts a company will use to reach and connect with its target market. It details the outreach campaigns you’ll use for every product launch and sales event.
It also offers insight into the crucial data you need to form an effective marketing strategy. For instance, your marketing plan will include important information on your target audience, your key performance indicators (KPIs), and key employee stakeholders.
Marketing plans help you to determine each campaign’s mission, buyer personas, tactics, deliverables, and other factors, so you can stay on track with your results.
The three most common types of marketing plans include:
Creating an effective marketing plan template involves a number of crucial steps. While the exact components of your marketing plan may vary depending on how you choose to generate leads, some of the most common factors include:
An executive summary in a marketing plan covers all of the core components of your strategy, as well as information about your brand, target market, and products or services. You can either write an executive summary at the beginning or end of your marketing planning efforts.
Essentially, this section gives potential readers a high-level overview of the document. Some companies use just a paragraph or two to cover their marketing plan executive summary, while others spread information out across a number of pages.
The mission statement is one of the first things you’ll cover in your marketing plan, as well as in your summary for a marketing plan document. It’s essentially an insight into what your company is attempting to achieve, and where it’s headed.
Your mission statement should briefly describe the purpose of your marketing efforts in a format that’s easy to understand. For instance, you might be attempting to generate leads from social media, or you might be looking for ways to reduce your marketing budget with loyalty campaigns.
The goals in your marketing plan document dive a little deeper into what success is going to look like. Marketers who set goals for their campaigns are up to 376% more likely to report great results.
Most goals fall into two segments: financial, and non-financial goals. Your financial goals will look at how much money you want to generate with your marketing, and how your efforts should increase sales. Your non-financial goals will cover other less tangible topics.
For instance, you might be looking for the best ways to get more mileage out of your content strategies, or increase customer retention with onboarding strategies.
Your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) determine how you’ll track the success of your marketing efforts. Different marketing strategies have their own distinct KPIs. For instance, if you’re focusing on drawing customers to your website, you might monitor website traffic and conversion rates, as well as cost per acquisition.
When you’re choosing KPIs for your marketing plan, make sure they’re relevant to your specific goals. Think about not just conversions, but other crucial steps in the customer journey, such as the number of leads you generate, or the traffic you earn on social media.
A good marketing plan should always include an overview of the types of customers you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customer, based on research into your target audience and existing buyers.
These personas should outline everything from the core demographics of your customers, to their pain points, purchasing behaviors, goals, and psychographics. The more detailed your buyer personas are, the easier it will be to step into the shoes of your consumers when building marketing strategies.
Creating a marketing strategy often involves a lot of research. Situational analysis gives you an opportunity to better understand your marketing situation at a glance. You can research your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint ways to differentiate yourself with your own marketing strategies.
You can also use an analysis of the wider market you serve, to understand the trends that are influencing your industry and contributing to your customer’s buyer journey.
Initiatives in your marketing plan are the key focus areas you’ll be using throughout your marketing strategy. Each marketing plan could include various initiatives. For instance, if your primary goal is to improve brand awareness, your initiatives might include manual sales outreach and social media campaigns. If you’re looking to increase sales, you might promote offers and discounts.
When choosing your initiatives, think about the marketing tactics, channels, and types of content you can use to best reach your customers. Think about what your marketing funnel should look like to drive you towards your business goals.
For any marketing plan to be successful, every member of your team needs to know what initiatives and actions they’ll be responsible for. The “responsibilities” section of your marketing plan should outline who in your team will be responsible for each marketing task.
For instance, if your marketing team wants to release a new downloadable webinar, you’d need to ensure all of your content creation professionals, outreach experts, and product teams know what to contribute to the campaign. Make sure you define:
All marketing strategies have a budget. Outlining how much you can afford to spend on your marketing efforts will make it easier for you to make decisions throughout your campaigns.
Think carefully about how much money you can afford to implement into each initiative and marketing effort. Prioritize your budget by looking at the essential elements of your marketing plan first, before focusing on the things you might “want” to include if there’s money left over.
Finally, your calendar will give a time frame to your overall marketing plan. An editorial calendar will help you plan and schedule content, track deadlines, and ensure your marketing team is organized.
There are various ways to formulate an editorial calendar. You can focus on creating strategies on a monthly basis, a quarterly basis, or an annual basis, depending on the overall scope of your strategy. Every calendar should include insights into deadlines, topics, and initiatives to cover, and who will be responsible for each part of the campaign.
Creating an effective marketing strategy is an important part of ensuring you’re generating the most value from every promotional campaign you create. Without a marketing plan, you’re left to experiment with advertising strategies at random, with very little opportunity for growth.
A marketing plan will help you organize, execute, and track your planned marketing activities, so you can reach your business goals.
Learn more about the power of marketing, and how to organize your marketing team, with expert insights from Hypcccycl community!