10 Marketing Plan Examples to Inspire Your Campaigns
What do hiking a trail, driving to a friend’s house, and executing marketing campaigns all have in common? Each requires you to closely follow directions.
Directions are a critical part of our daily life. Used correctly, they can guide decision-making processes, make labor more efficient, and get where you want to go as quickly as possible.
But failing to keep track of directions could cost you — and not just gas money. When it comes to marketing strategies, not having a clear goal tanks web traffic, dissipates brand interest, and costs companies across the United States a whopping $400 billion a year.
Designing a marketing plan is certainly no easy task, but it can be made easier with best practices, strategic tips, and concrete examples from successful businesses all over the world.
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What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic document that acts as a guide for marketing campaigns and strategies. These critical road maps detail where you are, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there.
The average marketing plan consists of seven major sections:
- Writing an executive summary
- Discussing the mission statement
- Listing marketing objectives
- Performing a SWOT analysis
- Completing market research
- Designing a market strategy
- Determining a budget
The more detailed a marketing plan is, the more efficient it will be at accomplishing its goals.
As you might imagine, marketers who bother to write a concrete marketing plan enjoy several benefits :
- Organized marketers have a 674% higher chance of reporting success
- Marketers who set goals are 377% more successful than those who don’t
It’s clear that a successful marketing plan opens pathways to other forms of business success — although the process is underutilized at best. More than three out of four small business owners lack an overarching marketing plan if they don’t have a clear path of growth. Creating a holistic marketing plan is absolutely necessary to scale brands at any level of development.
10 marketing plan examples from every industry
It’s much simpler to design a plan of action when the groundwork already exists. Below are 10 marketing plans sourced from real companies and brands around the world, highlighting unique approaches to researching, crafting and implementing a marketing strategy .
Popular SaaS Contently developed a visual marketing plan for developing future campaigns. The strategy depicts its plan in a “waterfall” format, with goals blending into methods of application that eventually lead to success metrics. Although far more casual than other examples on this list, the work provides an excellent overview of a marketing plan’s necessary components.
2. Visit Baton Rouge
The Baton Rouge area of Louisiana generates millions of dollars every year from tourism alone. The Visit Baton Rouge marketing plan was born from a need to better position the area and create long-term strategies for generating interest. This 38-page document goes into detail describing different destinations, events, and calendars, including recommended measurements for success.
Created by SaaS company HubSpot , this template includes a business summary, SWOT matrix, market strategy, budget, and other important aspects of a marketing plan. By filling it out, you can make informed decisions about your company’s positioning and your marketing in general.
Evernote provides a comprehensive marketing plan template for businesses of any size. Create a plan that walks through overviews, timelines, research, personas, and all other elements of an airtight campaign. If desired, you can also implement this template into your Evernote account to start developing a marketing plan almost immediately.
5. University of Illinois
Even educational institutes need marketing plans. The University of Illinois created a very straightforward document that encapsulates its market context, research efforts, and current campaigns. Objectives and success metrics are completed in the third section, with about 40 pages overall.
Monday.com is a project management platform providing in-house templates to all active users. This marketing plan offers various categories and subcategories that track project progress with data visualizations. Detailed objectives and KPIs can be identified in-app, including columns for a projected cost range.
Popular health and hygiene brand Lush released a comprehensive marketing plan walking through some products, positioning, and a marketing calendar for upcoming product releases. One of the highlights includes a detailed SWOT analysis with easy to read graphics. This is particularly helpful for brands in the personal care industry, among others.
Industry titan Coca-Cola released a strategy video that encompasses all seven elements of a holistic marketing plan. The proposal primarily explains the major content initiatives for the coming year, and focuses on how the brand’s initial ideas can be practically implemented into the existing strategy.
9. Naperville Park District
Publicly funded recreational parks often have limited access to resources, which is why the Naperville Park District created a strategic marketing plan right at the beginning. This extremely detailed document walks through the company’s mission, situational analysis, strategy, and budget, on a micro-level.
Unlike the longform documents we’ve seen already, Starbucks takes a more concise approach. This six-page release details a strategy to elevate CX and brand ambassadors around the world. The marketing plan touches on individual strategies and tactics, as well as the methods used to ensure success. It’s important to note the detailed customer journey profiles that fit into a five-year strategy.
How to approach a marketing plan
Now that you know what a marketing plan looks like, it’s time to explore the initial stages of drafting and publishing your very first plan. Once you establish some basic starting points, a little research is all you need to get started.
Determine your goals
Directions simply don’t matter without an endpoint in mind. Craft some meaningful goals for your marketing campaign that envelop your brand’s values, objectives, and year-end plans. It’s best to use the SMART goal framework:
The more specific your goals are, the more effective your marketing plan will be.
Check your competitors
Staying abreast of your competitors and market share is critical in the early stages of a marketing plan. Using competitive analysis tools or an internal process, take some time to evaluate the approach that others are using — and how you can do better.
You might want to:
- Perform a competitive analysis
- Keep a close eye on industry news
- Browse competitor social media content
Keep in mind that it’s possible to hire freelancers to perform competitive analysis for you, depending on your needs and time constraints.
Identify your audience
Understanding your target market — including their goals, ages, values, and demographics — is the golden rule of marketing. This can be done several ways, either by using data, creating personas, or outlying features in a document.
It’s best to consider everything that may be relevant to your audience in the marketing plan, including how products can be positioned in a way that makes them relevant. For example, a customer with a degree in IT would be more interested in ads that speak to their experience and industry pain points.
If you don’t have a target audience in mind yet, consider using programs like Google Analytics or in-platform insights from Facebook to identify specific segments.
Craft final KPIs
The difference between a good marketing plan and a great marketing plan starts with key performance metrics (KPIs). These will be used to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and provide detailed information about what worked, what didn’t, and what you can change in the future.
Every marketing plan should rely on its own unique set of metrics, all fitted to individual needs. If you’re looking for specific examples, you might want to try:
- Raising the number of followers on a social media account
- Generating a certain amount of website leads
- Achieving higher email open rates
Keep in mind that your final metrics should adhere to the SMART method for best results.
Perform your revisions
The marketing plan is a living document and must be updated regularly to remain current. The average plan only has a shelf life of one to five years , on average, and should receive regular revisions in the meantime.
Take a closer look at your past goals, competitors, audience, and KPIs. Are any of these outdated or ill-aligned? What has changed for the company since its initial publication date? Make these adjustments accordingly (and hopefully with members of a team or committee).
Create marketing plans that guide your business well
It’s not enough to just write a marketing plan. In an increasingly competitive world of iron-clad strategies, marketing pros should take their time developing a plan that lasts. The above examples are a great place to start, especially as you craft an approach that is catered to your industry.
Keep an eye on the growth of your business once your marketing plan hits the shelves. Continue to find new ways to optimize, refine, and otherwise make what you have even better than before. With an airtight marketing plan by your side, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
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12 Marketing Strategy Examples, How to Create One + Tips
What is a marketing strategy?
Marketing strategies vs. marketing plans vs. marketing tactics , types of marketing strategies, how to create the most effective marketing strategies.
- Top 11 great marketing strategy examples and 1 you shouldn't follow
Top tips for creating successful marketing strategies
- Marketing strategies make it more likely that you'll reach your goals
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or just starting out on your very first small business venture, every company in the world needs an effective marketing strategy to build brand awareness and drive new customers to its products and services. However, if you’ve never been involved in successful marketing strategies, creating one can be easier said than done.
The most effective marketing strategies consider every aspect of the marketing flow, from a thorough understanding of your audience personas to a clear-cut marketing budget and so much more; there’s a lot to cover in a company marketing strategy.
In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the best marketing strategies of all time and explain how you can utilize different types of marketing strategies to maximize your returns in no time.
Before we tell you how to compose an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand what a marketing strategy is and how it can help you improve your advertising.
In simple terms, business marketing strategies are a tool marketers use to outline their various campaigns and marketing models. It’s the how of how you’ll get customers interested in your products and services.
To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to do four things:
- Understand who buys your products or services (who are your customers?)
- Understand how to motivate these people to buy/continue to buy your products or services
- Understand who your competitors are and what they’re doing to achieve the same objectives
- Understand how to measure the success of your marketing campaigns and efforts.
You can do it too.
Like a marketing plan, your marketing strategy should cover the five “Ps” of marketing:
- Product – What you’re trying to sell
- Price – Profit margins, marketing budget, etc.
- Place – What channels or platforms will you use? (For example, will you be advertising on social media, utilizing email marketing, or going offline?) Consider where your customers already spend their time for the optimal marketing locations.
- Promotion – What are you trying to achieve? (Are you hoping to build your social media presence, increase brand perception, promote a new product, or something else?)
- People – Who is your target audience? What drives them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a fantastic position to start building your company’s marketing strategy.
Although “marketing strategies” might seem relatively straightforward, there can often be some confusion when establishing whether you’re creating a marketing strategy, marketing plan, or marketing tactic. While all three of these marketing initiatives work together, they cover slightly different aspects and should not be used interchangeably.
A marketing plan is an overview of all your marketing initiatives. This will include all the campaigns you intend to run over a set period of time, your goals and ambitions for the projects as a whole, and any research you’ve compiled to support these aims.
Marketing strategies at first glance appear very similar to the overarching marketing plan. However, the strategies will take a closer look at just a few select parts of the marketing plan.
For example, if your marketing plan is to promote a new product or service, you might have a strategy dedicated to how you’re going to use email marketing to support these broader goals. Every marketing plan will most likely produce several marketing strategies as part of the broader plan.
While the marketing plan and strategies are committed to explaining what you’re going to do, marketing tactics go deeper again and establish how you’re going to do it.
Using the above example, the marketing plan is to build awareness for a new product. The marketing strategy is how you’ll utilize email marketing as part of this. The marketing tactics will detail the specific actions you’ll take as part of the marketing campaign.
Now we understand some of the different marketing terms, it’s time to zone in on marketing strategies and how these work as part of your business plan.
There are numerous different types of marketing strategies you can use depending on your business needs. While we’re not going to cover every marketing strategy type today, these are some of the main ones that you’re likely to come across:
1. Social media marketing strategy
Today, social media marketing is a huge part of any business’s marketing plan as it’s a hugely compelling way to drive traffic, build brand awareness, and take advantage of the social selling revelation that’s taking over online marketing.
According to recent data, around 54% of social media users use social platforms to research brands and products, and 89% of consumers who follow a particular brand will purchase from that brand.
With these figures, if you’re not utilizing an effective social media marketing strategy, you’re missing out on untold rewards.
2. Email marketing strategy
Anyone who’s ever told you “email is dead” is dead wrong. Capturing your customers’ emails and browsers should be an essential part of your marketing strategy and is an excellent way to continue a conversation with people who have expressed interest in your brand.
There are loads of email marketing tools available to help you in this area. However, you still need an effective email marketing strategy to produce consistent, compelling emails that convert readers into buyers.
3. Inbound marketing strategy
An inbound marketing strategy is all about pulling customers in and driving traffic to your website or products. Rather than using “disruptive” marketing techniques (like TV advertising), inbound marketing is about lead generation using people who have shown interest in your products, services, or brand as a whole.
Email marketing can be a good example of an inbound marketing strategy. If someone has subscribed to your mailing list, chances are they’re at least somewhat interested in what you have to say. This enables you to take a softer approach to your marketing, as these leads are already more likely to become sales.
Another inbound marketing strategy could be blog posts. People will only see blog posts relevant to their search terms and interests, meaning they’ve expressed a need that at least somewhat relates to what you’re selling.
4. Content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is likely to overlap with an inbound marketing strategy, but it is more specific. With content marketing strategies, you focus on content creation that will draw people in and build interest.
This is likely to cover blog posts and white papers and can even overlap with your social media marketing.
Effectively, any part of your marketing campaigns that require content will require an effective content marketing strategy.
5. Editorial strategy
Taking an editorial approach is a particularly vital marketing strategy for advertising companies as it highlights the content formats, workflows, and channels you’ll be utilizing to hit your marketing goals.
It’s similar to the sort of marketing strategies you would expect to see in a news or media organization and can be essential for brand publishers or advertisers to keep their marketing efforts and ideas in focus.
6. Marketing communications strategy
Your marketing communications strategy should be primarily focused on your brand’s message and value proposition . It’s all about how you’re going to say what you need to say.
For example, is your tone of voice serious or humorous? Are you marketing yourself as an expert in your industry? What is the message you want to get across?
7. Digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing probably doesn’t need much introduction… This marketing strategy will encompass all your online marketing, SEO , social media lead generation, performance marketing , and more…. Effectively, if it’s online, it should be covered by your digital marketing strategy.
8. Internal marketing strategy
Although internal marketing will be less vital for SMBs, it can be a vital part of the marketing efforts for large companies. A good example of an internal marketing strategy would be an internal email that lets employees know they’re eligible to become shareholders or asks existing shareholders to support a new initiative.
Internal marketing can also cover more mundane issues, such as keeping staff up to date on any changes to the company, branding, or internal procedures.
9. Public relations strategy
If you’re in business, you’ll probably know how complicated PR strategies can be. Not only does getting PR right ensure you keep your customers happy, but it’s also vital for protecting your brand image in the eyes of your stakeholders, the media, and even governmental bodies or other influential institutions.
Any large business should have a dedicated PR team in charge of the brand’s public image. In addition to protecting it, good PR can also offer invaluable word-of-mouth advertising.
10. SEO strategy
SEO should form part of all the different marketing strategies. Still, you may find it beneficial to have some of your marketing efforts explicitly dedicated to SEO, as this is likely to be your primary source of lead generation.
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is pretty much what it says on the tin: the art of using keywords and phrases to boost your visibility when users search for relevant terms on the internet. Getting SEO right is arguably the best way to drive traffic to your website and should be front of mind in all your digital marketing and content marketing strategies.
Naturally, SEO goes beyond just keyword optimization and considers a plethora of other aspects to help you rise on those search engine results pages (SERPs). So, it’s a good idea to have at least one marketing team member dedicated to the latest SEO trends so you can rank #1 on Google.
When it comes to strategic marketing strategies, there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution. Strategies can take many different forms, from word documents to flowcharts to slides… But although they can look different on the outside, the most effective marketing strategies will always have a few things in common.
If nothing else, your marketing strategy should cover the following questions:
Who are you trying to reach?
For this section, you need to really get into the mind of your target audience. This includes building detailed buyer personas and user personas, with information including their demographics, age, location, employment status, interests, passions, pain points, and anything else you can think of. The more detail you can include in your target market research, the better you will understand and communicate with your audience.
Where will you reach your potential customers?
As part of your research into your target audience, you should also spend some time considering the places (online and offline) where they spend their time. For many businesses today, most of your marketing strategies will probably be focused on social media. Still, even once you’ve narrowed this down, it can also be valuable to create marketing strategies for the various social media platforms and any other marketing channels you would like to use.
What action do you want people to take?
The answer to this question will fuel your Call - to - Action phrases and is essentially nailing down the goals of your entire marketing campaign. Do you want to drive more website traffic? Increase sales? Raise awareness for a new product? Get more followers on social media? Boost your search results rankings? Whatever your goals are, having them clearly laid out as part of your digital marketing strategy is essential.
How will you inspire potential customers to take action?
The next question leads off this, and it’s about how you’re going to convince or inspire consumers to take the desired action. This could incorporate discount codes, summer sales, referral programs, or you could even let your brand, product, or service speak for itself if you’re just hoping to build awareness.
How will you measure success?
If you have no KPIs or objective method for measuring the success of your marketing campaign, you really have no way of monitoring whether or not your campaigns are working! Having clear, measurable goals and precise targets you can see whether you’re hitting are essential for an effective marketing strategy. For eg, if your target is to get more followers on Instagram for your brand… It’s easy to see when you’re on track. However, you’ll want to dive deeper than this, with goals for conversions, weekly and monthly targets, etc.
Top 11 great marketing strategy examples and 1 you shouldn’t follow
Now you have an idea of what a marketing strategy is and how to write some of the best marketing strategies, we wanted to give you some great marketing strategies examples so you can see how these work in the real world.
These examples of marketing strategies of a business will provide you with plenty of inspiration for your own campaigns and help you ace the advertising industry. Plus, we’ve included a bonus example of when a marketing strategy didn’t quite go to plan… Take a look!
1. Spotify: offering an alternative user experience
Spotify is the go-to music streaming service for most people around the world, but what is it that makes them stand out?
Spotify’s key marketing efforts focus on how the brand is different from other services, providing users with the chance to discover new music with ease and even lets you filter tracks by mood as well as genre. The artificial intelligence in Spotify’s algorithms provides users with carefully curated, bespoke playlists that actually suit their tastes and manages to turn playing music or listening to a podcast into a whole new experience.
2. Nordstrom: Retargeting campaigns
Nordstrom is well-known for dominating when it comes to marketing, and this campaign was remarkably successful. Employing the latest retargeting technology and tactics, Nordstrom was able to dramatically boost its bottom line and reduce cart abandonment. This campaign primarily utilized abandoned cart emails alongside social media ads that were activated following a website visit from the user.
3. GoPro: User-generated content
GoPro certainly isn’t the first – or the last – company to achieve success with a user-generated-content-led marketing strategy, but that doesn’t make it any less effective or worthy of inclusion in our list! As a brand dedicated to creating on-the-go, fast content, the product lends itself nicely to this marketing tactic, so GoPro can benefit from a “spectacular” Instagram feed without needing a huge budget to take the images itself. And what’s more, each user-generated image that ends up on the feed motivates others to snap pics and share their experiences.
4. Sephora: Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a bit of a tale as old as time for maximizing customer retention, but that doesn’t mean all loyalty programs are created equal. Sephora discovered the trick to innovative, inspiring loyalty programs with its tiered approach and generous rewards. These rewards provide plenty of incentive for users to buy and are a fantastic way of increasing word-of-mouth marketing.
5. Rainforest alliance: “Follow the Frog.”
These days, the top online stores all offer information about how they engage in sustainable practices, have cruelty-free manufacturing, and/or how they support charities and initiatives around the world. Rainforest Alliance’s “ Follow the Frog ” campaign tapped into this priority by offering B2B and B2C organizations the chance to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and sustainability with a green frog seal on their products and website. This became a well-known symbol that’s highly desirable to other brands in all industries.
6. Twitch: Niche-specific marketing
Many brands make the mistake of trying to market their product or service to a target audience that’s simply too broad. But that only leads to a confusing message and few real customers. Instead, follow the lead of the social streaming service, Twitch. This company wasted no time or money advertising to people who won’t be interested in what makes the brand unique… Instead, all its efforts went into establishing precisely who the niche market is and how to attract them.
7. Nike: “Just Do It” – promoting values
We are all familiar with Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan , but have you ever given the marketing plan behind it any thought? Well, Nike used to be a brand dedicated to providing athleticwear to athletes… But they changed their model to appeal to the masses and put values first. The “Just Do It” and “*If you have a body, you’re an athlete” campaigns have been instrumental in Nike’s prolonged success by making everyone feel included and welcomed.
8. Chipotle: Fun contests
Contests are always an effective way to build brand awareness or promote a new product. Chipotle’s 2020 social media contest came at a perfect time and gave the audience a fun and unique way of interacting with the brand. The contest was called “Chipotle Royalty” and involved users posting a TikTok video explaining why their Chipotle order was the best. The prizes? A chance to win $10,000 and have their order become a permanent menu fixture. Definitely worth a video!
9. Red Bull: Putting identify before products
Similar to Nike’s values before products , Red Bull prioritizes experiences and identity of risk-taking front-and-center when it comes to marketing. With Red Bull sponsorships covering everything from Red Bull Stratos (seriously, take a look, it’s really cool) to rallycross racing to Formula One, and so much more, Red Bull had made its identity and brand persona clear… And ensures we won’t forget it any time soon!
10. Starbucks: Making coffee into an experience and a lifestyle
Selling coffee certainly doesn’t sound like a unique endeavor, but Starbucks’ marketing team worked hard to create an experience that wasn’t just about the coffee. With an incredibly famous logo that can be spotted worldwide, Starbucks created a feeling of comfort, inclusion, and home that cannot be rivelled. Coschedule has an interesting, deep-dive article looking at Starbucks ‘ marketing strategy in more detail.
11. AllBirds: Humorous, transparent, sustainable
Allbirds’ goal was to create “the world’s most comfortable shoe.” And while they did seem to manage this, it’s not why we’re highlighting their marketing strategy. This strategy really stands out because of the consistent tone of voice and values visible in every piece of marketing, every web page, and every interaction with the brand. The quirky and humorous voice is highly memorable and matches the values of transparency, sustainability, and comfort.
12. Segway: Failed to identify pain points
Now we’ve considered some of the best marketing strategies of all time, we also wanted to look at one brand that didn’t do quite so well. When Segway was first introduced, the idea was that it would replace walking as the primary A-to-B method and could go up to 12.5mph. The primary reason Segway failed is because people didn’t want to stop walking, running, or cycling (among others). So, the pain point the device was built to solve wasn’t really a pain point at all, and Segway offered little benefit to users.
The lesson here? Do your target market research thoroughly , and don’t just build a product because you think it looks cool.
No matter how big or small your ad campaigns are, it’s essential to always support them with marketing strategies that summarize how you will convert browsers into consumers. To give you a head start at employing the best and most effective marketing techniques, ensure every strategy you create does the following:
Set specific goals
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) goals are essential for an excellent marketing strategy. These will not only give you something to aim for, but they’ll also help you monitor your progress and hold you accountable.
Identify your target audience.
Correctly identifying your target audience, their passions, and their pain points is vital. As we learned from Segway, not having a thorough understanding of your audience and what they need/want is only ever going to be a recipe for disaster.
Identify your competition
There’s a lot to be learned from the competition. On the one hand, you can check on other businesses in your industry to see what they’re doing well and what their audience responds to. On the other hand, identifying your competition’s weaker points can be a brilliant springboard to help you find your unique selling proposition and help you stand out.
Choose the most effective platform
There’s no point in shouting about your products in a location your customers never visit. As part of your market research, you should also investigate where your customers spend their time online and offline. Then, build a marketing strategy using the platforms and channels your customers are already using.
Marketing strategies make it more likely that you’ll reach your goals
You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to invest in an effective marketing strategy and reap the benefits. Even small businesses need marketing to build brand awareness and get people interested. After all, even with the best products in the world, nobody will buy them if they don’t know who you are!
As the famous quote goes, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” And the research backs this up, with 313% of marketers being more likely to report success when they have a documented marketing strategy than those without.
So, don’t waste your precious time and money investing in poorly thought-out marketing campaigns. Instead, take the time to build a detailed plan and strategy with marketing tactics for success, and you’ll be sure to maximize your ROI in no time.
How do you create a marketing strategy?
Building a marketing strategy isn’t that different from writing a marketing plan… It’s just more detailed and niche than the overarching plan and focuses on one/two platforms at a time.
How do you write a marketing strategy example?
It’s worth (if you can) taking a look at some other successful marketing strategy examples from similar companies in your industry before writing your own if you’re not sure where to start. This will give you an idea of what has/hasn’t worked in the past and will enable you to cultivate a better strategy than the one before. Even if you can’t view the marketing strategy document, plenty of research is always necessary for any advertising campaign; the more information you have before you start, the better your marketing strategy will be.
What are the five marketing strategies?
The five “Ps” of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People. These “Ps” are essential to quality marketing efforts and should all be covered in your marketing strategy example.
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What Is a Marketing Strategy?
- How It Works
- Strategies vs. Plans
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Strategy FAQs
Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, How To Create One
Investopedia / Daniel Fishel
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition , key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A thorough marketing strategy covers the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
- A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.
- Marketing strategies should revolve around a company’s value proposition.
- The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.
Understanding Marketing Strategies
A clear marketing strategy should revolve around the company’s value proposition, which communicates to consumers what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves their business.
This provides marketing teams with a template that should inform their initiatives across all of the company’s products and services. For example, Walmart ( WMT ) is widely known as a discount retailer with “everyday low prices,” whose business operations and marketing efforts are rooted in that idea.
Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans
The marketing strategy is outlined in the marketing plan —a document that details the specific types of marketing activities that a company conducts and contains timetables for rolling out various marketing initiatives.
Marketing strategies should ideally have longer life spans than individual marketing plans because they contain value propositions and other key elements of a company’s brand, which generally hold constant over the long haul. In other words, marketing strategies cover big-picture messaging, while marketing plans delineate the logistical details of specific campaigns.
For example, a marketing strategy might say that a company aims to increase authority in niche circles where their clients visit. The marketing plan puts that in action by commissioning thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.
Benefits of a Marketing Strategy
The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies by understanding the needs and wants of its consumers. Whether it’s a print ad design, mass customization , or a social media campaign, a marketing asset can be judged based on how effectively it communicates a company’s core value proposition.
Market research can help chart the efficacy of a given campaign and can help identify untapped audiences to achieve bottom-line goals and increase sales.
Creating a marketing strategy requires a few steps. HubSpot, a digital marketing resource, offers insight into how to create your strategy.
- Identify your goals: While sales are the ultimate goal for every company, you should have more short-term goals such as establishing authority, increasing customer engagement, or generating leads. These smaller goals offer measurable benchmarks for the progress of your marketing plan. Think of strategy as the high-level ideology and planning as how you accomplish your goals.
- Know your clients: Every product or service has an ideal customer, and you should know who they are and where they hang out. If you sell power tools, you’ll choose marketing channels where general contractors may see your messaging. Establish who your client is and how your product will improve their lives.
- Create your message: Now that you know your goals and who you’re pitching to, it’s time to create your messaging. This is your opportunity to show your potential clients how your product or service will benefit them and why you’re the only company that can provide it.
- Define your budget: How you disperse your messaging may depend on how much you can afford. Will you be purchasing advertising? Hoping for a viral moment on social media organically? Sending out press releases to the media to try to gain coverage? Your budget will dictate what you can afford to do.
- Determine your channels: Even the best message needs the appropriate venue. Some companies may find more value in creating blog posts for their website. Others may find success with paid ads on social media channels. Find the most appropriate venue for your content.
- Measure your success: To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts.
Why does my company need a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy helps a company direct its advertising dollars to where it will have the most impact. Compared with the data from 2018, the correlation between organization and success in marketers jumped from being almost four times more likely to almost seven times more likely in 2022.
What do the four Ps mean in a marketing strategy?
The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a good or service. The four Ps can be used when planning a new business venture, evaluating an existing offer, or trying to optimize sales with a target audience. It also can be used to test a current marketing strategy on a new audience.
What does a marketing strategy look like?
A marketing strategy will detail the advertising, outreach, and public relations campaigns to be carried out by a firm, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. They will typically follow the four Ps. The functions and components of a marketing plan include market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries, tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas, and platform selection for product and service promotion—digital, radio, internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign, and metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.
Is a marketing strategy the same as a marketing plan?
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.
Walmart Corporate. “ About .”
HubSpot Blog. “ 7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2022 .”
i7 Marketing. “ 6 Steps to Develop a Winning Marketing Campaign .”
CoSchedule. “ Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022 .”
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Marketing Strategy in a Business Plan
… we will get this market share by …
- Product USP : Why buy our product? What characteristics does the product have to meet customer needs?
- Promotion : What marketing activities will be undertaken? What means of communication will the business use to persuade customers of the benefits of the product? Will it use above the line promotion or below the line promotion?
- Place : What are the distribution channels? How is the business going to reach customers with its product?
- Price : What price will the business charge for the product, and what goal is it pursuing with the pricing strategy? Will the business use premium, penetration, economy or skimming pricing strategies.
Marketing Strategy Presentation
The marketing strategy section of the business plan can be presented in four sections relating to each of the four P’s product, promotion, place, and price as shown in the example layout below.
The marketing strategy is a key section of the business plan, at this stage you are not trying to present a complete marketing plan, but simply trying to show the investor that each major section of the marketing strategy has been thought about and that you have a good marketing mix.
All of the four sections should be consistent with and support each other, for example, if you are planning to adopt a high price strategy, then the product would be aimed at an upmarket target customer, distributed at high end stores, and make use of one to one personal selling.
This is part of the financial projections and Contents of a Business Plan Guide , a series of posts on what each section of a simple business plan should include. The next post in this series sets out the business model which the business intends to use to generate revenue.
About the Author
Chartered accountant Michael Brown is the founder and CEO of Plan Projections. He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries. He has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a degree from Loughborough University.
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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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How to Write a Business Plan: Target Market Analysis
The Business Plan and the Importance of Defining Your Target Market
Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
Conducting a Market Analysis
Polling your target market, writing the market analysis, online tools for market research, u.s. online market research sources, canadian online market research, local sources of market research, doing your own market research.
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The market analysis is basically the target market section of your business plan . It is a thorough examination of the ideal people to whom you intend to sell your products or services.
Even if you intend on selling a product or service only in your community, you won't be selling that service to everyone who lives there. Knowing exactly what type(s) of people might be interested in buying your product or service and how many of them reside in your projected area or region is fundamental in creating your market analysis.
Once target market data has been established, you'll also work on sales projections within specific time frames, as well as how prospective sales might be affected by trends and policies.
Research is key and cornerstone of any solid business plan .
Don't Skip This Step!
Don't skip market research; otherwise, you could end up starting a business that doesn't have a paying market.
Use these general terms as linchpins in research data for the market analysis section of your business plan, and to identify your target market:
But don't stop here. To succinctly define your target market, poll or survey members of your prospective clients or customers to ask specific questions directly related to your products or services. For instance, if you plan to sell computer-related services, ask questions relating to the number of computing devices your prospective customers own and how often they require servicing. If you plan on selling garden furniture and accessories, ask what kinds of garden furniture or accessories your potential customers have bought in the past, how often, and what they expect to buy within the next one, three, and five years.
Answers to these and other questions related to your market are to help you understand your market potential.
The goal of the information you collect is to help you project how much of your product or service you'll be able to sell. Review these important questions you need to try to answer using the data you collect:
- What proportion of your target market has used a product similar to yours before?
- How much of your product or service might your target market buy? (Estimate this in gross sales and/or in units of product/service sold.)
- What proportion of your target market might be repeat customers?
- How might your target market be affected by demographic shifts?
- How might your target market be affected by economic events (e.g. a local mill closing or a big-box retailer opening locally)?
- How might your target market be affected by larger socio-economic trends?
- How might your target market be affected by government policies (e.g. new bylaws or changes in taxes)?
One purpose of the market analysis is to ensure you have a viable business idea.
Find Your Buying Market
Use your market research to make sure people don't just like your business idea, but they're also willing to pay for it.
If you have information suggesting that you have a large enough market to sustain your business goals, write the market analysis in the form of several short paragraphs using appropriate headings for each. If you have several target markets, you may want to number each.
Sections of your market analysis should include:
- Industry Description and Outlook
- Target Market
- Market Research Results
- Competitive Analysis
Remember to properly cite your sources of information within the body of your market analysis as you write it. You and other readers of your business plan, such as potential investors, will need to know the sources of the statistics or opinions that you've gathered.
There are several online resources to learn if your business idea is something worth pursing, including:
- Keyword searches can give you an overall sense of potential demand for your product or service based on the number of searches.
- Google Trends analysis can tell you how the number of searches has changed over time.
- Social media campaigns can give you an indication of the potential customer interest in your business idea.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has information on doing your market research and analysis , as well as a list of free small business data and trends resources you can use to conduct your research. Consider these sources for data collection:
- SBA Business Data and Statistics
- The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a huge database of demographic information that is searchable by state, county, city/town, or zip code using its census data tool . Community, housing, economic, and population surveys are also available.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has extensive statistics on the economy including consumer income/spending/consumption, business activity, GDP, and more, all of which are searchable by location.
The Government of Canada offers a guide on doing market research and tips for understanding the data you collect. Canadian data resources include:
- Statistics Canada offers demographic and economic data.
- The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) offers market research and consulting with industry experts.
- The Canada Business Network provides business information to entrepreneurs by province/territory, including market research data.
There are also a great many local resources for building target market information to explore, including:
- Local library
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Board of Trade
- Economic Development Centre
- Local government agent's office
- Provincial business ministry
- Local phone book
All of these will have information helpful in defining your target market and providing insights into trends.
The above resources are secondary sources of information, in which others have collected and compiled the data. To get specific information about your business, consider conducting your own market research . For instance, you might want to design a questionnaire and survey your target market to learn more about their habits and preferences relating to your product or service.
Market research is time-consuming but is an important step in affording your business plan validity. If you don't have the time or the research skills to thoroughly define your target market yourself, hiring a person or firm to do the research for you can be a wise investment.
Small Business Administration. " Market Research and Competitive Analysis. " Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
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How to Write a Market Analysis for a Business Plan
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A lot of preparation goes into starting a business before you can open your doors to the public or launch your online store. One of your first steps should be to write a business plan . A business plan will serve as your roadmap when building your business.
Within your business plan, there’s an important section you should pay careful attention to: your market analysis. Your market analysis helps you understand your target market and how you can thrive within it.
Simply put, your market analysis shows that you’ve done your research. It also contributes to your marketing strategy by defining your target customer and researching their buying habits. Overall, a market analysis will yield invaluable data if you have limited knowledge about your market, the market has fierce competition, and if you require a business loan. In this guide, we'll explore how to conduct your own market analysis.
How to conduct a market analysis: A step-by-step guide
In your market analysis, you can expect to cover the following:
Barriers to entry
Let’s dive into an in-depth look into each section:
Step 1: Define your objective
Before you begin your market analysis, it’s important to define your objective for writing a market analysis. Are you writing it for internal purposes or for external purposes?
If you were doing a market analysis for internal purposes, you might be brainstorming new products to launch or adjusting your marketing tactics. An example of an external purpose might be that you need a market analysis to get approved for a business loan .
The comprehensiveness of your market analysis will depend on your objective. If you’re preparing for a new product launch, you might focus more heavily on researching the competition. A market analysis for a loan approval would require heavy data and research into market size and growth, share potential, and pricing.
Step 2: Provide an industry outlook
An industry outlook is a general direction of where your industry is heading. Lenders want to know whether you’re targeting a growing industry or declining industry. For example, if you’re looking to sell VCRs in 2020, it’s unlikely that your business will succeed.
Starting your market analysis with an industry outlook offers a preliminary view of the market and what to expect in your market analysis. When writing this section, you'll want to include:
Are you chasing big markets or are you targeting very niche markets? If you’re targeting a niche market, are there enough customers to support your business and buy your product?
Product life cycle
If you develop a product, what will its life cycle look like? Lenders want an overview of how your product will come into fruition after it’s developed and launched. In this section, you can discuss your product’s:
Research and development
How do you see your company performing over time? Calculating your year-over-year growth will help you and lenders see how your business has grown thus far. Calculating your projected growth shows how your business will fare in future projected market conditions.
Step 3: Determine your target market
This section of your market analysis is dedicated to your potential customer. Who is your ideal target customer? How can you cater your product to serve them specifically?
Don’t make the mistake of wanting to sell your product to everybody. Your target customer should be specific. For example, if you’re selling mittens, you wouldn’t want to market to warmer climates like Hawaii. You should target customers who live in colder regions. The more nuanced your target market is, the more information you’ll have to inform your business and marketing strategy.
With that in mind, your target market section should include the following points:
This is where you leave nothing to mystery about your ideal customer. You want to know every aspect of your customer so you can best serve them. Dedicate time to researching the following demographics:
Create a customer persona
Creating a customer persona can help you better understand your customer. It can be easier to market to a person than data on paper. You can give this persona a name, background, and job. Mold this persona into your target customer.
What are your customer’s pain points? How do these pain points influence how they buy products? What matters most to them? Why do they choose one brand over another?
Research and supporting material
Information without data are just claims. To add credibility to your market analysis, you need to include data. Some methods for collecting data include:
Target group surveys
You can also consult resources online. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau can help you find demographics in calculating your market share. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration also offer general data that can help you research your target industry.
Step 4: Calculate market value
You can use either top-down analysis or bottom-up analysis to calculate an estimate of your market value.
A top-down analysis tends to be the easier option of the two. It requires for you to calculate the entire market and then estimate how much of a share you expect your business to get. For example, let’s assume your target market consists of 100,000 people. If you’re optimistic and manage to get 1% of that market, you can expect to make 1,000 sales.
A bottom-up analysis is more data-driven and requires more research. You calculate the individual factors of your business and then estimate how high you can scale them to arrive at a projected market share. Some factors to consider when doing a bottom-up analysis include:
Where products are sold
Who your competition is
The price per unit
How many consumers you expect to reach
The average amount a customer would buy over time
While a bottom-up analysis requires more data than a top-down analysis, you can usually arrive at a more accurate calculation.
Step 5: Get to know your competition
Before you start a business, you need to research the level of competition within your market. Are there certain companies getting the lion’s share of the market? How can you position yourself to stand out from the competition?
There are two types of competitors that you should be aware of: direct competitors and indirect competitors.
Direct competitors are other businesses who sell the same product as you. If you and the company across town both sell apples, you are direct competitors.
An indirect competitor sells a different but similar product to yours. If that company across town sells oranges instead, they are an indirect competitor. Apples and oranges are different but they still target a similar market: people who eat fruits.
Also, here are some questions you want to answer when writing this section of your market analysis:
What are your competitor’s strengths?
What are your competitor’s weaknesses?
How can you cover your competitor’s weaknesses in your own business?
How can you solve the same problems better or differently than your competitors?
How can you leverage technology to better serve your customers?
How big of a threat are your competitors if you open your business?
Step 6: Identify your barriers
Writing a market analysis can help you identify some glaring barriers to starting your business. Researching these barriers will help you avoid any costly legal or business mistakes down the line. Some entry barriers to address in your marketing analysis include:
Technology: How rapid is technology advancing and can it render your product obsolete within the next five years?
Branding: You need to establish your brand identity to stand out in a saturated market.
Cost of entry: Startup costs, like renting a space and hiring employees, are expensive. Also, specialty equipment often comes with hefty price tags. (Consider researching equipment financing to help finance these purchases.)
Location: You need to secure a prime location if you’re opening a physical store.
Competition: A market with fierce competition can be a steep uphill battle (like attempting to go toe-to-toe with Apple or Amazon).
Step 7: Know the regulations
When starting a business, it’s your responsibility to research governmental and state business regulations within your market. Some regulations to keep in mind include (but aren’t limited to):
Employment and labor laws
If you’re a newer entrepreneur and this is your first business, this part can be daunting so you might want to consult with a business attorney. A legal professional will help you identify the legal requirements specific to your business. You can also check online legal help sites like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer.
Tips when writing your market analysis
We wouldn’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information needed in a market analysis. Keep in mind, though, this research is key to launching a successful business. You don’t want to cut corners, but here are a few tips to help you out when writing your market analysis:
Use visual aids
Nobody likes 30 pages of nothing but text. Using visual aids can break up those text blocks, making your market analysis more visually appealing. When discussing statistics and metrics, charts and graphs will help you better communicate your data.
Include a summary
If you’ve ever read an article from an academic journal, you’ll notice that writers include an abstract that offers the reader a preview.
Use this same tactic when writing your market analysis. It will prime the reader of your market highlights before they dive into the hard data.
Get to the point
It’s better to keep your market analysis concise than to stuff it with fluff and repetition. You’ll want to present your data, analyze it, and then tie it back into how your business can thrive within your target market.
Revisit your market analysis regularly
Markets are always changing and it's important that your business changes with your target market. Revisiting your market analysis ensures that your business operations align with changing market conditions. The best businesses are the ones that can adapt.
Why should you write a market analysis?
Your market analysis helps you look at factors within your market to determine if it’s a good fit for your business model. A market analysis will help you:
1. Learn how to analyze the market need
Markets are always shifting and it’s a good idea to identify current and projected market conditions. These trends will help you understand the size of your market and whether there are paying customers waiting for you. Doing a market analysis helps you confirm that your target market is a lucrative market.
2. Learn about your customers
The best way to serve your customer is to understand them. A market analysis will examine your customer’s buying habits, pain points, and desires. This information will aid you in developing a business that addresses those points.
3. Get approved for a business loan
Starting a business, especially if it’s your first one, requires startup funding. A good first step is to apply for a business loan with your bank or other financial institution.
A thorough market analysis shows that you’re professional, prepared, and worth the investment from lenders. This preparation inspires confidence within the lender that you can build a business and repay the loan.
4. Beat the competition
Your research will offer valuable insight and certain advantages that the competition might not have. For example, thoroughly understanding your customer’s pain points and desires will help you develop a superior product or service than your competitors. If your business is already up and running, an updated market analysis can upgrade your marketing strategy or help you launch a new product.
There is a saying that the first step to cutting down a tree is to sharpen an axe. In other words, preparation is the key to success. In business, preparation increases the chances that your business will succeed, even in a competitive market.
The market analysis section of your business plan separates the entrepreneurs who have done their homework from those who haven’t. Now that you’ve learned how to write a market analysis, it’s time for you to sharpen your axe and grow a successful business. And keep in mind, if you need help crafting your business plan, you can always turn to business plan software or a free template to help you stay organized.
This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
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5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan [Free Templates]
Published: March 16, 2023
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Do you take a good, hard look at your team's marketing strategy every year?
You should. Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy — and it's nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you'll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you'll encounter over the course of a year if you don't have a plan.
To make your plan's creation easier, we've put together a list of what to include in your plan and a few different planning templates where you can easily fill in the blanks.
To start, let's dive into how to create a marketing plan and then take a look at what a high-level marketing plan has inside.
In this article, we're going to discuss:
- What a High-Level Marketing Plan Includes
How to Create a Marketing Plan
- Marketing Plan Templates You Can Use
- Simplified Marketing Plan Template
- Plus — Social Media Plan Templates
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Fill out this form to access a free marketing plan template.
Marketing plan outline.
Download This Marketing Plan Outline for Free
The below marketing plan outline will help you create an effective plan that easily generates buy-in from stakeholders and effectively guides your marketing efforts.
Marketing plans can get quite granular to reflect the industry you're in, whether you're selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how big your digital presence is. Nonetheless, here are the elements every effective marketing plan includes:
1. Business Summary
In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. It’s essential to include this information so that all stakeholders, including your direct reports, learn about your company in detail before delving into the more strategic components of your plan. Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who’ve been in the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page.
Most business summaries include:
The company name
Where it's headquartered
Its mission statement
Our marketing plan outline also includes information on marketing leadership, which is especially helpful for companies with large marketing teams.
2. SWOT Analysis
Your marketing plan's business summary also includes a SWOT analysis , which stands for the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s essential to include this information so you can create targeted strategies that help you capitalize on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.
However, be patient with your business' SWOT analysis; you'll write most of it as you conduct your market research and create your strategy. Feel free to come back to this section periodically, adjusting it as you discover more information about your own business and your competition.
3. Business Initiatives
The business initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you'd normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You'll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.
Every initiative should follow the SMART method for goal-making . They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
4. Customer Analysis
In this part of the marketing plan outline, you get plenty of space to share all the data you collected during your market research . If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Either way, try to do your research before synthesizing it in a shareable document like this one.
Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you're selling to and your buyer persona . A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:
5. Competitor Analysis
Our marketing plan template includes space to list out the specific products you compete with, as well as other facets of the other company’s strategy, such as their blogging efforts or customer service reputation. Keep this part of your plan simple — your full competitive analysis should be done separately. Here are a few competitive analysis templates to get started.
6. Market Strategy
Your market strategy uses the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your buyer
personas that your competitors aren't already offering them?
As you fill out the section, use the insights from your SWOT analysis, your competitive analysis, and your market research to create targeted, effective descriptions that will help you secure buy-in for your later tactics and strategies. For instance, if you found that one of your competitors employs stronger social media marketing strategies , you might add “We’ll post 3 times per week on our social media profiles” under “Promotion.”
In our full-length marketing plan outline, the market strategy section contains the "seven Ps of marketing" (or the “ extended marketing mix ”):
(You'll learn more about these seven sub-components inside our free marketing plan template, which you can download below.)
Don't mistake the marketing budget element of your plan with your product's price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.
Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you'll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include:
Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers
Events (those you'll host and/or attend)
Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you'll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won't be 100% accurate but can help with executive planning.
Remember: Your marketing plan only includes a summary of the costs. We recommend keeping a separate document or Excel sheet to help you calculate your budget much more effectively. Here’s a marketing budget template to get started .
8. Marketing Channels
Your marketing plan should also include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you'll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.
If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you'll use this social network for, and how you'll measure your success on this network. Part of this section's purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.
Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.
9. Marketing Technology
Last, but certainly not least, your marketing plan should include an overview of the tools you’ll include in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack . These are the tools that will help you achieve the goals you outlined in the previous sections. Since all types of marketing software usually need a generous investment from your company’s leadership, it’s essential to connect them to a potential ROI for your business.
For each tool, describe what exactly you’ll use it for, and be sure that it’s a strategy that you’ve mentioned elsewhere. For instance, we wouldn't recommend listing an advertising management tool if you didn’t list “ PPC Advertising ” under “Marketing Channels.”
- Conduct a situation analysis.
- Define your target audience.
- Write SMART goals.
- Analyze your tactics.
- Set your budget.
1. Conduct a situation analysis.
Before you can get started with your marketing plan, you have to know your current situation.
What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Conducting a basic SWOT analysis is the first step to creating a marketing plan.
Additionally, you should also have an understanding of the current market. How do you compare to your competitors? Doing a competitor analysis should help you with this step.
Think about how other products are better than yours. Plus, consider the gaps in a competitor's approach. What are they missing? What can you offer that'll give you a competitive advantage? Think about what sets you apart.
Answering questions like this should help you figure out what your customer wants, which brings us to step number two.
2. Define your target audience.
Once you better understand the market and your company's situation, make sure you know who your target audience is.
If your company already has buyer personas , this step might just mean you have to refine your current personas.
If you don't have a buyer persona, you should create one. To do this, you might have to conduct market research.
Your buyer persona should include demographic information such as age, gender, and income. However, it will also include psychographic information such as pain points and goals. What drives your audience? What problems do they have that your product or service can fix?
Once you have this information written out, it'll help you define your goals, which brings us to step number three.
3. Write SMART goals.
My mother always used to tell me, "You can't go somewhere unless you have a road map." Now, for me, someone who's geographically challenged, that was literal advice.
However, it can also be applied metaphorically to marketing. You can't improve your ROI unless you know what your goals are.
After you've figured out your current situation and know your audience, you can begin to define your SMART goals .
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that all your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete them.
For example, your goal could be to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months. Depending on your overall marketing goals, this should be relevant and attainable. Additionally, this goal is specific, measurable, and time-bound.
Before you start any tactic, you should write out your goals. Then, you can begin to analyze which tactics will help you achieve that goal. That brings us to step number four.
4. Analyze your tactics.
At this point, you've written down your goals based on your target audience and current situation.
Now, you have to figure out what tactics will help you achieve your goals. Plus, what are the right channels and action items to focus on?
For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, your tactics might include hosting a giveaway, responding to every comment, and posting three times on Instagram per week.
Once you know your goals, brainstorming several tactics to achieve those goals should be easy.
However, while writing your tactics, you have to keep your budget in mind, which brings us to step number five.
5. Set your budget.
Before you can begin implementing any of the ideas that you've come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget.
For example, your tactics might include social media advertising. However, if you don't have the budget for that, then you might not be able to achieve your goals.
While you're writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it'll take to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase, such as ad space.
Now that you know how to create your marketing plan, let's dive into creating a marketing campaign outline that will help you reach the goals outlined plan.
Marketing Plan Timeline
Rolling out a new marketing plan is a big lift. To make sure things are running smoothly with all of your projects, you’ll want to create a timeline that maps out when each project is happening.
A marketing plan timeline allows your team to view all projects, campaigns, events, and other related tasks in one place — along with their deadlines. This ensures everyone on your team knows what’s due, when it’s due, and what’s up next in the pipeline. Typically these plans cover marketing efforts for the entire year, but some companies may operate on a bi-annual or quarterly basis.
Once you’ve completed your analysis, research, and set goals, it’s time to set deadlines for your assignments. From new blog posts and content initiatives to product launches, everything will need a deadline. Take into account any holidays or events taking place over the course of the year.
While setting deadlines for the entire year may seem daunting, start by estimating how long you think each task will take and set a deadline accordingly. Track the time it actually takes for you to complete similar types of projects. Once you’ve completed a few of them, you’ll have a better idea of how long each takes and will be able to set more accurate deadlines.
For each project, you’ll want to build in time for:
- Brainstorming : This is the first phase where your idea comes to life in a project outline. Decide what you want to achieve and which stakeholders need to be involved to meet your goal. Set a due date and set up any necessary meetings.
- Planning : This can include determining the project’s scope, figuring out how much budget will be allocated for it, finalizing deadlines and who is working on each task. Map out any campaigns needed for each project (social media, PR, sales promotions, landing pages, events, etc.).
- Execution : This third phase is all about your project launch. Decide on a date to launch and monitor the progress of the project. Set up a system for tracking metrics and KPIs.
- Analysis : In this final phase you will analyze all of your performance data to see whether or not your marketing efforts paid off. Did you meet your goals? Did you complete your projects on time and within budget?
All projects and their deadlines should be in a central location where your team can access them whether that’s a calendar like HubSpot's tool , shared document, or project management tool.
One-Page Marketing Plan Template
As demonstrated above, a marketing plan can be a long document. When you want to share information with stakeholders or simply want an overview of your plan for quick reference, having a shorter version on hand can be helpful. A one-page marketing plan can be the solution, and we’ll discuss its elements below.
Include your company name, list the names of individuals responsible for enacting the different stages of your plan, and a brief mission statement.
2. Business Initiatives
3. Target Market
Outline your target audience(s) that your efforts will reach. You can include a brief overview of your industry and buyer personas.
This is an overview of the money you’ll spend to help you meet your marketing goals. Create a good estimate of how much you'll spend on each facet of your marketing program.
5. Marketing Channels
List the channels you’ll use to achieve your marketing goals. Describe why you're using each channel and what you want to accomplish so everyone is on the same page.
Free Marketing Plan Template [Word]
Now that you know what to include in your marketing plan, it's time to grab your marketing plan template and see how best to organize the six elements explained above. The following marketing plan template opens directly in Microsoft Word, so you can edit each section as you see fit:
Download your marketing plan template here .
Marketing campaign template.
Your marketing plan is a high-level view of the different marketing strategies you’ll use to meet your business objectives. A marketing campaign template is a focused plan that will help achieve those marketing goals.
A marketing campaign template should include the following key components:
- Goals and KPIs: Identify the end goal for each of the individual campaigns you’ll run and the metrics you will use to measure the results of your campaign when it ends. For example, conversion rates, sales, sign-ups, etc.
- Channels: Identify the different channels you’ll use to enact your marketing campaign to reach your audience. Maybe you run a social media campaign on Twitter to raise brand awareness or a direct mail campaign to notify your audience of upcoming sales.
- Budget : Identify the budget you’ll need to run your campaign and how it will be distributed, like the amount you’ll spend on creating content or ad placements in different areas. Having these numbers also helps you later on when you quantify the success of your campaign, like ROI.
- Content: Identify the type of content you’ll create and distribute during your campaigns—for example, blog posts, video ads, email newsletters, etc.
- Teams and DRIs: Identify the teams and people that will be part of enacting your marketing plan from start to finish, like those responsible for creating your marketing assets, budgets, or analyzing metrics once campaigns are complete.
- Design: Identify what your marketing campaigns will look like and how you’ll use design elements to attract your audience. It’s important to note that your design should directly relate to the purpose of your campaign.
Digital Marketing Plan Template
A digital marketing plan is similar to a marketing campaign plan, but, as the name suggests, it’s tailored to the campaigns that you run online. Let’s go over the key components of a digital marketing plan template to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
- Objectives: The goals for your digital marketing and what you’re hoping to accomplish, like driving more traffic to your website. Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website, or
- Budget : Identify how much it will cost to run your digital marketing campaign and how the money will be distributed. For example, ad placement on different social media sites costs money, and so does creating your assets.
- Target audience: Which segments of your audience are you hoping to reach with this campaign? It’s essential to identify the audiences you want to reach with your digital marketing, as different channels house different audience segments.
- Channels: Identifies the channels that are central to your digital marketing campaign.
- Timeline: Explains the length of time your digital campaigns will run, from how long it should take to create your assets to the final day of the campaign.
Many people use social media in their digital campaigns, and below we’ll discuss some ideas you can use for inspiration.
Social Media Marketing Plan Templates
As marketing departments grow, so will their presence on social media. And as their social media presence grows, so will their need to measure, plan, and re-plan what types of content they want to publish across each network.
If you're looking for a way to deepen your social media marketing strategy — even further than the marketing plan template above — the following collection of social media marketing plan templates is perfect for you:
Download 10 social media reporting templates here .
In the above collection of marketing plan templates, you'll get to fill in the following contents (and more) to suit your company:
- Annual social media budget tracking
- Weekly social media themes
- Required social media image dimension key
- Pie chart on social media traffic sorted by platform
- Social media post calendar and publish time
Below, let's review the social media reporting templates, and what you'll find in each one.
1. Social Media Questions
This template lists out questions to help you decide which social media management platform you should use.
Once you know what social media tactics you're going to implement in your marketing plan, it's time to figure out what channels are right for you. This template will help you do that.
2. Facebook Live Schedule
If Facebook Live is one of the marketing tactics in your plan, this template will help you design an editorial calendar. With this template, you can organize what Facebook live's you want to do and when.
Once you've decided on dates, you can color code your FB calendar and coordinate with your editorial calendar so everyone can see what lives are running in relation to other campaigns.
3. Instagram Post Log
Are you going to begin using Instagram regularly? Do you want to increase your following? With this template, you can organize your Instagram posts, so everyone on your team knows what posts are going live and when.
Additionally, you can organize your assets and campaigns on this doc. Use this doc to collaborate with your team on messaging, landing pages linked in your bio, and campaign rollout.
4. Paid Social Media Template
With this template, you can organize your annual and monthly budget for your paid social media calendar.
You'll want to use this in conjunction with your marketing plan budget to make sure you are not overspending and funds are allocated appropriately.
5. Social Media Audit
Conducting a social media audit? You can use this template to help you gather the right analytics. Tracking the results of your marketing efforts is key to determining ROI.
Use this template to track each of your campaigns to determine what worked and what didn't. From there, you can allocate funds for the strategies that deliver the results you want.
6. Social Media Editorial Calendar
With this template, you can organize your social media editorial calendar. For example, you can include social media posts for each platform, so your team knows what's going live on any given day.
7. Social Media Image Sizes
With this template, your team can have the latest social media image sizes handy. This template includes image sizes for all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Having a resource like this readily available for your team ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding image sizes and prevents delays.
8. Social Media Marketing Proposal
With this template, you can create an entire social media marketing proposal. This will outline the social media goals, the scope of the work, and the tactics that you plan to implement.
Think of this proposal as more of a deep dive into the marketing channel section of your marketing plan.
9. Social Media Reporting Template
With this template, you'll gain access to a slide deck that includes templates for social media reporting. If you plan to implement social media in your marketing plan, these reporting templates can help you track your progress.
If using the social media audit above, you can add all of your data here once it's been collected.
10. Hashtag Holidays
If you're going to lean into social media in your marketing plan, you can use hashtag holidays to generate ideas.
These holidays are a great way to fill out your social media publishing schedule. With this template, you'll get a list of all the hashtag holidays for the year.
Once you've come up with content ideas, you can add them to your social media calendar.
Simple Marketing Plan Template
Of course, this type of planning takes a lot of time and effort. So if you're strapped for time before the holidays, give our new Marketing Plan Generator a try.
This tool simplifies yearly planning by asking prompted questions to help guide your process. You’ll be asked to input information about:
Try our free Marketing Plan Generator here .
- Your annual marketing mission statement, which is what your marketing is focused on for the year.
- The strategy that you’ll take with your marketing throughout the year to accomplish your marketing goals.
- Three main marketing initiatives that you’ll focus on during the year (i.e., brand awareness or building a high-quality pipeline) metrics you’ll use to measure your success.
- Your target goals for those marketing initiatives like generating 100 leads per week.
- Marketing initiatives that are not aligned with your current strategy to stay focused on your goals and activities that will help you be successful.
Once you input all information, the tool will spit out a table (as shown in the image below) that you can use to guide your processes.
Pro Tip: If the tool doesn't work, clear your browser's cache or access it in incognito mode.
Start the Marketing Planning Process Today
The best way to set up your marketing plan for the year is to start with quick wins first, that way you can ramp up fast and set yourself (and your team) up to hit more challenging goals and take on more sophisticated projects by Q4. So, what do you say? Are you ready to give it a spin?
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Don't forget to share this post!
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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.
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