What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]
Published: July 27, 2023
For a while now, you‘ve been spearheading your organization’s content marketing efforts. Your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.
Now, your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan, but you‘ve never done something like that before. You don’t even know where to start.
Fortunately, we‘ve curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete plan that’s rooted in data and produces results. But first, we'll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans include strategies that serve their respective businesses.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategy over a given period. Marketing plans can include different marketing strategies for various marketing teams across the company, all working toward the same business goals.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organized manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns.
Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign‘s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. You’ll also discover what works and what doesn't. Thus, measuring the success of your strategy.
Featured Resource: Free Marketing Plan Template
Looking to develop a marketing plan for your business? Click here to download HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template to get started .
To learn more about how to create your marketing plan, keep reading or jump to the section you’re looking for:
How to Write a Marketing Plan
Types of marketing plans, marketing plan examples, marketing plan faqs, sample marketing plan.
If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. But a marketing plan is an important part of your business plan.
Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan
A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics.
A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your business grows.
A marketing plan is an important subset of a business plan that shows how marketing strategies and objectives can support overall business goals.
Keep in mind that there's a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular goal or mission. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they'll use to execute that mission and track its success.
For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.
A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It’s the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.
For example, your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. This calls for the marketing department to develop a marketing plan that'll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.
The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject. All this serves to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.
To summarize, the business's marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups for that product. The business will execute that plan with three marketing strategies : a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.
Of course, the business might consider these three things one giant marketing strategy, each with its specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, every marketing plan goes through a particular set of steps in its creation.
Learn what they are below.
- State your business's mission.
- Determine the KPIs for this mission.
- Identify your buyer personas.
- Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
- Clearly define your plan's omissions.
- Define your marketing budget.
- Identify your competition.
- Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
1. State your business's mission.
Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business‘s main mission statement. Be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you’ll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.
Need help building your mission statement? Download this guide for examples and templates and write the ideal mission statement.
2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.
Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission‘s progress. To do so, you’ll need to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) . KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.
Let's take our example of a marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track website visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.
These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4.
3. Identify your buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a description of who you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. Each buyer persona should directly reflect your business's current and potential customers. So, all business leaders must agree on your buyer personas.
Create your buyer personas with this free guide and set of buyer persona templates.
4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
Here‘s where you’ll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there is a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, you must choose wisely and explain how you'll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.
A content strategy should stipulate:
- Which types of content you'll create. These can include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
- How much of it you'll create. You can describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on your workflow and the short-term goals you set for your content.
- The goals (and KPIs) you'll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
- The channels on which you'll distribute this content. Popular channels at your disposal include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.
Free Marketing Plan Template
Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
- Pre-Sectioned Template
- Completely Customizable
- Example Prompts
- Professionally Designed
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Build out your marketing plan with this free template.
Fill out this form to access the template., 5. clearly define your plan's omissions..
A marketing plan explains the marketing team’s focus. It also explains what the marketing team will not focus on.
If there are other aspects of your business that you aren‘t serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn't on the hook for something, you need to make it known.
6. Define your marketing budget.
Your content strategy might use many free channels and platforms, but there are several hidden expenses a marketing team needs to account for.
Whether it's freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.
You can establish your marketing budget with this kit of 8 free marketing budget templates .
7. Identify your competition.
Part of marketing is knowing whom you're marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one.
Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.
Easily track and analyze your competitors with t his collection of ten free competitive analysis templates .
8. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it‘s time to explain who’s doing what. You don‘t have to delve too deeply into your employees’ day-to-day projects, but it should be known which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.
Now that you know why you need to build an effective marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. That’s why there are many helpful resources that can support your first steps. We’ll share some of the best guides and templates that can help you build effective results-driven plans for your marketing strategies.
Ready to make your own marketing plan? Get started using this free template.
Depending on the company you work with, you might want to create various marketing plans. We compiled different samples to suit your needs:
1. Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans
These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you'll take on in a certain period.
Forbes published a marketing plan template that has amassed almost 4 million views. To help you sculpt a marketing roadmap with true vision, their template will teach you how to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:
- Executive Summary
- Target Customers
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Pricing & Positioning Strategy
- Distribution Plan
- Your Offers
- Marketing Materials
- Promotions Strategy
- Online Marketing Strategy
- Conversion Strategy
- Joint Ventures & Partnerships
- Referral Strategy
- Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
- Retention Strategy
- Financial Projections
If you're truly lost on where to start with a marketing plan, this guide can help you define your target audience, figure out how to reach them, and ensure that audience becomes loyal customers.
2. Social Media Marketing Plan
This type of plan highlights the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media. A specific subtype is a paid marketing plan, which highlights paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.
Shane Snow's Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team is a great example of a social media marketing plan
A successful book launch is a prime example of data-driven content and social marketing. Using data to optimize your social strategy spreads more awareness for your book, gets more people to subscribe to your content, converts more subscribers into buyers, and encourages more buyers to recommend your book to their friends.
When Shane Snow started promoting his new book, "Dream Team," he knew he had to leverage a data-driven content strategy framework. So, he chose his favorite one: the content strategy waterfall. The content strategy waterfall is defined by Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach. To get a better idea of what this means, take a look at the diagram below:
Snow wrote a blog post about how the waterfall‘s content strategy helped him launch his new book successfully. After reading it, you can use his tactics to inform your own marketing plan. More specifically, you’ll learn how he:
- Applied his business objectives to decide which marketing metrics to track.
- Used his ultimate business goal of earning $200,000 in sales or 10,000 purchases to estimate the conversion rate of each stage of his funnel.
- Created buyer personas to figure out which channels his audience would prefer to consume his content.
- Used his average post view on each of his marketing channels to estimate how much content he had to create and how often he had to post on social media.
- Calculated how much earned and paid media could cut down the amount of content he had to create and post.
- Designed his process and workflow, built his team, and assigned members to tasks.
- Analyzed content performance metrics to refine his overall content strategy.
You can use Snow's marketing plan to cultivate a better content strategy plan, know your audience better, and think creatively about content promotion and distribution.
3. Content Marketing Plan
This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you'll use content to promote your business or product.
HubSpot's Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy is a strong example of a content marketing plan:
At HubSpot, we‘ve built our marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees. Along the way, we’ve learned countless lessons that shaped our current content marketing strategy. So, we decided to illustrate our insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a successful content marketing strategy, regardless of their team's size.
In this comprehensive guide for modern marketers, you'll learn:
- What exactly content marketing is.
- Why your business needs a content marketing strategy.
- Who should lead your content marketing efforts?
- How to structure your content marketing team based on your company's size.
- How to hire the right people for each role on your team.
- What marketing tools and technology you'll need to succeed.
- What type of content your team should create, and which employees should be responsible for creating them.
- The importance of distributing your content through search engines, social media, email, and paid ads.
- And finally, the recommended metrics each of your teams should measure and report to optimize your content marketing program.
4. New Product Launch Marketing Plan
This will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you‘ll implement to promote a new product. And if you’re searching for an example, look no further than Chief Outsiders' Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product :
When you're looking for a marketing plan for a new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a great place to start. Marketing plans for a new product will be more specific because they target one product versus its entire marketing strategy.
After reading this plan, you'll learn how to:
- Validate a product
- Write strategic objectives
- Identify your market
- Compile a competitive landscape
- Create a value proposition for a new product
- Consider sales and service in your marketing plan
5. Growth Marketing Plan
Growth marketing plans use experimentation and data to drive results, like we see in Venture Harbour’s Growth Marketing Plan Template :
Venture Harbour's growth marketing plan is a data-driven and experiment-led alternative to the more traditional marketing plan. Their template has five steps intended for refinement with every test-measure-learn cycle. The five steps are:
This is a great option if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns.
- Visit Oxnard
- Safe Haven Family Shelter
- Wright County Economic Development
- The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
- Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Visit Billings
1. Visit Oxnard
This marketing plan by Visit Oxnard, a convention and visitors bureau, is packed with all the information one needs in a marketing plan: target markets, key performance indicators, selling points, personas, marketing tactics by channel, and much more.
It also articulates the organization’s strategic plans for the upcoming fiscal year, especially as it grapples with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Lastly, it has impeccable visual appeal, with color-coded sections and strong branding elements.
Why This Marketing Plan Works
- States clear and actionable goals for the coming year
- Includes data and other research that shows how their team made their decisions
- Outlines how the team will measure the success of their plan
2. Safe Haven Family Shelter
This marketing plan by a nonprofit organization is an excellent example to follow if your plan will be presented to internal stakeholders at all levels of your organization. It includes SMART marketing goals , deadlines, action steps, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages , and metrics.
The plan is detailed, yet scannable. By the end of it, one can walk away with a strong understanding of the organization’s strategic direction for its upcoming marketing efforts.
- Confirms ongoing marketing strategies and objectives while introducing new initiatives
- Uses colors, fonts, and formatting to emphasize key parts of the plan
- Closes with long-term goals, key themes, and other overarching topics to set the stage for the future
3. Wright County Economic Development
Wright County Economic Development’s plan drew our attention because of its simplicity, making it good inspiration for those who’d like to outline their plan in broad strokes without frills or filler.
It includes key information such as marketing partners, goals, initiatives, and costs. The sections are easy to scan and contain plenty of information for those who’d like to dig into the details. Most important, it includes a detailed breakdown of projected costs per marketing initiative — which is critical information to include for upper-level managers and other stakeholders.
- Begins with a quick paragraph stating why the recommended changes are important
- Uses clear graphics and bullet points to emphasize key points
- Includes specific budget data to support decision-making
4. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
This marketing plan presentation by a cultural council is a great example of how to effectively use data in your plan, address audiences who are new to the industry, and offer extensive detail into specific marketing strategies.
For instance, an entire slide is dedicated to the county’s cultural tourism trends, and at the beginning of the presentation, the organization explains what an arts and culture agency is in the first place.
That’s a critical piece of information to include for those who might not know. If you’re addressing audiences outside your industry, consider defining terms at the beginning, like this organization did.
- Uses quality design and images to support the goals and priorities in the text
- Separate pages for each big idea or new strategy
- Includes sections for awards and accomplishments to show how the marketing plan supports wider business goals
- Defines strategies and tactics for each channel for easy skimming
5. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Cabarrus County’s convention and visitors bureau takes a slightly different approach with its marketing plan, formatting it like a magazine for stakeholders to flip through. It offers information on the county’s target audience, channels, goals, KPIs, and public relations strategies and initiatives.
We especially love that the plan includes contact information for the bureau’s staff members, so that it’s easy for stakeholders to contact the appropriate person for a specific query.
- Uses infographics to expand on specific concepts, like how visitors benefit a community
- Highlights the team members responsible for each initiative with a photo to emphasize accountability and community
- Closes with an event calendar for transparency into key dates for events
6. Visit Billings
Visit Billing’s comprehensive marketing plan is like Cabarrus County’s in that it follows a magazine format. With sections for each planned strategy, it offers a wealth of information and depth for internal stakeholders and potential investors.
We especially love its content strategy section, where it details the organization’s prior efforts and current objectives for each content platform.
At the end, it includes strategic goals and budgets — a good move to imitate if your primary audience would not need this information highlighted at the forefront.
- Includes a section on the buyer journey, which offers clarity on the reasoning for marketing plan decisions
- Design includes call-outs for special topics that could impact the marketing audience, such as safety concerns or "staycations"
- Clear headings make it easy to scan this comprehensive report and make note of sections a reader may want to return to for more detail
What is a typical marketing plan?
Most marketing plans are documents that outline the following aspects of a business's marketing:
- Target audience
Each marketing plan should include one or more goals, the path your team will take to meet those goals, and how you plan to measure success.
For example, say a tech startup is launching a new mobile app. Its marketing plan would usually include:
- Target audience or buyer personas for the app
- Outline of how app features meet audience needs
- Competitive analysis
- Goals for conversion funnel and user acquisition
- Marketing strategies and tactics for user acquisition
Featured resource : Free Marketing Plan Template
What should a good marketing plan include?
A good marketing plan will create a clear roadmap for your unique marketing team. This means that the best marketing plan for your business will be distinct to your team and business needs.
That said, most marketing plans will include sections for one or more of the following:
- Clear analysis of the target market
- A detailed description of the product or service
- Strategic marketing mix details (such as product, price, place, promotion)
- Measurable goals with defined timelines
This can help you build the best marketing plan for your business.
A good marketing plan should also include a product or service's unique value proposition, a comprehensive marketing strategy including online and offline channels, and a defined budget.
Featured resource : Value Proposition Templates
What are the most important parts of a marketing plan?
When you‘re planning a road trip, you need a map to help define your route, step-by-step directions, and an estimate of the time it will take to get to your destination. It’s literally how you get there that matters.
Like a road map, a marketing plan is only useful if it helps you get to where you want to go. So, no one part is more than the other.
That said, you can use the list below to make sure that you've added or at least considered each of the following in your marketing plan:
- Marketing goals
- Executive summary
- Target market analysis
- Marketing strategies
What questions should I ask when making a marketing plan?
Questions are a useful tool for when you‘re stuck or want to make sure you’ve included important details.
Try using one or more of these questions as a starting point when you create your marketing plan:
- Who is my target audience?
- What are their needs, motivations, and pain points?
- How does our product or service solve their problems?
- How will I reach and engage them?
- Who are my competitors? Are they direct or indirect competitors?
- What are the unique selling points of my product or service?
- What marketing channels are best for the brand?
- What is our budget and timeline?
- How will I measure the success of marketing efforts?
How much does a marketing plan cost?
Creating a marketing plan is mostly free. But the cost of executing a marketing plan will depend on your specific plan.
Marketing plan costs vary by business, industry, and plan scope. Whether your team handles marketing in-house or hires external consultants can also make a difference. Total costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. This is why most marketing plans will include a budget.
Featured resource : Free Marketing Budget Templates
What is a marketing plan template?
A marketing plan template is a pre-designed structure or framework that helps you outline your marketing plan.
It offers a starting point that you can customize for your specific business needs and goals. For example, our template includes easy-to-edit sections for:
- Business summary
- Business initiatives
- Target market
- Market strategy
- Marketing channels
- Marketing technology
Let’s create a sample plan together, step by step.
Follow along with HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template .
1. Create an overview or primary objective.
Our business mission is to provide [service, product, solution] to help [audience] reach their [financial, educational, business related] goals without compromising their [your audience’s valuable asset: free time, mental health, budget, etc.]. We want to improve our social media presence while nurturing our relationships with collaborators and clients.
For example, if you wanted to focus on social media growth, your KPIs might look like this.
We want to achieve a minimum of [followers] with an engagement rate of [X] on [social media platform].
The goal is to achieve an increase of [Y] on recurring clients and new meaningful connections outside the platform by the end of the year.
Use the following categories to create a target audience for your campaign.
- Pain points:
- Social media platforms that they use:
- Streaming platforms that they prefer:
For more useful strategies, consider creating a buyer persona in our Make My Persona tool .
Our content pillars will be: [X, Y, Z].
Content pillars should be based on topics your audience needs to know. If your ideal clients are female entrepreneurs, then your content pillars can be: marketing, being a woman in business, remote working, and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.
Then, determine your omissions.
This marketing plan won’t be focusing on the following areas of improvement: [A, B, C].
5. Define your marketing budget.
Our marketing strategy will use a total of [Y] monthly. This will include anything from freelance collaborations to advertising.
6. Identify your competitors.
Use the following questions to clearly indicate who your competitors are:
- Which platforms do they use the most?
- How does their branding differentiate?
- How do they talk to their audiences?
- What valuable assets do customers talk about? And if they are receiving any negative feedback, what is it about?
7. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
Create responsible parties for each portion of the plan.
Marketing will manage the content plan, implementation, and community interaction to reach the KPIs.
- Social media manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Content strategist: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Community manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
Sales will follow the line of the marketing work while creating and implementing an outreach strategy.
- Sales strategists: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Sales executives: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
Customer Service will nurture clients’ relationships to ensure that they have what they want. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].
Project Managers will track the progress and team communication during the project. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].
Get started on your marketing plan.
These marketing plans serve as initial resources to get your content marketing plan started. But, to truly deliver what your audience wants and needs, you'll likely need to test some different ideas out, measure their success, and then refine your goals as you go.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure t o learn more about how we use AI.
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How To Create A Marketing Project Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide
When you think of “big marketing mistakes”, you might think of that episode of The Office where Michael accidentally gives their biggest customer a Golden Ticket for a 50% discount.
And yes, giving away too much of your value for free is bad.
But actually, one of the biggest mistakes marketers make is: failing to plan.
You can have access to the best marketing project management tools but without a clear, documented marketing plan you’re bound to fail.
According to CoSchedule, marketers who plan are three times more likely to be successful than those who don’t.
In this blog, we’ve broken down everything you need to know on how to put together a marketing plan, including examples and templates.
What is a marketing project plan?
A marketing project plan is a report or presentation in which you outline your marketing strategy. It covers your marketing goals, the steps you will take to achieve these goals, and how to measure them. This could be for a specific period, for example, the next quarter or year, or for a specific event, such as a product launch.
We’ll get into the specifics of what’s included in a marketing plan in a minute, but their basic purpose is to outline:
- Your goals and the metrics you’ll use to measure them
- The challenges you face in reaching them
- The actions you’ll take and resources required to overcome these
It’s the document your superiors will use to understand the project, that the marketing team will work from throughout, and that you’ll use to keep the whole thing on track.
Common formats for marketing plans are:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Powerpoint
- Equivalent products in Google Drive, e.g., Slides
We’ll show you more examples below, but here’s a quick example of an MS Word marketing plan by ProjectManager for now:
In a nutshell, a marketing plan helps you:
- Define the scope of the project (and minimize project scope creep !)
- Set out a timeline for completion and allocate resources
- Measure your success and adjust your tactics as your project evolves
Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan: what’s the difference?
The difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan is subtle but important.
A marketing strategy is all about high-level thinking – that means how you’re:
- Communicating your company values
- Achieving your goals for long-term growth
- Securing a competitive advantage
A marketing plan, on the other hand, is the more specific, day-to-day actions that will get you there.
It’s a symbiotic relationship: a marketing plan needs a strong strategy to guide it, and a marketing strategy is useless if not accompanied by a good plan.
9 elements of a marketing plan
No two marketing projects are the same, so it follows that no two marketing plans will be either. However, most successful marketing plans will usually have these nine elements in common.
1. Target market
If you’re working on an email marketing campaign, this might be which segments of the target audience you’ll be engaging. If you’re launching a new product it’ll mean outlining your ICP, or Ideal Customer Profile.
Buyer personas are useful to document your ICP. Here’s an example buyer persona template.
2. Project goals
Without goals in place, your marketing plan is dead in the water. They should be SMART – that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
In short, SMART goals are specific targets you want to hit in a defined period. Advantages for setting SMART goals include:
- Set clear, unambiguous goals for your marketing team
- Provide a way to measure progress and course correct if necessary
- Prevent your team from wasting resources on irrelevant work
- Build confidence with realistic and achievable goals
- Set clear start and end dates for your marketing projects
Here’s an example SMART goals planning template from HubSpot.
3. Competitive analysis
A competitor analysis might seem like it’s more relevant to a product launch project, but it’s equally important to your marketing efforts.
Depending on your marketing campaign, your competitive analysis can take different forms. For example, to analyze your SEO competition, you want to know:
- Who are my SEO competitors?
- How does a competitor’s content on Google?
- Am I missing any content that my competitors have?
- What kind of content drives results for my competition?
Here’s an example SEO competition analysis by Moz to include in your marketing plan:
Now’s the time to define the important elements of your brand’s strategy. This will include things like:
- Your value proposition
- Your brand positioning
- Your mission statement
Here’s an example of a brand strategy slide from a brand marketing plan. It includes a brand strategy roadmap, which you can find out more about here .
The last thing you want to do when you’re outlining your big vision for brand expansion is crunched the numbers, but look at it this way: if you don’t crunch them now, they’ll come back to bite you later.
You need to budget for any costs, such as:
- Focus groups
- Visual assets
Here’s an example of a product marketing budget in Google Sheets:
6. Responsibilities and resource planning
A resource plan is a key component of any plan.
It involves identifying, acquiring, and assigning resources for your marketing project in order to meet the goals. Resources can be anything including people, tools, facilities, materials, or monetary budget.
The resource allocation process involves the following steps:
- Create your marketing project’s timeline.
- Identify resources you’ll need to get the project done.
- Find and book available resources.
- Create a plan for acquiring unavailable resources.
7. Metrics and measurements
Setting your metrics at the start of the project gives you the ability to track the success of the project in real-time and makes it clear to everyone on board what success would look like.
The best metrics will depend on your overall objectives.
Remember, though: beware of vanity metrics that look good on a graph but don’t give a reliable indicator of engagement, for example, social media impressions.
8. Tasks and schedule
Do you know what we call a plan without a clear schedule attached to it? Just a nice idea.
Here’s a template to for creating a digital marketing plan in Excel .
Alternatively, you can also use a visual planning tool like Toggl Plan to plan a timeline for your marketing project.
9. Executive summary
We know what you’re thinking – doesn’t this usually go at the top of a marketing plan?
You’re absolutely right. But the reason we’ve left this part till the end of this list is that it’s actually the last thing you’ll write as part of your marketing plan.
The executive summary takes everything we’ve just discussed and boils it down into a brief overview at the start of the marketing plan.
Learn more about how to write an executive summary .
How to create a marketing plan
Now that you know the key elements of a great marketing plan, it’s time to get yours written. Here’s how to create a stellar marketing plan – in seven steps.
1. Identify stakeholders
The stakeholders are the people you need to please with this marketing plan, and you’ve got to identify them and what their needs are before you begin.
Examples of who your stakeholders might be:
Identifying which ones are the most important to this project and what their distinct needs are can guide your strategy and priorities.
For example, let’s say you’re running a campaign to generate leads for your sales team. Your sales team is a stakeholder in this campaign. You’ll need to consult them to find out their needs—not just high-level goals like “get more leads”, but things like:
- What does a qualified lead look like for them?
- What information do they need to contact these leads?
- How many leads do they need to meet their sales targets?
You can’t afford to skip this stage—only one in three organizations deliver projects that are likely to achieve stakeholder satisfaction.
2. Assemble your team
This is self-explanatory, right? To get the job done properly, you need the right people working on it.
Most project teams have only 6-10 people on them. The old saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” is as true in marketing as it is in the kitchen.
Instead, focus on getting a small group of people who have the right expertise, experience, and authority to get the job done.
For example, in a content marketing project you might need:
- A project manager (that’s you)
- An SEO expert
- A content writer
- A social media manager to promote the content
Learn more about how to assemble your team in our resource allocation guide .
3. Create a communication plan
29% of project failures are due to poor communication.
A documented project communication plan could mean a difference between success and failure.
Decide how your team will communicate with each other from the outset, for example:
- The medium you’ll use, e.g., email, Slack, Microsoft Teams
- How often you’ll meet to discuss the project
- What the chain of command is – who should your team members go to with questions and concerns?
One great way of increasing transparency and communication in marketing projects is through effective time tracking .
Some tasks will take longer than you expected them to—that’s just life. With time tracking , you can see when this is happening and react accordingly, whether by allocating more resources or having another team member jump in to help
This can help to reduce the stress of ambitious projects because team members are all on the same page, and they can work more efficiently together and independently, too.
4. Create a task list
Creating a task list for your project seems daunting at first, but we believe it can be broken down into three easy steps:
- Establish project scope . What’s your job in this project, and what do you not need to worry about?
- Create a work breakdown structure ( WBS ) . Divide the project into phases you can then use to bucket your tasks – for example, market research might be the first phase of a product marketing campaign.
- Break each work phase into tasks . Within the market research example, you might have tasks like “put together focus groups”, “white paper”, or “case study.”
Your project’s activities should be ranked according to stakeholder priorities. For internal tasks consider using these prioritization techniques .
5. Make a schedule for your marketing plan
We’ve already shown you what a schedule in a marketing plan can look like in Excel, but there are numerous drawbacks to scheduling your marketing plan in a static document.
One of the biggest ones is its lack of interactivity, particularly when it comes to integrating with other platforms. There are many more sophisticated project management tools out there that allow you to see not just your team’s work for this one project, but to compare this to their other priorities, including milestones and deliverables.
A visual project schedule helps you identify the milestones, gaps, risks, and resources required for your marketing campaign.
6. Generate a risk management plan
Risk management practices are widely used across most organizations – only 3% of organizations say they never use risk management practices, while 27% say they always do.
One way that you can anticipate risk is by doing a SWOT analysis. That’s an overview of your:
Here’s an example of what this looks like for a local Thai restaurant:
Another important step in preparing for risk factors in your marketing project is to utilize an agile planning model .
Originally conceived by software development teams, agile planning is all about using an iterative approach where you’re constantly evaluating and re-evaluating your methods as the project goes on.
Instead of sticking to your original plan through thick and thin, if something’s not working, you change it up. This minimizes the risk of total project failure, while also building on our final point.
7. Monitoring and reporting
We’ve already spoken about the importance of project time management. Tracking and regular reporting are key to delivering projects on time and successfully, and one way of doing this is through the time tracking tools as we mentioned earlier.
These will help you flag if team members are falling behind, as well as show you how much has been done on the project to date.
Throughout your project, you should constantly monitor your key metrics. And in fact, many good marketing project plans have a space for this kind of reporting built into them.
Marketing plan examples
We’ve already seen some snippets from marketing plans but here are three marketing project plan examples.
We showed this briefly above, but this marketing project plan example from Lush in Portugal exhibits almost all of the features we’ve outlined in this blog.
2. Gantt project plan
A Gantt chart is simply a chart that illustrates a project schedule. This marketing plan template from Microsoft gives you a good idea of how it looks and is like an offline version of time management tools like Toggl.
3. Microsoft Word
This simple marketing project plan example is created in Word. In just four pages, it offers a condensed version of what we’ve discussed above.
This streamlined format is ideal for simpler or shorter-term projects, or if you only have a limited time to present an overview of your project—for example, in a company updates meeting.
Create the Perfect Marketing Project Plan
Designing a dynamite marketing project plan is only the beginning. Now you’ve got all the information you need to do it, it’s up to you to see it through. But you’re not on your own—with these tips under your belt and the right planning tools , we know you’ve got what it takes to lead an amazing marketing project.
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Marketing project management: How to structure your strategy
Marketing project management is a methodology used to keep marketing campaigns on track and stakeholders informed throughout the project lifecycle. It provides clarity among teams, keeps your projects within scope, and helps team members meet customer needs. In this piece, we’ll discuss the challenges of marketing campaigns and explain how marketing project management can help you succeed.
Marketing initiatives can be crucial to your business plan because they give you the chance to tell your brand story and send leads down the sales funnel. Without effective marketing, you may struggle to bring in revenue and secure loyal customers. A focused marketing plan ensures that your message resonates with your audience so you can walk away from every campaign feeling proud of the work your team put in.
What is marketing project management?
Marketing project management is a methodology used to keep marketing campaigns on track and stakeholders informed throughout the project lifecycle. It provides clarity among teams, keeps your projects within scope, and helps you meet customer needs.
To manage marketing projects, you’ll start with the same project management principles that other teams and industries use. But marketing project management differs from the traditional project management approach in a few ways, which we’ll cover below.
The five project management phases are:
In marketing project management, you’ll add a marketing strategy phase where you’ll gather market research and data and use your findings to set your project plan in motion.
Why is marketing project management important?
Marketing project management is important because how you manage a project impacts everyone involved with the marketing campaign. When you use the right methodology, others will follow your lead and reap the benefits of your strong leadership.
Picture yourself at the center of the project. As the circle expands, more people get involved in the project. Once you realize you’re only the first person in the project life cycle, it’s easier to see why project management is so important.
It takes a village to manage a marketing project. The three most important stakeholder groups are:
The marketing project manager: As the leader and facilitator of marketing campaigns, you’re at the center of everything that happens during a marketing project. This includes things like project timeline delays, email marketing troubleshooting, and KPI monitoring.
Internal stakeholders: Internal stakeholders are team members within your organization who have a stake in your project. These people may include executives, sales representatives, creatives, or technicians. How you manage your marketing campaign affects internal stakeholders. They’re often either involved with the marketing campaign, impacted by the campaign’s deliverables, or informed about your overall goals.
External stakeholders: External stakeholders are people outside of your organization who have a stake in your project. These people may include vendors, end users, clients, or investors. You’ll need project management skills to keep external stakeholders informed and satisfied with your project deliverables.
10 steps of the marketing project management process
The marketing project management methodology has 10 key steps. While your marketing agency may tackle complex projects in niche areas like SEO or social media, you can use these steps as a general framework for most marketing campaigns.
You can divide the 10 steps below into five project phases. These five phases resemble the traditional project management phases, but they also include additional marketing strategies to ensure you’re setting yourself—and your marketing project—up for success.
Objectives and analysis
The goal of the objectives and analysis phase of marketing project management is to focus on planning your marketing campaign. This involves defining the project’s end goals and outlining success metrics.
Define end goals: Make your end goals clear at the beginning of every project you work on. That way, team members know what to strive for during project execution and stakeholders know what to expect.
Identify success metrics : It’s critical to identify KPIs at the beginning of your campaign so you can use these metrics to monitor your progress throughout the project lifecycle.
Use your project objectives from phase one to drive your marketing strategy. During this phase, you’ll also use market research and data to find the most effective way to achieve your strategic goals .
Pinpoint your audience: Identifying your target audience is the first step to achieving a high ROI. Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to resonate with your brand. If you can reach this audience, you increase your chance of selling your product or service.
Set message and CTAs: Determine the message you want to send to your target audience. Your message should include strategic calls to action for your product or service.
Your marketing campaign may require creative assets and a detailed plan of how and where to distribute these assets. During the project scheduling phase, establish a team to assist you with asset creation.
Clarify scope: Clarify your project scope so everyone knows the limitations of your project timeline, resources, and budget. It's also important to ensure stakeholders are aware of the project scope to limit change requests.
Delegate tasks : Delegating work is crucial if you hope to stay organized and avoid duplicate work. Create a project timeline and assign tasks to team members. Use a Gantt chart or other task management tool so team members can visualize project milestones and dependencies between tasks.
After you’ve scheduled your campaign, the action begins. This is the phase when your team develops your creative assets and sends them out to the masses. This part of marketing project management is exciting because you get to see your strategy in motion.
Create project deliverables: Produce deliverables that will outshine your competitors’ and wow your audience. Employ a team of writers and graphic designers that can deliver your message using strong copy and impressive visuals.
Distribute across marketing channels: Determine which marketing channels will help you reach your target audience and when they’re on them. Place your deliverables across these channels so you get as many eyes on them as possible.
Monitor and review
Use the success metrics you set during the project planning phase to monitor your project progress. Once you’ve tracked your progress, you can also use your performance results to learn lessons for future projects .
Monitor results: Use project management software to monitor your KPIs in real time. Once you’ve launched your marketing campaign, you can assess how well your campaign performed and what adjustments you should make to your future marketing strategy.
Set future standards: Use any lessons you learn from monitoring your campaign to set standards for future projects. For example, if your campaign performed poorly with a specific age bracket, set audience limitations on this group for future campaigns.
Common challenges in marketing campaigns
Many marketing teams face challenges when implementing their marketing campaigns. Luckily, the most common challenges are preventable or easily mitigated with marketing project management.
Use the solutions to the challenges below as part of your marketing project management workflow.
1. Project risks
Marketing campaigns experience risk in many areas, and it’s difficult to predict what these risks will be or when they’ll occur. But if you’re not prepared to mitigate a project risk once it takes hold, the problem can affect project quality. Some common areas of project risks include:
Technical risk: Technical risk can particularly affect email or digital marketing campaigns . Security incidents, cyberattacks, password theft, or service outages could delay a marketing campaign or derail it completely.
Market risk: These are risks that affect the entire market. These may include risk of recession, margin risk, interest rate risk, and currency risk. While these risks are uncontrollable, your team can prepare for them so you can react quickly if they do happen.
Organizational risk: Organizational risk occurs from issues with internal operations. Events that fall under this category include reputational damage, communications failure, lawsuits, and supply chain disruptions.
Solution: Use project risk management to prevent and mitigate risk in your marketing campaigns. During the planning phase, set up a risk analysis to assess which project risks are most likely to occur, as well as which risks are of highest priority. Then, use insights to shape your campaign and prepare for potential mishaps.
2. Scope creep
Scope creep occurs when your marketing campaign expands beyond the initial expectations you set. Marketing campaigns often suffer from scope creep because teams don’t establish clear requirements during project planning. If you don’t communicate your limitations to stakeholders, they may request changes that your project team has trouble keeping up with.
Solution: Define project objectives during the initial stages of your marketing campaign and share these objectives with your stakeholders. Maintain clear lines of communication so your stakeholders understand your project requirements, including the limits of your project timeline and budget . If necessary, you can also establish a change control process to regulate change requests.
3. Poor communication with stakeholders
Poor communication with stakeholders is a challenge many marketing teams face . You can see above that this challenge has consequences, with scope creep being just one of those consequences. Other consequences of communication issues include:
Unclear project expectations
Inconsistencies in goals and results
Reduced team morale
Insufficient project funding
Solution: Use project management software to establish a strong line of communication with stakeholders. Share real-time updates with everyone involved in your marketing campaign, and encourage stakeholders to provide feedback along the way. Set project milestones as checkpoints for collective evaluation of the campaign.
4. No single source of truth
Marketing teams that rely on face-to-face, email, phone, or video chat to communicate with stakeholders will experience challenges when managing their marketing campaigns. You shouldn’t retire these traditional forms of communication, but they don’t offer essentials like:
Real-time status updates
Central source of truth
Your marketing strategy should be transparent to all stakeholders. Transparency strengthens team communication and improves project quality.
Solution: Use project management software as your single source of truth. There are many types of project management with varying levels of functionality. Some tools compile your project information, while others compile information from outside sources. Use a tool like Asana to customize project views and keep everyone—from team members to stakeholders—on the same page.
Use project management software to structure your marketing strategy
Marketing project management can eliminate some of the common challenges faced by marketing departments. When you use a structured management methodology, you’ll improve communication flow and streamline your work process. Use project management software to promote collaboration among stakeholders and to establish a single source of truth.