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What Exactly is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is the framework that provides the game plan for executing an organization’s marketing strategy.

But more than that, you can think of a marketing plan as the most important reference material for your marketing team – it spells out the overall vision, specific goals, and actionable steps for a specific period of time or campaign.

Some marketing plans are created for the long-term, such as for the entire year, while others are shorter-term quarterly or monthly plans.

Another way to think about marketing plans is that, similar to a business plan, they are the master outline for how to carry out a marketing strategy (or multiple marketing strategies) to meet business goals.

Typically, a marketing plan is comprised of the following elements:

  • An Executive Summary – This is a brief overview that sits at the top of your marketing plan that summarizes your marketing goals and key marketing efforts. It may also include a quick outline of what will follow in the rest of the document.
  • Mission Statement – A brief definition of the main goal of the marketing plan. It could be to reach a new target audience, launch a new product successfully or
  • SWOT analysis – Some marketing plans may include this analysis, which identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • A Target Market description – Who is the customer base that this particular marketing plan is geared toward? This breaks down the demographics, shopping styles and other traits of intended buyers. It can break down even further with profiles of different buyer personas.
  • Marketing strategies – You can have more than one marketing strategies featured in a marketing plan. For instance, you might have an offline strategy, a digital marketing strategy, a content marketing strategy, an SEO strategy, an event marketing plan, etc.
  • Analytics – The marketing plan will usually identify the Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) that will be used to measure success. In other words, what are the measurable marketing objectives that you will be tracking? It could be things like market share, new customers, return on investment goals, etc.
  • The “to do” list – The marketing plan will also include all of the practical elements like the budget, the timeline of when tasks should be completed, and which members of the marketing team are responsible for what.

Different Types of Marketing Plans

Whether you have a start-up, a small business or a large organization, creating a marketing plan that covers the full scope of your team’s marketing strategy is a smart move. However, you may find the need for several different marketing plans that are more department-specific or campaign-based, such as a content marketing plan or a social social media marketing plan.

Here are some examples of the different types of marketing plans you may work with:

  • Those that revolve around time. Some plans cover a month, while others are done for the quarter, and still other cover the whole year. The entire plan revolves around what you plan to accomplish in a certain period of time, and how you’ll get there.
  • Those that are specific to a function. For instance, you might have a Paid Marketing Plan that includes all of your digital advertising, PPC, search engine marketing, or paid social media promotions — everything that goes under the umbrella of “paid marketing.” Or, you could have a content marketing plan since content is such an important weapon in a marketing team’s arsenal.
  • Those that are specific to a team. Within marketing, there are different groups, so you might have a dedicated plan for each one. For example, a Social Media Marketing Plan might zero in on the various social media channels, and their specific campaigns.
  • Those that are product- or campaign-focused. Say you’re bringing out a whole new product. In that case, you might want to have a New Product Launch Marketing Plan that will define the new target market or demographic and all of the different marketing strategies involved. Or maybe you’re introducing an existing product to a new segment, so you might have a plan that revolves around that target campaign.

What is the Purpose of a Marketing Plan?

Other than wanting to be successful, the purpose of a marketing plan is to always have a point of reference to help keep everyone on track and have a purposeful game plan with an end goal.

Illustration of a marketing plan

Having a marketing plan will clearly spell out a marketing campaign’s goals, while also providing handy information such as the budget constraints, what makes the buyer personas tick, and when deliverables are due. With all of this information in one place, you can stay on the pulse of what’s working and stay agile enough to know when you need to shift gears.

How Do You Write a Marketing Plan?

Writing a successful marketing plan isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require a lot of forethought and collaboration from your marketing team and other stakeholders. One thing you can do before you get ready to write is to look at various marketing plan templates for some ideas on what yours should include.

Here are some of the key things to figure out so that you will be ready to write your marketing plan.

  1. Figure out your purpose. What type of marketing plan are you trying to write? Who is it for? What time period, specific product, or marketing campaign will it cover?
  2. Decide how you will measure success. Know your KPIs and which metrics are important so you can analyze performance and make tweaks along the way.
  3. Define who your buyers are. Buyer personas, along with some target audience analysis and other market research, is essential so you know who you’re trying to reach. And then from there, you can decide on the best methods and channels to reach them.
  4. Lay out your content strategy roadmap. Which strategies will be needed to execute your marketing plan? What kind of marketing mix will be most effective? How can you ensure that you are getting the right messaging out there?
  5. Determine what you have to work with. What is your current situation, from staffing to the marketing budget? Knowing which resources you have available will help you come up with realistic and attainable goals and timelines.
  6. Study the competition. Marketing plans usually include a SWOT analysis, part of which means taking a look at what competitors are doing in the various marketing channels. Are you going after the same target customers? How do you stack up? Do you want to emulate what they’re doing (better, of course), or go in a totally different direction?
  7. Assign roles and responsibilities. Listing out everyone’s marketing activities in the marketing plan will help keep everyone accountable and motivated to do their best work.

Once you’re figured out all of the above, you can put it all together as a cohesive, well-written marketing plan.

Pro tip: To help you with this process, consider using marketing planning software for a seamless, collaborative experience. (Read more about What Features Matter Most? and Choosing the Best Option.)

What Happens After you Create a Marketing Plan?

Writing a marketing plan is quite the undertaking. But what happens after you put it all down on paper?

The next step is to distribute the draft to key members of your marketing team and ask for feedback. Someone might have a suggestion for marketing tactics that might make the marketing plan more successful, or perhaps there’s a content strategy that you accidentally left out.

After gathering input, add any necessary tweaks to the marketing plan.

Once you’re confident in the final version and know that you have a good marketing plan, share it with the full team, or anyone who will be involved in the plan’s execution.

Marketing plan illustration

Pro Tip: Though you can share your marketing plan as a PDF, consider using a platform like Plan from Welcome, which will give your team real-time visibility, and let users toggle between different planning views, depending on their needs.

At that point, congratulations – you’re ready to begin rolling out the marketing plan. But that doesn’t mean you’re done. A smart marketer knows how important it is to stay agile and learn as you go. So don’t be afraid to make adjustments. As you keep a close watch on the metrics, you should be able to gauge which aspects of your marketing efforts are having an impact and which are not.

Ready to start working on your marketing plan?

A marketing plan is one of the most vital tools in the toolbox for successful marketing teams. Creating and sharing your marketing plan on a centralized platform can make it even better by improving visibility, keeping teams aligned, and increasing productivity.

Marketing calendar

In fact, with the right software, powering up your marketing plan is just the start. The most dynamic teams also rely on marketing platforms to create and share Marketing Calendars, maximize Marketing Campaign templates, and manage workflows for the entire marketing campaign lifecycle.

Learn more about how Welcome can help you plan a stellar marketing strategy and reach your marketing goals.