What is a marketing plan and how to create one (templates included)

Learn the key elements of a marketing plan and how to create one with our step-by-step guide, including templates and examples for an effective marketing strategy.

Learn the key elements of a marketing plan and how to create one with our step-by-step guide, including templates and examples for an effective marketing strategy.

Are you ready to take your marketing game to the next level? Whether you're a small business owner, or a larger organization launching a new project, a solid marketing plan is an important part of getting your product or service in front of your target customers. But what exactly is a marketing plan and how do you create one that sets you apart from the competition? 

In this article, we're diving into the world of marketing plans and showing you how to create one that is tailored to your business. From understanding the fundamentals and structure of a marketing plan, to implementing it via a step-by-step guide, we’ll provide you with the tools and knowledge required to take your marketing strategy to the next level. Let's get started…

What is a marketing plan?

Quite simply put, a marketing plan is a written document that outlines a company's marketing strategy, tactics, and goals. It outlines the steps a business will take to reach its target audience, increase sales, and achieve its objectives.

A marketing plan is essential for businesses of all sizes, as it helps focus your resources, prioritize your marketing efforts, and measure success.

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to define a company's marketing strategy and goals, and to provide a roadmap for achieving them. It helps your business to understand your target audience, evaluate the competition, and identify the best marketing channels to reach that audience.

Ultimately, the goal of a marketing plan is to increase sales and drive business growth.

What are the different types of marketing plans?

There are many different types of marketing plans; the most effective will depend on the specific needs and goals of your company, as well as your target audience and market.

Below are some examples of the most common marketing plans:

1. Product-based Marketing Plan

This type of plan focuses on a specific product or service offered by your organization. The plan outlines your target market, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and promotion efforts for that product

2. Market Segment-based Marketing Plan

This type of plan targets a specific segment of the overall market. The organization develops a unique strategy for each segment, considering factors such as demographics, buying habits, and pain points.

3. Customer-based Marketing Plan

The focus of this marketing plan is on understanding the needs and preferences of individual customers. The organization may use data analysis and customer feedback to develop personalized marketing strategies for each customer.

4. Competitor-based Marketing Plan

This is a marketing plan that looks at the strategies and strengths of the organization's competitors. Your company may then use this information to differentiate itself and create a competitive advantage.

5. Digital Marketing Plan

This is a specific type of plan that focuses on promoting your organization's products or services through digital channels, such as social media, websites, online advertising, and email marketing.

6. Integrated Marketing Plan

Last but not least, you have an integrated marketing plan which combines multiple marketing strategies to reach the target audience effectively.

It is important to note that each type of marketing plan is designed to meet a specific business need. For example, a product-specific marketing plan is designed to promote a specific product, while a customer-focused marketing plan is designed to attract and retain a specific customer segment

What are the differences between a marketing and a business plan?

A marketing plan is a subset of a larger business plan and focuses specifically on the marketing aspects of a business. A business plan, on the other hand, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's overall strategy and goals, including its financial projections, management team, and marketing plans.

While a marketing plan is essential for a successful marketing strategy, a business plan provides a broader perspective on a company's overall direction and success.

How to create a marketing plan?

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to create a marketing plan for your business.

Step 1: State the business mission

This is the purpose of your business and what you want to achieve through marketing. A clear mission statement will help guide your marketing efforts and ensure that they are aligned with your overall business strategy.

Step 2: Set the KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are specific, measurable goals that you want to achieve through your marketing efforts. Examples of KPIs include increasing website traffic, boosting brand awareness, or generating more downloads of your app, more leads or more paying users.

Step 3: Identify the target market

Knowing your target market is essential to creating a successful marketing plan. Think about factors such as demographics, geography, behavior, and psychographics to better understand your ideal customer and how to reach them effectively.

Step 4: Outline your strategy

This is where you determine how you will achieve your KPIs and reach your target market. What are the tactics you will use? Will you focus on content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and/or paid advertising?

Step 5: Define your marketing budget

As the old saying goes - ‘you’ve got to spend it, to make it’. Therefore you will need some budget to experiment with a different channel to figure out which work best for you. A good approach is to use your budget to test a broad range of channels and approaches on each channel, then double down on the ones that give you positive ROI, and discard those that aren’t working. Include how much you are willing to spend on each channel and allocate resources accordingly.

Step 5: List competitors

Understanding your competitors will help you stay ahead of the game. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, and what sets your business apart. Where are they advertising? What channels are they using? Where are they putting their marketing spend?

Step 6: Measure the performance and adjust

Once you launch your marketing campaign, you will need to monitor and measure performance. This is crucial to determine the effectiveness of your plan. Track your KPIs and adjust your strategy as needed.

Marketing plan templates

If you don't know how to create a marketing plan, there are many websites that provide ready-made templates which you can use. These templates can serve as a starting point and can be customized to meet the specific needs of the company. Here are some websites that provide free templates:

1. Hubspot

Hubspot provides a simple marketing plan template that includes sections for business summary, target market, market strategy, budget, and more.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite offers a social marketing plan template that covers the basics of social media marketing planning, including goal setting, audience research, and marketing strategy.

The template is simple and easy to use, making it a great choice for small businesses or those new to social media marketing planning.

3. Score

Score has a free marketing plan template that covers the basics of marketing planning, including target audience, competitive analysis, and marketing strategy. The template is simple, making it a good choice for small businesses.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, a marketing plan is a crucial document that outlines your marketing strategy and objectives. It is a roadmap that guides the allocation of resources and efforts toward achieving the desired results.