The steps to creating an excellent Marketing Plan
Marketing Plan Template
As a trusted member of staff in a medium-sized company, your time will come.
What am I talking about? I’m referring to a time that every marketing, IT, or HR professional has experienced at one time or another.
You’ll be asked to manage a project.
Not sure where to start?
Relax, that’s a-ok and completely normal.
After all, you’re not a professional project manager.
You haven’t had the training.
But let me tell you this, with a bit of prior planning I guarantee that you are up to the job.
In this article, we’re going to delve into the world of occasional project management.
We’ll help you make an awesome marketing plan outline to guarantee you ace that project first-time around.
What is a marketing plan?
In its most basic form, a marketing plan is a strategy report – a report that clearly outlines you’re team’s marketing strategy.
Whether it be for the month, year, or a particular season.
You can share your marketing plan with members of your team and stakeholders.
In fact, before even giving your plan the go-ahead, it’s worth checking in with colleagues and other departments for some constructive feedback.
Remember they might spot things you’ve missed or be able to warn you against any mistakes they have already made in the past.
You can think of your marketing plan as a complete overview of:
- Strategy – everything that goes into your marketing efforts
- Performance indicators – everything that you will measure
- Goals – everything you want your strategy to achieve.
Most marketing plans start out by identifying a target market (who do you want to advertise to?).
They will also include a statement of the company’s current position in the market, a projection of your best-case-scenario goals, a timeline for achieving these goals, and a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will monitor the company’s progress throughout.
Whilst a marketing plan is the best start to any project, it’s important to remember that it is not set in stone.
A marketing plan is simply an educated prediction of desired goals based on a set of planned actions and strategies.
In other words, it is not verbatim.
Think of your marketing plan as something organic and be prepared for it to change as time goes on.
Deviating from your original marketing plan is not a sign of failure.
Most plans will, and do, change significantly, but that doesn’t mean your plan has gone to waste.
Oh-no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
When you write a marketing plan you ready yourself mentally with essential steps to guide your project management campaign with direction.
It’s something to always go back to help you stay on-the-ball, focussed, and less tempted to deviate from your core targets.
Free Marketing Plan Template in Excel
Click to download our Free Marketing Plan Template in Excel to begin simplifying your project management.
The many benefits of planning
There are so many benefits to robust planning, from boosting traffic to increased sales and business growth.
But why is that?
Well, for one, you’ll create much better, highly focussed goals to keep you with your eye on the prize consistently.
By setting specific goals, you’ll be more efficient, and able to put all your energy and decision making into actionable steps that get you closer to your goals.
A business plan reduces our temptation to deviate into overgeneralizations. Instead of just planning for ‘success’, for example, we can plan to ‘increase traffic by 10%’.
These kind of focussed goals are often referred to as SMART goals.
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – achievable
- R – relevant
- T – timed
Okay, so you’ve been selected as the team lead. Super.
But that doesn’t mean you’re driving this ship alone.
You may be at the helm, but each and every one of your sailors need to be united if your crew is to have any chance of reaching plentiful land.
Now without metaphors.
For your new marketing campaign to see any success, your entire team has to be united.
Having a clear, actionable plan already in place is one of the best ways to unite your team.
It ensures that everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
Your team can refer to the plan whenever necessary and remind themselves of the project’s primary objectives, values, and targets.
When things get hectic, or disruptions inevitably occur, you can rest assured the plan is there to keep everyone on the straight and narrow.
A project’s overall success is usually based on what?
And that’s exactly what a properly executed marketing plan will give you.
A good plan mobilizes measurable goals. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) pin-point key business objectives and produce measurable, quantifiable values upon which to measure success.
Now you and your team can measure your progresses with specifics.
In other words, you’ll know exactly if, and when, you increase that traffic by 10%.
Armed with numbers, it’s easier to know if you’re on track or if there are any changes needed to reach your goals.
How to build a marketing plan: step by step
Convinced? Sure you are.
A marketing plan is the best thing since sliced bread for newbie project managers and old hand’s alike.
But how can we make this ideal a reality?
We’re going to provide you with a go-to marketing plan outline.
We’ll walk you through the entire process, step by step, from planning the plan to writing the plan.
Let’s get started shall we?
Planning the plan
Believe it or not, your marketing plan needs a well researched plan of its own.
Before even putting pen to paper (or hand to mouse), you’ll need to do the following.
1. Identify key goals
We’ve spoken about goals already.
But they’re super important so let’s talk about them a wee bit more.
Goals make or break a plan.
Take some time to research your strengths and weaknesses and identify goals based on those observations.
You might want to try out the popular SWOT method for analysis.
This strategic planning technique gets you to identify your:
- S – strengths
- W – weaknesses
- O – opportunities
- T – threats.
Once you’ve identified your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, it’s time to settle on some objectives accordingly.
KPIs (remember those are our Key Performance Indicators) are a great way to frame your quantitative goals.
Qualitative goals, on the other hand, should be based on factors such as user experience, company image, position, and awareness.
Start with just two or three big-money objectives and split them up into manageable chunks (this will create actionable steps for the team to take day to day).
Marketing goals examples: Let’s take an HR team lead as our example.
A typical set of goals might look something like this:
Goal 1: Improve employee experience
- Create new rewards
- Set times for employee recognition
- Measure engagement levels
Goal 2: Improve feedback processes
- Increase feedback rate to quarterly feedback for all employees
- Measure sales performance
2. Know your target persona
Research your market and create your buyer personas.
It can be tempting to try and reach as broad a clientele as possible.
But, actually, what you really want to do is hone in on a particular market niche or segment.
That way, you and your team can create highly personalized material that speaks to an individual consumer’s painpoints.
A much more effective marketing strategy than blanket tactics.
So. Before finalising any plan, it’s important to decide:
- W – who you are your target personas?
- W – what do they need?
- W – where will you find them?
Example: Let’s take a look at what a target persona might look like.
If you’re a Business to Consumer (B2C) organization, that means you sell your product or service directly to your customer.
Perhaps you are selling a convenient, time-saving, meal prep subscription service.
Super. Let’s break down your target persona.
- Market segment: Young professionals
- Age range: 20s/early 30s
- Pain-points: Lack of time & desire to eat more healthy, home-cooked, food.
Now that you have a target persona, you can nail a marketing campaign that speaks directly to them, their needs, wants, and desires.
And that leads us very nicely on to our next point.
The next step is all about standing out from the crowd.
3. Create a strong brand & USP
Once you’ve honed in on a market segment, start voicing your brand directly to your target persona.
You can do this by identifying a Unique Selling Point (or USP) that will appeal to your target market.
By building a strong brand with specific values, you’ll speak directly to those people who are most likely to engage with your product.
If you’re struggling to identify a Unique Selling Point of your own, don’t fret.
Think about the core values of your organization, your client’s needs, and your services.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Even something as simple as regional knowledge could be enough to sway more engagement in your direction.
Example: Imagine you’re the new team lead in a marketing firm.
Perhaps your USP is a commitment to environmentally sustainable practices or a particular company specialism (infographics, for example).
These are both great USPs.
You are defining your brand by what you do best and speaking out to your target persona directly.
Free Marketing Plan Template in Excel
Click to download our Free Marketing Plan Template in Excel to begin simplifying your project management.
4. Identify distribution channels
You know who to market to.
You know how to market to them.
But where are they?
It’s time to identify your distribution channels.
A distribution channel is where you interact or trade with your consumer.
In today’s online environment, social media and email are essential channels to get right.
How does your target persona interact with Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn. When are they most active on these channels?
Do they respond well to email newsletters or promotions?
Find out where your clients are and speak to them in their own language.
For example: Perhaps your target audience is college students.
If that’s the case, avoid engaging with social media at the break of dawn.
We all know they’ll be sleeping off the previous night’s beers.
Try midday or early evening instead.
I know what you’re thinking.
Keeping track of all of these different distribution channels sounds like a nightmare.
And you’re right.
Whilst small businesses might be able to keep on top of everything manually, medium to large organizations will need to mobilize effective technologies.
Luckily, these days there is loads of tech out there to make your job that little bit easier.
A dedicated project management software will help you integrate all of your distribution channels, web content, and metrics in one place.
Plus it’s even possible to integrate some software within your office’s pre-existing Office 365 setup.
5. Bump up your website and get SEO savvy
You’ll also want to prioritize your website.
Make your homepage visually appealing and easy to naviate.
First impressions really do count.
Did you know that 94% of website first impressions are based on design alone?
To increase engagement, vary up your content with a company Blog, e-book, newsletter, or white paper report.
Instead of driving a hard sale, get your target personas invested and interested in your company on a deeper level.
While you’re at it, get familiar with SEO. Search Engine Optimization, is a major marketing buzzword these days.
For your campaign to be a success, your SEO will need to be on point.
Why? Because this is what guarantees your content gets seen.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your web content with keywords in order to drive increased traffic and improve search engine rankings.
Example: Some simple ways to bump up your content:
- Product guides
- Videos & tutorials
- Free trials
- Blog posts.
Writing the Plan
You’ve done some serious research.
Now you’re ready to write up your marketing plan.
The idea is to collate all of this research into a strategic, actionable document that can be shared with the entire team and guide your project towards its ultimate objectives.
So, what should it look like?
Here’s how to write a one page marketing plan.
Your marketing plan needs to include a business summary, research findings, an analysis section, a strategic method, a budget, and your projections.
1. Business summary
Summarize your organization clearly. Include company name; location; mission statement; initiatives; projects; goals.
2. Research findings
Summarize your own research findings. Include competitor analysis, SWOT analysis, buyer persona analysis, Buyer purchase cycles (or customer journey).
Profile your customers and your competitors. For your customers include age; location; goals; pain points; triggers.
For your competitors, include strengths; weaknesses; positioning; market share; prices, and any promotions.
Lay out your final marketing strategy and list your marketing channels.
Explain and justify based on your goals and USP.
This is what your team will refer back to day after day to stay on track.
This is often referred to as the 7 P’s of marketing.
- P- product
- P- price
- P- place
- P- promotion
- P- people
- P- process
- P- physical evidence.
It is also important to detail the specific methods, tactics, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which will be used throughout the project.
For example, if you aim to increase traffic by 10% how will you do this and how will you measure success?
5. Budget & financial projections
Finally, your plan should close with a clear budget and outline of future financial projections.
Define how much money is allotted for your project and where it will be spent.
Will you need to outsource any processes?
Will you need to buy new software?
All of these things need to be considered in your end budget.
Based on spending and expected ROI, make an informed financial projection for the year.
The best place to start
We hope this guide to marketing planning has been of help.
If you’re about to embark on your own project management journey, good luck.
By following these steps and creating a robust, well researched, marketing plan you’ll be sure to deliver amazing results.
Get started with your own marketing plan right now by downloading our free marketing plan template in excel.
You can also refer to our free project templates page right here for even more options.