How to Write a Marketing Plan That Gets Results
Your marketing plan supports your business plan and your value proposition. It outlines your target market and the strategies you’ll use to reach those potential customers. It is an essential part of your company’s success.
With a solid marketing plan, you’ll have a thorough understanding of your marketing strategies, the buyers you’re targeting and the places you’re getting the most value for your marketing dollar. You measure metrics like revenue, leads, lifetime value and customer-acquisition cost. You plan your marketing strategies for digital and traditional outlets and measure how well they perform for you.
Creating and following a strategic marketing plan can help you grow your customer base and your market share, making it a crucial component of every thriving company.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is your guide to the way you introduce your product or service to your potential customers. In your marketing plan, you identify your target market and your strategies for reaching potential buyers in that market. Your marketing plan can include one or more marketing strategies and should include benchmarks paired with timeframes.
So, what’s a business plan vs. a marketing plan? Your marketing plan should be built on—and should support—your business plan and your value proposition. Your business plan outlines how your company will grow revenue and be profitable. Your value proposition summarizes the value your product brings to your customers. Your marketing plan outlines how you’ll reach the customers who can make that revenue growth, profitability and value happen.
Your marketing plan will include the different methods you use to get your product in front of your potential customers. Depending on your product and business, your marketing plan might include:
- Marketing on social media
- Internet marketing
- Paid advertising
- Content marketing
- Public relations
- Direct sales and sales promotions
- Marketing campaigns that run for a designated time
- Plans that introduce a new product or service
Your marketing plan should cover a specific timeframe. It’s common for marketing plans to outline your goals and activities for a year, with targets and actions set for shorter periods. You’ll want to evaluate your marketing plan quarterly or monthly so you can modify it based on new information.
For more actionable information on how product marketing can grow your business, check out these resources:
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
A marketing plan consolidates information about all of your marketing efforts in one place. When you have a well-thought-out marketing plan, you know that your marketing efforts support your overall mission and business plan. Your marketing plan can help grow your customer base and market share and can help increase awareness of your products and your company.
With a marketing plan, you understand your target market better. Over time, you can see how your marketing efforts are performing so you can decide where to increase your time, energy and budget and where it makes sense to scale back.
As you evaluate your marketing plan, you’ll know whether your marketing efforts are on track and see how well your campaigns are performing. Over time, your marketing plan will help you a better estimate and justify your marketing budget requirements.
A marketing plan is your guide to the way you introduce your product or service to your potential customers.
Who should create a marketing plan?
Your chief marketing officer is responsible for your marketing plan. The CMO should work closely with product marketers, product managers and field marketing and sales teams. And they will want input from the executive team, human resources and finance.
Key elements to include in a marketing plan
Every marketing plan is different since marketing plans reflect companies’ unique needs and products. But you’ll probably want to include these components:
- An executive summary: the top-level description for people who might not read the whole marketing plan. This section should include your mission statement and core values. It should also contain pertinent details such as who owns your business, where you’re located and how you are positioned in the marketplace.
- An analysis of the marketing situation: in this section, you may want to include a “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats” (SWOT) analysis.
- Your marketing goals and objectives: and how they support your overall business goals. In this section, you outline your key performance indicators and your marketing plan’s realistic outcome.
- Your target market: its size and how you plan to reach these buyers. You might want to break your target market down into smaller demographic segments or buyer personas. You can target those personas differently based on their needs and wants.
- Your unique selling proposition: here you outline what makes your product a better choice than other options your buyers could consider.
- Strategies and tactics: in this section, you detail what exactly you’re going to do to promote your product in digital and traditional channels. You also may want to summarize any strategies and tactics you’ve chosen not to include as part of your marketing plan.
- Your budget: attach costs to your strategies and tactics to clarify how much your marketing plan will cost. Your marketing plan should generate more revenue than it requires in expenses.
- Your action list: in this section, you outline the specific steps you’ll take and tie them to time frames. You’ll also want to note who is in charge of your various marketing efforts.
- Tracking and evaluation: you’ll want to outline the metrics you’ll measure and how you’ll evaluate the success of your marketing plan as you implement it.
Metrics that matter
When you develop your marketing plan, focus on the metrics that make a difference to your business. After all, marketing drives sales, and sales drive your company’s revenue. It’s the marketing department that generates the leads that fill your pipeline. But you need to be selective and focus on what’s valuable.
Here are five metrics you’ll want to track:
- Revenue metrics. How many customers, users or transactions do you want to generate in a month or quarter? You may want to break this number down by persona or segment. Ideally, you should base this number on year-over-year data.
- Lead metrics. Leads are crucial to generating revenue, so how are you measuring them? You may want to track them by personas, segments, influencers, buyers or partners.
- The buyer’s journey. How are you tracking your buyer’s journey? Monitoring your buyer’s actions can show you where to put your time, effort and money. You’ll want to pay attention to personas, channels such as email and referrals and content elements such as blogs and websites.
- Lifetime value. How much is a customer worth to your business over their time with you? When you calculate the present and future cash flow you can expect from your customers, you can focus on the most profitable ones.
- Customer acquisition cost. How much do you spend on sales and marketing to acquire a customer? A high number isn’t necessarily bad if you’re in a phase where you’re heavily investing in marketing, but overall, lower is better. And a number that’s increasing over time is worth investigating since it can uncover a problem in your sales or marketing efficiency.
A lot of interesting metrics aren’t necessarily valuable. It might be worth measuring page views, time spent per page, likes, comments, impressions and clicks on display ads, but you won’t necessarily get a lot of actionable information from these metrics. Identify those metrics that add value to your business, and don’t devote much time or energy on the rest.
For a closer look at metrics that matter, check out the Pragmatic Institute’s 5 Smarketing Metrics to Embrace and 5 to Ignore.
Every marketing plan is different since marketing plans reflect companies’ unique needs and products.
Learn more about creating winning marketing plans
With a well-developed marketing plan, you can monitor the success of your marketing efforts, grow your customer base and your market share and lead your business to success. Register for Pragmatic Institute’s Market course today to learn more about drafting and implementing a stellar marketing plan.