“Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy — and it’s nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you’ll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you’ll encounter over the course of a year if you don’t have a plan.”
1. Business Summary
In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. It’s essential to include this information so that all stakeholders, including your direct reports, learn about your company in detail before delving into the more strategic components of your plan. Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who’ve been in the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page.
Most business summaries include:
- The company name
- Where it’s headquartered
- Its mission statement
Our marketing plan outline also includes information on marketing leadership, which is especially helpful for companies with large marketing teams.
2. SWOT Analysis
Your marketing plan’s business summary also includes a SWOT analysis, which stands for the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s essential to include this information so you can create targeted strategies that help you capitalize on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.
However, be patient with your business’ SWOT analysis; you’ll write most of it as you conduct your market research and create your strategy. Feel free to come back to this section periodically, adjusting it as you discover more information about your own business and your competition.
3. Business Initiatives
The business initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you’d normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You’ll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.
Every initiative should follow the SMART method for goal-making. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
4. Customer Analysis
In this part of the marketing plan outline, you get plenty of space to share all the data you collected during your market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Either way, try to do your research before synthesizing it in a shareable document like this one.
Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you’re selling to and your buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:
- Personal challenges
- Triggering event
5. Competitor Analysis
Including a competitive analysis is essential when creating a marketing plan. Your buyer persona has choices when it comes to solving their problems, choices in both the types of solutions they consider and the providers that can administer those solutions. In your market research, you should consider your competition, what they do well, and where the gaps are that you can potentially fill. This can include:
- Market share
Our marketing plan template includes space to list out the specific products you compete with, as well as other facets of the other company’s strategy, such as their blogging efforts or customer service reputation. Keep this part of your plan simple — your full competitive analysis should be done separately.
6. Market Strategy
Your market strategy uses the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your buyerpersonas that your competitors aren’t already offering them?
As you fill out the section, use the insights from your SWOT analysis, your competitive analysis, and your market research to create targeted, effective descriptions that will help you secure buy-in for your later tactics and strategies. For instance, if you found that one of your competitors employs stronger social media marketing strategies, you might add “We’ll post 3 times per week on our social media profiles” under “Promotion.”
In our full-length marketing plan outline, the market strategy section contains the “seven Ps of marketing” (or the “extended marketing mix”):
- Physical Evidence
Don’t mistake the marketing budget element of your plan with your product’s price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.
Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you’ll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include:
- “Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers
- Marketing software
- Paid promotions
- Events (those you’ll host and/or attend)
Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you’ll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won’t be 100% accurate but can help with executive planning.
Remember: Your marketing plan only includes a summary of the costs. We recommend keeping a separate document or Excel sheet to help you calculate your budget much more effectively.
8. Marketing Channels
Your marketing plan should also include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you’ll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.
If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you’ll use this social network for, and how you’ll measure your success on this network. Part of this section’s purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.
Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.
9. Marketing Technology
“Last, but certainly not least, your marketing plan should include an overview of the tools you’ll include in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack. These are the tools that will help you achieve the goals you outlined in the previous sections. Since all types of marketing software usually need a generous investment from your company’s leadership, it’s essential to connect them to a potential ROI for your business.
For each tool, describe what exactly you’ll use it for, and be sure that it’s a strategy that you’ve mentioned elsewhere. For instance, we wouldn’t recommend listing an advertising management tool if you didn’t list “PPC Advertising” under “Marketing Channels.”
- Conduct a situation analysis.
- Define your target audience.
- Write SMART goals.
- Analyze your tactics.
- Set your budget.