on December 30, 2021 (last modified on May 17, 2022) • 28 minute read
Marketing plans are crucial to executing an effective marketing strategy. But they’re not easy to write – or read, for that matter. In order to write a great marketing plan, you have to look at your competition, target audience, decide on your dominant marketing position, and the KPIs you need to track.
And that’s just the beginning.
So how do you write a marketing plan that’s ready to hit the ground running? In this guide, we are sharing some easy-to-follow tips for writing a marketing plan, along with some marketing report examples for inspiration.
Let’s dig in!
A marketing plan is an action plan that outlines how you’ll reach your target audience and generate leads. It covers marketing strategies various marketing teams in your company will adopt over a course of time to reach your business goals.
Briefly, a marketing plan contains an overview of:
No matter what type of business you are running, creating an integrated marketing plan is important for properly marketing a product or service.
In order to attract and convert buyers, companies must use modern marketing tactics, including social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and SEO. All those aspects are covered in your marketing plan.
Here’s how Paige Arnof-Fenn from Mavens & Moguls explains the importance of having a proper marketing plan: It’s important because it forces you to focus on what you will and won’t be doing.” Including “deciding on who you are and who you are not, what space you want to own in your customer’s brain” and more.
Arnof-Fenn advises you “use the plan as a stake in the ground to set the parameters to help you make better decisions about who you are and who you want to be. It should help you decide if something is on or off strategy so you can stay focused and not get distracted as you grow.”
A marketing plan is a broad overview of how you plan to achieve your business goals. On the flip side, a marketing strategy is a detailed route to the steps you’ll take to accomplish your marketing plan.
Think of a marketing plan as a map to your goals and a marketing strategy as the best steps to reach your destination.
In this context, a marketing plan includes an executive summary, situational analysis, target market, KPIs, and the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion). A marketing strategy, on the other hand, starts with an executive strategy and covers competitive and market analysis, target audience, messaging, offering, and a plan to sell.
There are several types of marketing plans and the ones that you’ll create will depend on your business model and the marketing channels you decide to explore.
Here’s an overview of different marketing plans:
Marketing reporting can also help you identify how well you’re accomplishing your KPIs. The majority of our experts, for example, told us they were able to improve their primary metric by 6-25% over the last 12 months.
To help you get started, we’ve created a marketing plan outline that will help you structure yours. In order to develop and write a great marketing plan for your business, you need to consider the following 10 steps:
The main goal of the executive summary is to give the final gist, initial overview, and conclusions of your marketing plan. It should include a brief description of all core components of your marketing plan. An executive summary is often used as a marketing tool that can be used to present your marketing plan to potential investors, corporate partners, and executives who don’t have time to read the whole document.
Related: Executive Reporting: Management Reporting Best Practices & Report Examples
Your mission statement describes the overall vision and purpose of your marketing activities. A good mission statement should answer the following questions:
Great mission statements are based on the premise that a business’s mission can be defined in a so-short-it-can-be-printed-on-a-sticky note statement that is easy to understand and clear.
Here are the mission statement examples of some of the most famous companies worldwide:
“To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” – Apple.“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” – Starbucks.“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” – Tesla.“To make delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone.” – McDonald’s“We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.” – Harley-Davidson.
“To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” – Apple.
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” – Starbucks.
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” – Tesla.
“To make delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone.” – McDonald’s
“We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.” – Harley-Davidson.
As you can see, regardless of the length of the statement, it’s important to round out the thought.
A situation analysis is a method of assessing your company’s current position within the market. It identifies your company’s capabilities, customers, and competitors, and how they impact your business. A situation analysis is essential to any business plan and must be reviewed periodically to ensure that it stays fresh. In most cases it covers these factors:
What is your core product? – Describe your core product and any secondary or supporting products or services that you sell separately. This helps determine how each relates to your core clients’ needs.
Targeting your market is extremely important.
The better you understand your target market, the easier it will be to successfully market your product or service. Without proper target marketing, you won’t be able to run a successful marketing campaign.
How do you define a target market? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
You have identified your target market, but do you know who, specifically, will buy your product or service? Understanding your audience isn’t just about demographics – it can also be about personality. Buyer personas are fictional representations of the most common buyers in your target market. They should include specific details about age, gender, occupation, location, and other traits that may be important for your marketing plan. The more personal you make your buyer persona, the more effective your marketing plan will be. A buyer persona should cover the following:
Marketing objectives and performance are some of the most important sections in any marketing plan. It’s where you set the goals for your business and define what you’ll measure to determine whether you’ve reached them or not. Your marketing objectives are a clear description of what you want to achieve.
They can be divided into two categories: short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those that can be achieved within a year, while long-term goals are those that will help you reach your overall business strategy.
An example of a good marketing goal might be: To generate 150 qualified marketing leads via email marketing, by the end of 2022.
Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.
Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Your pricing strategy is a big deal. It can make or break your business, so it’s important to get it right. But too often, marketers don’t spend enough time thinking about how they’re going to price their products. In fact, there are entire frameworks and methodologies dedicated to determining what to charge for a product or service. The problem with these approaches is that they’re largely based on opinion and guesswork — which means they aren’t always the best option for every business. Generally, you have a few options for defining your pricing strategy:
A distribution plan is a plan that explains how you will distribute your product. The channel through which you will distribute your product should be aligned with the type of product that you are selling.
Hence, you need to answer some questions before formulating your distribution strategy:
There are a number of ways to promote your product or service. In this part of the marketing plan, you’ll need to analyze your target market and decide on the best way to reach them. A promotional strategy should be based on all the necessary information gathered in the previous stages of your work. You can divide it into two different approaches:
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a single channel to acquire new customers. As the authors of the amazing book Traction conclude: “No one channel is a silver bullet that delivers a predictable number of customers every time.” You have to experiment with all of them in order to discover which channels are most effective for your business.
A promotional plan is a strategic marketing document that answers the “W Questions”: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. It helps you understand your customer needs and business goals better. This will guide you to find the most optimal marketing channels to promote your product or service:
Marketing budget is a summary of all costs that your company has or has to pay in order to advertise its products. Creating a marketing budget is not as simple as it may sound. It’s important to determine the allocation of costs before you start spending money on your promotional activities. By creating a budget, you have a better overview of what the marketing costs are, and which measures are most effective in reaching your target group.
If you’re going to create a marketing budget, there are two ways to do this: from scratch or by using last year’s costs.
Ready to learn how to write a marketing plan? Here are the expert tips you should keep in mind:
Not having a marketing plan is better than having a plan that doesn’t uphold your business values, mission, and vision. Why? Because executing such a marketing plan would deliver nothing in terms of what you stand for – positioning your business as one without a mission and vision.
Therefore, start with either revisiting your mission statement and vision or, if needed, fine-tune the two essentials. Don’t have them ready? Work on them before you work on your marketing plan.
To refresh, “a mission statement encompasses who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it,” notes Kylie Moore of The Loop Marketing. A vision, on the other hand, is an idea of where you want your business to be in a specified time. This mental aspiration is captured best in a vision statement so you can share it with others.
“Having a clear view of these things will allow you to create a strong foundation for your marketing plan and help you focus on creating activities that support this vision and your objectives.
This is crucial so that your marketing plan serves as a means to hit these goals. Or, as Mindsailings’ Jasmine Hippe puts it, “Establishing your goal upfront allows you to align everything in your marketing plan under one outcome.”
It’s why Jonathan Aufray from Growth Hackers suggests, “to write a meaningful marketing plan, you want to know what are your company’s goals.”
Aufray shares questions to ask yourself to clearly figure out your goals. “Do you want to improve your brand awareness? Do you want to get more website traffic? Do you want to get more app downloads? Do you want more leads? Do you want more users? Do you want to raise money? Do you want to increase your revenue? Do you want to lower your costs?”
As soon as you’re clear on your business goals, you’re all set to write your marketing plan. “In other words, you can craft a marketing strategy which will help your business attain its goals,” adds Aufray.
“Too many companies jump into marketing plan creation with direction based solely on intuition and who they think their target audience is and what they think they want,” observes Anthony Gaenzle from Anthony Gaenzle Marketing.
“This is often done with little to no real research or understanding of the audience, and thus any tactics and plans that might be laid out will often fall short.”
In reality, an actionable marketing plan is one that is based on your audience, not assumptions.
In certain cases, you might even be clear on who your intended audience is. However, “when we’re mapping out multichannel strategies, it’s easy to lose sight and become hyper-focused on the perfect messaging for LinkedIn, or to tailor the perfect SEO strategy, but it’s easy to forget that the messaging we’re creating is for people using those platforms,” observes Wyatt International’s Coral Luck.
Thus, an essential aspect of how to write a marketing plan is to dive into your buyer’s persona before you put pen to paper. “Understand who your audience is and why they would benefit from your product,” Gaenzle advises. “Simply guessing is not enough.”
And, if you find yourself going off track, “you need to keep going back to the audience in question rather than obsess over tailoring a perfect online strategy that ticks all the boxes for search engines and social media platforms,” Luck suggests.
Don’t have an in-depth understanding of your target audience? Nothing to worry about. Put on your researcher’s hat and get to work. “Do your research through surveys, focus groups, and digging around online,” recommends Gaenzle.
“This will help you really understand the challenges your audience is facing and then you can determine how your product or service might truly aid end-users in facing those challenges.
This can help you craft better marketing messages that connect. It can also help you determine the best channels to target your audience on or craft your website content to appear higher up in search because it’s optimized for what your audience is really searching for online.”
If you’re still not convinced you need a clear picture of your target audience, keep in mind what Gaenzle highlights: “If you don’t take the time to do your research into your target audience, as well as the competition, the market itself, and even your company’s own strengths and weaknesses, your plan will just be a guess. And a guess is not enough.”
Related: 12 Best Tools Marketers Use for Market Research
Put simply, your entire marketing plan should focus on your audience – where they hang out, how they consume marketing content, their pain points, and so on.
Remember “everything you do should focus on the user,” Luck reiterates. “With every platform or tactic, stop and think ‘what does the customer want from this platform?’ In doing so, you’ll be creating a strategy for people rather than platforms. Every marketing activity should be human-centric.”
Now that we’ve shared the basics you need to know on how to write a marketing plan, let’s show how to exactly plan it to make it actionable. To do so, our experts recommend you write a SMART plan.
Here’s an example of how to set SMART goals.
Let’s suppose you want to increase your website traffic. OuterBox’s Justin Smith recommends asking yourself “by how much and in what timeframe?” do you want to increase your website traffic.
“Unless you specify tangible and measurable goals, you’ll never truly understand if your marketing efforts are having a positive impact,” Smith outlines.
Hence, the correct way to “phrase the example goal above would be something like this: ‘We plan to increase organic website traffic by 10% in Q1.’ Having concrete goals like this built into your marketing plan are critical for long-term success,” Smith adds.
It’s also essential you take into account what your competitors are doing. But, remember, the goal is never to copy them. It’s to keep an eye on what they are doing, how it’s working out for them, and if you want to replicate it, how can you do it better or different.
“Look for information about competitors’ performance, the public they are serving, how they communicate with the persona, how they advertise the products, and their results,” GSD Lovers’ Rameez Usmani writes.Somethings to look out for includes:
“1. Anticipate market trends and movements of competitors2. Identify your position and market share3. Identify positioning opportunities and competitive advantage.”
Now if you’re wondering how to get your hands on all this data, know that competitor research tools can help. Usmani shares some prominent names to try: “Google Alerts, SEMrush, and SimilarWeb.”
For a practical marketing plan that doesn’t meet resistance from stakeholders every step of the way, it’s essential you align all decision-makers involved. “A marketing plan cannot be created in a silo,” Optessa’s John Buglino notes.
So start with gathering “inputs from others in your organization… Speak with and align with members of your leadership team to determine what success looks like and their expectations of the marketing efforts.”
Despite the significance of getting everyone on the same page, Casey Crane from CodeSigningStore.com shares, “the mistake I think that a lot of marketing pros make is creating their marketing plans in silos. What I mean by that is they try to develop these plans on their own, without the input or feedback of key stakeholders within their teams and their larger organizations.”
The result? “A theoretical marketing plan that looks great on paper but doesn’t do much in terms of applicability”
The way to a practical marketing plan then is simple: “Eliciting feedback from these individuals to bring greater context and applicability to your marketing plan. What sounds like a good approach on paper may not be realistic in the application; having contributions from people in different roles within your company can provide that necessary context,” Crane explains.
It’s also essential you write a marketing plan with some built-in flexibility. “Don’t etch it in stone,” BrandExtract’s Chris Wilks recommends.
The reason? “Marketing is an ever-evolving practice so if you’re planning 12 months in advance, chances are things are going to look different by then. So build in some flexibility and revisit it every 6 months or every quarter.”
In fact, you’d be surprised to learn that only 5.5% of our respondents follow through with such an inflexible marketing plan. 20% follow their plan loosely with the majority agreeing they follow it “almost completely.”
You can also create a 3-month or quarterly plan as the duration is “long enough that there’s time to do big things, and short enough that it inspires to action with tangible deadlines,” shares Katheriin Liibert from Outfunnel.
Besides, you never know when you’d need to tweak or pivot your marketing plan altogether (hint: the 2020 pandemic taught us a lot on this, hasn’t it?).
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that your marketing plan is never done and dusted. You can always revisit it to make changes or tweak as needed.
Devin Johnson from Kennected comments, “Proper research and measurable goals are integral to any good marketing plan, but the most crucial part of writing a marketing plan is that it’s never done – you need to keep writing it indefinitely.”
On top of that, you need to analyze your plan too – how it’s working, what’s not working, and so on. Johnson agrees, “a solid marketing plan needs to be analyzed and updated often to keep up and adapt to new industry trends and brand growth.”
Therefore, “don’t be afraid to change goals as certain practices become outmoded, and set ever higher standards for your business.”
The best marketing planners don’t develop marketing strategies on a blank slate. Instead, they use marketing reports to understand data, see the big picture and gain insights easily. Whether you’re wrapping up your next marketing campaign or trying to improve the results of your latest one, marketing dashboards are a handy tool for measuring progress and looking at data in a meaningful way.
Databox offers more than 200 marketing dashboard templates for free to help you speed up your marketing planning process. Take a look at some of the most used ones by our clients:
Marketing Overview Dashboard is used to track how well you are creating leads from your site. It combines data from HubSpot marketing and Google Analytics to visualize the following data:
Are you trying to improve your Google Ads performance? Our Google Ads dashboard is here to help. This template provides you with the numbers you need to make informed decisions about your campaigns, so you can optimize them quickly and effectively. Google Ads Campaign Performance Dashboard can help you to get answers to the following questions:
Google Analytics Content Analysis dashboard shows you the essential data needed to understand the performance of your content and gain insights needed for improving your content strategy. This template will help you answer the following:
Social networks are powerful tools for content marketing because they allow you to connect directly with your customers and grow your business. Just like with any other marketing strategy, you need to be able to measure if your social media marketing efforts are working. With this free social media dashboard template, you can track and manage key activities and performance across powerful social networks, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram.
This Monthly Marketing Performance Dashboard Template helps you to track key user acquisition metrics, such as visits to leads conversion rate, traffic from email vs. blogs, and so on. This dashboard will help you tell if your marketing efforts are paying off and if it’s time to make adjustments to your strategy.
Google Analytics site performance dashboard helps website owners and digital marketing managers determine whether their site is properly optimized for speed. Use this template to measure your website’s response time and essential load time metrics that affect SEO and UX.
Here’s what you’ll learn from this dashboard:
This Marketing and Sales Overview dashboard uses data from Hubspot Marketing and Hubspot CRM to provide you with a full view of the top and bottom of your funnel. Use this marketing dashboard to see:
A marketing plan is the foundation of all your marketing activities. So, in order to benefit from your plan in the future, you need to invest proper time and resources in its development.
And that’s where Databox comes in.
Databox can help you visualize your marketing goals, dive into your target audience behavior, analyze your competitors, and more, ultimately providing you with valuable data that will ensure your marketing plan is user-focused instead of assumptions-centered.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a free Databox account today to streamline your current marketing efforts and set up a more effective marketing strategy from top to bottom.
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