An illustration of a person building a report, representing a post about making a marketing plan.
How To Create a Stellar Marketing Plan
An illustration of a person building a report, representing a post about making a marketing plan.

How To Create a Stellar Marketing Plan

“Build it and they will come” is not always an effective strategy in business. Choosing solely to focus on improving the quality of your product or service offering — without investing in promotion — can very quickly lead you to miss out on new customers and revenue. So, how can you avoid these potential losses? Through marketing, of course!

But before you go out and begin launching campaigns or trying out tactics you came across on LinkedIn, there’s a crucial document that you need to create: a marketing plan. Marketing plans are vital because they act like a compass for your business’s marketing efforts, ensuring that you maintain a clear, focused approach that aligns with your goals.

In this article, you’ll learn how to create a marketing plan, including the concrete steps you need to follow and how marketing plans are used. Let’s dive in!

What is a marketing plan?

Think of a marketing plan as a comprehensive roadmap for promoting your product or service over a set period. Basically, it’s all about figuring out the best ways to reach your customers and making a game plan for it. While different templates may include different sections tailored to each use case, most good marketing plans include things like:

  • An executive summary
  • Target market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Strategies and tactics
  • Objectives
  • Metrics
  • Budget

Sitting down and clarifying these aspects is vital. It will ensure that you keep all your marketing efforts focused and will help your business grow by staying on top of market trends and customer needs.

Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy

It’s crucial to distinguish between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy is the high-level, overarching approach you take to promoting your product or service. Your marketing plan, on the other hand, is the practical roadmap that details how you’ll execute that strategy. Think of the strategy as your destination and the plan as the route you’ll take to get there, complete with specific actions, timelines, and resources.

Now that you know what a marketing plan is and what it should include, let’s go over six critical steps for building your own.

6 steps for creating a marketing plan

While six steps don’t sound like a lot, building a solid marketing plan requires a great deal of work — so don’t expect it to be quick or easy.

Step 1: Analyze the situation

Before you can plan out how to get to your destination, you need to know your current situation — which is where a situation analysis comes in handy. You can employ methods such as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to understand where you’re at. Knowing these key factors will come in handy as you build out the rest of your marketing plan.

Step 2: Perform market research

This step is foundational and involves understanding your market’s size, trends, customer preferences, and behaviors. It’s also about analyzing competitors to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Here, you can utilize surveys, focus groups, and industry reports for comprehensive insights — whether you’re collecting them on your own, or borrowing from others. This information helps in making informed decisions about product positioning and market segmentation.

Step 3: Set objectives

Your objectives will dictate the purpose of every action taken in your marketing plan. Making these SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) is a must. These objectives should align with broader business goals and provide clear direction for marketing efforts. For instance, increasing website traffic by 30% within six months is a SMART goal.

Step 4: Write out marketing strategies and tactics

Here, you’ll want to outline what your marketing strategies are and select the most effective tactics to execute them. You should rely heavily on the insights you’ve gathered about your market and your target audience for guidance. You should also be thinking about all of the different channels you have at your disposal: social media, search engine marketing campaigns, print, email, blog, etc.

Step 5: Set your budget

Plan your budget considering both potential returns and realistic spending limits. Factor in costs for marketing tools, paid advertising, staff, and other resources. Budget planning also involves prioritizing different marketing activities based on their expected ROI (return on investment).

Step 6: Cover implementation and monitoring

Go into detail planning out the specifics of the marketing campaigns, content creation, and tools that will enable you to execute the strategies you’ve outlined previously. It’s also critical to highlight the means through which you’ll be measuring the effectiveness of your activities, such as the specific metrics you’ll be tracking or how you’ll be reporting on your campaign’s progress. Don’t forget to note how you plan to implement feedback from your monitoring activities as you progress through your roadmap.

Each step requires thorough consideration and a strategic mindset to ensure that your marketing plan is effective, driving you closer to your desired destination instead of leaving you stalled.

5 types of marketing plans

Now that you have a strong grasp of the high-level steps involved in developing a marketing plan, let’s look at some of the different types of marketing plans you can create.

Quarterly or annual marketing plans

These plans focus on short-term (quarterly) or long-term (annual) goals. A quarterly plan allows for agility and quick adjustments, while an annual plan offers a broader view of long-term strategy and stability. Both should align with the company’s overall objectives and include detailed action items, timelines, and performance metrics.

Small business marketing plans

These plans prioritize cost-effective strategies that are friendlier to smaller budgets. If you’re looking into creating a marketing plan for a small business, you’ll want to focus on community engagement, local SEO, and leveraging social media — as these typically have the highest ROI for brick-and-mortar businesses of a certain size.

Digital marketing plans

These marketing plans focus on leveraging online platforms to achieve your marketing goals. Key components of digital marketing plans include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, email marketing, and digital advertising. They require staying up-to-date with digital trends, understanding online consumer behavior, and using analytics to track online engagement and conversion rates.

Social media marketing plans

If you want to maximize your brand’s presence on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, then a social media marketing plan can be a lifesaver. These plans account for things like creating engaging content, scheduling regular posts, interacting with followers, and analyzing social media metrics. They require an understanding of different platform dynamics and audience preferences to be truly successful.

Growth marketing plans

Looking to achieve rapid business growth? A growth marketing plan helps to achieve this through detailing innovative and experimental tactics. These plans often involve A/B testing, data-driven strategy, user experience improvements, and exploring new marketing channels. Growth marketing requires a mindset of continuous experimentation and adaptation to have a genuine impact.

Final thoughts on how to create a marketing plan

Creating a marketing plan is crucial for businesses of all sizes, whether you’re a one-person show or a multinational corporation. A well-crafted marketing plan provides clarity, direction, and methods for measuring progress, ensuring that every marketing effort contributes to the broader objectives of the business. By ensuring that every activity is aligned with the overall business and marketing strategy, a marketing plan helps to prevent wasting any time or resources in your promotional efforts.

It especially helps if you’re using the right tools. Unito supports a range of powerful marketing analytics tools including GA4, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads Manager.