How to Create a Marketing Plan
- Background: Who are your customers and what does their buying cycle looks like.
- Goals: SMART goals that clearly outline your timeframe and metrics.
- Strategy: Inventory of your assets and decide how you will make use of them
- Budget: Make a list of action items and include budget for each.
- Evaluation: Monitor KPIs that will help you evaluate your progress.
- Summary: List the main takeaways from your plan and use as reference.
Where do you see your business going next quarter? Next year?
And if you’re involved in your company’s marketing efforts, how will you make sure your company reaches these goals?
If you don’t already have clear, well-defined answers to these questions, then you need to create a marketing plan. A good marketing plan serves as a map for your organization, leading you toward success. Keep reading to learn what makes a good marketing plan, and then use our marketing plan template to get started today.
Why you need a marketing plan template
Proper planning is essential to success. When you have a good plan, you know where you want to go, when you want to get there, and—perhaps most importantly—how you can reach that point. It can save you time, money, and frustration.
Think of it this way: You’d never see a builder constructing a house without planning the materials, timeline, and floorplan first. Builders plan extensively, using blueprints to guide their work. As a result, they can consistently meet their building goals.
While there are many useful diagrams that marketers can use in their planning, nothing beats a solid marketing plan. A marketing plan defines goals, strategies, and key performance indicators for your organization to guide your choices. The carefully crafted goals and strategies in your plan will help you create marketing campaign templates that get you where you want to go. Likewise, you can compare a proposed campaign to your marketing plan. If it does not support the goals outlined in your plan, you’ll know to shelve it.
Of course, a poorly constructed marketing plan won’t get you very far. If your goals are vague or unreachable, for example, it will be difficult to know if you’re making progress toward them. You need to construct a marketing plan that is specific enough to provide meaningful guidance—and you can get started with a solid marketing strategy template.
Building an effective marketing plan
In order to provide a sufficient roadmap for your organization, a good marketing plan contains several parts. Some parts may require more detail than others, but each part is necessary to create a clear, actionable plan.
Visualizing your marketing strategy with Lucidchart
An effective marketing plan needs to be readable, available, and tailored to your organization. Lucidchart makes it easy to personalize an attractive marketing plan that you can share with your team.
Remember, the best marketing plan is the one you actually use and refer to. A useful marketing plan shouldn’t be too long or complex. Avoid overwhelming your plan with unnecessary detail, and include just the most important points. You can always link additional documentation to your plan as needed.
Background and Business Objectives
The background section lays the groundwork for everything else. It contains vital information about your organization, such as who your customers are and what their buying cycle looks like. Likewise, this section includes any pertinent company history, such as prior successful marketing campaigns that you wish to build on or marketing flops that led to course adjustments.
The background section also includes relevant research. At a minimum, this should include an honest analysis of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, known as a SWOT analysis. This analysis will help you create appropriate goals for your business. The background section can also include a competitive analysis for further insight.
You may also want to include your business’s mission statement or vision to align your goals closely with your organizations overall objectives. In addition, including any analyses you’ve conducted, for example your customer journey map, and buyer personas can be helpful in identifying areas of opportunity. You may have to simplify or summarize these analyses for length's sake, but you can always include greater detail in your additional documentation.
Draw upon your background to create two or three goals for your marketing plan. These goals should be SMART—that is, specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. Clearly outline the timeframe and metrics in your goals. You can even include three to five smaller sub-goals that will help you achieve your main goals.
Your goals will obviously depend on your organization, but they may include reaching a sales quota, raising brand awareness, or achieving another measure of growth within a specific time period. Make these goals realistic but challenging. Remember, a marketing plan should help your organization succeed, and these goals define what success looks like.
Resist the temptation to list dozens of goals, and stick to two or three main objectives. These goals should stretch your organization, but they should be achievable.
This section outlines how you plan to achieve the goals you just set. If, for example, your goal is to increase your online brand presence, you might create a strategy that focuses on distribution channels like Instagram marketing and email campaigns.
Conduct an inventory of your assets and decide how your strategy will make use of them. List things like your website, your social media pages, physical storefronts, etc. You should also strategize how your plan will use each role in your marketing team, such as SEO, copy, and design. You may wish to consult with members of these teams to get buy-in for their roles in your marketing plan strategy.
In addition to taking advantage of your company’s assets, your marketing strategy template should take into account your team's capabilities, including website updates, content creation, SEO implementation, various distribution channel campaigns, and other branding efforts.
Plans and budget
Your marketing strategy should get specific at this point, including actionable plans for implementing your strategy. These plans can include specific campaigns to create or actions to take. You might, for example, draft an Instagram campaign for the social media strategy you planned. Or you might plan to hire a new web designer to help with the website refresh you strategized.
While previous sections contain the theoretical framework for your plan, this section includes executable actions. Make a list of action items for all involved parties to attach in your additional documentation. Your plan needs to work within your constraints, including timeframe and especially budget. Include budgets in your planning to ensure your plans are realistic and well thought out. You can refine or even alter these plans later, but create them with the intent of using them as is.
Make sure you remain on track with your plan. That’s why this section contains key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you evaluate your progress. These KPIs will, of course, depend on the nature of your goals and plans.
In addition to planning how you evaluate progress, you need to plan how often you will evaluate. Again, this will depend on your organization and your goals. Some KPIs are best measured quarterly, while others are best measured on a weekly basis. List out who will be responsible for conducting evaluation, and consider putting regular evaluation meetings on the calendar at this point.
Your summary should list the main takeaways from your plan. This section will become a reference point for your team, and ensures that everyone understands the important parts of your plan. Rather than try to perfectly summarize every part of the plan, simply include the information your team will need the most to achieve your goals. Keep it brief to maximize its usefulness.
Start your marketing plan now
Don’t waste any more time on aimless marketing. Use Lucidchart to create a marketing plan that will help your team make and meet challenging goals. Plan for success with our marketing campaign template, and then watch as your team follows your plan to achieve great things.