Download a Marketing Plan Template
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a business operational document which describes a company’s marketing objectives and how they will be accomplished within a specific timeframe (usually the next year). A good marketing plan is crucial to the success of a company.
A marketing plan can be included as part of the overall business plan. It is, however, advisable to also have a comprehensive, detailed marketing plan on its own – which can be attached to the appendix of a business plan.
The marketing plan is the fundamental part of the marketing planning process – which involves the planning, implementation and evaluation of the marketing plan in line with the marketing strategy.
How to write a marketing plan
Drawing up an effective marketing plan requires a lot of planning and thought. It is not simply a written document, but a carefully researched plan devised to increase the profit of a company. The structure of your marketing plan will be based on the research you conducted.
The marketing plan format should at least include the following elements:
Although this section features at the beginning of the marketing plan, the executive summary should be written last. It is an overview of the main aspects of the plan.
This section provides an overview of the present state of the business. A SWOT analysis assesses the current business situation, and its position in relation to its competitors, by summarising the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Internal analysis involves understanding the business’ strengths and weaknesses. Opportunities and threats can be identified through a STEEPLE analysis – social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal and ethical factors.
A description of the company’s competition. Who are they? What are their products and services? How will you gain a competitive advantage?
Market research is a very important part of the marketing planning process. It involves understanding who the customers are. What are their demographics? What are their likes and dislikes? Also, investigate who your business’ customers are and what motivates them to purchase.
The specific, quantifiable goals you want your business to achieve. For example, your marketing plan could state that you want to increase your sales by 10% over the next year.
The marketing objectives should be based on the SWOT analysis and relate to the overall business strategy. Furthermore, objectives should always be SMART – specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
What segment of the market is your business targeting? Define the demographics, interests, wants and needs of your target market. Understanding who you would like to sell your products or services to will allow you to better focus your advertising. You can either target the entire market as a whole or only a certain segment of the market.
The marketing strategies section makes out the bulk of the marketing plan. Discuss how the business is going to achieve its marketing objectives. How are you going to position yourself within your target market and differentiate yourself from your competitors? Focus on the 4 Ps of the marketing mix – price, product, place and promotion.
A forecast of the expected costs of the marketing strategies and an allocated budget. The strategies or tactics you choose to use will depend on the marketing budget. Include a break-even analysis, sales forecasts and expense forecasts to the financial section of your marketing plan.
To ensure that the marketing plan will be executed, key tasks and who they are assigned to must be specified. Set specific dates for completion of the tasks. The implementation section of the marketing plan must also include contingency plans.
Marketing plan template and samples
For a sample of a marketing plan, see CoSchedule’s blog post on 30 Marketing Plan Samples And Everything You Need To Include In Your Strategy. The marketing plan samples are available in PDF format.
There are many marketing plan templates available online. You can download a free marketing plan template for Word, or a marketing budget plan template for Excel, from Microsoft.