how to write a marketing plan? step by step guide + templates
Perhaps. The most vital, aspect, of any business is the, marketing function a business. Can't really get off the ground until. It sells something a marketing. Plan provides, a roadmap for running, and coordinating. Marketing programs, it, helps align the many people and organizations, involved. In commercializing. Your, products and services a formal. Written marketing, plan is a great way to document the planning, process, it serves. Many purposes, but. A marketing plan doesn't, have to be a long and formal, document, even, a simple, one that answers these three, questions will help, where. Are we now where. Are we going and how do we get there first. It, captures, all the things you and your team have learned about the market the competition. And your, customers, this. Information, is critical because, it becomes the supporting, evidence for, the strategies, that you and your team decide. To pursue. Second. The plan serves as a tool to help you align the organization. Marketing. Involves many people so, you'll need to get everyone, on board and going, in the same direction the. Written plan becomes, a source document to, create presentations. To, conduct training and to, give directions to external. Partners believe. Me you'll, use it a lot, finally. The written plan lays, out a coherent. And coordinated, set of marketing programs, with, schedules, in budgets. So, you can run a smooth operation, to. Write the plan don't, wait until the very end of the planning process I like, to start writing it right from the very beginning, here's. A tip that makes it easy create. A blank PowerPoint, presentation. With just the headings of each component on a separate, page and. Keep it with you during team meetings as you, collect information or, make key decisions write. Or type it into the appropriate slide, that. Helps you keep the document up to date as you move through the process when. You have enough written material go ahead and create a first draft but. Be sure to date the draft as you'll, be making regular, updates and revisions a written. Marketing, plan is I die Namek document, and you, should expect to make changes, to it as conditions. In the market change if you, create a great plan and update. It regularly it'll. Help you stay ahead of, the competition. You. There. Are five steps to writing a marketing plan step. One is to analyze, the market this, is where you explore important, issues about market, conditions, your, potential, customers, and the, competition, this. Part of your plan is, called the situation, analysis. Once. You've analyzed, the market you need to describe your strategy, for achieving success, here. You lay out your approach to segmenting. The market targeting. Specific, customers, and how. You will position your products and services in, the marketplace, next. Is the tactical. Section, which, includes your product, or service programs, your. Pricing, approach your. Promotion, in marketing. Communications programs. And, your, channel design these. Are often called the four PS of your marketing plan a good. Marketing, plan explains. How you will implement the various tactics, described, in the last step it's. Here where you describe what, steps you need to take when. Those steps will happen and who's. Responsible, for getting the job done and, finally. Is the financial, section of your plan you. Need to describe, a budget, that outlines the financial, and other, resources, needed. To implement your marketing plan, here. You also lay out your forecasts. Of what you expect in terms of future, revenues, or other, business, goals this. Section of the plan may also describe, how you will measure success. You. Can start the marketing planning process any time but. An important, consideration, is how and when your company does its annual business. Planning, process that's. Where the company develops, financial, forecasts.
Investments. Budgets, and so on, generally. Speaking there are two ways to connect, the marketing, planning with, business. Planning some. Companies start, the marketing planning process, first right. Around the middle of the fiscal year each. Marketing. Team develops. Their own sales, revenue, forecasts. For their assigned products, they, also develop, a budget to spend on marketing programs, that, they think are needed to achieve those. Revenue, forecasts. Those, forecasts. And budgets are combined, into a company, level revenue, forecast and budget and that's. Fed directly into the annual business planning process but. Some. Companies do just the opposite they, start with the business planning process where. They develop, an overall revenue. Goal and spending. Target those. Are divided. And given to the individual, marketing teams those. Teams now have to take those targets, and develop. The best marketing. Plan they can to, achieve those goals, so. Talk to your finance partner to find out which approach, your company uses, another. Good idea is to create a calendar of when you'll write each, section, of the plan a good. Marketer, is disciplined. And doesn't. Cut corners, in writing a marketing plan it, takes time and lots, of work but in the end it's, worth it. Good. Marketers, know the value of a diverse and talented, team of colleagues to, help write their marketing plan you'll. Need to draw on their expertise. Their, market, knowledge possibly. There are resources, and their, network your. Team will include colleagues. Inside, the company as well as external. Partners like advertising. And promotional, firms, let's. Review, the various roles of your cross-functional. Team first. Is finance, your, finance, department, plays a very, important, role in making sure you, have sufficient budget, dollars to execute your plan, finance. Partners will also help you measure the results, of your marketing efforts and help. You find ways to improve it in the next business cycle, finance. Partners have a good eye for whether a recommendation, in, your marketing plan makes. Sense financially. Marketing. Research is another key role you'll need on your team your. Company might have a separate. Marketing research department, or it. May outsource, it but, either way you'll, need their help understanding. Customer, needs testing. New product concepts, or, perhaps testing, a new advertising, message, your. Marketing plan needs to explain what, you know about the market so. Make sure you involve your colleagues, in marketing, research. Next. Is your technical, team these, are the people who develop. Your products and services they. Might be engineers.
Or Scientists, in an R&D department, or, perhaps software. Developers, it depends. On the nature of your business, you'll. Need their input to your marketing plan so, you can explain what new products, might be coming down the pipeline now most, companies have a, sales, function and you, should enlist their help in developing, a marketing plan after. All they're, on the frontline day-to-day, and they, have a lot of insights, about your customers, and your, competition, they'll. Also have ideas about the selling tools they, need to succeed, be. Sure to get their input. Depending. On your business you, may also want to involve colleagues, from manufacturing. Or operations. These. Are the people who make the products or. Liver a service, a good. Customer, support team for example might, have great insights, about customer. Complaints, or service, issues. External. Partners might include your advertising, agency, your, branding, company a public. Relations, firm and perhaps. A marketing, consultant, they're. There to help you succeed, so. Make them a part of the team from the very start. Once. You've identified the, key players on your team make, sure they're aware of the schedule you've created if the team members know their role and understand. Your expectations, you. Can count on them to help you write a great marketing, plan. You. Before. You venture out into the marketplace with your products, and services you've, got to have a realistic, understanding of, where you are today, after. All you don't want to pick a fight with your competition, until you know what you've got to fight with this. Part of the plan is called, the situation. Analysis, there. Are four parts to it first. Is the market, analysis. Analyzing. A market means estimating. How many potential, customers you might be able to sell your products and services to, when. Analyzing. Any market, you want to group customers, into three types, first. Are the customers, that already buy from you today. Second. Are customers. That buy, the same products, and services you offer but. From a competitor, and third. Are potential. Customers that might be interested, in your type of products and services but. Not buying from anybody, now. Estimate. The potential number of customers, that you might be able to capture for each of the three groups you. Do this so, you can decide where you want to concentrate your marketing strategy, in, marketing. It's the old adage fish. Where the fish are. Next. You want to analyze how, your company compares. To, your competition, a good. Tool for this is called the competitive, matrix to. Create a matrix list. Your company and your competitors, across the top then. Down the side list. The things that you want to compare things. Like size, market. Share strengths. And weaknesses, and especially. The, key strategy. Elements like the value propositions. What. Does each company, have in terms of key resources, and how, do they use those resources to, acquire, and retain, customers. Now. Let's look at your customers, customers. Buy things for a variety, of reasons, but some are more important than others if you. Know what's most important, to them you, can appeal to that need when trying to get them to buy or you, can try to raise the sense of importance, they place on another factor, you. Also need to measure how they rate your product, versus, others and how, it delivers each benefit. They, may have misperceptions. That you need to change you. May be able to emphasize a key, feature of your product that is better than your competition, this. Analysis, will be critical, later when, you begin segmenting. Customers. To. Complete the situation, analysis, you need to test the features of your product and services, compared, to the same features, on your competitors, you. Need to determine which features perform better than the competition which. Perform, the same and which. Perform, not as well when. You complete, the analysis, take, a close look are. There features that need to be improved, are there, certain competitors.
You Want to avoid or possibly. Go after based on product, performance, now. Keep in mind that the data and information that you put into the situation, analysis, it doesn't have to be perfectly, accurate it. Just needs to be realistic. That, allows you to step back and see what customers. To go after what. To emphasize when marketing. To them and what. Competitor, is to go after or avoid. The. Situation, analysis, is an important, step so. You want to take your time here a good. Technique is to leverage, the team you created to write the plan I suggest. You break the situation, analysis, into, the various sections and assign. The writing of each section to the team member most qualified to do it. Having. A good, understanding of. Your situation can. Go a long way to setting you up for success as you write, your marketing plan. The. Heart of any marketing plan is your, strategy, this. Is where you describe how you plan, to win in the marketplace, the. Strategy, section has three parts first. Is segmentation. Where, you break your customers, into homogeneous, groups this. Helps you be efficient, with your marketing, resources by focusing, only on the most relevant customers, there. Are four ways to segment, customers. Demographic. Is where you group customers, by their characteristics. Such, as income level, age. Gender. Or, their height and weight it's. Useful, for certain products, or services that deliver a benefit. Specifically. Tied to that characteristic, if. You're marketing a shampoo, for redheads, for example then you'd want to group customers, by hair color. Geographic. Segmentation, groups. Customers, by where they are physically, knowing. Where your customers, are helps you know where to place stores for example and where. To communicate, or sell to them. Behavioral. Segmentation is. Grouping, customers, by the things they do it. Can be things such as who. They purchased from now how, frequently. They purchase or their, price sensitivity. Finally. Is psychographic. Segmentation which. Is how customers, think their. Attitudes, about the benefits, they seek in a product an example. Of psychographic, benefit. Would be the, need for prestige, or, need, for convenience. Segmenting. This way tends to be very powerful in. Targeting. You make decisions, on which specific, segments. To go after it's. A process of narrowing, down your audience, to a selected.
Group Let's. Go back to our shampoo, example, using. All four types of segmentation, you. Might have a target, audience like, this. Women. Over, 40, with red hair who, live in certain metropolitan. Areas who, buy shampoo, once, a month and who. Seek the benefit, of natural. Looking hair color now. You have a specific. Identifiable. Group, of customers for. The next step called, positioning. Positioning. Is determining, how you want, your customers, to think about, your products, versus. The competition, so. They're more likely to buy yours it. May seem a little abstract, but, positioning. Happens, up here in the, mind of the consumer, think. Of the consumers, mind is a three-dimensional. Space and in, that space they, form beliefs about products, and services in a, particular category and you. Can change those beliefs so, they have a favorable, opinion of, your product, you. Do that by making a claim, and by, supporting, that claim with credible, reasons. To believe or RT. B's as we call them the. Claim becomes. Your positioning. Statement what, you'll say to customers. When you communicate, to them about buying your product, let's. Use our shampoo example, a, positioning. Statement might, look like this. For. Women over 40 with, red hair that want to look their best our, shampoo. Gives you a more natural looking color to your hair than our competitors shampoo. Now. To support, this positioning, claim you, might include photographs of customers, who have used the product and perhaps, some testimonials. Of how much they liked it notice. How I included. My target, audience in the positioning, statement as well, as the primary benefit, that they want and that our, shampoo, can deliver so. What benefit, should you emphasize, go. Back to your situation analysis. This, is where you compared, your product, to the competition, to find out what benefit, you deliver better, than they do when. You position, your offering, around your strengths, you'll, get an important, edge over the competition and. That's what, great marketing, is all about. A. Great. Marketing, strategy only, comes, to life when, you take action now. It's time to dive in and write the tactical, section of your marketing plan this. Is where you describe in detail, your product, or service programs your, pricing, approach your. Promotion, and marketing communications. Programs and your, channel design in marketing. We call these the four PS, by. Product, and service programs these, refer, to all of the aspects, of how products, and services, perform. Their job in delivering benefits it, includes, things like the design of the product how, it feels to use it the packaging, of the product and the, people and processes, involved, in dealing with customers, now, be sure to describe, the, entire customer, buying experience, which typically, includes, the, following steps. First. Is the need recognition. Phase, this, is where customers realize. They want something the, next step is information. Search where, they gather information from, a wide variety of sources now. This is a critical step because this is when a customer is most receptive, to your message, once. A customer gathers, information they. Evaluate, the alternatives based. On what features are most important, and which, product does the best job in delivering those features. Eventually. They go to the purchase phase where they actually buy the product, now. You, might think that the buying process ends, here with the final purchase but. There's one last step called the post, purchase behavior phase, once. Customers start, using the product they, compare the results, with their expectations. Pricing. Involves two things setting. The actual price that customers, will pay and. Communicating. Those prices in an effective, way the. Price of your product or service, implies, their value, that the consumer, should expect from, buying it and using, it your, written plan should list the prices you intend to charge and why, they're set at that level, describe. Where, and when prices, will be communicated. To the customer, this. Might be a simple, price sticker on your packaging, or you, might have prices, on your website, from. Oshin includes all the things you say outside of the company to the market this, is where you broadcast, the value proposition, and other, information, about the product it, includes, advertising. In-store. Promotions, email. Campaigns, perhaps. Social media, and sales, promotion your. Written plan should, outline the, specific, programs, in terms of where and when you'll promote your products and finally. Distribution. These. Are the programs that create an effective, pathway, to get the product from the factory, into, the customers, hands somebody. Has to take the product ship, it store, it place, it on the shelves sell, it and possibly. Service, it once the sale is made. Including. Your written plan the specific, details of, where customers, can buy your products which might include store, locations, online.
Distributors, And so on, to. Be an effective, marketing plan all four, P's have to work together to convey the value proposition, no. One of the four PS can carry the load a good. Marketer, uses. All the tactical, tools available to. Make the biggest impact possible. Once. You're confident, you have a thorough, comprehensive. Marketing plan for your business you. Need to take steps to implement the actions outlined in the plan here. Are the specific factors. You should address, first. Is how and when you'll communicate details. About the plan make. A list of specific audiences. Or individuals. That need to hear about it then. Write, in the schedule, with exact, dates and locations for. These presentations. Next. Are the marketing, programs, that you created in your tactical, section, for. Each program I like, to use a simple, framework that describes who, what. When. Where. And how. This. Section, should describe, who is responsible. For the program it should, show the timeline, they have to complete the program including. When, implementation. Starts and when it finishes you. Should also explain, where, the implementation actions. Occur and maybe, some details, on how your team will implement that program. Finally. You want to set up key, performance, indicators, or KPIs. For short, key. Performance indicators, help you keep track of your overall strategy and your, individual, marketing, programs, they, alert you when it's time to intervene and take, action, to get things back on track without. KPIs, you're flying blind so to speak and you run the risk of falling short of your overall goal now. To be most effective, each KPI. Should. Be quantifiable. And measurable you. Can have as many as you want but, don't measure a KPI, just, because you have the data if you're not going to use it don't, bother it's a waste of time, measure. Something only, if you plan to take action, from it that's, why I like, to set thresholds, around each one each. KPI, should, have a target, of what, you expect to happen plus, a high and low number, around, that target, for. Those thresholds. You and your planning, team should, agree in advance what. Action you'll take if those thresholds, are exceeded, here's. An example assume. You create a KPI. About. The number of new customers acquired, each month. You set your target, at 500. And you also specify a high, and low threshold of 600. And 400 respectively. If your. Actual, customers per month is more than 600, you, might consider taking an action such as reducing. Advertising, spending or, in the low end if you're below, 400. You, could consider increasing, sales, incentives. Good. Marketers, not only reach their marketing goals but, they also know, whether those goals were achieved the. Way they expected, them to be achieved they, also take immediate, action, when, they detect something is going in the wrong direction. A well-written. Marketing, plan will help your team do just that. Marketing, takes time and money so, it's important, that you develop a budget in a, forecast, of what you expect in terms of business results let's, look at each of these a good. Budget helps you allocate, the right amount of resources, to the right marketing, programs to make the most impact now. There are two ways to develop, a budget you. Can decide on how much you have to spend in total and then allocate, it some. Companies, do this by taking a percentage of sales revenue as the total budget for marketing that, amount then is assigned, to different teams and programs I call, this the top-down, approach, the. Other approach is from the bottom up each marketing, team develops, a budget, to spend on marketing programs that they think are needed to achieve a revenue, forecast, and then, those budgets, are combined, into a company, level budget if you. Recruited, a finance, member to your marketing, planning team they'll, be able to tell you what approach your company uses. Whichever. Approach you take you still need to decide where to spend the money and how, much to spend how. Much you spend depends, on a number of factors, look. At each of your tactical, programs, the, four P's product. Price, promotion, and, place. Estimate. The required spending, in each one for. Example do, you need to spend money to upgrade, your product or its packaging, how.
Much Do you need to spend on marketing, communications, to reach a sufficient, number of people and still. Achieve the communications. Objective, what. Are your sales people and distributors, need to do their jobs effectively. Next. Is your forecast, or what, you expect, to achieve as a result, of implementing, your marketing plan now. You can, set any type of goal whether, it be a revenue forecast. Perhaps, units, sold or, maybe new customers, acquired, and so on, for. A marketing, goal to be the most effective, it should, meet the following criteria, first. It should be specific, just. Saying that your goal is to increase. Market share that wouldn't be specific, enough, increasing. Market share from 15%. To 17%, is, much, better as a goal because, it's specific. Second. The goal should be, setting. A goal that can't, be measured will become frustrating. For you and the team especially. When you try to gauge your progress, in reaching it, next. The goal must be attainable. Setting. An unrealistically, high, goal, won't do you any good in fact. It could hurt your campaign by, causing, you to spend more marketing, dollars than is warranted, the. Fourth criteria, is relevant. That means, the goal is directly, related to your marketing strategy, and, finally. The, goal must be time, bound meaning, that the goal will be achieved during, a specific period of time a year. Or perhaps. A quarter or even monthly. Once. You've estimated what, each program will cost you'll, probably need to make some tough choices and this. Is a great time to use the talents of your marketing planning team let, them help you decide in my. Experience. A team, decisions, ends, up being better than any single, individual. Decision, after. All you're, in this together so put, them to work in helping, you develop the most effective, budgets and forecasts. Possible. An. Effective. Marketing plan is one that lays out a coordinated. Set of strategies. And tactics to win in the marketplace, at. Some point in the process you'll need to gain support for that plan and perhaps. The most important, audience is your senior management they're, the ones who allocate, financial and, human resources to, various projects in your company without, their full support you, may end up not getting what you need here.
Are Some tips on how to make a big impact with senior leaders when presenting, your marketing plan. First. Try, to lead with the story perhaps. Focus, on a customer, who had a great result using the product this, is a really, good way to remind people how your products, bring value to customers. Next. Share, what's changed, in the marketplace, what, new threats or new, products, or perhaps trends. Are out there that are creating a challenge for you we, call this creating. The burning platform you. Want people to understand, the difficult, situation, you're up against. Then. Share. The process you went through to create the marketing plan give. Credit to your team members it, builds your credibility when, you've collaborated with a cross-functional, team now. Be as brief as possible because you probably won't have a lot of time you should, be prepared with different, length presentations. For. Example, you, should have a 10 minute version a 30, minute version and, a 1 hour version, really. Savvy marketers, also know how to present their strategy, in 30, seconds, or less the, so called elevator, speech, afterall. It's all about getting people on board now. You don't have to share every, detail about, your plan just, the highlights, present. The market, conditions, the. Competitive, situation and your, strategy, in terms of who you're targeting and how your positioning, approach will convert customers, be. Completely. Upfront about. The weaknesses, or risks, with your plan you. Gain trust when you're upfront and honest about potential, issues, then. Share, your forecasted. Revenue and budget, needs make. Sure they completely, understand, your assumptions, take. Your time here, if you, see that someone has a different, view around the assumptions, clarify. It on the, spot not. Aligning around the assumptions, can create real problems for, you later, remind. Them that funding. Your marketing, plan is an investment, not, a cost, assure. Them that you're committed, to getting them a good ROI return. On investment. Given. Their experience, be, sure to ask them for feedback on ways to improve your plan. Finish. The presentation, by asking, them for their support it's. The old sales adage always. Ask for the order, you're.
There To get approval, so look them straight in the eye and ask, for it hey. You've invested, a lot of time to, write a great, marketing, plan so, now it's time to gain support from senior managers, great. Marketers, show passion, and enthusiasm for. The products and services they manage to do just that. Your. Retina ting plan is a great, tool to help educate, some, very important audiences, if you, created a cross-functional, team to help you write the plan those, team members can, help spread the word but. There are two other audiences, that may need special attention, first. Is your sales force they'll, need to understand your marketing plan because, they play a key role implementing. It the, first thing they need to know is your strategy especially. Your, value proposition they. Should know who the target market is and they. Should know where, and how to find them share. Your customer, analysis, with them what, buying factors, are most important, to the target audience, once. They understand, your strategy give, them the tactical, tools they need to sell the product first. They need to understand how the product works and how, it compares feature. By, feature to. The competitor's product, next. You should share your pricing, strategy, in how, prices, are communicated. Explain. How the price was determined, in relation, to the value delivered, now. You might get some resistance here because, salespeople, generally, like the prices, to be low that's. Why it's essential they understand, how pricing, supports, the overall, positioning. Finally. Share, any selling, tools you've created to make their job easier these. Could include product. Brochures or tools. To demonstrate, the product you, might even have a suggested, selling script, for them to use, the. Second key audience is your internal, or external marketing. Communications, agencies now, your marketing plan has all the information to, create a creative.
Brief, It's, a short overview of, a creative, assignment, it answers, key questions like what, needs to be created how. It'll be used what. Are the deliverables for the project, and when. Are the deadlines it's. Like a contract, whatever. Format you use it should, include the, following, first. Give. An overview of your situation analysis. Next. Describe, the objective, of the creative piece is it, a commercial, a sales. Brochure a website. And so on then. Describe. The target, audience who, are we to the. More precise and detailed you, can be the, better. Next. Outline, your value proposition and, the reasons. To believe or are tb's what. Are the supporting, rationale, and emotional. Reasons to believe and by the. Agency, may use these points in the creative piece. Complete. Your creative, brief with, the schedule and a budget for the project, but. Keep in mind that, the creative, brief should, be brief. Don't. Just hand the agency, your marketing plan and expect. Them to sort through it a creative. Brief is much more detailed, than your plan but, very focused, on just, one specific, marketing. Program in that plan, with. The proper guidance from, our well-written, marketing, plan your, support, teams will work better together to, achieve your business goals. You.