key components of a strategic marketing plan

What is Strategic Marketing Planning? A Step-by-Step Guide

In today’s fiercely competitive business environment, understanding what is strategic marketing planning and creating a successful plan is crucial to achieving growth, profitability, and long-term sustainability.

This step-by-step guide will not only help you comprehend the importance of what is strategic marketing planning but also provide essential insights on how to develop and implement a well-rounded marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

Short Summary

  • Strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach to achieving business objectives and optimizing resources.
  • Key components include market research, target audience identification, objective setting & utilization of the 4 Ps of marketing.
  • The process involves effective execution & monitoring with regular reviews for successful results and continuous improvement.

Understanding Strategic Marketing Planning

Strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach that our agency follows to reach predetermined marketing objectives. It provides the essential foundation, guidelines, and steps to achieve those objectives. Strategic planning plays a pivotal role in optimizing marketing efforts and achieving better results, ultimately leading to business growth and profitability.

Definition and significance

Strategic marketing planning is defined as a systematic approach to achieving marketing goals through the analysis, segmentation, and identification of competitive advantages. Efficient marketing operations are crucial for the successful strategic marketing implementation of the successful strategic marketing plan. By employing successful strategic marketing planning , businesses can ensure that their marketing plan is well-executed and delivers the desired results.

Crafting a successful marketing strategy primarily emphasizes the marketing mix, which consists of the following:

Incorporating price into a strategic marketing plan is essential to guarantee that the value of the product is justified to prospective customers.

Key components

The essential elements of strategic marketing planning include:

  • Market research
  • Identification of the target audience
  • Establishment of objectives
  • Formulation of the marketing mix
  • Assessment of performance

A SWOT analysis is a tool used to evaluate a company’s internal strengths and weaknesses in comparison to external opportunities and threats.

Defining the ideal customer profile is crucial in creating efficient marketing communication strategies, conserving time and resources by concentrating on the requirements of the current consumer, and serving as the foundation of any marketing campaign.

The Strategic Marketing Planning Process

The strategic marketing planning process is a comprehensive approach to achieving business objectives by conducting market research, identifying the target audience, and setting marketing goals that align with overall business objectives. This process enables marketers to gain an understanding of the business’s current standing and craft suitable marketing strategies, optimizing marketing efforts and achieving better results.

By following this process, marketers can ensure that their marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business objectives.

Market research and analysis

Market research and analysis play an essential role in understanding external factors, market trends, and consumer behavior and conducting a competitive analysis to identify potential opportunities and threats. By analyzing the business environment, prevailing market trends, and consumer behavior, the likelihood of the marketing plan’s success is enhanced.

A competitive analysis assists in identifying opportunities for improvement in the largest competitors’ marketing strategies, enabling the agency to focus on areas where they are lagging behind.

Identifying target audience

Identifying the target audience involves:

  • Defining the ideal customer profile based on similarities between existing clients and prospective customers
  • Recognizing the target audience is significant in the strategic marketing planning process
  • Assisting businesses in creating efficient marketing communication strategies
  • Conserving time and resources by concentrating on the requirements of the current consumer
  • Serving as the foundation of any marketing campaign

It is important to understand the target audience in order to create effective marketing campaigns that will reach the target audience.

Setting marketing goals

Setting marketing goals requires using prior data and desired business outcomes to establish realistic objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). In strategic marketing planning, specific marketing goals may include acquiring a certain number of new clients, growing followers on social media, or sourcing additional leads for the sales funnel.

Establishing marketing objectives enables the ability to:

  • Assess performance
  • Assign resources
  • Maintain a clear direction
  • Make decisions based on data
  • Ultimately leads to improved marketing results.

Developing Marketing Strategies

Developing marketing strategies involves crafting the marketing mix and selecting appropriate marketing channels to reach the target audience effectively. The marketing mix is a combination of product, price, promotion, and place, which can be utilized to select marketing channels by determining which channels are most effective at reaching the target audience.

By understanding the target audience and the marketing mix, marketers can determine which channels are most effective.

Crafting the marketing mix

Crafting the marketing mix involves focusing on the four Ps of marketing to create a comprehensive marketing strategy. The components of the marketing mix are:

A successful marketing strategy primarily emphasizes the marketing mix.

Each of the four is one of the four. Ps of marketing must be carefully considered when creating a marketing strategy. Product refers to a product.

Selecting marketing channels

Selecting marketing channels involves choosing the most effective digital and traditional channels to boost brand recognition, draw in new customers, and accomplish marketing objectives. Digital channels such as websites, social media, email, search engine optimization, and online advertising are available, as well as traditional channels such as television, radio, print, and outdoor advertising.

Choosing marketing channels can assist businesses in:

  • Connecting with their target audience
  • Maximizing visibility
  • Utilizing resources effectively
  • Increasing brand recognition
  • Monitoring and assessing outcomes.

Implementing and Monitoring the Strategic Marketing Plan

Implementing and monitoring the strategic marketing plan involves executing the plan, managing projects, and measuring performance to ensure success. Execution and project management are essential components of the strategic marketing plan, which can be ensured by using tools such as Teamwork or Plaky to assign tasks, set timelines, and track milestones.

These tools can help ensure that the plan is executed on time and that all tasks are completed.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Execution and project management

We utilize project management tools such as Teamwork or Plaky to assign tasks, set timelines, track milestones, and ensure the successful implementation of the marketing plan . These tools offer a convenient solution to marketing planning by providing capabilities for task management and assignment, as well as a pre-made marketing strategy plan template.

With these tools, teams can easily collaborate on tasks, assign deadlines, and track progress. This is a very good article.

Performance measurement

Performance measurement entails tracking progress, assessing effectiveness, and making data-driven modifications to marketing strategies, tactics, and KPIs/OKRs. Monitoring progress assists in assessing the efficacy of marketing strategies and tactics and in recognizing areas that require adjustment.

Assessing effectiveness enables us to recognize which strategies and tactics are successful and which are not and to make adjustments as needed.

Adapting to Market Changes

Adapting to market changes in the strategic marketing planning process involves:

  • Modifying the marketing strategy to remain competitive
  • Consistently reviewing and updating the marketing plan
  • Recognizing and responding to the changing needs of the target market.

It may also include product adaptation to appeal to a new or evolving customer base.

Regular review and updates

To avoid potential implementation issues caused by fluctuating internal and external factors and to guarantee compatibility with corporate objectives, it is essential to regularly review and revise the strategic marketing plan.

Regular review and updates of the strategic marketing planning process are essential for the following:

  • Assessing effectiveness
  • Responding to changing market conditions
  • Ensuring alignment with business goals
  • Optimizing resources.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement involves executing, monitoring, and refining the marketing plan to reach goals, increase competitiveness, and foster strategic thinking. Launching, executing, reporting, and iterating the marketing plan should be done in an orderly fashion to ensure objectives are met, competitiveness is increased, and strategic thinking is promoted.

Ongoing improvement is fundamental for any effective strategic marketing plan. It guarantees that the plan is current and that objectives are being achieved. Moreover, it encourages strategic thinking and boosts competitiveness.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

In conclusion, a successful strategic marketing plan is pivotal to achieving business growth, profitability, and long-term sustainability. Through a step-by-step approach involving market research and analysis, target audience identification, goal setting, marketing strategy development, implementation, monitoring, and continuous improvement, businesses can adapt to market changes, stay competitive, and achieve their objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the marketing strategy planning.

Strategic marketing planning is the process of creating a plan to achieve a specific marketing goal, such as increasing revenue and profits or improving the brand’s visibility. Companies use this process to outline their objectives, the programs they’ll use to reach them, who is responsible for those metrics, and when they’ll be achieved.

These objectives are typically broken down into short-term and long-term goals, each goal having its own set of strategies and tactics. The plan should also include a timeline for when each goal should be achieved, as well as a budget.

What is the purpose of a strategic marketing plan?

Strategic marketing planning is an essential process that involves creating a plan to reach specific marketing goals. This plan outlines objectives, programs, who is responsible, and when the goals need to be achieved in order to increase revenue and profits, gain visibility, discourage competitors, or improve their appearance.

What are the five parts of a strategic marketing plan?

A strategic marketing plan consists of five core components: product, price, promotion, place, and people. These are the key elements that you need to focus on in order to create a successful plan that will help your brand reach its goals.

Each of these components should be carefully considered and planned out in order to ensure that your plan is effective. The product should be tailored to meet the needs of your target audience, while the price should be reasonable.

What are the 4 phases of strategic marketing planning?

The 4 phases of strategic marketing planning are formulation, implementation, evaluation, and modification. This process involves setting goals and objectives, analyzing internal and external business factors, product planning, implementation, and tracking progress to ensure successful outcomes.

Setting goals and objectives is the first step in the process. This involves identifying the desired outcomes and the resources needed to achieve them. Internal and external business factors must be considered.

What are the key components of strategic marketing planning?

Strategic marketing planning involves market research, target audience identification, goal setting, creating a marketing mix, and assessing performance. It is essential for businesses to have an effective strategy in place to be successful.

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key components of a strategic marketing plan

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Blog Marketing What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

Written by: Sara McGuire Oct 26, 2023

Marketing Plan Venngage

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines your strategies to attract and convert your ideal customers as a part of your customer acquisition strategy . It’s a comprehensive document that details your:

  • Target audience:  Who you’re trying to reach
  • Marketing goals:  What you want to achieve
  • Strategies and tactics:  How you’ll reach your goals
  • Budget:  Resources you’ll allocate
  • Metrics:  How you’ll measure success

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about creating a marketing plan . If you need a little extra help, there are professionally designed marketing plan templates that’ll make the process much easier. So, let’s ditch the confusion and get started!

Click to jump ahead:

What is a marketing plan?

How to write a marketing plan .

  • Marketing plan v.s. business plan
  • Types of marketing plans

9 marketing plan examples to inspire your growth strategy

Marketing plan faqs.

A marketing plan is a report that outlines your marketing strategy for your products or services, which could be applicable for the coming year, quarter or month.  

Watch this quick, 13-minute video for more details on what a marketing plan is and how to make one yourself:

Typically, a marketing plan includes:

  • An overview of your business’s marketing and advertising goals
  • A description of your business’s current marketing position
  • A timeline of when tasks within your strategy will be completed
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking
  • A description of your business’s target market and customer needs
  • A description of how you will measure the performance of the strategy

For example, this marketing plan template provides a high-level overview of the business and competitors before diving deep into specific goals, KPIs and tactics:

Orange Content Marketing Plan Template

Learning how to write a marketing plan forces you to think through the important steps that lead to an effective marketing strategy . And a well-defined plan will help you stay focused on your high-level marketing goals.

With Venngage’s extensive catalog of marketing plan templates , creating your marketing plan isn’t going to be hard or tedious. In fact, Venngage has plenty of helpful communications and design resources for marketers. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for  Venngage for Marketers   now. It’s free to register and start designing.

Venngage for Marketers Page Header

Whether you’re a team trying to set smarter marketing goals, a consultant trying to set your client in the right direction, or a one-person team hustling it out, Venngage for Marketers helps you get things done.

As mentioned above, the scope of your marketing plan varies depending on its purpose or the type of organization it’s for.

For example, you could create a marketing plan that provides an overview of a company’s entire marketing strategy or simply focus on a specific channel like SEO, social media marketing, content marketing and more, like in this example:

content marketing plan template

A typical outline of a marketing plan includes:

  • Executive summary
  • Goals and objectives
  • User personas
  • Competitor analysis/SWOT analysis
  • Baseline metrics
  • Marketing strategy
  • Tracking guidelines

Below you will see in details how to write each section as well as some examples of how you can design each section in a marketing plan.

Let’s look at how to create a successful marketing plan (click to jump ahead):

  • Write a simple executive summary
  • Set metric-driven marketing goals
  • Outline your user personas
  • Research all of your competitors
  • Set accurate key baselines & metrics
  • Create an actionable marketing strategy
  • Set tracking or reporting guidelines

1. Write a simple executive summary

Starting your marketing plan off on the right foot is important. You want to pull people into your amazing plan for marketing domination. Not bore them to tears.

Creative Marketing Plan Executive Summary

One of the best ways to get people excited to read your marketing plan is with a well-written executive summary. An executive summary introduces readers to your company goals, marketing triumphs, future plans, and other important contextual facts.

Standard Business Proposal Executive Summary

Basically, you can use the Executive Summary as a primer for the rest of your marketing plan.

Include things like:

  • Simple marketing goals
  • High-level metrics
  • Important company milestones
  • Facts about your brand
  • Employee anecdotes
  • Future goals & plans

Try to keep your executive summary rather brief and to the point. You aren’t writing a novel, so try to keep it under three to four paragraphs.

Take a look at the executive summary in the marketing plan example below:

Content Marketing Proposal Executive Summary

The executive summary is only two paragraphs long — short but effective.

The executive summary tells readers about the company’s growth, and how they are about to overtake one of their competitors. But there’s no mention of specific metrics or figures. That will be highlighted in the next section of the marketing plan.

An effective executive summary should have enough information to pique the reader’s interest, but not bog them down with specifics yet. That’s what the rest of your marketing plan is for!

The executive summary also sets the tone for your marketing plan. Think about what tone will fit your brand ? Friendly and humorous? Professional and reliable? Inspiring and visionary?

2. Set metric-driven marketing goals

After you perfect your executive summary, it’s time to outline your marketing goals.

(If you’ve never set data-driven goals like this before, it would be worth reading this growth strategy guide ).

This is one of the most important parts of the entire marketing plan, so be sure to take your time and be as clear as possible. Moreover, optimizing your marketing funnel is key. Employing effective funnel software can simplify operations and provide valuable customer insights. It facilitates lead tracking, conversion rate analysis, and efficient marketing optimization .

As a rule of thumb, be as specific as possible. The folks over at  VoyMedia  advise that you should set goals that impact website traffic, conversions, and customer success — and to use real numbers.

Avoid outlining vague goals like:

  • Get more Twitter followers
  • Write more articles
  • Create more YouTube videos (like educational or Explainer videos )
  • Increase retention rate
  • Decrease bounce rate

Instead, identify  key performance metrics  (KPI) you want to impact and the percentage you want to increase them by.

Take a look at the goals page in the marketing plan example below:

Creative Marketing Plan Goals

They not only identify a specific metric in each of their goals, but they also set a timeline for when they will be increased.

The same vague goals listed earlier become much clearer when specific numbers and timelines are applied to them:

  • Get 100 new Twitter followers per month
  • Write 5 more articles per week
  • Create 10 YouTube videos each year
  • Increase retention rate by 15% by 2020
  • Decrease bounce rate by 5% by Q1
  • Create an online course  and get 1,000 new leads
  • Focus more on local SEO strategies
  • Conduct a monthly social media report to track progress

You can dive even deeper into your marketing goals if you want (generally, the more specific, the better). Here’s a marketing plan example that shows how to outline your growth goals:

Growth Goals Roadmap Template for a Marketing Plan

3. Outline your user personas

Now, this may not seem like the most important part of your marketing plan, but I think it holds a ton of value.

Outlining your user personas is an important part of a marketing plan that should not be overlooked.

You should be asking not just how you can get the most visitors to your business, but how you can get the right visitors.

Who are your ideal customers? What are their goals? What are their biggest problems? How does your business solve customer problems?

Answering these questions will take lots of research, but it’s essential information to get.

Some ways to conduct user research are:

  • Interviewing your users (either in person or on the phone)
  • Conducting focus groups
  • Researching other businesses in the same industry
  • Surveying your audience

Then, you will need to compile your user data into a user persona  guide.

Take a look at how detailed this user persona template is below:

Persona Marketing Report Template

Taking the time to identify specific demographic traits, habits and goals will make it easier for you to cater your marketing plan to them.

Here’s how you can create a user persona guide:

The first thing you should add is a profile picture or icon for each user persona. It can help to put a face to your personas, so they seem more real.

Marketing Persona

Next, list demographic information like:

  • Identifiers
  • Activities/Hobbies

The user persona example above uses sliding scales to identify personality traits like introversion vs. extroversion and thinking vs. feeling. Identifying what type of personality your target users tend to have an influence on the messaging you use in your marketing content.

Meanwhile, this user persona guide identifies specific challenges the user faces each day:

Content Marketing Proposal Audience Personas

But if you don’t want to go into such precise detail, you can stick to basic information, like in this marketing plan example:

Social Media Plan Proposal Template Ideal Customers

Most businesses will have a few different types of target users. That’s why it’s pertinent to identify and create several different user personas . That way, you can better segment your marketing campaigns and set separate goals, if necessary.

Here’s a marketing plan example with a segmented user persona guide:

Mobile App Market Report

The important thing is for your team or client to have a clear picture of who their target user is and how they can appeal to their specific problems.

Start creating robust user personas using Venngage’s user persona guide .

4. Conduct an extensive competitor analysis

Next, on the marketing plan checklist, we have the competitor research section. This section will help you identify who your competitors are, what they’re doing, and how you could carve yourself a place alongside them in your niche — and ideally, surpass them. It’s something you can learn to do with rank tracking software .

Competitor research is also incredibly important if you are starting a blog .

Typically, your competitor research should include:

  • Who their marketing team is
  • Who their leadership team is
  • What their marketing strategy and strategic marketing plan are (this will probably revolve some reverse-engineering)
  • What their sales strategy is (same deal)
  • Social Media strategy (are they using discounting strategies such as coupon marketing to get conversions)
  • Their market cap/financials
  • Their yearly growth (you will probably need to use a marketing tool like Ahrefs to do this)
  • The number of customers they have & their user personas

Also, take as deep a dive as you can into the strategies they use across their:

  • Blog/Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO Marketing
  • Video marketing
  • And any other marketing tactics they use

Research their strengths and weaknesses in all parts of their company, and you will find some great opportunities. Bookmark has a great guide to different marketing strategies for small businesses  if you need some more information there.

You can use this simple SWOT analysis worksheet to quickly work through all parts of their strategy as well:

Competitive SWOT Analysis

Click the template above to create a SWOT chart . Customize the template to your liking — no design know-how needed.

Since you have already done all the research beforehand, adding this information to your marketing plan shouldn’t be that hard.

In this marketing plan example, some high-level research is outlined for 3 competing brands:

Content Marketing Proposal Competitive Research

But you could take a deeper dive into different facets of your competitors’ strategies. This marketing plan example analyses a competitor’s content marketing strategy:

Competitor-Analysis-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

It can also be helpful to divide your competitors into Primary and Secondary groups. For example, Apple’s primary competitor may be Dell for computers, but its secondary competitor could be a company that makes tablets.

Your most dangerous competitors may not even be in the same industry as you. Like the CEO of Netflix said, “Sleep is our competition.”

5. Set accurate key baselines & metrics

It’s pretty hard to plan for the future if you don’t know where your business stands right now.

Before we do anything at Venngage, we find the baselines so we can compare future results to something. We do it so much it’s almost like second nature now!

Setting baselines will allow you to more accurately track your progress. You will also be able to better analyze what worked and what didn’t work, so you can build a stronger strategy. It will definitely help them clearly understand your goals and strategy as well.

Here’s a marketing plan example where the baselines are visualized:

Social Media Marketing Proposal Success Metrics

Another way to include baselines in your plan is with a simple chart, like in the marketing plan example below:

Simple-Blue-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan

Because data can be intimidating to a lot of people, visualizing your data using charts and infographics will help demystify the information.

6. Create an actionable marketing strategy

After pulling all the contextual information and relevant metrics into your marketing plan, it’s time to break down your marketing strategy.

Once again, it’s easier to communicate your information to your team or clients using visuals .

Mind maps are an effective way to show how a strategy with many moving parts ties together. For example, this mind map shows how the four main components of a marketing strategy interact together:

Marketing Plan Mind Map Template

You can also use a flow chart to map out your strategy by objectives:

Action Plan Mind Map

However you choose to visualize your strategy, your team should know exactly what they need to do. This is not the time to keep your cards close to your chest.

Your strategy section may need to take up a few pages to explain, like in the marketing plan example below:

Creative-Modern-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

With all of this information, even someone from the development team will understand what the marketing team is working on.

This minimalistic marketing plan example uses color blocks to make the different parts of the strategy easy to scan:

Blue-Simple-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan-Template

Breaking your strategy down into tasks will make it easier to tackle.

Another important way to visualize your marketing strategy is to create a project roadmap. A project roadmap visualizes the timeline of your product with individual tasks. Our roadmap maker can help you with this.

For example, this project roadmap shows how tasks on both the marketing and web design side run parallel to each other:

Simple Product Roadmap Plan Template

A simple timeline can also be used in your marketing plan:

Strategy Timeline Infographic

Or a mind map, if you want to include a ton of information in a more organized way:

Business Strategy Mindmap Template

Even a simple “Next, Now, Later” chart can help visualize your strategy:

3 Step Product Roadmap Template

7. Set tracking or reporting guidelines

Close your marketing plan with a brief explanation of how you plan to track or measure your results. This will save you a lot of frustration down the line by standardizing how you track results across your team.

Like the other sections of your marketing plan, you can choose how in-depth you want to go. But there need to be some clear guidelines on how to measure the progress and results of your marketing plan.

At the bare minimum, your results tracking guidelines should specify:

  • What you plan to track
  • How you plan to track results
  • How often you plan to measure

But you can more add tracking guidelines to your marketing plan if you see the need to. You may also want to include a template that your team or client can follow,  for  client reporting ,  ensure that the right metrics are being tracked.

Marketing Checklist

The marketing plan example below dedicates a whole page to tracking criteria:

SEO Marketing Proposal Measuring Results

Use a task tracker to track tasks and marketing results, and a checklist maker to note down tasks, important life events, or tracking your daily life.

Similarly, the marketing plan example below talks about tracking content marketing instead:

Social Media Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy

Although often used interchangeably, the terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” do have some differences.

Simply speaking, a marketing strategy presents what the business will do in order to reach a certain goal. A marketing plan outlines the specific daily, weekly, monthly or yearly activities that the marketing strategy calls for. As a business, you can create a marketing proposal for the marketing strategies defined in your company’s marketing plan. There are various marketing proposal examples that you can look at to help with this.

A company’s extended marketing strategy can be like this:

marketing strategy mind map

Notice how it’s more general and doesn’t include the actual activities required to complete each strategy or the timeframe those marketing activities will take place. That kind of information is included in a marketing plan, like this marketing plan template which talks about the content strategy in detail:

Content Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan v.s business plan

While both marketing plans and business plans are crucial documents for businesses, they serve distinct purposes and have different scopes. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of your business, including:

  • Mission and vision
  • Products or services
  • Target market
  • Competition
  • Management team
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing strategy (including a marketing plan)
  • Operations plan

Marketing plan on the other hand, dives deep into the specific strategies and tactics related to your marketing efforts. It expands on the marketing section of a business plan by detailing:

  • Specific marketing goals (e.g., brand awareness, lead generation, sales)
  • Target audience analysis (detailed understanding of their needs and behaviors)
  • Product:  Features, benefits, positioning
  • Price:  Pricing strategy, discounts
  • Place:  Distribution channels (online, offline)
  • Promotion:  Advertising, social media, content marketing, public relations
  • Budget allocation for different marketing activities
  • Metrics and measurement to track progress and success

In short, business plans paint the entire business picture, while marketing plans zoom in on the specific strategies used to reach your target audience and achieve marketing goals.

Types of marketing plans that can transform your business strategy

Let’s take a look at several types of marketing plans you can create, along with specific examples for each.

1. General marketing strategic plan / Annual marketing plan

This is a good example of a marketing plan that covers the overarching annual marketing strategy for a company:

marketing strategy template marketing plan

Another good example would be this Starbucks marketing plan:

Starbucks marketing plan example

This one-page marketing plan example from coffee chain Starbucks has everything at a glance. The bold headers and subheadings make it easier to segment the sections so readers can focus on the area most relevant to them.

What we like about this example is how much it covers. From the ideal buyer persona to actional activities, as well as positioning and metrics, this marketing plan has it all.

Another marketing plan example that caught our eye is this one from Cengage. Although a bit text-heavy and traditional, it explains the various sections well. The clean layout makes this plan easy to read and absorb.

Cengage marketing plan example

The last marketing plan example we would like to feature in this section is this one from Lush cosmetics.

It is a long one but it’s also very detailed. The plan outlines numerous areas, including the company mission, SWOT analysis , brand positioning, packaging, geographical criteria, and much more.

Lush marketing plan

2. Content marketing plan

A content marketing plan highlights different strategies , campaigns or tactics you can use for your content to help your business reach its goals.

This one-page marketing plan example from Contently outlines a content strategy and workflow using simple colors and blocks. The bullet points detail more information but this plan can easily be understood at a glance, which makes it so effective.

contently marketing plan

For a more detailed content marketing plan example, take a look at this template which features an editorial calendar you can share with the whole team:

nonprofit content marketing plan

3. SEO marketing plan

Your SEO marketing plan highlights what you plan to do for your SEO marketing strategy . This could include tactics for website on-page optimization , off-page optimization using AI SEO , and link building using an SEO PowerSuite backlink API for quick backlink profile checks.

This SEO marketing plan example discusses in detail the target audience of the business and the SEO plan laid out in different stages:

SEO marketing plan example

4. Social media marketing plan

Your social media marketing plan presents what you’ll do to reach your marketing goal through social media. This could include tactics specific to each social media channel that you own, recommendations on developing a new channel, specific campaigns you want to run, and so on, like how B2B channels use Linkedin to generate leads with automation tools and expand their customer base; or like making use of Twitter walls that could display live Twitter feeds from Twitter in real-time on digital screens.

For B2C brands, you can target Facebook and Instagram. Gain Instagram likes to build trust for your brand’s profile and post engaging content on both platforms

Edit this social media marketing plan example easily with Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor:

social media marketing plan example

5. Demand generation marketing plan

This could cover your paid marketing strategy (which can include search ads, paid social media ads, traditional advertisements, etc.), email marketing strategy and more. Here’s an example:

promotional marketing plan

1. Free marketing plan template

Here’s a free nonprofit marketing plan example that is ideal for organizations with a comprehensive vision to share. It’s a simple plan that is incredibly effective. Not only does the plan outline the core values of the company, it also shares the ideal buyer persona.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Note how the branding is consistent throughout this example so there is no doubt which company is presenting this plan. The content plan is an added incentive for anyone viewing the document to go ahead and give the team the green light.

2. Pastel social media marketing campaign template

Two-page marketing plan samples aren’t very common, but this free template proves how effective they are. There’s a dedicated section for business goals as well as for project planning .

Pastel Social Media Marketing Plan Template

The milestones for the marketing campaign are clearly laid out, which is a great way to show how organized this business strategy is.

3. Small business marketing strategy template

This marketing plan template is perfect for small businesses who set out to develop an overarching marketing strategy for the whole year:

Notice how this aligns pretty well with the marketing plan outline we discussed in previous sections.

In terms of specific tactics for the company’s marketing strategy, the template only discusses SEO strategy, but you can certainly expand on that section to discuss any other strategies — such as link building , that you would like to build out a complete marketing plan for.

4. Orange simple marketing proposal template

Marketing plans, like the sample below, are a great way to highlight what your business strategy and the proposal you wan to put forward to win potential customers.

Orange Simple Marketing Proposal Template

5. One-page marketing fact sheet template

This one-page marketing plan example is great for showcasing marketing efforts in a persuasive presentation or to print out for an in-person meeting.

Nonprofit Healthcare Company Fact Sheet Template

Note how the fact sheet breaks down the marketing budget as well as the key metrics for the organization. You can win over clients and partners with a plan like this.

6. Light company business fact sheet template

This one-page sample marketing plan clearly outlines the marketing objectives for the organization. It’s a simple but effective way to share a large amount of information in a short amount of time.

Light Company Business Fact Sheet Template

What really works with this example is that includes a mission statement, key contact information alongside all the key metrics.

7. Marketing media press kit template

This press kit marketing plan template is bright and unmistakable as belonging to the Cloud Nine marketing agency . The way the brand colors are used also helps diversify the layouts for each page, making the plan easier to read.

Marketing Media Press Kit Template

We like the way the marketing department has outlined the important facts about the organization. The bold and large numbers draw the eye and look impressive.

8. Professional marketing proposal template

Start your marketing campaign on a promising note with this marketing plan template. It’s short, sharp and to the point. The table of contents sets out the agenda, and there’s a page for the company overview and mission statement.

Professional Marketing Proposal Template

9. Social media marketing proposal template

A complete marketing plan example, like the one below, not only breaks down the business goals to be achieved but a whole lot more. Note how the terms and conditions and payment schedule are included, which makes this one of the most comprehensive marketing plans on our list.

Checkered Social Media Marketing Proposal Template

What should marketing plans include?

Marketing plans should include:

  • A detailed analysis of the target market and customer segments.
  • Clear and achievable marketing objectives and goals.
  • Strategies and tactics for product promotion and distribution.
  • Budget allocation for various marketing activities.
  • Timelines and milestones for the implementation of marketing strategies.
  • Evaluation metrics and methods for tracking the success of the marketing plan.

What is an executive summary in a marketing plan and what is its main goal?

An executive summary in a marketing plan is a brief overview of the entire document, summarizing the key points, goals, and strategies. Its main goal is to provide readers with a quick understanding of the plan’s purpose and to entice them to read further.

What are the results when a marketing plan is effective?

When a marketing plan is effective, businesses can experience increased brand visibility, higher customer engagement, improved sales and revenue, and strengthened customer loyalty.

What is the first section of a marketing plan?

The first section of a marketing plan is typically the “Executive Summary,” which provides a concise overview of the entire plan, including the business’s goals and the strategies to achieve them.

Now that you have the basics for designing your own marketing plan, it’s time to get started:

More marketing design guides and templates:

  • Marketing Infographics: The Definitive Guide [Includes Infographic Templates]
  • 20+ Business Pitch Deck Templates to Win New Clients and Investors
  • 20+ White Paper Examples [Design Guide + White Paper Templates]
  • The Evolution of Marketing [Timeline Infographic]

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How To Build a Strategic Marketing Plan (+ a Free Template!)

key components of a strategic marketing plan

You know what you want your campaigns to achieve, but you’re not quite sure how to get there yet.

Sound familiar?

For even the most experienced marketing teams, it can prove difficult to turn aspirational business objectives into actionable steps. While you’re busy trying to figure out what actually works, resources are being spent left and right while showing minimal returns. Fortunately, you can avoid falling victim to this common trap.

Read on to learn how to create a strategic plan to hit your own marketing goals — plus, since you’re already here, be sure to grab your free template to get the ball rolling.

What Is a Strategic Marketing Plan?

A strategic marketing plan is a comprehensive outline for the advertising and marketing efforts of a brand or organization. Founded on audience research and industry trends, this ultra-focused, strategic plan formalizes the steps an organization will take to promote its offerings to a target market of existing and potential customers.

The strategic marketing planning process follows 6 key components:

  • Know where you are .
  • Know your audience .
  • Know where you want to go .
  • Pick your channels and tactics .
  • Develop your budget and your revised tactics .
  • Measure and adjust your strategy periodically .

By following these steps, your team will be well on their way to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage — all while making sure each marketing dollar is well spent.

Strategic marketing plan template

Why Is a Strategic Marketing Plan Important?

Planning for any major undertaking is essential for success.

The modern media landscape is crowded; researchers have estimated that most Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements per day .

A strategic marketing plan lays the groundwork for your brand to delight and satisfy your customers. As the old saying goes: “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.”

By taking the time to develop a thoughtful marketing strategy, you’ll gain several benefits, including:

  • A better understanding of your brand’s value proposition.
  • Deeper knowledge of your audience’s needs and desires.
  • A roadmap for how to manage your brand’s growth.
  • Methods for measuring your marketing performance.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Creating an effective plan takes time, but when you see the results, you’ll know it was well worth the effort.

4 Basic Marketing Strategies: The 4 P’s of Marketing

Today’s digital marketers have a long pedigree of great thinkers who have shaped the way we think about appealing to customers.

We may be producing content for distribution on digital channels that few people could have predicted several decades ago, but the basic principles combining human psychology and economics are still relevant and powerful today.

In fact, the marketing mix commonly deployed in any modern campaign was first conceived by Harvard Business School professor Neil H. Borden and subsequently expanded upon by University of Minnesota professor E. Jerome McCarthy.

Though first published in 1960, McCarthy’s four P’s of marketing are still the common starting point of an effective marketing strategy.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

A product can be a tangible item or an intangible service that satisfies a need or want.

B2B and B2C marketers need to possess a firm grasp of both what the product is and how it provides value to customers. The more specifically you can define these aspects, the more confident you will be in your marketing strategies.

For example, when selling products and services to other businesses, you’ll need to know what challenges your customers face and understand how your offering solves those problems.

Importantly, marketing and sales departments need to be aligned so that every customer encounter can occur within the same context.

The cost of your offerings has an obvious influence over your customers.

Having a complete understanding of the product and its features will help stakeholders determine the best possible pricing strategy.

You may need to determine if it’s better to offer your product on a subscription basis or as a one-time purchase.

Your product’s price point will impact your organization’s profit margins, inventory requirements and more. The marketing team can work with other business units to determine the best course of action.

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3. Promotion

With deep knowledge of the product, it’s value and price point, you can more effectively promote the offering in the marketplace.

This is where your strategic marketing strategy will come into play.

As you’ll see a little further on, your marketing plan should include the various channels you’ll use to communicate with your customers.

These days, the avenues for communication are much more varied than when the four P’s were developed, but the advice remains the same. Whether you’re promoting your product on a billboard or on Instagram, you need to ensure that each touchpoint supports your brand’s goals and addresses key customer needs.

The fourth P can refer to a physical location, a digital touchpoint or a mindset.

As the old saying goes, it helps to be in the right place at the right time. Marketers can control this factor by developing thoughtful buyer journeys – or sales funnels – and lead nurturing campaigns that help customers make a purchase decision.

For example, if you find that your customers are most inclined to buy once they understand the cost-saving benefits of your offering, you can construct a marketing funnel that places your audience in that position before making the hard sell. So, if customers read a blog and then download a white paper about cost savings, you could include a call to action at the end of the white paper, encouraging readers to call for more information.

6 Steps of the Strategic Planning Process

When making a marketing plan, it’s a common mistake for new marketers to start with the deliverables. Full of enthusiasm, they’ll dash off several blog articles, social media posts and pay-per-click ad headlines. Often, their eagerness will begin to wane when they don’t see huge results from their efforts.

This happens due to a lack of foundation.

The best marketing strategies aren’t built on gut feelings, enthusiasm or brute force; they’re built on carefully researched information, scientific analysis and psychological understanding.

An effective strategic marketing process includes:

  • Deep knowledge of your organization’s goals and how your marketing plan promotes those objectives.
  • Researched findings about your customers’ needs and desires.
  • Campaign-specific marketing goals (E.g. building thought awareness or driving sales) supported by measurable performance indicators.
  • Tangible collateral and associated distribution channels.

Follow these 6 steps to create an actionable marketing plan for your business:

1. Know Where You Are

Before you can make a plan, you need to know where your organization stands today.

Work with relevant stakeholders to define the goals of the business and how the marketing department currently supports them. Consider the brand’s current search engine optimization strategy and how it will benefit the organization’s marketing efforts.

Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to pinpoint what you’re doing right, what you can improve on and how external market factors will affect your customer relationships. This process can open up areas in need of further analysis.

The beginning of the planning stage is the time to consider everything that might influence your market position.

SWOT analysis

2. Know Your Audience

Understanding your organization is one side of the coin, knowing your customers is the other side.

Segmenting your audience is a good way to identify the number of marketing tactics you’ll need to employ. For example, if you find that only half of your customer base uses social media, you’ll need to spread your efforts across multiple channels.

The importance of scientific research at this stage cannot be overstated. Even if you have years of experience in the field, you can’t fully predict how your customers’ expectations, needs and wants will evolve over time.

Conduct surveys, do research and – most importantly – talk to your audience!

3. Know Where You Want to Go

With a firm understanding of your offerings and your audience, you can start thinking about next steps.

Define your goals for the year, then break them down into quarterly, monthly and weekly objectives. Tie these goals to the organization’s long-term goals. For example, if your organization wants to increase revenue by 10% over four years, what marketing objectives must be accomplished for that to happen?

Be optimistic when setting goals, but never lose sight of real market conditions.

For every target you establish, you should define metrics by which to judge your success. Metrics can tell you when to adjust your course of action.

4. Pick Your Channels and Tactics (Think Big)

An effective marketing strategy addresses the entire sales cycle.

For B2C brands, that might be as simple as making customers aware of your brand. For more complex B2B brands, you may need to build thought leadership, spread awareness, develop engaging relationships with potential buyers and more.

There are many unique ways to appeal to B2B customers .

key components of a strategic marketing plan

At this stage, you should think big.

  • How would you market your product or service if you had an unlimited marketing budget?
  • What channels would you use?
  • What type of content would you create?

Get all of your ideas out so you can consider each one carefully. At this stage, you may need to conduct further research into the cost and ROI of each tactic.

5. Develop Your Budget and Your Revised Tactics (Pare Down)

Now it’s time to solidify your plans into actionable tactics.

Decide which channels you want to use and create a calendar of content you want to promote. If you’re using paid advertising like billboards, radio ads or pay-per-click display networks, you’ll need to create budgets and bidding strategies.

Compared with the previous step, this is where you get realistic.

To maximize your marketing budget, and choose the ideal mix of collateral, you’ll need to be confident that each investment of time and resources is relevant to your business goals and your customers’ needs.

6. Measure and Adjust Your Strategy Periodically

Implementing your marketing plan isn’t the end.

Once your strategy is off the ground, you’ll need to watch it carefully to determine if it’s meeting expectations. By giving every tactic a metric by which to judge its performance, you can make valuable adjustments to your strategy over time.

These alterations may be small, like posting to your social media accounts at a different time of day; they might be big, such as swapping out one tactic for another. The important thing to remember is that any change you make should be informed by keen analysis of your current progress.

Your Free Strategic Marketing Plan Template

Use this template to structure your own marketing plan. It’s designed to be extensible and easy to use. Simply make a copy of it and add or delete fields as they apply to your needs. By filling it out, this template will help you visualize your strategy more clearly and ultimately become more confident in your ability to grow your brand’s footprint in the marketplace.

Your ability to clearly plan your marketing strategy will determine your future success. The more detailed your plan, the better your chances of success. Map out your goals, choose your metrics and commit to adjusting your strategy based on scientific evidence.

[Company name]

Marketing mission statement.

Briefly outline how your marketing strategy will support your organization’s business objectives.

SWOT Analysis

What are you currently doing that’s giving you an edge over your competitors? What do your customers like about your brand?

What do your competitors do better than you? What can you do more efficiently? Where do you struggle to fully support your customers?

Opportunities

How is your industry changing? How can you prepare for the future? How can you better define your value proposition to engage new customers?

What could draw your customers away from your brand? What industry disruptions are on the horizon? What could slow the growth of your organization?

Marketing actions

Overview: Briefly describe the initiative. (E.g. We’ll build a library of infographics to help our customers understand market trends.)

Desired outcome: What’s your goal? (E.g. We want to increase organic traffic to our resource library by 3% over the next quarter)

KPI / Metric: How will you objectively measure your outcome? (E.g. Page visitors, time-on-site, clicks, etc.)

Desired outcome:

KPI / Metric:

Market segments

[segment 1].

Demographics: Superficial details about your audience. (E.g. gender, age, income and marital status.)

Psychographics: What motivates your audience? (E.g. personal interests, attitudes, values, desires.)

Challenges: What problems do they need to overcome?

Preferred channels: Where do they absorb industry news? Where do they go to ask questions and seek professional insights?

Preferred content types: How do they prefer to gain new knowledge? Do they prefer video, audio or written content?

[Segment 2]

Demographics:

Psychographics:

Challenges:

Preferred channels:

Preferred content types:

[Segment 3]

Buyer personas, [persona 1].

Name: Each persona should have a unique name.

Age: What’s the average age range of this persona?

Job title: List a few common job titles.

Motivations / goals: What do they hope to achieve? What drives them?

Personal interests: What do they like to do outside of work?

Challenges: What business challenges do they face? What’s stopping them from achieving their goals?

[Persona 2]

Motivations / goals:

Personal interests:

[Persona 3]

Competitor analysis, [competitor 1].

Company name:

Competing products: How are their offerings similar to your own? How are they different?

Areas of overlap: How do they market their offerings? Are you competing for space in the same channels ?

[Competitor 2]

Competing products:

Areas of overlap:

[Competitor 3]

Strategy overview, [product / service 1].

Price: What’s the current pricing strategy? How do customers perceive the price in relation to the value of the product?

Promotion: How will you communicate the offering’s value proposition?

Place: Which channels will you use to promote this offering?

[Product / Service 2]

[product / service 3], website / content.

Channel Name:

Intent: What’s your goal? (E.g. We will promote brand awareness through a series of blog posts written by our senior leadership.)

KPI / Metric: How will you measure your progress? (E.g. Organic traffic, bounce rate, conversions.)

Social media

Influencers.

Editor’s Note: Updated November 2021.

Alexander Santo

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key components of a strategic marketing plan

Alexander Santo is a Brafton writer living in Washington. ​He enjoys searching for the perfect cup of coffee, browsing used book shops and attending punk rock concerts.

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GILL Solutions

Growing your business..Should be Strategic!

Nov 21 2017

9 Key Elements of a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

The marketplace in most industries has grown very competitive over the years. To dominate in your industry,  you need a detailed and refined strategic marketing plan.

What Is a Strategic Marketing Plan?

A strategic marketing plan is a detailed framework. It’s used to prepare a company for a targeted and systematic application of its marketing efforts. Such plans are very precise and are developed using data sourced from and for your industry, for better targeting.

Strategic Marketing Plan

When mapped out effectively, your strategic marketing plan will provide growth in conversion by eliminating any initiative that hasn’t proven beneficial for your business.

When preparing an effective strategic marketing plan for your company brand there are several components that must be considered.

Let’s take a look now at 9 of the Key Elements of a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan.

Analysis of current market position.

Sales and analytics reports from the past year should be reviewed to evaluate your business brand’s position in the market. They will also reveal the marketing plans that worked as expected, and those that underperformed.

Measurement is key, and often underutilized. It’s important that you’re gathering the right data to be measured, in order to make solid marketing and business decisions. You should be relying heavily on your Google Analytics, to gather the necessary data.

Doing this will help to evaluate the success of marketing efforts against financial results gathered.

This is one of the best ways to discover your strength and weaknesses. Allowing you to clearly identify what parts of your business you need to keep promoting, and what parts need to be worked on.

Although this is ideal, unfortunately for many businesses, this data is not systematically recorded and reviewed, so can be limiting in its guidance. Lack of measurement is one of the reasons why your marketing struggles to achieve the results you aim for .

Market Opportunities

There’s always a new opportunity for you to make sales, but they need to be identified first.

Your marketing team should engage themselves in extensive buyer research . Identifying emerging and existing customer groups that can be the focus of your marketing efforts. This will help determine what type of marketing efforts will be applied to each group, the expected length of the sales process, and their overall customer lifetime value.

Marketing resources are usually limited, and expending them on the wrong leads will bring in poor ROI.

Goals, Mission and Vision

Every action taken to promote a business should reflect their mission and vision. These are integral parts of a business as they are the building blocks of the brand’s image.

And the goals of any business are usually centred around growth. Those goals will serve as a driving force for implementing any strategic marketing plan.

Goals are not always big, long-term aims. You can also set small goals (like conversion goals) to give your team a clear view of what you’re all working towards.

Interest of Stakeholders and Shareholders

More people than just the owners of a business have a vested interest in the success of the said business.

Your stakeholders, which includes your customers, employees, boards, industry, targeted public, and even government organizations, should be considered when developing your strategic marketing plan.

Detailed Description of Target Market

Your marketing team should be able to identify the groups of people who have needs that your products and services can solve. They can do this by conducting market and customer research that will provide the needed information when preparing marketing plans.

This information could include:

  • their demands in the market,
  • an insight into their buying decision process,
  • their demographics,
  • and even their preferences on a wide number of things.

Potential customers are drawn to your company and brand when they believe that you understand them. They also want to know that you can provide the solution to their needs and challenges.

Your overview of the market should also cover existing customers. This will supplement your understanding of their needs, and keep them loyal to the brand.

Use of Media

The media is a critical tool in your marketing plan. It provides an opportunity for direct communication between you and your potential and existing customers.

Media, in this case, includes both traditional and digital media options.

The media options that take a majority of your marketing efforts should be those that are largely common among your target audience. Strategic marketing is focused on being precise with targeting your ideal audience. Meaning that every marketing effort to be taken, including traditional and online media efforts, should align directly with the groups of people you are trying to reach.

Timeline for Implementation

Timeline for implementation doesn’t just cover the period the marketing strategy will be active. But also includes all actions geared towards it.

For example:  If a video is needed for a campaign, the person or team in charge should project a turnaround time. This will keep everyone accountable. It also helps your marketing team create an overview of the length of time needed to create and implement your marketing plan.

There are situations where people envision a great marketing plan, but forget to factor in how much time will be needed to execute the plan. The results are usually half-baked efforts, or abandonment when the process feels rushed and unproductive. A specific amount of time should also be allowed for correcting errors, in a situation where one or a few are detected.

Expected Risks

Whenever money, time and other resources are invested in a new marketing effort, there’s always the knowledge that it might not produce the expected results.

With strategic marketing, risks are not just expected, they are also planned for. A brand cannot completely insulate itself from mishaps, but it can be proactive about fixing them as quickly as possible.

Your brand should have a practical step-by-step guide. Documented guidelines help employees when they get into situations that can cause them or your company potential harm. This will help them to react immediately and prevent further damage, rather than looking around helplessly for someone who can provide direction.

Budget Being Allocated

Any and all expenditures required to execute your marketing strategy should be considered when developing your plan.

A strict budget should be laid out for all departments to see. However, not all departments in a company are allocated equal resources, that’s okay – that’s how it works. As long as each department knows what their allocated budget is, and works within it, then you’re on the right track.

Note: Creativity is sometimes needed to effectively manage funds provided. Producing solid growth results can often mean surpass the resources that were made available. That’s when you need to take a step back and re-evaluate to see where you can shuffle funds (so as not to go over budget completely).

If your strategic marketing plan is implemented effectively, your company will grow its market share in your industry. Which also means a growth in revenue and profit.

Once your plan is in place, you should continue to monitor it closely. You’ll want to identify errors or initiatives that are not functioning as expected and fix them as quickly as possible.

Listen; creating and implementing a strategic marketing plan isn’t always easy. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. As long as you identify early on why your marketing strategy isn’t working , and take the necessary steps to get back on track.

Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments below, the components you use in developing your strategic marketing plan.

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About George Gill

George Gill is the founder of GILL Solutions. He lives in Peterborough Canada, and is an avid learner, passionate trainer and speaker. For over 20+ years, he's helped businesses implement growth strategies and systems to consistently out perform their expectations. Measurement is always key!

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What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: December 27, 2023

For a while now, you've been spearheading your organization's content marketing efforts, and your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.

marketing plan and how to write one

Now, your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan, but you‘ve never done something like that before. You don't even know where to start.

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template [Get Your Copy]

Fortunately, we've curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete plan that's rooted in data and produces results. But first, we'll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans include strategies that serve their respective businesses.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategy over a given period. Marketing plans can include different marketing strategies for various marketing teams across the company, all working toward the same business goals.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organized manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns.

Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign‘s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. You'll also discover what works and what doesn't. Thus, measuring the success of your strategy.

Featured Resource: Free Marketing Plan Template

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

Looking to develop a marketing plan for your business? Click here to download HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template to get started .

To learn more about how to create your marketing plan, keep reading or jump to the section you’re looking for:

How to Write a Marketing Plan

Types of marketing plans, marketing plan examples, marketing plan faqs, sample marketing plan.

Marketing plan definition graphic

If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. However, a marketing plan is an important part of your business plan.

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics.

A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your business grows.

I like to think of a marketing plan as a subset of a business plan; it shows how marketing strategies and objectives can support overall business goals.

Keep in mind that there's a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Free Marketing Plan Template

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

  • Pre-Sectioned Template
  • Completely Customizable
  • Example Prompts
  • Professionally Designed

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular goal or mission. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they'll use to execute that mission and track its success.

For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.

A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It's the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.

For example, suppose your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. The marketing department needs to develop a marketing plan that'll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.

The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject. All this serves to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.

To summarize, the business's marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups for that product. The business will execute that plan with three marketing strategies : a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.

Of course, the business might consider these three things as one giant marketing strategy, each with its specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, every marketing plan goes through a particular set of steps in its creation.

Learn what they are below.

  • State your business's mission.
  • Determine the KPIs for this mission.
  • Identify your buyer personas.
  • Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
  • Clearly define your plan's omissions.
  • Define your marketing budget.
  • Identify your competition.
  • Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

1. State your business's mission.

Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business‘s main mission statement.

From my experience, you want to be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you'll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.

mission-statement-examples

Need help building your mission statement? Download this guide for examples and templates and write the ideal mission statement.

2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.

Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission‘s progress. To do so, you need to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) .

KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.

Let's take our example of a marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track website visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.

Also, make sure to check whether your current reporting software facilitates the KPIs you need. Some reporting tools can only measure a set of pre-defined metrics, which can cause massive headaches in particular marketing campaigns.

However, other tools, like HubSpot’s analytics software , can offer full flexibility over the KPIs you wish to track. You can generate custom reports that reveal anything from average website engagement rates to page visits via organic, email, social media traffic, and more.   

These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4.

3. Identify your buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a description of who you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. Each buyer persona should directly reflect your business's current and potential customers. So, all business leaders must agree on your buyer personas.

buyer-persona-templates

Create your buyer personas with this free guide and set of buyer persona templates.

4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.

Here's where you'll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there's a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, you must choose wisely and explain how you'll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.

When I write this section , I like to stipulate:

  • Which types of content I'll create. These might include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
  • How much of it I'll create. I typically describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on my workflow and the short-term goals for my content.
  • The goals (and KPIs) I'll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
  • The channels on which I'll distribute my content. Popular channels include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.

Build out your marketing plan with this free template.

Fill out this form to access the template., 5. clearly define your plan's omissions..

A marketing plan explains the marketing team's focus. It also explains what the marketing team will not focus on.

If there are other aspects of your business that you aren't serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn't on the hook for something, you need to make it known.

In my experience, this section is particularly important for stakeholders to help them understand why certain decisions were made.

6. Define your marketing budget.

Whether it's freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.

marketing-budget-templates

You can establish your marketing budget with this kit of 8 free marketing budget templates .

7. Identify your competition.

Part of marketing is knowing whom you're marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one.

Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.

competitive-analysis-templates

Easily track and analyze your competitors with this collection of ten free competitive analysis templates .

8. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it's time to explain who’s doing what. I don't like to delve too deeply into my employees’ day-to-day projects, but I know which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.

Now that you know why you need to build an effective marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if you haven't done it before. That’s why there are many helpful resources that can support your first steps. We’ll share some of the best guides and templates that can help you build effective results-driven plans for your marketing strategies.

Ready to make your own marketing plan? Get started using this free template.

Depending on the company you work with, you might want to create various marketing plans. We compiled different samples to suit your needs:

1. Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans

These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you'll take on in a certain period.

marketing plan examples: forbes

Forbes published a marketing plan template that has amassed almost 4 million views. To help you sculpt a marketing roadmap with true vision, their template will teach you how to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Target Customers
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Pricing & Positioning Strategy
  • Distribution Plan
  • Your Offers
  • Marketing Materials
  • Promotions Strategy
  • Online Marketing Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy
  • Joint Ventures & Partnerships
  • Referral Strategy
  • Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
  • Retention Strategy
  • Financial Projections

If you're truly lost on where to start with a marketing plan, I highly recommend using this guide to help you define your target audience, figure out how to reach them, and ensure that audience becomes loyal customers.

2. Social Media Marketing Plan

This type of plan highlights the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media. A specific subtype is a paid marketing plan, which highlights paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.

Shane Snow's Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team is a great example of a social media marketing plan:

Contently's content strategy waterfall.

When Shane Snow started promoting his new book, "Dream Team," he knew he had to leverage a data-driven content strategy framework. So, he chose his favorite one: the content strategy waterfall. The content strategy waterfall is defined by Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach.

Snow wrote a blog post about how the waterfall‘s content strategy helped him launch his new book successfully. After reading it, you can use his tactics to inform your own marketing plan. More specifically, you’ll learn how he:

  • Applied his business objectives to decide which marketing metrics to track.
  • Used his ultimate business goal of earning $200,000 in sales or 10,000 purchases to estimate the conversion rate of each stage of his funnel.
  • Created buyer personas to figure out which channels his audience would prefer to consume his content.
  • Used his average post view on each of his marketing channels to estimate how much content he had to create and how often he had to post on social media.
  • Calculated how much earned and paid media could cut down the amount of content he had to create and post.
  • Designed his process and workflow, built his team, and assigned members to tasks.
  • Analyzed content performance metrics to refine his overall content strategy.

I use Snow's marketing plan to think more creatively about my content promotion and distribution plan. I like that it's linear and builds on the step before it, creating an air-tight strategy that doesn't leave any details out.

→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

3. Content Marketing Plan

This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you'll use content to promote your business or product.

HubSpot's Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy is a strong example of a content marketing plan:

marketing plan examples: hubspot content marketing plan

At HubSpot, we‘ve built our marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees. Along the way, we’ve learned countless lessons that shaped our current content marketing strategy. So, we decided to illustrate our insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a successful content marketing strategy, regardless of their team's size.

Download Now: Free Content Marketing Planning Templates

In this comprehensive guide for modern marketers, you'll learn:

  • What exactly content marketing is.
  • Why your business needs a content marketing strategy.
  • Who should lead your content marketing efforts?
  • How to structure your content marketing team based on your company's size.
  • How to hire the right people for each role on your team.
  • What marketing tools and technology you'll need to succeed.
  • What type of content your team should create, and which employees should be responsible for creating them.
  • The importance of distributing your content through search engines, social media, email, and paid ads.
  • And finally, the recommended metrics each of your teams should measure and report to optimize your content marketing program.

This is a fantastic resource for content teams of any size — whether you're a team of one or 100. It includes how to hire and structure a content marketing team, what marketing tools you'll need, what type of content you should create, and even recommends what metrics to track for analyzing campaigns. If you're aiming to establish or boost your online presence, leveraging tools like HubSpot's drag-and-drop website builder can be extremely beneficial. It helps you create a captivating digital footprint that sets the foundation for your content marketing endeavors.

4. New Product Launch Marketing Plan

This will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you‘ll implement to promote a new product. And if you’re searching for an example, look no further than Chief Outsiders' Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product :

marketing plan examples: chief outsiders

After reading this plan, you'll learn how to:

  • Validate a product
  • Write strategic objectives
  • Identify your market
  • Compile a competitive landscape
  • Create a value proposition for a new product
  • Consider sales and service in your marketing plan

If you're looking for a marketing plan for a new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a great place to start. Marketing plans for a new product will be more specific because they target one product versus its entire marketing strategy.

5. Growth Marketing Plan

Growth marketing plans use experimentation and data to drive results, like we see in Venture Harbour’s Growth Marketing Plan Template :

marketing plan examples: venture harbour

Venture Harbour's growth marketing plan is a data-driven and experiment-led alternative to the more traditional marketing plan. Their template has five steps intended for refinement with every test-measure-learn cycle. The five steps are:

  • Experiments

Download Now: Free Growth Strategy Template

I recommend this plan if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns. Experimentation always feels risky and unfamiliar, but this plan creates a framework for accountability and strategy.

  • Louisville Tourism
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Visit Oxnard
  • Safe Haven Family Shelter
  • Wright County Economic Development
  • The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
  • Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Visit Billings

1. Louisville Tourism

Louisville Tourism Marketing Plan

It also divides its target market into growth and seed categories to allow for more focused strategies. For example, the plan recognizes Millennials in Chicago, Atlanta, and Nashville as the core of it's growth market, whereas people in Boston, Austin, and New York represent seed markets where potential growth opportunities exist. Then, the plan outlines objectives and tactics for reaching each market.

Why This Marketing Plan Works

  • The plan starts with a letter from the President & CEO of the company, who sets the stage for the plan by providing a high-level preview of the incoming developments for Louisville's tourism industry
  • The focus on Louisville as "Bourbon City" effectively leverages its unique cultural and culinary attributes to present a strong brand
  • Incorporates a variety of data points from Google Analytics, Arrivalist, and visitor profiles to to define their target audience with a data-informed approach

2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University Illinois

For example, students who become prospects as freshman and sophomore will receive emails that focus on getting the most out of high school and college prep classes. Once these students become juniors and seniors — thus entering the consideration stage — the emails will focus more on the college application process and other exploratory content.

  • The plan incorporates competitive analysis, evaluation surveys, and other research to determine the makeup of its target audience
  • The plan lists each marketing program (e.g., direct mail, social media, email etc.) and supplements it with examples on the next page
  • Each marketing program has its own objectives, tactics, and KPIs for measuring success

3. Visit Oxnard

This marketing plan by Visit Oxnard, a convention and visitors bureau, is packed with all the information one needs in a marketing plan: target markets, key performance indicators, selling points, personas, marketing tactics by channel, and much more.

It also articulates the organization’s strategic plans for the upcoming fiscal year, especially as it grapples with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Lastly, it has impeccable visual appeal, with color-coded sections and strong branding elements.

  • States clear and actionable goals for the coming year
  • Includes data and other research that shows how their team made their decisions
  • Outlines how the team will measure the success of their plan

4. Safe Haven Family Shelter

marketing plan examples: safe haven family shelter

This marketing plan by a nonprofit organization is an excellent example to follow if your plan will be presented to internal stakeholders at all levels of your organization. It includes SMART marketing goals , deadlines, action steps, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages , and metrics.

The plan is detailed, yet scannable. By the end of it, one can walk away with a strong understanding of the organization’s strategic direction for its upcoming marketing efforts.

  • Confirms ongoing marketing strategies and objectives while introducing new initiatives
  • Uses colors, fonts, and formatting to emphasize key parts of the plan
  • Closes with long-term goals, key themes, and other overarching topics to set the stage for the future

5. Wright County Economic Development

marketing plan examples: wright county

Wright County Economic Development’s plan drew our attention because of its simplicity, making it good inspiration for those who’d like to outline their plan in broad strokes without frills or filler.

It includes key information such as marketing partners, goals, initiatives, and costs. The sections are easy to scan and contain plenty of information for those who’d like to dig into the details. Most important, it includes a detailed breakdown of projected costs per marketing initiative — which is critical information to include for upper-level managers and other stakeholders.

  • Begins with a quick paragraph stating why the recommended changes are important
  • Uses clear graphics and bullet points to emphasize key points
  • Includes specific budget data to support decision-making

6. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

marketing plan examples: cultural council of palm beach county

This marketing plan presentation by a cultural council is a great example of how to effectively use data in your plan, address audiences who are new to the industry, and offer extensive detail into specific marketing strategies.

For instance, an entire slide is dedicated to the county’s cultural tourism trends, and at the beginning of the presentation, the organization explains what an arts and culture agency is in the first place.

That’s a critical piece of information to include for those who might not know. If you’re addressing audiences outside your industry, consider defining terms at the beginning, like this organization did.

  • Uses quality design and images to support the goals and priorities in the text
  • Separate pages for each big idea or new strategy
  • Includes sections for awards and accomplishments to show how the marketing plan supports wider business goals
  • Defines strategies and tactics for each channel for easy skimming

7. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau

marketing plan examples: carrabus county

Cabarrus County’s convention and visitors bureau takes a slightly different approach with its marketing plan, formatting it like a magazine for stakeholders to flip through. It offers information on the county’s target audience, channels, goals, KPIs, and public relations strategies and initiatives.

We especially love that the plan includes contact information for the bureau’s staff members, so that it’s easy for stakeholders to contact the appropriate person for a specific query.

  • Uses infographics to expand on specific concepts, like how visitors benefit a community
  • Highlights the team members responsible for each initiative with a photo to emphasize accountability and community
  • Closes with an event calendar for transparency into key dates for events

8. Visit Billings

marketing plan examples: visit billings

Visit Billing’s comprehensive marketing plan is like Cabarrus County’s in that it follows a magazine format. With sections for each planned strategy, it offers a wealth of information and depth for internal stakeholders and potential investors.

We especially love its content strategy section, where it details the organization’s prior efforts and current objectives for each content platform.

At the end, it includes strategic goals and budgets — a good move to imitate if your primary audience would not need this information highlighted at the forefront.

  • Includes a section on the buyer journey, which offers clarity on the reasoning for marketing plan decisions
  • Design includes call-outs for special topics that could impact the marketing audience, such as safety concerns or "staycations"
  • Clear headings make it easy to scan this comprehensive report and make note of sections a reader may want to return to for more detail

What is a typical marketing plan?

In my experience, most marketing plans outline the following aspects of a business's marketing:

  • Target audience

Each marketing plan should include one or more goals, the path your team will take to meet those goals, and how you plan to measure success.

For example, if I were a tech startup that's launching a new mobile app, my marketing plan would include:

  • Target audience or buyer personas for the app
  • Outline of how app features meet audience needs
  • Competitive analysis
  • Goals for conversion funnel and user acquisition
  • Marketing strategies and tactics for user acquisition

Featured resource : Free Marketing Plan Template

What should a good marketing plan include?

A good marketing plan will create a clear roadmap for your unique marketing team. This means that the best marketing plan for your business will be distinct to your team and business needs.

That said, most marketing plans will include sections for one or more of the following:

  • Clear analysis of the target market
  • A detailed description of the product or service
  • Strategic marketing mix details (such as product, price, place, promotion)
  • Measurable goals with defined timelines

This can help you build the best marketing plan for your business.

A good marketing plan should also include a product or service's unique value proposition, a comprehensive marketing strategy including online and offline channels, and a defined budget.

Featured resource : Value Proposition Templates

What are the most important parts of a marketing plan?

When you‘re planning a road trip, you need a map to help define your route, step-by-step directions, and an estimate of the time it will take to get to your destination. It’s literally how you get there that matters.

Like a road map, a marketing plan is only useful if it helps you get to where you want to go. So, no one part is more than the other.

That said, you can use the list below to make sure that you've added or at least considered each of the following in your marketing plan:

  • Marketing goals
  • Executive summary
  • Target market analysis
  • Marketing strategies

What questions should I ask when making a marketing plan?

Questions are a useful tool for when you‘re stuck or want to make sure you’ve included important details.

Try using one or more of these questions as a starting point when you create your marketing plan:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What are their needs, motivations, and pain points?
  • How does our product or service solve their problems?
  • How will I reach and engage them?
  • Who are my competitors? Are they direct or indirect competitors?
  • What are the unique selling points of my product or service?
  • What marketing channels are best for the brand?
  • What is our budget and timeline?
  • How will I measure the success of marketing efforts?

How much does a marketing plan cost?

Creating a marketing plan is mostly free. But the cost of executing a marketing plan will depend on your specific plan.

Marketing plan costs vary by business, industry, and plan scope. Whether your team handles marketing in-house or hires external consultants can also make a difference. Total costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. This is why most marketing plans will include a budget.

Featured resource : Free Marketing Budget Templates

What is a marketing plan template?

A marketing plan template is a pre-designed structure or framework that helps you outline your marketing plan.

It offers a starting point that you can customize for your specific business needs and goals. For example, our template includes easy-to-edit sections for:

  • Business summary
  • Business initiatives
  • Target market
  • Market strategy
  • Marketing channels
  • Marketing technology

Let’s create a sample plan together, step by step.

Follow along with HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template .

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

1. Create an overview or primary objective.

Our business mission is to provide [service, product, solution] to help [audience] reach their [financial, educational, business related] goals without compromising their [your audience’s valuable asset: free time, mental health, budget, etc.]. We want to improve our social media presence while nurturing our relationships with collaborators and clients.

For example, if I wanted to focus on social media growth, my KPIs might look like this:

We want to achieve a minimum of [followers] with an engagement rate of [X] on [social media platform].

The goal is to achieve an increase of [Y] on recurring clients and new meaningful connections outside the platform by the end of the year.

Use the following categories to create a target audience for your campaign.

  • Profession:
  • Background:
  • Pain points:
  • Social media platforms that they use:
  • Streaming platforms that they prefer:

For more useful strategies, consider creating a buyer persona in our Make My Persona tool .

Our content pillars will be: [X, Y, Z].

Content pillars should be based on topics your audience needs to know. If your ideal clients are female entrepreneurs, then your content pillars can be: marketing, being a woman in business, remote working, and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.

Then, determine any omissions.

This marketing plan won’t be focusing on the following areas of improvement: [A, B, C].

5. Define your marketing budget.

Our marketing strategy will use a total of [Y] monthly. This will include anything from freelance collaborations to advertising.

6. Identify your competitors.

I like to work through the following questions to clearly indicate who my competitors are:

  • Which platforms do they use the most?
  • How does their branding differentiate?
  • How do they talk to their audiences?
  • What valuable assets do customers talk about? And if they are receiving any negative feedback, what is it about?

7. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

Create responsible parties for each portion of the plan.

Marketing will manage the content plan, implementation, and community interaction to reach the KPIs.

  • Social media manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Content strategist: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Community manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Sales will follow the line of the marketing work while creating and implementing an outreach strategy.

  • Sales strategists: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Sales executives: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Customer Service will nurture clients’ relationships to ensure that they have what they want. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Project Managers will track the progress and team communication during the project. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Get started on your marketing plan.

These marketing plans serve as initial resources to get your content marketing plan started. But, to truly deliver what your audience wants and needs, you'll likely need to test some different ideas out, measure their success, and then refine your goals as you go.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure t o learn more about how we use AI.

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Designing a Strategic Marketing Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Maggie Tully

Whether you’re a small business owner or part of a large corporation, a key component to achieving your organizational goals is to create a strategic marketing plan. 

A strategic marketing plan takes into account your overall business objectives and analyzes your resources and capabilities to guide you in creating a successful marketing strategy. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the fundamentals of strategic planning for marketing and explore 10 steps to create an effective plan to achieve your marketing goals.  

Purple banner with the text: ‘From marketing plans to successful execution' in white font, and a ‘Try Rodeo Drive today' button.

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a systematic process where top executives and key stakeholders define (or redefine) the organization’s future aspirations and mission, identifying and outlining the specific goals and objectives required to achieve them. 

The strategic planning process enables organizations to:

  • Set their long-term goals and objectives
  • Identify the resources available to execute goals
  • Establish the most effective approach to achieve the desired results
  • Make informed decisions using rich data
  • Achieve an edge over competitors
  • Ensure their sustainability in the ever-changing business landscape

By setting a clear vision and mission, employees become more engaged and committed to the organization's objectives. Not to mention, strategic planning allows companies to proactively identify potential challenges and craft contingency plans , thereby mitigating risks and enhancing resilience.

A successful strategic plan should include how goals can be achieved to maximize impact. These mid- to long-term goals should focus on transformational changes rather than short-term profits, helping to create a roadmap that delineates the direction an organization wants to move in and the milestones it aims to achieve.

That way, organizations can optimize their marketing budget, time, and human resources by identifying and prioritizing initiatives that generate the highest returns on investment.

Also read: A Complete Guide to Marketing Project Management

What is strategic marketing planning?

Repeating the same marketing strategy every quarter won't deliver the record-breaking results you want. Whether you're aiming for more social media engagement, to improve CTR in your email campaigns, or to boost conversions on your website, it's difficult to achieve lasting success in your marketing activities without the use of strategic planning.

In marketing, strategic planning encompasses a range of activities such as establishing goals and objectives, evaluating internal and external factors impacting the business, creating product plans, implementing those plans, and monitoring progress over time.

So, what is strategic planning in marketing? 

Structural support for goals

Much like an overall strategic business plan, strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach to crafting and executing marketing strategies designed to support an organization's marketing goals. 

It encompasses the analysis of internal and external environments, segmentation of target markets, identification of competitive advantages, and formulation of marketing objectives and plans.

Roadmap toward growth

In general, strategic marketing planning aims to deliver value to customers while driving the organization's growth and profitability. But other factors like brand awareness and domain authority may also be included in the tactical goals of this plan.

Related: Marketing Management Tasks to Prioritize for Successful Results

What’s included in a plan for strategic marketing?

A plan for strategic marketing typically contains several key components, including:

  • An overview of the organization's mission and vision
  • An analysis of its external environment (competitors, customers, and trends)
  • An assessment of its strengths and weaknesses
  • A definition of its target market

SMART Goal Setting

Based on this information, organizations can then set SMART goals, which are objectives that are: 

  • (M)easurable
  • (A)chievable
  • (T)ime-bound 

This empowers them to tailor their marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) to their target audience and allocate the necessary resources to execute the plan.

Action items and KPIs

In addition, a strategic plan should outline the marketing strategies and tactics that the organization will employ in its marketing operations to achieve its objectives, as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that will be used to measure success.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation 

Finally, the plan should also incorporate continuous monitoring and evaluation processes to ensure that it remains effective and up-to-date.

Thorough strategic marketing planning should be performed once or twice a year to ensure maximum success in marketing efforts. There’s no real requirement for how often your team should review and update your plan. The frequency depends on the nature of the business and the particular components of your marketing mix.

That said, there are generally two main times that your plan for strategic marketing should be reevaluated:

Quarterly: Most competitive organizations conduct quarterly reviews of their marketing plans. Integrating an evaluation of your strategic planning system into quarterly reviews is a great way to track progress and ensure that objectives are being achieved.

Annually: While quarterly reviews can provide insights into monthly progress, annual reviews let senior leadership, key stakeholders, and business leaders see the bigger picture. The combined metrics from all four quarters may reveal marketing trends and insights not visible in quarterly reviews.

The maturity of a business can also dictate the frequency of the strategic planning cycle. A small startup in a competitive industry may need to reevaluate its marketing plan on a monthly basis, while a more established business may only need to revisit marketing plans once every few years.

The importance of strategic marketing planning

Aside from playing a pivotal role in shaping an organization's success, profitability, and long-term sustainability, some of the key benefits of strategic marketing planning include the following:

Enhances market and customer understanding 

The strategic marketing process requires thorough research and analysis of the market and target customers. By gathering and analyzing valuable insights, businesses can uncover emerging trends, identify gaps in the market, and better understand their customers' needs, preferences, and behavior patterns. 

This enhanced understanding enables organizations to develop and deliver innovative products or services that cater to the evolving needs of their target audience, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Drives decision-making and resource allocation 

Strategic marketing planning help organizations establish clear goals and objectives as benchmarks for marketing-related decisions. It provides a solid foundation for making informed decisions regarding key marketing activities like pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies. 

Plus, it facilitates efficient project resource allocation by prioritizing initiatives that align with the overall business objectives and deliver the optimal return on investment (ROI).

Promotes strategic thinking 

Illustration of strategic thinking

Developing a marketing plan that is strategic requires organizations to cast a critical eye on their own internal strengths and weaknesses and consider how those factors may impact their success in the market. 

This introspective process fosters a culture of strategic thinking and encourages businesses to proactively identify and overcome potential barriers to success. By evaluating the market in which your organization is currently operating, you can gain a better insight into your industry and can establish more robust marketing plans for your projects going forward.

Enhances competitiveness 

It enables businesses to identify their unique selling propositions (USPs) and leverage them to differentiate themselves from competitors. By carving out a distinctive market position, organizations can set themselves apart from the competition and enhance their overall competitiveness.

Facilitates measurement and evaluation 

Illustration of measurement

Lastly, strategic marketing plans help businesses establish a clear framework for measuring and evaluating their marketing performance. By setting SMART objectives and defining relevant KPIs, organizations can track their progress, analyze the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, and make data-driven adjustments as needed to optimize their marketing ROI.

Through the strategic marketing planning process, companies can develop targeted campaigns that resonate with their audience and bolster their brand identity, resulting in increased customer loyalty, improved profitability, and sustainable growth. 

Ultimately, strategic marketing planning is essential for any business that wants to achieve long-term success and maintain a competitive advantage in today's dynamic business environment.

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10 steps for successful strategic marketing planning

When it comes to ensuring your business's success and growth, having a strategic marketing plan in place is essential. If you're not quite sure where to start, don't worry. 

We're here to help you make sense of the process and give you the tools you need to create a marketing plan that will drive your company forward and adapt to changing market conditions. With that in mind, let's dive into the 10 steps for successful strategic marketing planning.

1. Define your vision and mission

A clear and concise vision and mission statement are at the heart of any marketing plan. These crucial elements help guide decision-making and keep your marketing objectives on track. 

Take the time to articulate what it is you hope to achieve and what your company stands for. Your vision should be a clear and concise statement outlining where you want your company to be. In other words, it’s an aspirational and inspirational statement that provides a direction for your organization and marketing operations.

For example, if your organization is a bank, perhaps your vision is ‘to be the leading provider of small business loans nationwide by 2035.’ This statement describes your ideal future trajectory, who your business aims to serve, and the service you provide. 

Your mission statement, on the other hand, is a statement outlining the purpose and values of your company. It should explain why you exist as a business and what you hope to achieve. 

Both your vision and mission statements should be customer-focused, concise, and easy to understand. By defining your vision and mission, you can align your entire organization behind your marketing goals and use them as a guide for all your strategic marketing initiatives.

2. Analyze your current market position

Before you can plot a course to success, you must know where you stand within your industry. For long-term marketing success, you'll need to collect and analyze data on your current market share, customer base, competitor activity, and industry trends. 

This process involves identifying your company's current position in the marketplace, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It also involves researching the competition, assessing customer needs and preferences, and analyzing market trends. 

This information can then be used to develop a marketing plan to help your company achieve its goals and gain a competitive advantage. By understanding your market position, you can tailor your marketing efforts to effectively reach and engage with your target audience while also differentiating yourself from the competition. An effective marketing plan can help you increase sales, improve brand awareness and loyalty, and ultimately grow your business.

3. Identify your target audience

One of the key components of any successful marketing plan is identifying and understanding your target audience. Identifying your target audience allows you to tailor your messaging to specific groups who are most likely to be interested in your product or service. 

Knowing your target audience helps you understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors, which can inform your decisions on how to reach and engage them effectively. You can segment your target audience based on factors like demographics, psychographics, and behavior and create personas that depict the ideal customer for your brand.

For instance, if your target customer is a college-educated woman in her 30s living in a mid-sized metropolitan area, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the needs and wants of someone with that background to market to them more effectively. 

Demographic information can guide your efforts all the way from product development and pricing to brand messaging and advertising. By identifying your target audience, you can maximize the impact of your marketing strategy and achieve better results for your business.

4. Set SMART goals

Work with your marketing team to establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART) goals for your marketing efforts. Setting SMART goals ensures that you clearly understand what you want to achieve, how you will measure your progress, and when you can expect to accomplish your objectives.

The goals you set should meet the following criteria for each SMART letter:

  • Specific: Goals should be narrow enough to monitor. 
  • Measurable: Goals must be able to be numerically tracked in order to determine whether you’ve been successful. 
  • Attainable: Goals should be challenging but within reach. 
  • Relevant: Goals should contribute to your overall business objectives. 
  • Timely: Goals should have a deadline. 

So, if you’re setting goals for a new marketing campaign, for instance, you should be specific on the channels you’re going to target, the metrics you’ll use for monitoring, and when the campaign will end. 

5. Develop your strategic marketing mix

The marketing mix is the combination of channels and tactics — the product, price, promotion, and place — your company will use to reach your target audience and achieve your goals. This may include a blend of traditional advertising, social media, content marketing, and other digital channels. 

Let’s say you’re marketing a new line of sunglasses. Your marketing mix will describe the styles you’re selling, the price, how you’ll get the word out, and where you’ll physically sell them. 

A successful marketing mix relies on understanding the needs and wants of the customer, analyzing the competition, and identifying the most effective channels for communication. Adjustments and monitoring of the marketing mix is key to ensure it continues to meet changing customer needs and shifts in the market.

6. Create a budget and allocate resources

To ensure the success of your marketing plan, you'll need to allocate your marketing budget and resources appropriately. Creating a budget for a strategic marketing plan requires understanding the company’s financial capabilities, marketing objectives, and target audience. The budget must be realistic while being able to allocate sufficient resources to achieve success.

It’s important to identify the most effective marketing channels for your target audience while also considering the cost of each channel. Allocating resources strategically within the marketing plan will ensure optimal ROI for the company. This may include investing in market research, content creation, social media advertising, email marketing, and search engine optimization. A well-planned marketing budget will help the company reach its desired outcomes efficiently and effectively.

Be sure to consider the size of your marketing team, the level of expertise required for implementing your strategy, and any additional investments in technology or tools you'll need to execute your marketing plan.

7. Develop your message and creative assets

Marketing team creating a plan

With your target audience in mind and a clear understanding of your marketing mix, it's time to develop compelling, eye-catching, and relevant messaging and creative assets. Messaging should be tailored to each target audience and clearly communicate the value proposition of the product or service.

This message should be conveyed through various creative assets such as videos, images, social media posts, and web content. A consistent brand identity should be maintained throughout all these assets to build brand recognition and trust. 

The creative assets should also be designed to promote engagement and elicit an emotional response, as this can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer retention. Developing a strong message and creative assets involves careful research, planning, and execution to ensure a successful marketing campaign .

8. Implement and execute your marketing plan

It's time to assemble all the pieces and begin executing your marketing strategy. This means creating, distributing, and promoting your marketing materials, managing your advertising campaigns, and monitoring their progress toward your goals. 

Regularly analyzing your strategy's effectiveness and making necessary modifications will help ensure a successful outcome. By committing to a strategic marketing plan, your business can build strong brand awareness and customer loyalty, ultimately driving revenue growth and long-term success.

9. Measure and track your progress

Regular monitoring and analysis of your marketing efforts will help you identify ways to improve your strategy, eliminate ineffective tactics, and optimize your marketing budget. Measuring and tracking progress allows you to evaluate the success of your marketing efforts, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your approach accordingly.

One way to measure and track progress is to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your marketing objectives. These KPIs could include metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, lead generation, and sales conversions. Regularly reviewing and analyzing these metrics will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing tactics and help you make data-driven decisions.

It’s important to remember that measuring progress isn't a one-time task but an ongoing process and regular monitoring will enable you to adapt and optimize your marketing plan as goals and circumstances change. Luckily, a marketing project management software tool can help make this part of the process easier. 

10. Refine and adapt your marketing plan as needed

The marketplace is constantly evolving, and so should your marketing plan. A good marketing plan must be flexible enough to allow for changes as market conditions change. It is necessary to track each marketing initiative's effectiveness and assess what needs to be adapted to maximize success. This may involve refining the target audience, updating the messaging, exploring new channels, and reassessing the budget allocation.

A plan for strategic marketing must be based on insights, data-driven analysis, competitive analysis, and a customer-centric approach. Regularly review and update your plan to account for new opportunities, emerging trends, and changes within your industry. Keep learning, testing, and refining to ensure ongoing success and growth.

By following these steps to develop a successful strategic marketing plan, your organization can better understand your target audience, stay ahead of the competition and achieve your most ambitious business goals. With the help of a well-executed strategy, your marketing efforts are far more likely to yield successful results.

Manage your marketing campaigns with Rodeo Drive

Once you’ve compiled a strategic plan to guide your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to find a project management software tool to serve as a centralized place to help you see everything through to completion. 

Rodeo Drive is an all-in-one project management tool built with the needs of creatives in mind — including in-house marketing teams and creative agencies . The platform can streamline your project management workflows by helping you: 

  • Easily plan and assign tasks to your team members 
  • Track time spent on projects
  • Build in-depth budgets that update in real-time as your project progresses
  • Create custom invoices and estimates and send them to clients from Rodeo Drive or via QuickBooks
  • Access a rich set of reports on metrics like project profitability, employee productivity, time registration, and more

With all of these features in one user-friendly tool, Rodeo Drive gives you a truly comprehensive strategic marketing solution. No need to invest in additional third-party software to make your team more productive and your projects more profitable.

Come see for yourself and try out Rodeo Drive with no commitment. 

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  • How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (With Free…

How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (With Free Templates)

James Parsons

Businesses come in two forms: companies starting with a marketing plan and companies that languish without growth or progress for months or years.

A strategic marketing plan is a decisive, detailed document encompassing a plan to grow the business over time. It might sound like a lot of work, but it's necessary to build a brand.

After all, you wouldn't set out to climb a mountain with nothing but a walking stick, and you wouldn't try to play golf without knowing how to swing a club, so why would you run a business without knowing where to take it?

What Goes into a Strategic Marketing Plan?

A strategic marketing plan is three things.

1. First, it's a set of business goals. These are SMART goals, meaning they're specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. I  go into greater detail on setting clear goals in this post , so I won't dig deep into it here.

SMART Goals

Imagine you're planning to drive from Los Angeles to New York City. You have a starting point and an ultimate destination, but you still need to know what route to take and where to stop along the way. Your business objectives are your destination and the stops you make along the way.

2. Second, your strategic marketing plan is your method . This is how you're going to get to your goals. I will spend the bulk of this post talking about it, so read on to learn more. Mostly, it's about itemizing your digital marketing channels, identifying how you plan to use them, and figuring out how they all work together to improve your overall business synergistically.

Marketing Channels

3. Third, your strategic marketing plan is the KPIs you use to reinforce the first two parts . It's the metrics you identify that form your key performance indicators, and it's how you measure them. How do you know what success means?

KPI Glossary

Your goals help you define what metrics to track and what levels they should reach using the channels you define in your plan.  It all works together .

Channels and Methods in a Strategic Marketing Plan

As a core part of your strategic marketing strategy, you need to outline the marketing channels you plan to use and how you plan to use them.

Setting your goals here is essential because it helps you identify your target audience. Once you know your target market, you can pinpoint where that audience exists and how you can reach them across various channels.

It doesn't do you any good to advertise on TikTok if none of your potential customers use the app, right?

You can generally divide your marketing channels into specific groups and categories. Each of these categories is broken down into particular channels, and each channel includes what you need to do using that channel, how to do it, and how often you'll be doing it, along with any other relevant information.

1. Paid Marketing Channels

Technically, all marketing activities are paid marketing. You decide between paying with your time or paying with your money.

Google Ads Dashboard

For this section, though, think about the channels you use by fueling them with money.

  • Google search ads.
  • Google display ads.
  • Facebook display ads.
  • Facebook boosted posts.
  • Twitter boosted tweets.
  • YouTube video ads.
  • Twitch video ads.
  • Ads on other social networks.
  • Ads on non-social advertising platforms.

Paid marketing is generally where a large portion of your marketing budget is going to go, so you need to be able to spend extra time on these. It would be best if you were careful with picking the KPIs you measure as well.

2. Social Marketing Channels

There are a ton of social networks out there, and they're all free to sign up, post organically, and interact with your community.

Linking Post to Social Media

  • Facebook , organic feeds, business pages, groups, and events.
  • YouTube , both for longer videos and for shorts.
  • Instagram , primarily for photos and videos.
  • TikTok , for that added dose of micro-video marketing.
  • Twitter , which is still one of the best customer service networks despite imploding.
  • Reddit , which ties in with content marketing and social marketing.
  • Tumblr  is experiencing a resurgence due to the aforementioned Twitter implosion.
  • LinkedIn , which can still be used for marketing in specific markets.
  • Pinterest , another heavily visual network specializing in certain markets.
  • WhatsApp  is one of the most extensive non-US-centric networks.

This selection is a very US-centric list, and it still just scratches the surface. But this is critical: you don't need to pick all of them.

In fact, the more you try to do at once, the less likely you are to pull off any of them effectively.

I recommend picking at most 3-4 of the networks most heavily used by your target audience and starting there. Once you've established patterns, habits, demographics, content pipelines, and practical strategies on those networks, you can expand into others for added reach.

3. Content Marketing Channels

Content marketing is the foundation of other kinds of marketing because all effective marketing relies, to some extent, on the content you produce. But, more than just "the content of the ads you run," content marketing requires you to create long-form blog posts, eBooks, videos, podcasts, and other media, to post for free on your website and around the web.

WordPress CMS

Content marketing requires a keen knowledge of SEO and how Google's search engine algorithms work. Your content plan also requires investment in content production, which often means hiring teams or gathering freelancers to do the work.

We create blog content that converts - not just for ourselves, but for our clients, too.

We pick blog topics like hedge funds pick stocks. Then, we create articles that are 10x better to earn the top spot.

Content marketing has two ingredients - content and marketing. We've earned our black belts in both.

That's paid work, of course.

Content marketing can also include your email marketing channels as well. You write content for your blog and share it across the web on social media.

You gather sign-ups for your newsletter and spread your news and content links in those regular email digests.

This also overlaps with paid marketing in the form of sponsored content , where you pay for your content to be published on other sites, often those with more exposure to your niche than you would have on your own.

4. Partnership Marketing Channels

Partnership marketing can include marketing channels where you create the content and marketing channels where you don't.

Channels, where you create the content, include things like guest posting . Guest posting is your content published on other sites because of a partnership or agreement you make with those other sites. Of course, if you pay money for it, it goes right back up into paid advertising. See how it all muddles together?

Partnering With Industry Leaders

On the other hand, channels where you  don't  create the content include things like:

  • Affiliate marketing , where you offer monetized links to anyone who is a content creator and wants to promote your content through their preexisting channels.
  • Referral marketing , where you allow your customers to earn rewards, points, or money for promoting you to others they know.
  • White label reselling , where you offer a version of your product with the serial numbers filed off for someone else to slap their brand sticker on and sell on their own, with you getting a cut.

Which (if any of these) are effective for  you  depends on  your  business, your audience, and your marketing plan. Your analysis of the niche and industry will help you determine whether or not it's worth pursuing any of them.

5. Putting It All Together

As you can see, there's a significant amount of overlap between all of these channels.

Every channel can work, but they all work better together than they do apart. Small businesses that try to create "the social media team," "the blog team," and "the SEO team" are generally doomed to have disjointed marketing and inconsistent content. Instead, you need teams that work together as one whole, overarching marketing team .

Experimentation  is key.

Conversion Value and ROAS

Part of your strategic marketing plan should be identifying which channels are most important and focusing on them first and foremost. Then, develop a roadmap of which channels to expand into (and when) when those metrics reach specific milestones. There's always going to be some flexibility here, but you need to be able to handle what's on your plate before you take on more.

Other Elements of a Strategic Marketing Plan

Of course, plenty goes into a strategic marketing strategy that isn't part of the marketing channels section.

Blog Plan

Let's run down what else you need.

  • Goals . I already mentioned this above, so head over to this link to learn more about setting marketing goals for your business.
  • A SWOT analysis. SWOT is a two-part, two-axis analysis of the Strengths and Weaknesses of your brand and the Opportunities and Threats of your position in the industry. Knowing these helps you identify where you can leverage your marketing efforts for the best effect and what you need to do to defend yourself against the competition edging in on your territory.
  • Executive Summary, Mission Statement, Values, and Vision. This is all high-level introductory content, meant not necessarily for you but for the people in your management team who work with you to implement the strategic marketing strategy. It's a bird's-eye level overview of what your company is, what you're trying to do, and the driving forces behind you.
  • Market Analysis. A specific itemized list of competitors, new and old. This can tie in with your SWOT analysis, or it can be its own set of information. You want some level of awareness of  what the competition is doing  and who they are, kept in one place for easy reference later.
  • Audience Information and Buyer Personas. This is information about who your audience is , who your ideal customers are, where to find them, what they like, what they dislike, and the value of reaching them. It's all very standard stuff for marketing, and I've written extensively on the subject.
  • Budgets. Money makes the world go-'round, and that's more true than ever in the realm of marketing. Whether you're bootstrapping yourself with growth hacks or you're leveraging venture funding to saturate a market, you have a finite amount of money, and you need to know where to spend it for the best effect.

All of this is put together into one comprehensive living document that grows, changes and is edited as information in it needs to change.

How to Set Your Marketing Budget

Budgeting your plan is an essential part of making sure that your plan is successful.

The most popular business promotion strategies are organic marketing, advertising, and partnerships.

Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Organic marketing is a cost-effective way to increase brand awareness and reach new customers. Advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching specific audiences and creating urgency around products or services. Partnerships leverage each other's networks and resources to promote both brands.

Budget Exhausted

Let's break these down in more detail to help you determine your budget for each:

  • Organic marketing is a great way to build trust with potential customers by providing helpful content while creating an organic search presence. Organic marketing involves content creation , social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and influencer marketing. These activities build relationships with customers and leads without requiring additional investments in advertising or partners. Organic marketing takes time and effort but can pay off in the long run. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend that newly established companies invest all of their marketing dollars into organic marketing strategies. Some of these don't pay off for months or years, and it's important to start building traction in parallel with some of the other marketing methods.
  • Advertising is a more targeted approach that helps businesses reach their target audiences quickly and more effectively than organic marketing. You can focus ad campaigns on specific demographics, regions, interests, or products. With this type of campaign, businesses can ensure their message reaches the right people at the right time. It's essential to track the effectiveness of your ad campaigns to ensure that you're getting the most out of your budget. Ads are effective at generating sales immediately, and you'll know pretty quickly if they aren't working. I think it's a good idea to invest in ads and slowly taper off by investing into other organic marketing strategies as your company grows.
  • Partnerships involve two companies working together to promote each other's brands, whether affiliate, referral, whitelabel, collaborations, private label, and so on. These collaborations are great for leveraging each other's networks and resources to gain exposure to new customers and drive traffic. This strategy can benefit both companies if they target similar audiences and have complementary products or services. However, it's necessary to ensure that both parties get something out of the partnership to remain mutually beneficial.

Organic marketing, advertising, and partnerships are all valuable tools for any business. Each has its benefits, but finding the right balance between them is necessary when developing your marketing strategy. The combination will depend on your target market, budget, and goals. Ultimately, maximizing your return on investment (ROI) is the goal.

Strategic Marketing Plan Templates and Examples

It's one thing to give you a bunch of theories and tell you to have fun, but it's another to give you tangible examples of what you can put together.

Marketing Plan Free Template

Here are a bunch of examples and marketing plan templates from around the web.

  • Ten Templates from Visme.co . This post, in addition to running down through all the elements of a strategic marketing plan, also includes ten templates you can use to get started. The templates are based on a core concept, like the kind of business (restaurant, real estate ) or the kind of marketing (content, social), but they can give you a great idea of what you should be putting together for yourself.
  • A Plan and Template from Vital . There's only one template here, but it's one of the more comprehensive examples I've seen, and the article that accompanies it is fantastic.
  • Mayple's Marketing Plan Spreadsheet . This is a great example of how you don't actually need all of the wild graphical design and typography that some of these plans use in their templates. It's fine to work on that aspect, but making your plan look good doesn't have nearly as much of a tangible benefit as making it function properly.
  • HubSpot's Templates . It's HubSpot. If you don't already trust their expertise, I don't know what to tell you. Their templates range from basic to advanced, so there's something in there for everyone, though you may have to find related posts to dig into deeper templates and guidelines for some of the strategies they mention.

Do you have a favorite example or template of a strategic marketing strategy you've used? Have you put together something you're proud of or consider impressive? Feel free to let me know; I'd love to see it!

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James Parsons is the founder and CEO of Content Powered, a premier content marketing agency that leverages nearly two decades of his experience in content marketing to drive business growth. Renowned for founding and scaling multi-million dollar eCommerce businesses through strategic content marketing, James has become a trusted voice in the industry, sharing his insights in Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and other leading publications. His background encompasses key roles across various agencies, contributing to the content strategies of major brands like eBay and Expedia. James's expertise spans SEO, conversion rate optimization, and effective content strategies, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.

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The Definitive Guide to Strategic Marketing Planning

By Joe Weller | June 23, 2017

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In this article, we’ve researched and outlined the key components of a strategic marketing plan that will help you align your overall marketing and business goals.

Included on this page, you’ll find the essential steps to develop a strategic marketing plan with free downloadable templates, examples of how various marketing processes work , and how marketing automation can give you a competitive edge .

5 Essential Steps for a Successful Strategic Marketing Process

The strategic marketing process is a deliberate series of steps to help you identify and reach your goals. Even more, you’ll discover what your customers want and develop products that meet those needs. Here are the steps to a successful strategic marketing process.

  • Situation Analysis
  • Marketing Strategy/Planning
  • Marketing Mix
  • Implementation and Control

Marketing Process Overview

Strategic marketing planning involves setting goals and objectives, analyzing internal and external business factors, product planning, implementation, and tracking your progress. Consider the example of Apple, winner of the CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence for the past seven years. Here’s an example of the strategic marketing plan for one of the most successful companies in the world.   Mission: Apple is dedicated to making innovative, high-quality products.

Situation Analysis: Apple’s competitive advantage is driven by its commitment to understanding customer needs, focusing on the products that are core to its mission, and fostering a collaborative work culture.

Marketing Strategy: Apple usually is first to the marketplace with new products and the company relies on brand loyalty from existing customers as a strategy when launching new products and services.

Marketing Mix: While Apple offers a range of products, it values premium pricing and relies on strict guidelines for distribution.

Implementation and Control: Each Apple product complements the others and work within the same ecosystem, so customers tend to stay with the brand, creating loyal consumers.   The strategic marketing process puts all the pieces together so that everything you do contributes to the success of your business. Rather than executing haphazard activities and ideas, developing a solid plan that weaves goals and tactics into a seamless experience is essential. You can follow these steps to create products and services that will delight your customers and beat out your competitors.

Step One: Mission

First, identify and understand the company’s mission. Maybe it’s written down and promoted throughout the organization. If not, talk to stakeholders to find out why your company exists. A mission statement explains why a company is in business and how it can benefit consumers. Sometimes, the mission statement is aspirational, motivating staff and inspiring customers. Or it is simply a straightforward statement about who you are. Either way, you can’t plan a marketing strategy without knowing clearly what business you are in and why.   Here are some example mission statements:   Citigroup: Our goal for Citigroup is to be the most respected global financial services company. Like any other public company, we’re obligated to deliver profits and growth to our shareholders. Of equal importance is to deliver those profits and generate growth responsibly.   IKEA: At IKEA, our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.   Universal Health Services: To provide superior quality healthcare services that: PATIENTS recommend to family and friends, PHYSICIANS prefer for their patients, PURCHASERS select for their clients, EMPLOYEES are proud of, and INVESTORS seek for long-term returns.   Unlike the other steps in the planning process, senior leaders or the board of directors typically develop the mission statement and corporate objectives. Your role is to identify those objectives in the planning process to ensure that your efforts stay aligned with corporate leadership.   The mission statement is a core message that guides and influences your marketing strategy. Questions to ask when evaluating the mission:

  • Why is your company in business?
  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • What is the strategic influence for your business?
  • What is the desired public perception for your business?
  • How does your mission statement clarify your strategy?
  • How does your mission statement unify your team?

Step Two: Situation Analysis

The second step of the strategic marketing process is to evaluate internal and external factors that affect your business and market. Your analysis will illuminate your strengths and the challenges you face — either with internal resources or with external competition in the marketplace. Situation analysis provides a clear, objective view of the health of your business, your current and prospective customers, industry trends, and your company’s position in the marketplace.   There are several methods to conduct this analysis. A typical analysis is called a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, under your company’s control. What do you do well? What needs to be better? Opportunities and threats are external factors, such as interest rates or a new competitor in the market. Here are some questions that can help you identify internal and external factors:

  • Strengths: What do you do well? What are the factors that you control? What is your competitive advantage? How are your products and services superior to others in the marketplace?
  • Weakness: Where are you underperforming? What is limiting your ability to succeed? Where do limited resources affect your success?
  • Opportunities: What are untapped markets? Where is the potential for new business? Can you take advantage of any market trends?
  • Threats: What are the obstacles? Which external factors (political, technological, economic) can cause a problem?

SWOT Analysis with Summary Template

Download SWOT Analysis Template With Summary

WORD | Smartsheet

A 5C analysis (Company, Customers, Competitors, Collaborators, Climate) is another way to evaluate the market environment. Like SWOT, it includes an internal analysis as well as an exploration of external factors.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Here are some questions you can ask when working on a 5C analysis:

  • Company: How successful are your product lines? What is your image in the marketplace? How effectively are you achieving your goals? How does your company’s culture affect your performance?
  • Customers: Who is your audience and what is the market size? How much is your customer base growing? What motivates customers to buy your product or service? What are overall sales trends and how is the buying process changing? 
  • Competitors: Who are your direct, indirect, and future competitors? What are their products and market shares? How are they positioned in the market? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Collaborators: Who are your suppliers, distributors, partners, and agencies? How can they help you grow your business? How does the stability of their business affect the success of your business?
  • Climate: What are the governmental policies and regulations that affect the market? What economic factors (inflation, interest rates) are at play? What trends influence your customers? What is the impact of technology on the demand for your product or how could technology give you an advantage over your competitors?

Download 5C Analysis Template

Excel   |   PDF

You can also conduct a PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological), which is similar to the climate section of a 5C analysis. This method provides a comprehensive analysis of external factors that could affect your company.

PEST Analysis

Here are some questions you can ask when performing a PEST analysis:

  • Political: What laws and regulators affect consumers? What’s the impact of trade regulations, employment laws, and tax guidelines? How stable are the foreign markets and countries in which you sell products, contract with suppliers, or offer services?
  • Economic: How do interest rates, inflation, taxes, and exchange rates affect your customers and your bottom line? What is the impact of the stock market on your business? What are the local business cycles and overall economic growth?
  • Social: What lifestyles and attitudes affect the buying habits of your consumers? What are the demographics of your customers (age, gender, education, etc.)? How are they changing?  
  • Technical: What patents, innovations and licenses can influence your company? Which manufacturing trends can increase your production levels or drive down costs? How can information technology help or hurt your product placement, positioning, and promotion?

Download PEST Analysis Template

Your analysis, no matter which method you use, will help you list the most critical problems and relevant opportunities, as well as show you how well your company can tackle projects. Once you have a clear picture of your business, you can identify potential markets and products.

Step Three: Marketing Plan

Now that you’ve identified opportunities through your analysis, you should prioritize and map out which ones you are going to pursue. Writing a marketing plan will specify your target customers and how you will reach them, and should also include a forecast of the anticipated results. These questions can help:

  • How will customers respond to your marketing efforts? 
  • How much will the plan cost? 
  • How will your competition respond? 

The data from your market research and situation analysis will help you build these projections into your plan.   Define Your Target Audience

Few companies can meet the needs and wants of the entire market. You want to split the market into a segment that aligns best with your strengths and opportunities. Your goal is to identify customers. You can select your target market by choosing all kinds of characteristics, behaviors, and demographics. The important thing is to make sure the audience is clearly defined and large enough to support your product or service.  

how to segment your target market

  Even though you may have some information about your customers based on your situation analysis, you may need to conduct more research on their needs and wants. With research, you can create detailed profiles or personas of your ideal customers. The more you know about your target audience, the more effectively you can offer them value through your product or service. Nothing matters more than how you make customers feel about your company.   Set Measurable Goals 

How will you know if your plan succeeds? You need specific, measurable goals with milestones that measure your progress. Do you want to increase your sales? The goal you set should specify how much you want to grow the sales number, and the timeframe for meeting that target. Each goal should be actionable and attainable through tactics you control. At this stage, avoid contingent goals, which are dependent on circumstances beyond your control. With each goal, list the tactics or steps you will take to achieve it. Combine simple, clear, and precise goals (whether it’s gaining customers, improving brand recognition or something else) with a detailed plan that defines the tactics to meet your goal. For more information on writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals, read this article .    Identify and Set a Marketing Budget 

Now it’s time to allocate the resources that will turn your plan into action. Your budget will outline all the expected costs for implementing your marketing plan, including advertising, online content, branding, public relations, staffing costs, and more. Depending on the size of your budget, you may have to make some tough choices about which goals and tactics are the top priorities. Or you may have to adjust your tactics until you reach a budget that’s affordable. By creating the budget, you can finalize and stick to your plan. For more help with marketing budgets, read 12 Free Marketing Budget Templates .

Step Four: Developing Marketing Mix Decisions

At this stage of the strategic marketing process, it’s time to focus on the “how” of planning. Your marketing mix is based on the 4Ps of marketing, including Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.  In 1960, E. J. McCarthy first expressed the 4Ps, and it is probably the best-known way to describe the marketing mix. The 4Ps will guide the way you convey the value of your product to your customers. You are positioning your product and its competitive advantage. You need to be clear about what you are marketing: convenience or quality? And you need to know who is likely to buy your product or service.    By using the market research conducted in step two, you can develop the ideal marketing mix for your target audience and the type of product or service you sell. Although there are dozens of marketing channels, you will want to choose the tactics that will reach your prospects when they’ll be most receptive to your message.  

The Four Ps of Marketing

  Product: A product is a good or service that meets the needs of your target market. Even more, products solve problems. Whether you are developing a marketing plan for Coca-Cola, a luxury hotel, or a cell phone, you have to know what problem it solves and why your product is a unique solution. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all the details of your product, including its features, branding, and packaging.

  • What is the product or service?
  • What does the customer want from it?
  • What needs does it satisfy?
  • What features does it have to meet these needs?
  • How and where will the customer use it?
  • How does it compare with similar products?
  • Who are the competitors? 

Price: The price is the amount of money your target market is willing to pay for your product. Factors for price include any discounts, payment periods, and list price, as well as how much it costs your company to produce the product. You also need to consider overall marketplace conditions and your competition. How healthy is the economy? How much are your competitors charging for a similar product? Do they have the same business model?   The marketing message around your price depends on your market and your audience. Maybe it’s a way to position your product in a crowded marketplace. It might be a competitive advantage or a way of demonstrating the value of your product.

  • What is the value of the product to the customer?
  • Are there existing price points for similar products? If so, what are they?
  • Will a small decrease give you extra market share? How much will that affect the product’s perceived value?
  • Will discounts to certain market segments be part of your strategy?

Promotion: The way you communicate with your target audience about the value and benefit of your product is promotion. Think of promotion as an opportunity to educate your customers about your products and services. You teach them the value of what you offer and how your product meets their needs or solves their problem. There are countless ways to educate them through marketing channels including direct marketing, paid search and social, advertising, public relations, and sales promotions that create brand awareness. This extends to almost every aspect of how you present the product to your target market, and is everything that teaches your audience about your product or brand. 

  • Where can you get your marketing messages across to your target market? Options include advertising on TV and billboards, direct marketing, public relations, sponsored events, and promotions. Consider the details you used when segmenting your audience.
  • What marketing channels does your target market use on a regular basis? Where and when are they most ready to buy your product?
  • When is the best time to promote?
  • How do your competitors do their promotions?

Place: Consider place as product distribution or how you plan to get your product to your customers and make the buying process easy. Place includes distribution channels, outlets, and transportation to get the product to the target market.

  • Where do customers look for your product? In a store? Online? Through a catalogue?
  • Do you need a sales force to reach customers or should you sell directly to your target market?
  • What are the best distribution channels?
  • Where are your competitors reaching customers?

Step Five: Implementation and Control

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Identify how and when you will launch your plan. At this stage of the strategic marketing process, you will reach out to customers to inform and persuade them about your product or service. Your next steps include getting the resources (cash and staffing) to market your product, organizing the people who will do the work, creating calendars to keep the work on track, and managing all the details for each goal. It will help you stay focused and energized if you create monthly benchmarks and projects, weekly action steps, and daily marketing appointments.   Remember, the strategic marketing process is dynamic. You need to regularly measure and evaluate the results of your plan in order to succeed. This will help you see whether you are accomplishing your goals and where you need to adjust tactics to improve your results. This can include looking at revenue, sales, customer satisfaction, the number of views your website receives, or other metrics. If the numbers aren’t meeting your projections, you can make changes to get back on track. You also need to monitor the actions of your competitors. How does the success of your product affect the price of similar items on the market? Are new products being released that could be perceived of greater value by your audience? Use this information to make informed decisions about the 4Ps for your product.

What Is the Definition of Strategic Marketing?

A marketing plan establishes the goals and tactics of every marketing campaign. It keeps everyone in your organization on the same page about the direction and purpose of your marketing efforts. A marketing plan also provides a way for you to measure your success. Without a plan, you won’t really know whether you’re succeeding.

While every individual campaign should have a plan, your company also needs a strategic marketing plan to guide your overall efforts. A strategic plan identifies your business goals, the marketplace in which you compete, your target audience, the ways you want to reach them, and how you will evaluate your success. It integrates everything you say and do to grow your company. A strategic marketing plan is not a static document that gets tossed in a drawer once it’s written. Instead, a plan is a living document that guides your work and is regularly updated to reflect changes in your business, your customers, and your competition.

The process of developing a strategic marketing plan is crucial to your business. You cannot create strategic marketing without strategic thinking. This planning helps you clarify your goals and identify where you see your business in the future, which ultimately strengthens your strategy. A strategic marketing planning process also helps with:

  • Providing a clear map of your company’s goals and how to achieve them.
  • Getting all stakeholders to share a common goal and a have a common understanding of your company’s opportunities and challenges.
  • Identifying and meeting customer needs with the right products in the right places.
  • Growing your market share and product lines, leading to more revenue.
  • Enabling smaller companies to compete with bigger firms.

One caution: A strategic marketing plan focuses on your goals for your products and customers. The overall business plan, which outlines all of your company’s goals, should support the marketing plan. If they don’t work together, neither plan will succeed.   What Problems Should You Anticipate in the Strategic Marketing Process 

Every manager knows to expect the best but plan for the worst. In the marketing planning process, here are some challenges you may face:

  • Confusing Strategy with Tactics: A strategic marketing plan outlines your larger goal. Sometimes, this can be confused with a tactical marketing plan. The difference between the two is that the strategy identifies your goals and objectives and the tactical marketing plan outlines the details for how you’ll reach those goals. Your strategy may be a larger goal, such as increasing your market share. Tactics are the action steps, such as lowering your prices, so more people buy your product. A successful plan needs both, implemented at the proper stage of the process.
  • Lack of Resources: Maybe your goal is to increase sales, but you don’t have the workforce to meet all the incoming orders. Perhaps you don’t have the resources to hire experienced people who can adequately staff the marketing pipeline. The strategic planning process will help you identify the resources you have and the best way to put them to work for the good of the company.
  • Assumptions About Your Customers: Market research can help you identify your target audience. Sometimes the audience changes, and your planning process should include steps for adjusting to the evolving tastes of consumers.

How Do Specific Marketing Processes Work?

The steps of the strategic marketing process (mission, situation analysis, marketing plan, marketing mix, and implementation and control) are different than the process for a specific marketing effort. Specific efforts may support one goal or business line, but the strategic process supports the entire mission of your organization.   Target Marketing Process

Target Marketing Process

Target marketing identifies the specific market segments that will help your business grow. The three main activities of target marketing are segmenting, targeting, and positioning. Organizations use this S-T-P approach to pinpoint the best prospective customers.

  • Segmenting: Segmenting divides the overall market into smaller groups based on demographics, geography, lifestyle or behavioral approaches.
  • Targeting: Choose the segment of potential customers that offers the most business opportunity for you.
  • Positioning: The final step is to position your product in a way that will appeal to the needs of your target audience and encourage them to buy your product.  

Content Marketing Process 

Content marketers generate demand for a product by generating a steady flow of content that focuses on the problems and desires of potential and current customers. Here are the five steps of the content marketing process: 

  • Plan: Develop a plan that specifies the details of creating, publishing, distributing, and measuring a content marketing program.
  • Create: Take key ideas and themes, and turn them into raw material.
  • Publish: Turn raw material into various kinds of content assets, including articles, blog posts, whitepapers, online events, videos, printed documents, and podcasts.
  • Distribute: Use a range of promotional tactics to distribute content assets.
  • Analyze: Track and measure the results so you can publish more effective content in the future.

Product Marketing Process

The product marketing process is the pipeline from strategy to implementation for a product marketing campaign. To be successful, this process focuses on making sure the product continues to meet the needs of customers throughout the product cycle. Here are the stages of this process:

  • Product: Research new ideas for meeting customer needs from a wide variety of sources, including customer feedback, sales requests, and competitor products.
  • Reach: Work with other departments to implement new ideas and develop marketing plans to deliver new products to consumers.
  • Audience: Track response through metrics and direct customer feedback.
  • Pricing: Prioritize innovation based on the customer value, the cost of implementing them, and the revenue they will generate. 

Inbound Marketing Process

Inbound Target Marketing Process

Inbound marketing draws prospective customers to your product by providing useful and quality content that entices them to find out more. The inbound approach includes content marketing, social strategies, and search engine optimization, all tactics that bring your target audience to you. It’s different than outbound marketing, a traditional approach in which you advertise your product or service, typically through television and radio, print ads, and direct mail. Here’s how inbound marketing works:

  • Attract and Engage: Create targeted content that answers your customers’ questions and be readily available online. This includes blog content, a social media presence, keywords that guide prospective customers to your site when they are searching for answers, and a well-designed and helpful website.
  • Convert: Get more information about your prospective customers so you can guide them through the sales funnel. Start collecting details about your customers through sign-up forms and landing pages, email newsletters, ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets. The key is to deliver targeted marketing to the right audience at the right time.
  • Close: Once you’ve collected detailed information about your prospective customers, you can customize the marketing that leads them to buy your product or service. This includes email messaging, which is typically done using marketing automation software that responds to the actions of a prospective customer.
  • Delight: While an immediate goal may be the sale of one product, your strategic goals focus on brand loyalty and long-term value. In this stage, you should be staying in touch with your customers, monitoring the conversations on social media, asking for feedback through surveys, and finding ways to provide rewards for customer loyalty. 

Email Marketing Process  

Email Campaign Segmentation Process

  Email marketing is one of the most powerful drivers of sales for many businesses. It has an advantage over direct mail because you can track and measure your results, and it tends to be less expensive than other marketing channels. Here’s an overview of the email marketing process:

  • Define: Identify your goals and your audience. Base the content of your email on who you want to reach and what you want them to do.
  • Test: Email marketing has a range of variables that can affect the performance of your campaign. You need to choose the best design, content, and format for the message you want to send.
  • Send: Email is one of the largest drivers of sales for many products. Each email you send has to align with your brand, connect with your audience, and offer a clear call to action.
  • Measure and Report: You want to understand how people interact with each campaign. Track the open rate for your email, the number of clicks through to your site, and when they read your marketing. This data will help you create a more effective campaign next time.

How Is Marketing Automation Changing the Strategic Marketing Process?

Marketing automation is about software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing processes and tasks. It reduces the amount of manual effort and tracking that marketing campaigns require. Automation makes your marketing, and your company, more efficient, effective, and profitable. Whether you have a small company or a large organization, you can gain a competitive edge by automating your ability to target your audience and track and measure your results. Here’s how:

  • Marketing automation helps you nurture prospects for the long-term. Automation connects multiple digital channels, including social media, email, and content marketing. You can create and deliver a comprehensive plan in which every consumer touch point is optimized for conversion.
  • Marketing automation makes your communication stronger. Once you’ve collected user data, you can add dynamic content that adds personal touches to your campaign. You’re not blasting customers with broad or irrelevant advertising messages. Instead, you’re guiding prospects through the sales funnel. With every action by your prospective customer, you can automate a response.
  • Marketing automation can help your company find an effective approach for email campaigns. You can test different variables like email send times, subject lines, and ideas for personalization.
  • Marketing automation improves your ability to segment your customers. As you gather data about their behavior, interests, and demographics, you can refine your messaging.
  • Marketing automation helps you listen to your customers. You can map sales cycles, collect email data (unsubscribe rates, open rates, spam complaints), and customer service feedback.

Use Smartsheet to Effectively Manage and Monitor Your Marketing Processes

The best marketing teams know the importance of effective campaign management, consistent creative operations, and powerful event logistics -- and Smartsheet helps you deliver on all three so you can be more effective and achieve more. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed.

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time. Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Improve your marketing efforts and deliver best-in-class campaigns.

Growth Marketing Blog

Blog > Tools Marketing Tips

11 Main Components of Successful Marketing Plans

Posted by Hailey Jennato | September 27, 2021

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Marketing is often an overlooked business function. Entrepreneurs push it to the side so they can focus their full efforts on starting a business and creating a great product or service. However, if you can’t find the right audience, satisfy their needs, and sell enough of your product in a cost-effective way, you won’t have a sustainable business. Marketing is all about creating, communicating, and delivering value to your target audience. In order to do so successfully, you need a comprehensive plan to guide your vision. Your marketing plan is a roadmap, detailing where you want to be and the exact steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. Backed by data and research, marketing plans help you make informed business decisions. Instead of scrambling at the last minute, they force you to think about the future and identify strategies with the highest chance of success. Marketing plans give you the confidence to be proactive, instead of reactive. They reduce confusion, unite your marketing team around a set of shared goals, and ensure everyone knows exactly what tasks they need to complete on any given day.

Why are marketing plans important?

Sometimes startups and new founders approach marketing with a “ throw everything at the wall and see what sticks ” approach. While experimentation is great, this type of strategy can be detrimental in the long run if your marketing decisions aren’t backed by research and data. Without a strategic plan, it’s easy to waste resources on tactics with low returns, missed opportunities, fall behind your competition, and respond too slowly to market changes. Although marketing plans are time-consuming and can be challenging to create, there are many benefits you should consider:

Anticipate trends and industry changes - constantly analyzing your industry helps you capitalize on trends and pivot your business plan if necessary. For example, consider that Blockbuster and Netflix used to mail rented DVDs to customers. While Netflix anticipated the popularity of online streaming services and pivoted accordingly, Blockbuster failed to shift fast enough , filed for bankruptcy, and now basically ceases to exist.

Beat your competitors at their own strategies - you likely won’t be able to outbid a major corporate competitor, but you can stand out by sending personalized videos to every new customer. Before you make your own marketing strategy, you should consider what your competitors are doing. What channels do your competitors use, and which are they missing? What type of content and keywords are they focused on, and can you outrank them? Can you take inspiration from their past successful campaigns?

Understand your business’ weaknesses and shortcomings - no business is perfect, but great businesses focus on turning their weaknesses into strengths. This self-awareness helps you focus on issues customers are upset about (poor customer service, broken products, late shipping, slow website, etc.) rather than improving something that doesn’t actually need to be fixed.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Improve employee onboarding - a solid marketing plan and good documentation reduces confusion and makes employee onboarding much easier. New employees get an overview of the marketing vision, see what tasks they need to work on, and immediately help the team achieve their objectives.

Track success and determine what strategies are underperforming - marketing plans require you to compare your actual results against your goal or expected results. This way, you can see if you’re making progress. Tracking metrics and collecting data also helps you abandon unsuccessful strategies and extend more resources to campaigns with high returns.

Growth Channel Analytics dashboard

Get everyone on the same page - regardless of the size of your business or marketing team, you need collaboration and efficiency for success. With a detailed marketing plan, everyone knows their role and works towards the same goals. It also reduces idle time, simplifies processes, and prevents employees from (accidentally) working on the wrong task.

You can create an overall marketing plan for your entire business, but you should also make plans for smaller campaigns, like product launches, events, new partnerships, limited time discounts, and major company updates. In other words, you should create a marketing plan whenever you want to communicate something important with your target audience or persuade them to take a certain action, like sign up for an event, make a purchase, or refer a friend.

11 Key components of a marketing plan

The size, granularity, and elements of a marketing plan differ for every business, depending on its industry, goals, and available resources. However, there are some elements that are common in most marketing plans :

1. Executive summary

The executive summary explains the overall purpose of your marketing plan and briefly describes all the relevant components. It includes an overview of your marketing and advertising goals, a description of your current marketing position, an overview of your campaign’s timeline, and a description of your product/service and target market.

2. Mission statement

A mission statement is a short statement reflecting the purpose of your business at that point in time. It can talk about what you do, the types of products and services you offer, your target market, or your competitive advantage. Here are some mission statement examples:

  • “ To become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally. ” - ASOS
  • “ To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. ” - LinkedIn
  • “ Offering all women and men worldwide the best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy and safety. ” - L'Oréal
  • “ To make unique sports cars that represent the finest Italian design and craftsmanship, both on the track and on the road. ” - Ferrari

3. Market analysis

A market analysis asks you to look deeply at your business and industry. For this section, you will reflect on where your business and your marketing strategy stand right now. You should include what you’re selling, your unique selling proposition (what separates you from competitors), your best performing marketing channels and campaigns so far, and your current marketing objectives.

4. SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis looks at the internal and external environment your business operates in.

Strengths refer to what your business does well, your tangible assets and internal resources, and what sets you apart from the competition.

Weaknesses include areas where your business needs to improve, resource limitations, and places where your competitors are excelling.

Opportunities refer to your industry as a whole, including underserved markets, lack of competitors, growing popularity for the products/services you provide, and positive media coverage of your industry.

Threats include parts of the external environment that could potentially harm your business, like new laws and regulations, negative media coverage, decline of your industry, and emerging competitors.

5. Competitor analysis

If you offer a similar product or service to other companies, you need to communicate why your offering is more valuable. To do so, you must understand what your competitors are selling, who their audience is, and how they’re communicating with that audience. The best place to start is your competitors’ website and social media accounts. Buy their products, sign up for their newsletter, or attend one of their events. Read their customer reviews and media coverage to learn more about their successes and failures.

6. Target market and buyer personas

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Create your buyer personas with Growth Channel’s free template or customize a pre-populated template in the Persona Builder .

Your target market represents the ideal customers of your product or service. You may have one ideal customer, or you may market to a few different personas. When thinking about your target market, consider these attributes:

Demographics - age, gender, income, education, occupation, marital status

Geographics - location (country, region, state, city, town), climate, culture

Psychographics - lifestyle, attitudes, risk tolerance, aspirations, personality, values, struggles, pain points, goals

Behavioral attributes - preferred channels and content types, loyalty, frequency of purchases, affiliations

7. Marketing objectives and KPIs

Your objectives are the goals of your campaign, or what you hope to accomplish. Your KPIs, or key performance indicators, are the metrics you will track to determine if you met your objectives. It’s also important to track how your KPIs change over time. Here are some example KPIs to track based on your campaign:

Social media - followers, engagement rate, mentions, reach, ROAS

Content - comments, shares, downloads, conversion rate, leads, search ranking

Website - organic traffic, paid traffic, keyword rankings, session duration, bounce rate, conversion rate, CPA

App - weekly active users, activation rate, conversion rate, churn rate, CLTV

8. Pricing strategy

You need to consider how you will price your products and services. There are many types of pricing strategies , but these are the main three:

Price skimming - price above competitors to recapture your margins, and lower the price as time passes. With this strategy, you will likely sell fewer products at a higher price point.

Competitive pricing - base your pricing off of what competitors are charging

Penetration pricing - price below competitors to increase market share, gain customers, and sell more units. With this strategy, you try to sell a large volume at a lower price point and then raise prices as time passes.

9. Marketing channels

Consider the best channels to promote your business on. You may even decide to create a separate social media and/or content marketing strategy within your overall marketing plan, including your editorial calendar, content types and topics, and the channels you’ll be posting on. When choosing marketing channels, think about where your target audience spends their time and what type of information they engage with. You also need to decide whether to use free channels, paid channels, or a combination of both. Here are some examples of popular channels:

Social media - Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, Pinterest, TikTok, Clubhouse

Content marketing - blogs, infographics, tutorials, guides, case studies, newsletters, webinars, demos, events, presentations, guest blogs, whitepapers, podcasts

Communities - Industry specific websites, forums, and social media groups

Media coverage - press, features in other websites and publications, partnerships, tags or mentions on social media

Partnerships - Referral or affiliate programs, integration partners

  • Company website - live chat, SEO, FAQs, resources, landing pages

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Not sure what channels you should be focusing on? Growth Channel’s free customer journey template can help you decide where to focus your resources.

10. Growth strategy

Growth strategy refers to your long term plans and goals. Think about where you want your business to be in six months, a year, or even five years. How does this individual campaign or plan fit in with your overall marketing or business strategy? If your plan is successful, what project will you take on next? If your plan is unsuccessful, will you move on or try a different approach?

11. Budgeting

In order to actually execute your marketing plan, you will need a realistic budget. Your goal is to execute your plan in an affordable and cost-effective way. In other words, you should be seeing more returns, sales, or benefits than what you’re spending. There are many free budgeting templates online you can use to track your expenses. However you decide to create a budget, it’s important to build in a little flexibility for unexpected changes in your plan.

Tools to help you create your marketing plan

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Want to build your own marketing plan? Growth Channel has a free marketing template resource that walks you through every step of the process!

Organizing your marketing plan and tracking success can be challenging. Luckily, there are a lot of great tools out there specifically designed to help marketers and businesses create robust marketing plans. At Growth Channel, we’ve built a Growth Library of hundreds of marketing tools and resources. You can even filter by customer journey stage, marketing objective, and industry. Here’s a snapshot of some of our favorite marketing planning tools:

For organization and visualization

Trello is a visual project management platform that breaks down complex tasks into customizable boards, lists, and cards.

With CoSchedule’s simple drag and drop marketing management software, you can schedule projects, track progress, and see everything your marketing team is working on.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: CoSchedule

Visualize your customers’ journey with Funnelytics . Map funnels, calculate stats that make them profitable, and identify bottlenecks that prevent conversions.

For launching and managing campaigns

SocialBu is the ultimate social media management and automation platform, letting you run all your social media accounts in one location.

Trumpia offers the easiest platform to create a variety of targeted and automated text messaging marketing campaigns.

Get instant access to brand mentions across social, news, blogs, videos, forums, podcasts, reviews and more with Brand24 .

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: Brand24

Unstack's content marketing platform is designed to help you rapidly build, measure, and scale your digital presence without code or developers.

Attract more leads, manage contacts, deliver personalized experiences at scale, and automate your marketing campaigns with Freshmarketer .

For branding

Design like a professional with Canva . You can use Canva’s customizable templates to organize, create, export, and share your marketing plan and other promotional assets.

1Brand creates shareable brand guidelines within minutes from your business’ website, so all your campaigns and promotional materials remain consistent.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: 1Brand

For competitor analysis

Monitor your competitors’ keyword and SEO strategies with SEMrush .

Competitors App automatically monitors your competitors and alerts you of any major changes to their marketing strategy. Competitors App tracks their keyword rankings, website changes, newsletters, social posts, reviews, and more.

Use Visto AI to get a top view of the latest marketing trends and direct access to your competitors' top ad campaigns. Easily filter thousands of new ads or millions of archived ones, and access key performance metrics.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: Visto

For tracking progress and measuring ROI

With Apteo , you can segment customers, monitor lifetime values, identify cross-sell opportunities, and track product journeys.

Get real-time visibility into your data, understand the full story behind every customer journey, and automatically uncover how each marketing activity impacts your KPIs with InfiniGrow .

Plannuh , an AI-driven marketing management software, lets you create agile marketing plans, budgets, and accurate ROI reports. You can even automate budget import, invoice entry, and expense reconciliation.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: Plannuh

For automating the entire marketing planning process

Growth Channel collects your market research from over 500 data sources and simulates thousands of campaigns, presenting the strategy with the highest chance of success for your business. Generate a plan today .

Source: Growth Channel

Listnr helps you to convert text into High Quality Speech. You can then use your synthesized Speech to add voice overs to videos, distribute blog posts as podcasts, or convert an ebook to an audiobook.

Convert, retain, and grow your customers with delightful personal video emails with Bonjoro . By connecting Bonjoro to your existing tools, you can send personalized video emails at key moments in your customer’s journey.

key components of a strategic marketing plan

Source: Bonjoro

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Growthink logo white

How to Write a Marketing Plan (with Templates and Example)

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Growthink.com marketing strategy template

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a roadmap that explains how your business will generate more leads and sales. It includes every key marketing strategy that will affect your marketing results from your brand positioning and pricing to your promotional efforts.

Download our Ultimate Marketing Plan Template here >

It’s important to remember that a marketing plan is not something you create in one sitting. This is an ongoing project that requires research, planning, and revision over time before it can truly be finalized.

Although creating a marketing plan can seem like a daunting task, it can actually be quite simple if you know what information should be included in your marketing plan template and where to find examples. Below you will learn everything you must include in your marketing plan so you can effectively grow your business.

What are the Key Components of a Traditional Marketing Plan?

For a comprehensive marketing plan, you should include the following 11 key components:

Executive Summary

Target market segments, unique selling proposition (usp), pricing and positioning strategy, distribution strategy, marketing materials, promotions strategy, digital marketing plan.

  • Conversion, Referral and Retention Strategy

Financial Projections

Each of these sections is explained in detail below along with examples.

How to Write a Marketing Plan + Examples

The executive summary is the first section to appear and the last to be written in a marketing plan. The contents include a condensed version of all the findings of the rest of the marketing plan.

The executive summary may include:

  • What does the marketing plan intend to accomplish? Why?
  • Who handles the daily operations and execution of the marketing plan?
  • How will you measure success to determine the effectiveness of the marketing plan?

Keep the executive summary brief and to the point so anyone who reads it immediately understands the salient points.

Marketing Plan Executive Summary Example

TechSmart is an electronics company that specializes in the production of quality products at reasonable prices. A unique selling point (USP) is that our quality products are competitively priced to allow our target market to be able to purchase the items they need without breaking their budget. After assessing my current distribution strategy, we will continue the development of more localized stores in order to cater to the high-earner segment of our market.

A more localized approach will also help support our business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy. We can work with various schools and universities to implement training measures that teach technicians the proper ways to use our products for a variety of applications. This is important because it will give us a larger market share by cementing ourselves as a go-to company for this segment, which in turn boosts sales overall.

After reviewing the insights from our research, we decided on some broad target markets based on income levels, age brackets, and other variables that might affect their spending power. To start, we want to focus primarily on B2C marketing strategies with these segments while sending out newsletters promoting upcoming products and discounts. In order to reach out to these new segments, we will need to promote our products and services based on the differentiation of their quality and affordability.

TechSmart plans to spend $10,000 a month on marketing activities in order to develop its business within the next six months. Currently, TechSmart has been operating on a small marketing budget while focusing more on its B2B marketing strategy, but it has achieved limited success with this approach. After assessing its current situation, TechSmart’s market research suggests the company needs to shift towards a more consumer-focused B2C marketing strategy in order to achieve growth and reach out to more potential clients that might be interested in purchasing its products or hiring its services.

In order to build awareness for our product line, we plan to launch large-scale online marketing campaigns as part of an integrated multimedia strategy as outlined in the Digital Marketing Plan section. This will allow us to target potential customers who might be interested in our products while promoting awareness of our brand through engaging social media outlets.

To determine success, the Marketing Team will measure whether or not our marketing plan is effective by tracking consumers who buy our products online through the company website; how much revenue was generated from each promotion; what percentage of users signed up for the mobile app, and any other relevant data that helps us track progress towards reaching our marketing goals. We will communicate our success to the C-suite at quarterly reports and work with them to track any changes in revenue from year to year.

To successfully market something you first need to analyze the market’s needs to figure out where the right opportunity exists. Unless you have this information, you will be shooting in the dark and your marketing ROI (return on investment) will suffer. So, start with a detailed analysis of your target customers and their wants and needs.

For example, if you are selling a teeth whitening product, you may identify your customers as single men aged 30 to 40, making between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, living in Manhattan, and own dogs.

What are their needs? In the above case, their primary need as related to your product could be to convey an attractive and professional appearance. Other needs for different products or services could include safety, convenience, ambiance, price, variety, and exclusivity. Finding out the key problems of your target audience will effectively direct all other marketing decisions.

For each customer segment, create a unique buyer persona that will help you develop the appropriate content marketing to speak to their unique needs. Buyer personas can help you sit in your customers’ shoes and understand their perspectives when it comes to buying products and services.

You also must note the 80/20 rule when creating your buyer persona. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue.

The point is this….clearly some people who buy from you will not fall neatly into the detailed description of your target customer. That’s ok. By focusing on marketing to and serving your core customer, you’ll get more of the 20% you want and thus much more “bang for your marketing buck.”

Marketing Plan Target Market Segments Example

TechSmart is an electronics company that specializes in the production of quality products at reasonable prices. The TechSmart target market consists of two segments: high-earners with children, and busy parents.

Our primary market is high-earners with children. These customers are parents who are either working or staying at home, and they have money to spend on their children. They are making roughly $150,000-250,000 annually and they want to provide the best for their kids. They also care about quality when it comes to electronics. When these parents shop, they will carefully analyze what needs to be purchased for their child in order to provide the best quality of life.

The high-earners will be the ones looking at the offer of complementary products like headphones, tablets, and games which can be used with our products. They also will be more likely to sign up for the warranty through the mobile app so they get access to freebie offers through holidays like Christmas and Independence Day.

The busy parents segment of TechSmart’s target market typically exhibit the following shopping behaviors:

  • They prioritize a good bargain over trendy styles.
  • They want to spend as little time as possible at the store.
  • They shop for children and themselves.
  • They use the internet for product comparison, but will still go to stores to buy items from brands they trust.

Your product and/or service’s USP helps put them ahead of similar offerings made by your competitors – think of it as your competitive advantage. Therefore, it is vital that you create a strong and memorable USP that will make your product and/or service more desirable. A USP could be physical in nature like a product’s form, quality, durability, design, or features. It could also be the additional services you provide when a customer buys your product like delivery, customer service, or installation. Your target market research will come in handy here as it will tell you exactly the kind of products and services your target group needs and desires the most.

Here are some more USP examples used by local businesses:

  • We are the only car repair shop that will buy your car if you are not 100 percent satisfied (USP of customer service)
  • Delivered in 30 minutes or less (USP of speed)
  • Our recipe is so secret, only three people in the world know it (USP of exclusivity)

If you are having trouble identifying your business’s USP, complete a SWOT Analysis to identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will help you determine the best strategy to capitalize on your strengths and opportunities while you address the weaknesses and threats. Use the SWOT Analysis template below to help you.

SWOT Analysis Template

Continuing with our TechSmart example below, their USP focuses on the quality of their products.

Marketing Plan Unique Selling Proposition Example

The TechSmart unique selling point (USP) focuses on our quality products that are competitively priced to allow our target market to be able to purchase the items they need without breaking their budget.

Your pricing strategy attempts to fulfill one or more of the following marketing goals: improve sales, market share, or profits, get ahead of a competitor or create barriers for any new entrants. Focus on what your most pertinent business objectives are and formulate your prices accordingly.

Furthermore, the strength of your product’s USP also influences your pricing flexibility. More unique products can legitimately quote higher prices, while a product with a more generic USP will have a hard time doing so.

Pricing strategy can also influence the value of your business from a buyer or investor’s perspective. Companies that are able to secure ongoing revenue streams in the form of subscriptions or monthly recurring payments tend to generate higher valuations as there is greater revenue certainty in these models.

Positioning your product and/or service a certain way also will determine its perception among your customer base. For example: Even though both Hondas and Mercedes cars can safely and effectively transport you from point A to point B, Hondas are positioned as value purchases and therefore priced lower than more exclusive Mercedes vehicles.

Marketing Plan Pricing & Positioning Strategy Example

The main concern of my high-income earners is that they want to provide the best for their children and that means quality consumer products. But we know that it can be difficult to make high-quality products and still make them affordable. We want our customers to feel comfortable spending their money on our products, but we also care about providing quality.

Your distribution strategy details how customers will buy from you. It could include a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce site, wholesale distributors, retail stores, mail catalogs, or some combination of the above. Base your decision on customer research. That is, find the methods or places your customers find most convenient to buy from and offer your product through those marketing channels.

For example, consider the California cannabis brand Dosist. Dosist distributes through a highly curated network of partner boutique dispensaries as well as through two flagship brick-and-mortar stores. Through its flagship stores, it provides consumers an in-person way to experience the brand. Through its retail partnerships, it gleans wider distribution than it could in a single location.

Marketing Plan Distribution Strategy Example

TechSmart will continue identifying new target market opportunities within our region and build out additional localized stores in order to expand our distribution to our target audience in other high-income areas of the region.

To further distribute our products, we will partner with several retail stores. Location number one is close to a high-income area and is in the mall. Location number two is located near schools that house young parents who are also students at the university across the street.

Offers like buy-one-get-one-free, discounts, and guarantees are classic offers that when leveraged correctly attract new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing customers. Ideally, you can position offers in a way that makes them a win-win for your business and customers.

For example, Package Free Shop, an e-commerce store dedicated to providing reusable and earth-friendly everyday products, regularly offers discounts on products if you sign up for a subscription to those products. This offer is attractive to the consumer as they can get the same product for less and don’t have to remember to reorder. It’s attractive to Package Free Shop because it provides more certainty around cash flow on a monthly basis than one-off purchases.

You can use different marketing methods like the official website, mail catalogs, or brochures to help spread offers, identify what offers and materials might resonate most with your target audience, and spend your resources accordingly.

Marketing Plan Offers Example

TechSmart will run various offers that will allow customers to obtain a set of complementary products if they purchase the specific product mentioned in the offer. Offers will apply only in-store.

Each offer will vary in terms of the purchased product and the complementary set offered. The offer will be valid until it reaches the available quantity provided to each store or until a specific deadline is reached, whichever comes first. The details of each promotional offer will be detailed in the weekly e-newsletter, on our website, and through promotional print materials in-store.

Your marketing assets include the visual and tactical representation of your brand. These items include your logo and other visual identity elements; your website and social media accounts; signage, brochures, or other print collateral; and case studies and testimonials.

Having brand guidelines in place ensures that the look and feel of all assets are consistent between the materials themselves and with your overall brand. This consistency means customers will recognize and feel familiar with your brand, whether they are walking into your brick-and-mortar store, browsing your mobile app, or using your product.

Sample Brand Guidelines

sample brand guidelines width=

Marketing Plan Marketing Materials Example

All TechSmart marketing assets will utilize our Brand Guidelines. Methods of marketing may include TV commercials, a Social Media Marketing Strategy – organic and paid advertising, promotional flyers for in-store shoppers, also available digitally on our website, and billboards.

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Your promotions strategy will determine how you communicate with your customers about your product and/or service. Your strategy could include advertisements on TV, billboards, radio, catalogs, product placements in movies, and more. Your choice of promotional channels must be influenced by who your target market is and how it likes to consume information. For instance, if your target customer base is adolescents then taking out an ad in a newspaper would largely be ineffective.

When detailing your promotions strategy, be sure to include a description of each tactic, the estimated cost involved, and how / when you will evaluate ROI and determine whether to modify the tactic or switch course entirely.

Marketing Plan Promotions Example

TechSmart’s promotional strategy targets high-income earners who want quality products for their children, but at the same time not break the bank. TechSmart will offer various promotions so that people can get a sense of what they are buying before they buy it, and free events where consumers can play with the products before they buy them. These events will be promoted through social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram, and through banners and/or pop-ups on our website.

Online marketing should be a central component of most any business’ marketing plan today as customers of all types increasingly spend time online transacting or evaluating potential transactions. There are several components to a successful online marketing strategy: your website, social media accounts, and supporting paid and organic web traffic efforts.

Your website is an extension of your business and should be consistent with the spirit of your brand and easy to interact with. A clunky, cluttered website will quickly turn off customers, who seldom give second chances when it’s as easy as a click of a button to move onto a better option.

Maintaining an active social media presence or leveraging influencers in your space to promote your product enables you to reach broad swaths of prospective customers. Your accounts must be engaging and attractive to your target market as well as content-specific to the platform itself.

For example, your LinkedIn account might include postings on a recent fundraise or supplier partnership, whereas your Instagram account might include beautiful, high-quality photos of your product.

These core pieces of online real estate are then supported by your paid and organic online advertising efforts. By including content-rich blog posts, articles or videos that include your industry’s key terms or words, you will boost your organic visibility in customers’ search results. Similarly, by investing in paid advertising you ensure that you appear in those same searches, but as an advertised result.

Marketing Plan Digital Marketing Strategy Example

TechSmart will use digital marketing to increase its brand awareness in the competitive marketplace. Digital marketing is an inexpensive way to advertise to a large number of potential customers in many different regions with minimal resources.

Generally, TechSmart will use Facebook and Instagram for social media posts about new products or store events. We will also run retargeting campaigns for website visitors and other engaged consumers. We are also considering launching a YouTube channel for tutorials on how to use various types of computer accessories, electronic devices, gaming platforms, and/or popular games.

We will also use Google Adwords to promote shopping ads when people are searching for similar items in our targeted market.

TechSmart will also participate in Influencer Marketing by working with bloggers with large followings in the target market who would be willing to provide reviews or advertise our products on their channels.

Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy

In this section of your marketing plan, you should detail each of your customer pathways and the resulting conversion from each path. For certain pathways (like an e-commerce site) this data will be more readily trackable and easier to discern. For other more qualitative marketing efforts (such as the purchase of an ad in a magazine), it may be more difficult to quantify your conversion results.

Think through and identify how you might improve your conversions across various pathways. For example, would showcasing the glowing reviews and ratings of past customers increase your conversion rate on your e-commerce site? Would placing small, trial-size products right next to the cash register in your brick-and-mortar store tick up your average purchase size?

Also, think through in this section what you can do to increase the conversions of referrals from past customers. Can you incentivize your happiest customers to leave you a great online review, gift a sample of one of your products to a friend or recommend you reach out to a family member who might benefit from your services?

All of the efforts outlined above will ensure you retain your best existing customers and build loyalty with them.

Marketing Plan Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy Example

To increase our conversion of new customers, we will add a function to the website where people can sign up for emails about upcoming promotions and store events. We can also add links to shop in popular social media marketing channels like Facebook and Instagram. People who visit the site without buying anything will be able to chat with one of our associates if they have any questions or concerns about his/her purchase.

We will also promote samples of games and apps so kids can try out before they buy them, and free events where parents can play with the products their children want before they buy them at home. To encourage past customers to refer friends and family members, we will offer discounts and exclusive offers for repeat, as well as publish reviews from happy customers on our website and social media.

To increase conversions of people who visit the site but do not buy anything initially, we will highlight products that are currently on sale or offer special discounts for first-time customers. We will also create content that explains how to use common devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This will increase our conversion rates by ensuring people are familiar with the products they want to buy before arriving on site.

Our referral program can offer discounts or free samples of products if customers recommend us to friends and family who make a purchase within 24 hours. We can also advertise special deals like time-sensitive giveaways or contests for referrals through social media marketing on Instagram and Facebook. People who already shop with us frequently are likely to be more receptive in encouraging their friends and family members to do so as well.

We will contact past customers via email periodically asking them how they enjoyed their experience at the store, what they thought about specific items they purchased, or how they heard about our store in the past. If they mention that they found out about us through another customer, we will ask them who it was and thank them for their referral so we can send a small gift or coupon to the person they recommended.

This strategy ensures that we continue to offer competitive prices on our products while also increasing people’s trust in our company by implementing new policies and procedures across all pathways.

Every well-researched marketing plan must include projections that will estimate the overall cost of engaging in certain marketing strategies including the results of their implementation in terms of new sales, profits, and customers. Even though these will just be estimates they will still highlight which strategies have the potential to gross the highest ROI.

Your projections need to be revisited time and time again to assess how well the marketing plan has been implemented and what can be done better. Analyzing metrics like cost per sale, average ticket price and retention rates will help you understand which marketing tactics are working and which need to be revisited.

Marketing Plan Financial Projections Example

New Customers:

We project to acquire 160 new customers in Year 1 at a cost of $6,400. This means that the cost per customer acquisition is roughly $40.00.

Existing Customers:

We have 30 clients who are extremely valuable and spend more than once every two months on average. These loyal customers generate an average profit of $2,080 each time they purchase from TechSmart for an ROI of 5%. The total amount projected for existing customers is 120 transactions worth $24,000 or 4% of our revenue goal. With these calculations, it should be clear that investing resources into acquiring new users will result in better returns than capitalizing on people who have already purchased from us but don’t come back often. Furthermore, spending money to keep people returning for future buys is more effective than trying to convince the same person to purchase again after they have already done so once before.

Using these estimates, TechSmart will generate $138,000 in revenue in Year 1 with an average ticket price of $1,350. This equates to around 160 customers purchasing one item each or 320 transactions for a total of $138,000.

Marketing Plan Template

Below is a free strategic marketing plan template to use. Simply answer the key questions below to complete your plan:

  • Our target customers are:
  • Our unique selling proposition is:
  • Our pricing and positioning strategy is:
  • Our distribution strategy includes:
  • The key offers we will use to attract customers include:
  • The marketing materials we will use are:
  • The promotional methods we will use to attract customers include:
  • Our online marketing strategy includes:
  • The strategies we will use to increase our customer conversion rates, referrals and customer retention include:
  • Our key financial projections from implementing our marketing plan include:

Marketing Plan FAQs

What are the different formats used for a marketing plan.

Marketing plans can be made using one of four formats: the traditional marketing plan, the digital marketing plan template, the marketing mix, and the product launch.

When it comes to choosing a format, consider what factors are most important for your business. There is no right answer here as you'll have to choose what's best for you. If you want help, use the information below as a guide:

  • The traditional marketing plan provides a comprehensive marketing strategy based on your business goals. This type of marketing plan involves research and analysis of the target market segments, unique selling proposition, pricing and positioning strategy, distribution and promotions strategies, and more. If you are seeking to really grow your business, it is helpful to provide this type of plan to provide the details of how you will bring your target audience to your business to generate more revenue. 
  • The digital marketing plan focuses on planning steps and milestones to achieve success in your online marketing. Note that even if you are solely marketing online, there are many exercises, like improving your unique selling proposition, that are still critical. With a digital marketing plan template, you'll break your marketing plan down into these essential steps: objective, strategy, tactics, and measurement.
  • The marketing mix plan focuses on the 4Ps of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. If your business sales are driven by physical products or services, this is likely the best format for you. However, if you depend more on media and informational products (like a blog or an eBook), then this type of plan won't be as helpful for you.
  • The product marketing plan focuses on launching and/or growing a single product. While the product will be unique, it generally will be branded under your company name so there are elements of the traditional marketing plan the are not required in developing it.

How Do You Develop a Marketing Plan?

First, choose a format for your marketing plan. Please refer to the 1st FAQ question for more information regarding marketing plan formats.

Now that you've chosen a format, it's time to start filling in the blanks. Keep in mind, though, that like any other type of writing (or planning for this matter), your document should be organized and easy to follow. 

To make sure your marketing plan is clear and concise:

  • Create an outline . Using your chosen format as a guide, start creating an outline of the sections and subsections you'll include in your marketing plan.
  • Fill out each section . Next, fill in the subsections composing each section of your plan. Keep them short and concise so you don't overwhelm yourself or your readers.
  • Include examples . Use any relevant data or case studies you've collected to provide examples of strategies and tactics that will work with your business. It can be helpful to include screenshots for social media posts, images of ads, or infographics in sections where they're most relevant.
  • Designate a timeframe . For each section, also decide on a timeframe for when you'll achieve the goals outlined for that particular section.
  • Revise and update . No document is ever truly complete so it's important to remember to update your marketing plan over time. The work involved in planning, developing, and revising your marketing plan can be daunting at times but it will pay off in the long run when you have a thorough, detailed marketing strategy.

What Should Be Included in the Different Marketing Plan Formats?

You'll need to include different content in your marketing plan depending on which format you choose. When it comes to the digital marketing plan template, for example, there are three main topics that should be covered:

  • Digital Marketing Strategy & Overview   - this section provides an overall view of how you're planning to use digital marketing in your campaigns. It includes information like how many channels (and which ones) you will use and why what budget has been set aside for marketing activities and your marketing objectives. This part will act as a roadmap for your digital campaign so make sure it's detailed enough - but not too long!
  • Business Market Analysis - this section will help potential investors understand your business and its context. Here you'll include information about your competition, market trends, and industry growth. You'll also mention the opportunities and threats that your company faces so that viewers can get a sense of how it will operate in the future.
  • Marketing Strategy - this section is where you explain your specific marketing strategy such as who's involved, what needs to be done and when, etc. Remember to break down each step into smaller chunks so that marketing activities are easier to follow throughout the year or quarter.

When writing content for any other format, simply remember: Keep it brief - no one likes reading long documents! Below we give examples of marketing plan templates for different types of marketing objectives, which should provide some guidance on the content.

Product Marketing Plan Template

  • Company introduction & summary of company history (include any key milestones)
  • Product description, including how it's different from other similar products offered by your competition
  • Product usage statistics and potential markets
  • Overview of the marketing strategy, including campaign timeline and key milestones. Also include information about product promotion strategy, pricing strategy, and distribution strategy.
  • Summary of expected outcomes for the proposed marketing plan. Include financial projections where possible.
  • References to product launch marketing plan template that the writer has used as reference

Marketing Mix Marketing Plan Template

  • Description of brands & products within market category (include which brands you're using as competitive references)
  • Description of marketing strategy, including marketing objectives and key action steps/tasks to achieve those objectives
  • References to marketing mix example that the writer has used as reference

Digital Marketing Plan Marketing Plan Template

  • The business overview, including a summary of your digital activities and achievements
  • Digital marketing overview, including a description of how you use digital technologies in your business and a time frame for future plans
  • References to a digital marketing plan that the writer has used as reference

What is the Difference Between a Marketing Plan and a Business Plan?

The main difference between a marketing plan and business plan is that a marketing plan is focused on customer satisfaction, while the business plan describes how the business will achieve its goals. Other differences include the marketing plan's focus on consumer demand, thorough market research and forecasting, while the business plan also includes financials and production details.

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template

2.1 Developing a Strategic Plan

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • 1 Define strategic planning and list the steps in the strategic planning process.
  • 2 Write an effective vision statement and mission statement.
  • 3 Describe the role of company values.
  • 4 Perform a gap analysis.
  • 5 Write SMART objectives and goals.
  • 6 Summarize ways to monitor progress of the strategic plan.

Strategic Planning Defined

Let’s start with a simplified definition of strategy and then move on from there. Many if not most of you have watched a football game, either live or on TV. Perhaps you’re a fan of a particular team or you’ll watch the Super Bowl (perhaps just to see the commercials). Every football coach knows that you don’t enter a game without a game plan—the process of taking plays out of the playbook and putting them into a game plan for a specific opponent. This isn’t an easy task. The coaching staff has to consider the skills and experience of the players on the team as well as the strengths—and weaknesses—of the opposing team, and they will develop the plays that they feel will best neutralize the strengths of the opposing team while taking advantage of the strengths of their own players.

That football game plan is a great analogy for a business’s overall strategy —the plans, actions, objectives, and goals that outline how the business is going to compete in its chosen markets given its portfolio of products or services. In marketing, a portfolio is a collection or listing of all the goods and services that a company sells to customers.

Distinctions are often made between corporate-level strategy, business-level strategy, and functional strategy, so let’s briefly define them here. Corporate-level strategy covers the entire business in a complex organization where there are multiple businesses, divisions, or operating units (sometimes called strategic business units , or SBUs). Corporate-level strategies are formulated and implemented by upper management. Business-level strategy is the strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit, and these plans are generally developed by middle management to support the corporate-level strategy. Corporate-level and business-level strategies lead to the development of functional strategy , which is the plan to achieve the corporate- and business-level objectives in functional areas such as human resources, marketing, and production.

People say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at how this breaks down in Figure 2.2 .

Many organizations have only a single product line, market focus, or business, so they will require only a business-level strategy. However, with larger organizations, it can be important to break the overall business into smaller, more manageable strategic business units to maintain an overall focus on the business as a whole and pull the business-level strategies into a cohesive whole.

Consider, for example, Procter & Gamble . The producer of such diverse products as diapers, Tide detergent, and Oral-B toothpaste has five industry-based strategic business units—baby, feminine, and family care; beauty; health care; grooming; and fabric and home care, family care, and new ventures. Each of these SBUs has its own chief executive officer and functions essentially as a standalone business under the corporate “umbrella.” 5

When you consider the complexities of the diverse markets Procter & Gamble serves, this makes sense. Competing in the oral care market is vastly different than competing in baby products, so separate SBUs require separate strategic plans.

Steps in the Strategic Planning Process

There are many variations of the strategic planning process—almost as many as there are publications on strategic planning. For our purposes in this textbook, we’re going to use the five-step process outlined in Figure 2.3 . Keep in mind, however, that the process may be a little different for some organizations depending on the stage of their products in the product life cycle (which we’ll learn more about in Products: Consumer Offerings ), the maturity of the industry in which the business participates, how competitive the marketplace is, and other factors.

These elements will all be defined in more detail in the sections that follow.

Step One: The Vision Statement: Where Do We See the Business Going?

The strategic planning process begins with a solid understanding of what the organization is trying to create—that is, its vision statement . A vision statement is forward-looking and is intended to create a mental image of what the organization wants to achieve in the longer term. Vision statements should be both inspirational and aspirational.

Let’s look at some vision statements from companies with which you might be familiar so you’ll see how this works:

  • Amazon : “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online” 6
  • Volkswagen : “To make this world a mobile, sustainable place with access to all the citizens” 7
  • Fujitsu : “Understanding you better—serving you best” 8

Link to Learning

Vision statement.

For more information on how to write a vision statement, take a look at this brief video from RapidStart Leadership.

Step Two: The Mission Statement: Why Does the Business Exist?

Now that the vision statement is complete, it’s time to tackle the mission statement, which quite simply answers the question, Why does the company exist? The mission statement of an organization sums up in one to three sentences what the company does, who it serves, and what differentiates it from its competitors. Whereas the vision statement provided the destination (i.e., Where is the business going?), the mission statement provides the guideposts for the business to get there.

Mission statements serve two purposes. First, a well-written mission statement helps employees remain focused on the aims of the business. Second, it encourages them to discover ways of moving toward increasing their productivity in order to achieve company goals. Mission statements aren’t just for internal use, however. Prospective investors also often refer to a company’s mission statement to see if their values align with those of the company. Once again, let’s bring this definition to life by including a few mission statements from well-known companies:

  • BMW : “The BMW Group is the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility” 9
  • Tesla : “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible” 10
  • Apple : “To bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world” 11

There are also two types of mission statements: customer oriented or product oriented. What’s the difference? A customer-oriented mission statement defines the business in terms of how it intends to provide solutions to customer needs. As examples, take a look at some of these customer-oriented mission statements:

  • IKEA : “To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them” 12
  • Netflix : “To entertain the world” 13

The other type of mission statement is a product-oriented one. With a product-oriented mission statement, the focus is on the offering itself rather than the needs of customers. Again, look at a couple of examples of product-oriented mission statements so you can see the difference between these mission statements and the customer-oriented mission statements shown above:

  • eBay : “To be the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection” 14
  • Genentech : “To develop drugs to address significant unmet medical needs” 15

Mission Statement

For more information on how to write an effective mission statement, check out this brief video from Bplans.

Then watch this video from Entrepreneur.

Step Three: Perform a Gap Analysis

Before we get into the specifics of how to perform a gap analysis, let’s define it. Simply put, a gap analysis is an internal analysis of the company or organization to identify and review any inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals. In other words, a gap analysis determines what factors in the organization may be causing it to underperform.

A gap analysis answers the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where would we like to be?
  • What’s stopping us from getting there?

A gap analysis as part of the strategic planning process is a way to determine where the “soft spots” are and where adjustments need to be made before setting a course of action.

There are four steps to completion of a gap analysis. Let’s take a look:

  • Step 1: Identify the current state of the business, organization, or department. Let’s use an example of a company that wants to increase market share of its product line. To date, current growth is sluggish, averaging only 5 percent per year. 16
  • Step 2: Identify where you want to be. “Where you want to be” may be identified by using different terms—the desired state, the future target, or a stretch goal. It stands to reason that you’ll want to consider your current state (from Step 1) and where you want to be in a reasonable time frame. Do you want to increase market share by 10 percent within the first year? Do you want to increase market share by 25 percent within the first three years? Because strategic plans often go out three to five years, your “where you want to be” can be lengthy as well. 17
  • Step 3: Identify the gaps. At this point in your gap analysis, you’ve identified where your organization current is and where it wants to be. Now it’s time to identify how you’re going to bridge that gap. This step involves figuring out what those gaps are. Is market share suffering because a new competitor introduced a similar but lower-priced product into the market? Is your pricing too high given production capabilities and costs? Has the advertising campaign introduced last year lost its sizzle, or worse yet, did your most recent advertising campaign flop? 18
  • Step 4: Devise improvements to close the gaps. It’s time to determine the proper course of action to close the gap, keeping in mind the cost of implementation for each solution. 19 This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, because ideas are easy; it’s the execution of those ideas that becomes challenging. An effective gap analysis not only identifies the problems (i.e., gaps) but also sets forth what needs to happen in specific terms to close those gaps. Will a new advertising campaign boost market share? Do we need to hire a new advertising agency? And what will a new advertising campaign cost? Are there cost-cutting measures that can be taken to reduce manufacturing costs, thereby reducing the product’s cost to consumers?

Step Four: Establish Objectives and Goals

With the mission and vision statement in place, along with a candid view of the organization through gap analysis, we can now define the goals and objectives for the organization. Goals and objectives are a critical part of every organization, particularly in the strategic planning process. When written effectively, these goals provide a sense of direction and a clearer focus. It’s these goals that give the organization a target at which it can aim, so to speak.

But before we go further, let’s differentiate between goals and objectives. Both terms refer to desired outcomes that the organization wants to achieve, but that’s where the similarity ends. Goals are statements of desired outcomes that are expected to be achieved over a longer period of time, typically three to five years. Goals are broad statements of the desired results; they do not describe the methods that will be utilized in order to achieve those results. For example, common business goals may include increasing revenue or market share or reducing the company’s carbon footprint. 20

On the other hand, objectives are “action items.” They are specific targets to be achieved within a shorter time frame, generally one year or less, in order to achieve the stated goal. Whereas goals describe the end result, objectives describe the actions or activities that need to take place in order to achieve the goal. For example, if your goal was to increase market share, the objective would likely be stated as something like “Increase market share to 6 percent by the end of the year.” 21

The goals and objectives of an organization define the key actions that allow it to execute its chosen strategy. However, in order to be effective, goals and objectives should be SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound—as shown in Figure 2.4 .

  • First, effective goals should be specific— there’s the “S” in SMART goals. They should be clear and easy to understand. A specific goal answers questions like “What needs to be accomplished?” To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve decided to improve your grade point average. “Improve my GPA” is indeed a goal, but it’s too vague to be a helpful goal. By how many points do you want to improve your GPA? To make your goal more meaningful (and specific), you might want to restate your goal as “Improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5.”
  • Second, effective goals should be measurable —there’s the “M” in SMART goals. Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals makes it easier to track progress and see when you’ve achieved your goal. The bottom line is, you can’t see results without knowing what they look like, and if you’re not measuring anything, how will you know when and if you’ve accomplished it? Your original goal of “improve my GPA” isn’t measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? When you’ve increased it by .1, .2, .5, or even a full point? By setting a goal to “improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5 by the end of the semester,” you’ve set a goal that’s easily measurable—just look at your grades at the end of the semester!
  • Third, effective goals should be attainable . There’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this third element. Some marketing experts tout using “ambitious”; others suggest “achievable” or “actionable.” For our purposes, we’re going to stick with “attainable” because although goals should be a reach, establishing goals that aren’t within reach can turn out to be an exercise in frustration. Let’s go back to our GPA analogy. If it’s mid-April and you’re barely passing your current classes, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Fourth, effective goals should be realistic . Once again, there’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this element; you may see it shown as “relevant” in other textbooks or articles. We’re going to use “realistic” because the term reflects the balance between goals that are too easy and too hard. Taken in the context of a strategic plan, your goals must represent a substantial objective that you’re willing and able to work toward, but there should be a reasonable chance that you can achieve it. 22 Getting back to our GPA analogy, if you’ve got Cs in all of your classes and it’s already mid-April, improving your GPA to 3.5 by the end of the semester is probably not realistic.
  • Finally, effective goals should be time-bound . Every goal should be grounded by a time frame within which the goal is to be achieved. Without a deadline, there is little sense of urgency to work to achieve the goal. Having a goal with a target date (like the end of the semester) gives you something to focus on and work toward and prevents everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

SMART Goals

For more information on establishing SMART Goals, check out this video from SMA Marketing .

Monitor Progress

If you had decided to save money from each of your paychecks to eventually purchase a new car, you’d probably check the balance in your savings account on a regular basis to see how you’re progressing toward your goal. The same is true in the strategic planning process. In order for goals and objectives to be effective, marketers need to monitor them on a continuous basis to determine if they’re on track or if the goals and objectives need to be refined in response to unforeseen circumstances.

One way that marketers accomplish this is through the use of a marketing dashboard. Like the dashboard in your car, which tells you at a glance how much fuel you have, how fast you’re going, and a host of other important information, a marketing dashboard summarizes important marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs; to be covered later in this chapter) into easy-to-understand measurements. 23 This enables marketers to view ongoing progress so that they can be aware of potential problems before they actually become serious issues.

Careers In Marketing

Marketing manager.

Marketing manager jobs differ by company and industry, but in general it’s a leadership position in charge of the marketing strategy at a company or for a product. Marketing managers often complete research, create pricing parameters, and work with other departments within the company such as finance, legal, advertising, promotion, and product development. Read this Marketing Manager article to learn more about the specifics of what a marketing manager does and the types of marketing manager that exist. It’s commonly known that marketing managers need to be proficient in problem-solving. Read this article to learn why it’s important and the specific skills you’ll need.

There is growth potential in being a marketing manager. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent growth in the job role from 2021 to 2031, and you can read more about the job outlook here .

Would you like to know more about the job role? Read this Forbes article to learn the top skills necessary, the typical path to this job, and degree requirements.

There are many types of jobs in marketing. You’ll be introduced to several throughout this textbook. You’ll also want to check out this list of 15 job titles and what the job role encompasses. Keep in mind that regardless of where you start in marketing, you have options as you move in your career journey. Many people move between marketing roles, and the skills you learn in each role will help you in other roles.

Knowledge Check

It’s time to check your knowledge on the concepts presented in this section. Refer to the Answer Key at the end of the book for feedback.

  • Vision statement
  • Mission statement
  • Gap analysis
  • Goals and objectives
  • Functional strategy
  • Strategic business unit strategy
  • Corporate-level strategy
  • Business-level strategy
  • A statement that answers the question, Where do we see the business going?
  • An internal analysis of the company to identify inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals
  • A statement that answers the question, Why does the business exist?
  • A strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit

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Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/1-unit-introduction
  • Authors: Dr. Maria Gomez Albrecht, Dr. Mark Green, Linda Hoffman
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Principles of Marketing
  • Publication date: Jan 25, 2023
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/1-unit-introduction
  • Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/2-1-developing-a-strategic-plan

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What Are The Major Components of a Marketing Strategy?

Ashleigh McCabe

Creating an effective marketing strategy entails more than just writing out some bullet points about what you think you might produce or aim to achieve over the next couple of weeks, months or a year. In order to market successfully, you need to have a number of solid components to focus on. 

What is a marketing strategy? 

A marketing strategy is a methodically designed plan created to outline and guide marketing activities with the aim of achieving specific outcomes. It’s the foundation upon which marketing decisions are made. The ultimate function of a marketing strategy is to focus your marketing objectives and campaigns and keep these efforts aligned with the wider company goals. 

7ps free template download

Any good marketing strategy has to take into consideration factors that are both internal and external. Internal factors include the marketing mix , performance analysis, budgetary constraints, etc. External factors are elements like customer experience, competitor analysis, the socio-economic environment, and so on. That’s why most marketing strategies are partially planned and partially reactive to the market.

It’s all well and good to have an overall understanding of what a marketing strategy is, but knowing and implementing the fundamental components that make up a great strategy will keep you at the top of your game.

What Are The 5 Major Components of a Marketing Strategy?

1. target audience.

Your target audience describes the group of individuals who are most likely to identify with your brand and use your products or services. It’s important that you confidently establish your ideal audience so that you can convert leads and, of course, turn a profit. 

There are brands out there that utilise mass marketing i.e. they target anyone and everyone. Take IKEA as an example. They sell homeware, household appliances and flatpack furniture, and have the right product at the right price for almost every consumer. Mass marketing is only typically achievable for those businesses that sell products that are universally needed, which is why this strategy works so well for IKEA. 

Most brands, especially  small businesses will need to target several different audiences or concentrate on specific, niche groups of people for maximum success. To define, redefine, or re-establish your ideal target audience, you need to action market segmentation . 

There are four main types of market segmentation:

  • Demographic (age, gender, income, marital status, etc.) 
  • Geographic (location, urbanicity, climate, culture, language)
  • Psychographic (values, likes, dislikes, lifestyles, opinions, etc.)
  • Behavioural (actions made within a website, in-app, in-store)

You can collect demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural information by conducting interviews, looking at census data, creating online surveys, exploring social media analytics, analysing the actions that customers and prospects make in-app or on your website and so on. 

Once you have dynamically segmented your customers and prospects’ data, you can create your buyer personas (or redefine/re-establish them, if you have already created some).

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, created by utilising your data. You attribute this character with details such as their age, income, touchpoints, pain points, goals and buying patterns. The idea of creating a persona (or multiple personas) is to provide structure to your careful audience targeting.

Buyer persona email campaign

Source: MLT Creative 

Actioning market segmentation and creating buyer personas provides a real-world context for your business. This will allow you to learn about your ideal customer and help with your content creation, product development and alignment of resources. Solid audience research of this kind ensures that your company message attracts those who will find it the most valuable and bring value in return.

2. Goals & objectives

A goal is something that you want to achieve and is a broad, overarching statement that typically refers to the long-term. An objective is more specific, precise and involves the action or actions that will be taken in order to achieve the overall goal. 

If you feel a little lost or aren’t sure where to start, the SWOT analysis method is a great way to dive deeper into your company (as well as the wider market environment) and identify some actionable goals and objectives. 

Conducting a SWOT analysis encourages you to identify your business and/or marketing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will give you a clear picture of where you excel, where you can improve, your potential opportunities and the challenges that you will need to tackle.  

Say, for example, your marketing material is receiving a lot of interaction, and, as a result, your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are increasing significantly. This is, of course, a strength . But there’s a problem - your MQLs are growing, but they’re not converting. Marketing aims to generate leads to grow your business, so acquiring leads that don’t convert would be marked down as a weakness. However, you can turn this weakness into an opportunity by making it your goal to increase your MQL conversion rate over the next four quarters. 

Here’s an example of 3 clear-cut objectives that will help you achieve your new goal:

  • Create a pillar page that is specific to the product or service that you offer and includes 20+ pieces of supporting content: 12x blogs, 6x infographics, 6x videos, 6x guides.
  • Create new product-focused website content that clearly details each aspect of your product/service and its benefits.
  • Analyse and re-write your workflows to include updated content and more product-focused information for the lowest-performing emails.

Of course, what you want to achieve and the objectives you need to attain to get there don’t have to be major or span a whole year like the example I’ve given above. They can be as extensive or as minimal as you like. 

employees in goal orientated organisation are more likely to be proud

Having strong goals and objectives is super important for any business, regardless of company size, budget or offerings. The focus of your goals and objectives can be to inform your content, explore different avenues with your social media, bridge the gap between sales and marketing, increase email open rates, improve lead quality, etc. 

A key thing to remember here is to ensure that your goals and objectives are S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Relevant/realistic 
  • Time-bound 

So, whether it’s acquiring new users, focusing on revenue, growing your brand or venturing into new markets, the overall aim of setting goals and objectives in your marketing strategy is to achieve business targets as seamlessly as possible.

The Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Marketing

3. Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is a process where you research to identify brands that are a potential threat to your business and analyse their products, sales and marketing strategies, social media presence, website, etc. By conducting a competitor analysis, you will gain knowledge and an understanding of: 

  • The market you operate within
  • Your target audience 
  • Market forecasting and potential opportunities
  • Competitor products & product development horizons
  • Pricing structures 
  • Acquisition trends 

This enables you to get a clear idea of where you sit in the market compared to others and provides a benchmark against which you can measure your business’s growth.

The more you get to know your competition, the easier it will be to identify potential opportunities and areas in which you can out-perform and overtake them to gain an advantage. So studying your market competitors will not only help you to stay on top, but it will also enhance your insight into what kind of marketing works within your industry and what doesn’t. 90% of Fortune 500 companies already use competitive intelligence to gain a competitive advantage. 

competitive advantage as a goal

Source: Forbes Side note: It doesn’t matter how niche your brand, product or service is, there will always be some form of competition to contend with. It may not be direct, but you will happen upon competition regarding some aspect of your company; it could simply be alternative areas where potential customers are spending their money, interacting on social media or reading blogs that contain similar content to yours. 

It’s important for you to project the qualities that make your brand different and why customers and prospects should choose you over other market options. 

Conducting a thorough, usable competitor analysis takes more than just a quick search on Google; you need to work your way through a number of specific steps and utilise the helpful tools that are available to you. 

Related content: How to Complete Your First Competitor Analysis: Step-by-Step Tutorial

4. Content creation

Content creation is a truly significant part of modern marketing. Why? Because there’s more to marketing nowadays than just pushy promotional tactics and brash advertisements. Great content marketing shows your target audience that you are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and can bring them the value they’re searching for.

advantage of content marketing

Source: DemandMetric

Research by Hubspot showed that, in 2020, 70% of marketers claimed to be actively investing in content marketing. This is because the content on a brand’s website now operates as more than just a slogan or a promotional article; it is a business strategy that functions to project thought leadership, to build an audience, to convert , to retain loyalty and much, much more. 

Content marketing comes in many forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Infographics

Whilst the influence of content marketing is growing year-on-year, it’s not enough to just write about anything; there is a difference between content that’s valuable and content that’s there just for the sake of it. You can’t expect to convert leads with a piece of writing or media that’s poorly targeted or inadequately researched. Content like this will come across as amateur, a waste of time for the viewer and can actually do real harm to your brand. 

Creating a Search Insights Report (S.I.R.) is a great way to ensure that the content you create is worthwhile, valuable to your target audience and competitive on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). A search insights report is essentially a mix between a keywords research report and a content calendar that acts as a roadmap for your content creation.

If you have never conducted a search insights report, here’s a quick rundown of  the four things you need to do: 

1. Select your focus topics: these should be based on the product or service you provide and they act as your main keywords (for example, with Hurree, one of our main topics is ‘Market Segmentation’ and another is ‘Marketing Strategy’ ). 2. Identify content competitors: these aren’t your normal, physical competitors; they’re brands who rank on SERPs for the same keywords as you, i.e. when I search for “Market segmentation + blogs” in a search engine, I won’t necessarily see our direct competitors (those who offer a similar product or service). I will see brands that write about the topic of market segmentation.

To find your content competitors, go to your search engine and type in “[focus topic] + blogs”,  “[focus topic] + websites”,  “[focus topic] + tips”,  “[focus topic] + examples”.

3. Run a content competitor analysis: once you have identified who your content competitors are, it’s time to analyse them using a keyword research tool so you can see the terms they’re ranking for that your site potentially is not. There are many great tools available such as Ahrefs , SEMrush and Moz . Or you can try The Hoth , which is free for a limited number of keywords. Add your content competitors to the keyword research tool of your choice and what you should see is a long list of topic-specific keywords.

You can treat every keyword as a potential piece of content so long as the keyword is relevant to your audience and there isn’t an overwhelming amount of competition - to gauge this, look at the monthly search volume (MSV). A score between 50 - 1000 monthly searches is good/achievable. If you’re trying to rank for a keyword that has an MSV of 25K then it will be significantly more difficult.

Take my example of market segmentation . The keywords that appear in my keyword research tool are: “types of market segmentation”, “market segmentation strategies”, “psychographic segmentation”, and their MSV is between 50 - 1000, so we would be wise to create content using these keywords: 

  • 4 Main Types of Market Segmentation and Their Benefits
  • Market Segmentation Strategies to Grow your Startup
  • How Psychographic Segmentation Can Improve your Marketing Strategy

4. Lastly, fill out your search insights report: It can seem like a daunting task, but you’re not alone - I recommend using Hubspot’s search insights report template.

Hubspot also has an Academy course which is super helpful. If you don’t have access to this, there are other free resources available. 

As well as conducting in-depth research like a search insights report, you need to ask yourself these questions to ensure that your content is significant and worthwhile for your customers and prospects:  

  • Is this content authentic (i.e. is it genuinely trying to be of service to your audience and not just manipulative)? 
  • Is this information accurate (does it contain correct material and up-to-date statistics)?
  • Is this content in line with my brand (tone of voice, design, etc.)?
  • Does it offer my target audience answers to their questions?
  • Is it well-targeted for the stages of my customer’s lifecycle?  

Creating well-structured content that aligns with your company’s purpose will strengthen your brand by adding continued value to your customers. 

5. Measurement

You put so much time, thought and effort into your marketing. Don’t let it all go to waste. You can have the most intricate, creative, logical marketing campaign out there, but if you don’t measure the results, how are you going to know whether or not you’re hitting your targets? You need to make sure that your input is equal to, or more than, what you’re gaining in return. 

New call-to-action

Utilising your data, regularly reviewing your actions and measuring your growth will ensure that your tasks, objectives and marketing efforts are being efficiently managed. 

So take into account things like:

  • Industry benchmarks: compare your data against industry averages for MQLs, traffic, social media engagement, email open rates, etc. 
  • MQLs: how many leads are you receiving per week/month? What’s the quality of your leads? How many of them convert? 
  • Website traffic: which pages do they visit? How long do they spend on your site? What’s the average bounce rate? 
  • Social media: are you gaining new followers or losing them? Do your posts receive enough interaction? Do your social media pages get users to visit your website? 
  • Emails: analyse your click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates, conversions, your CTAs (call-to-action), etc.
  • Advertisements: are you generating leads from your paid ads? 

Measuring the impact of your marketing activities gives you the ability to track your success and analyse what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. This ensures you maintain consistent growth and competitive advantage. It also helps to streamline your objectives, keeping them in line with your business goals. 

Related content: The 40 Most Important KPIs for Marketers

A well-thought-out marketing strategy provides a multitude of opportunities for businesses big and small. 

Things that we all strive to achieve like enhanced customer loyalty, increased sales and ROI, a strengthened brand and the ability to triumph over market competitors become far more obtainable with a structured strategy in place. So implement these five critical components that I’ve outlined above, regularly revisit them and allow your marketing to thrive. 

Book a free demo today to see how Hurree can help you transform your company reporting and improve your sales & marketing output   💌   Don't hesitate to get in touch via [email protected]  if you have any inquiries - we’re happy to chat!

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MARKETING STRATEGY

key components of a strategic marketing plan

9 Elements of an Effective Marketing Plan

There is no short-cutting the most critical part of any marketing campaign — the plan. That’s why this article goes into detail about the nine ingredients every effective marketing plan should have. You’ll gain clarity about each component’s purpose, along with specific examples to crystallize your thinking.

What you’ll gain from this article:

  • How to develop the right marketing goals
  • How to identify your plan’s truest key performance indicators
  • The insights you may be lacking about your target audience(s)
  • The difference and relationship between marketing strategy and tactics
  • The greatest pitfall when it comes to the marketing budget

Estimated read time = 12 mins

It’s very easy to get distracted and jump right into the weeds. By “weeds,” we mean marketing tactics. Marketers have experienced this far too often. We get a group of colleagues together to develop an annual marketing plan or an upcoming campaign, and folks start blurting out specific ways to go to market. Email marketing. Facebook ads. Publicity. A TV spot. Google ads. Etc.

Please avoid this temptation with all your might. This type of planning is no longer sustainable, especially with today’s marketers being asked to do more than ever. Often with less budget and less staff. We need to be more thoughtful and more measurable with our actions, and a sound marketing plan should be that blueprint. So let’s cover each of these elements in detail:

  • Business goals
  • Marketing goals
  • Target audiences

BUSINESS / ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS

Every organization — for-profit or non-profit, large or small — has goals. Goals give businesses purpose and must have a direct impact on their existence. They come in many forms, including:

  • increases in sales revenue
  • increases in average order value
  • increases in customer lifetime value
  • increases in applications and enrollments (colleges and universities)
  • increases in fundraising revenue (non-profits)
  • increases in the total number of people helped or served (non-profits)

And the list could go on. There are many forms of business goals, and we as marketers have little to no control over how they get created. That said, there’s one key thing we need to remember when creating our marketing plan: Good marketing goals must concretely support business goals . So what should our marketing goals be and how must they support business goals?  Read on …

MARKETING GOALS

First, good marketing goals must consist of five key attributes. Many of us have heard about SMART goals , which are:

  • Time-related

We set ourselves up for failure if even one of these criterion is lacking. SMART goals give us a foundation for holding ourselves accountable, and knowing when we’ve succeeded (or failed). Here are some SMART examples (let’s assume they’re assignable and realistic, too):

  • To increase consumer phone calls (leads) by 10% year-over-year between now and June 30
  • To increase in-store foot traffic by 5% during Q4 for the NYC store location
  • To increase consumer unaided awareness of our brand by 10% within 1 year
  • To increase average donation amounts by 10% during November

Next, we fuse our SMART marketing goals with business goals through an activity called Performance Modeling. (Hubspot also refers to this as Smarketing , FYI for you inbound lovers.) A performance model essentially maps the entire consumer journey in a linear progression from the start of campaign promotion to the resulting consumer activity (i.e. leads), and then to actual sales and profitability. Think of the performance model as another way to express the traditional marketing funnel , but with two, key exceptions :

  • It gives volume and conversion details for each “micro” conversion of the journey, and
  • It reflects sales conversion rates and business goals

Here’s a performance model example for one of our clients offering a high-end kitchen design and installation service:

marketing-funnel-with-performance-model

Performance modeling also offers a framework for future marketing reports at the management/CMO level. It provides crystal clear understanding of which metrics need to be tracked and reported as a campaign progresses. These become our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The model essentially becomes a real-time barometer of the campaign’s health and likelihood of reaching its goals. More importantly, it “sounds the alarm” when things are under-performing and prompts much needed campaign adjustments with budget and time still remaining.

And finally, performance modeling gets everyone on board — leadership, marketing and sales . It provides a direct “line of sight” from promotions to profitability, and is easily understood by anyone (not just marketers).

TARGET AUDIENCE(S)

For this blog article, we’ll assume you already know the basics of your target audience. This is usually demographic information such as:

  • Male/female (or skew toward one of them)
  • Countries, regions, and cities and towns in which they live and work
  • Annual household income
  • Race or ethnicity

That’s a great start, but many marketers overlook the behavioral and psychographic attributes of their target audiences. Some of these are:

  • “Mindset” – How do they think about your product or service?
  • economic factors (recession that decreases household spending)
  • competitors (with better price points, benefits/features, etc.)
  • consumer trends (new ways of thinking that have permanently changed spending habits … think “gluten free”)
  • political landscape (new gov’t regulations or election year influences)
  • “Habits” – What do they do at each stage of the consumer decision-making process , and what can we do to get in front of them?

The answers to these questions may involve both qualitative (focus groups, interviews, etc.) and quantitative (polls/surveys) research, while some insights could be gained from secondary research (i.e., paying providers like GfK MRI or Nielsen-Scarborough for the data). Either way, the time and investment for these insights will produce a more effective strategy and tactics in the long run.

Surprisingly, this is an area we see far too many clients lacking in. This is especially painful for sales teams, which are responsible for closing. How can we expect them to convert customers if we don’t equip them with the necessary tools?

Key considerations:

  • Establishing the brand position
  • Developing a messaging platform to support the brand position (tagline/slogan, elevator pitch, support points/key benefits, competitive differentiation, etc.)
  • Understanding how the messaging translates into multiple marketing formats

Bottom line : If we can’t explain the value of what we’re promoting, how can we expect to meet our marketing goals?

It’s very easy to confuse marketing strategy and marketing tactics, so we’ll address these two elements together:

  • A strategy is the approach for achieving marketing (and business) goals,
  • Tactics are the specific things that execute on the strategy

It’s easiest to think of strategy as “what we need to do” and tactics as “how we’ll get it done”.

Example #1: Old Spice

Business goal: To increase U.S. sales of men’s deodorant by 10% in 12 months Marketing goal: To increase consumer unaided awareness (by 50%) and favorability (by 20%) of Old Spice deodorant over other brands Strategy: Target women (wives/girlfriends) because they do the household shopping One Tactic: Air national TV spots showing an attractive man talking directly to these women … like this …

Example #2: Fictional e-commerce business

Let’s say you sell products through your website. The goal is to increase sales revenue by 15% in 6 months with only a very modest budget.

After much research, you decide that the strategic elements of your marketing plan should be to:

  • Increase return visitors to the website
  • Increase repeat purchases with current/loyal customers
  • Increase the average order value of each checkout

Corresponding tactics for those strategic elements could be:

  • Show Google re-marketing ads to customers who viewed specific products, but left without making a purchase
  • Email free shipping offers to current customers
  • Optimize the checkout process by suggesting complementary products (“you may also like …”) with each item added to the online shopping cart

It is critically important to have a firm and realistic marketing budget. This is a decision that only management — not your marketing department and certainly not your consultant! — can make given how much the organization wishes to invest in future marketing efforts in order to meet its goals.

Businesses too often come to us and say, “Why don’t you tell us how much we should spend?” Or, “We have a zero-based budget … what would you recommend based on our business goals?” The truth is that no marketer or consultant knows how to objectively answer this question. The only way would be an unbelievably perfect scenario of a business knowing their conversion rates for every marketing tactic  and how they generated sales for every product or service . (That would be a performance modeling dream, but it is just that.)

The pitfall of this question is the internal marketing team and/or consultant(s) must then needlessly spin their wheels to develop multiple marketing plans for multiple budget scenarios. It’s valuable time and resources wasted. Urge management to give you a firm budget from which to plan. It doesn’t help anyone to develop elaborate marketing plans when there’s only enough money to pay for Google advertising at the end of the day.

The marketing plan or campaign’s timing should be influenced by the following:

  • The organization’s budget cycle (fiscal year or calendar year)
  • Seasonality (holiday shopping season, the Super Bowl, etc.)
  • Organizational events (date of a new product launch, store opening, sales promotion, etc.)

A good campaign reflects a timeline to accommodate these circumstances. But a great marketing plan takes it a step further, and projects how it will support sales revenue milestones each month in order to provide cash flow. Here’s an example going back to our kitchen design and installation client. A simple spreadsheet of the performance model is more than sufficient:

campaign-timing-with-revenue-goals

And finally, no marketing plan will ever meet its goals unless there’s a proper team in place, with each member having clearly defined roles and responsibilities.The best plan in the world is nothing more than ideas unless it can be executed. And it takes the right person or people to do that. There are also great (and cheap) project management tools, like Basecamp or Trello , to keep everyone organized and accountable.

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List of the Components of a Strategic Marketing Plan

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Elements of Integrated Marketing Communication

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A solid marketing plan gives a company a competitve edge.

The strategic marketing plan for a business is much like a coach’s playbook in football. It describes what must be done for the company to win in the competitive marketplace in the upcoming year. The plan shows what the company does particularly well that will allow it to beat out the competition. And it highlights soft spots in each competitor’s “defense” that the company should be able to exploit through its marketing campaign.

Analysis of Current Situation

The management team looks at the company’s financial results for the past year and determines which marketing strategies worked well and which did not achieve the expected revenue results. The strengths and weaknesses of the company compared to its competitors are analyzed as well to determine how to position the company’s marketing message in the upcoming year. In all forms of communication with potential customers, the company’s competitive strengths will be emphasized as will the perceived weaknesses of competitors.

Opportunity Assessment

The management team searches for opportunities to reach new or emerging customer groups, to expand into new geographic markets and to sell more products or services to customers the company already has. The management team must make difficult choices about where to devote marketing resources--both money and people. In most companies, there are more marketing opportunities than resources, so the companies that succeed are those that were most adept at selecting the right ones to pursue.

Target Markets

The management team identifies which customer groups are most likely to purchase the company’s products or services. They must gather enough information about each group to understand what motivates these potential customers to make a purchase. Having a highly targeted marketing message that addresses each specific group’s particular needs is more effective than a strategy of trying to be all things to all people. To grow the business, it is critical that the marketing plan not only be directed to the company’s existing customer groups but to new potential groups as well.

Goals drive the strategic marketing plan forward. They should challenge everyone in the marketing organization to greater revenue production and efficient use of resources. Numeric goals include unit sales and total revenue for each product or service the company offers. The marketing plan includes less quantifiable goals such as increasing brand awareness or enhancing the company’s image with consumers or the media.

Strategies are actions taken to convert the goals into actual results. Pricing strategies are determined, such as where the company will position its products price-wise versus competitors. Distribution strategies are chosen (how the company intends to get its products in front of target customers). Promotion strategies are the methods the company will use to gets its marketing message disseminated as widely as possible given budgetary constraints. Selecting the media to be used to deliver the message is part of this process.

Implementation Time Line

The time line answers the questions of who is responsible for implementation of each strategic action to be taken, and over what time period will the implementation take place. An example would be determining who is responsible for producing advertising copy to be used in print media, when the copy is to be ready, which print publications will be chosen and when the advertising will run.

Marketing Budget

Implementation of the strategies requires expenditures for marketing. Companies operating under strict budgetary limitations often have to revise the initial marketing budget downward in light of available funds. This involves making difficult choices, because each budget cut can have an adverse impact on whether the marketing goals can be achieved.

  • "Simplified Strategic Planning: The No-Nonsense Guide for Busy People Who Want Results Fast"; Robert W. Bradford and J. Peter Duncan; 2000

Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

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Here’s how to make sure both you and your patients know what makes your practice special .

REBECCA ANWAR, PhD, AND JUDY CAPKO

Fam Pract Manag. 2001;8(10):39-43

key components of a strategic marketing plan

For many physicians, marketing is simply a matter of putting an advertisement in the local newspaper, redecorating the waiting room or conducting a direct mailing to people in the community. But this is a haphazard approach that will accomplish little more for your practice than draining its marketing budget.

The key to successfully marketing your practice begins with developing a strategic marketing plan in which each activity is based on solid research and specific goals, and is implemented and carefully evaluated in a timely manner. The plan serves as a road map to help you achieve your marketing goals.

Why should you market your practice?

Some physicians still feel that marketing is at best unprofessional and at worst unethical. In fact, good marketing is no more than educating your patients and your community about your expertise and services, and there are a wide range of reasons for doing it, not all of which have a purely financial basis. However, if you do want to determine the value of each new patient to your practice, calculate the average of the revenue that 10 new patients generated during their first 12 months with you.

You might consider marketing your practice for any or all of the following reasons: to increase your income, expand your patient base, discourage competition, improve your practice image, promote current and new services, introduce new providers, enter a new marketplace or gain or retain market share. Whatever your motivation, make sure to get your staff involved right from the start. Share your reasons for marketing with them, and ask them for their ideas. If your staff is not involved early, it will be difficult to convince them to support the marketing plan and take on any additional work that comes with it.

The elements of a plan

There are nine major steps required to develop a well-crafted, strategic marketing plan: set your marketing goals, conduct a marketing audit, conduct market research, analyze the research, identify your target audience, determine a budget, develop specific marketing strategies, develop an implementation schedule for the strategies and create an evaluation process.

1. Set your marketing goals. Once you’ve decided to market your practice, you need to set realistic and measurable goals to achieve over the next 18 to 24 months. This time span allows you to plan activities around community events that are in line with your marketing goals. For example, you might help sponsor an annual walkathon for breast cancer or speak at your community’s annual health fair. Because of the rapid changes occurring in the health care environment, we don’t recommend planning specific activities more than two years in advance. One way to define your goals is to separate them into the following three categories: immediate, one to six months; short-term, six to 12 months; and long-term, 12 to 24 months. Here are some examples of measurable goals:

Increase the number of new patients seen in the practice by 5 percent within the first six months and 10 percent by the end of the first year.

Shift your patient mix by expanding the pediatric and adolescent patient base from 15 percent to 25 percent of total patient visits within 18 months.

Increase your gross revenue by 30 percent within 24 months.

Improve your practice’s image, which may be measured by “before” and “after” scores on a community survey or by reviews from focus group participants.

It’s important to share these goals with your staff members. They can tell you from their perspectives whether they believe the goals are reasonable. If you want your marketing plan to be successful, your staff needs to support your efforts to achieve the marketing goals.

Marketing can increase your income, introduce new providers or improve your practice image, among other things.

A strategic marketing plan requires you to define your practice in terms of what it does for patients.

Every goal, strategy and action in your marketing plan is subject to change as you evaluate your progress.

2. Conduct a marketing audit. A marketing audit is a review of all marketing activities that have occurred in your practice over the past three years. Be as thorough as possible, making sure to review every announcement, advertisement, phonebook ad, open house, brochure and seminar and evaluate whether it was successful.

3. Conduct market research. The purpose of market research is to draw a realistic picture of your practice, the community you practice in and your current position in that community. With this research, you can make fairly accurate projections about future growth in the community, identify competitive factors and explore nontraditional opportunities (such as offering patients nutritional counseling, smoking-cessation programs or massage therapy). Your research may even bring to light some problem areas in your practice as well as solutions you can implement right away. (See “ A guide to market research ” to find out what kind of information you need to gather and where to find it.)

Conducting market research is often the most time-consuming step in this process. However, it’s also one of the most important steps. It’s from this research that you’re able to find out what your practice does best and what you need to work on, what the needs of your community are, who your practice should be targeting and how you should go about it.

4. Analyze the research. Next, you need to analyze the raw data you collect and summarize it into meaningful findings that will be the foundation for determining which marketing strategies make the most sense and will get the best results for your practice The research will identify the wants and needs of your current and potential patients and will help you to define your target audience (for more on target audiences, see step 5, below). This is also a good time to look back at the goals you’ve chosen. Based on your research findings, you may need to modify some of your goals.

A strategic marketing plan requires that your practice be defined in terms of what it does for patients. The research analysis will reveal your practice’s strategic advantages. After looking closely at your own practice as well as your competitors’, you can ask yourself some key questions: What are the similarities and differences between your practice and your competitors’? What sets your practice apart from your competition? Is your location more desirable than your competitors’? Do you offer a broader scope of services than the competition? Is there a service you provide that no one else in the community currently offers? Your competitive edge may lie in your style of practice, the range of services you offer, the ease of making an appointment or the way you and your staff communicate with patients.

A GUIDE TO MARKET RESEARCH

To gather the kind of information you need to develop a strategic marketing plan for your practice, you need to conduct market research on your practice, your competition and your community. You can’t rely on intuition, judgment and experience; your practice needs hard data. Although it will take some time to gather this information, a number of resources are available that can make the process easier for you.

Your practice

Much of the information you need about your own practice can be found through discussions with staff members and other physicians, or by reviewing your patient records. You can also find out about your practice and whether it’s meeting the needs of your current patients by asking them to fill out a patient survey about the practice. Here are some of the questions you need answered about your practice:

What is the background and history of your practice? Has it been in the current community for a long time?

What are your practice’s strengths and weaknesses? Are there problems with scheduling, cancellations, staff turnover or reimbursement management?

Who are your current patients in terms of their age, sex, ethnic origin, type of insurance coverage, chief complaints and where they live?

What are the services provided by your practice? Who needs these services? Are these needs changing?

How is your practice perceived by your patients?

Your competition

You need to find out who your competitors are and what they have to offer. Check with your county or state medical society and your local hospital to find out how many other family physicians, nurse practitioners and general internists are in your service area, how long they’ve practiced in that location and how many have moved into your area over the past five years.

Once you’ve determined who your competitors are, you need to assess them. This information may be a little harder to come by, but you can try to gather as much information as you can by simply asking other physicians, listening to your patients, friends and neighbors when they talk about their physicians and keeping your eye out for competitors’ advertisements. To assess your competition, you need to ask the following questions:

What are your competitors’ target audiences and niche markets?

Why do certain patients or groups of patients particularly like or dislike your competitors?

How are your competitors viewed within the community?

What marketing activities have your competitors tried?

Your community

In addition to gathering information about your practice and your competitors’ practices, you need to learn as much as you can about the people in your community. You can find answers to the following questions by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce, your state vital statistics department or the U.S. Census Bureau ( www.census.gov ). Census data is available for every state, county, city, ZIP code, neighborhood, etc.:

How many people live in your service area? Is the population expected to grow or shrink? What are the demographic characteristics of the population in your area?

How is your practice perceived in the community? Are you known in the community?

Who are your potential patients? Are their wants and needs being met elsewhere in the community? If not, how can your practice meet those needs?

5. Identify a target audience. With the help of your market research analysis, you should be able to identify your practice’s “target audience,” which is the specific group of patients to which you’d like to direct your marketing efforts. Your target audience might include patients of a certain age, gender, location, payer type or language/ethnicity and patients with certain clinical needs. Keep in mind that your target audience should not only be the patients you want to attract but also the people who can influence and provide exposure to that segment of the population. For example, if you wish to treat patients with arthritis, you might want to get involved in the local and regional Arthritis Foundation and explore senior organizations in the community. If you want to treat young athletes, you might consider giving talks on sports safety and first-aid tips to coaches and athletes at the local high schools, colleges and YMCAs. The key to marketing lies in targeting the audience that your practice can serve better than your competition – and communicating this to that group.

6. Determine a budget. Before you can decide what specific marketing strategies you want to implement to achieve your goals, you need to examine your financial information and come up with a marketing budget. Marketing budgets vary by the type of market a practice is in, the age of a practice and whether the practice has marketed before. There’s no standard for how much a practice should spend. However, in our experience, practices in open markets have spent 3 percent to 5 percent of their annual gross incomes on marketing. If your practice is new, in a highly competitive market or has never been marketed before, or if you intend to roll out an ambitious new program or service, you can expect to spend 10 percent or more of your annual gross income the first year you implement the plan.

Some of the initial marketing activities can be expensive. For example, it can cost more than $5,000 to have a corporate image package (i.e., logo, stationery and collateral pieces) developed by a professional and as much as $10,000 if you add a brochure. On the other hand, some of the best marketing activities cost practically nothing. For example, to build your referral network, you might try meeting with new physicians in your community and sending follow-up/thankyou notes to referring physicians. Big or small, these are all worthwhile investments that will give the community a positive image of your practice.

7. Develop marketing strategies. With your budget in place, you can begin to define specific marketing strategies that will address your goals, reach your target audience and build your patient base. Remember to focus your strategies on the elements of your practice that can be used to create a special value in the minds of patients and referral sources. Each strategy should be related to a specific goal and should be made up of numerous actions. For example, one strategy related to the goal of increasing patient satisfaction might be to make the office more patient friendly. The actions required for that strategy might include the following:

Provide patient satisfaction training sessions to staff;

Develop a patient self-scheduling system within the practice Web site to eliminate the need to telephone the office for an appointment;

Improve the reception-room decor;

Provide name tags for staff;

Require staff to introduce themselves to each new patient;

Conduct post-encounter telephone interviews with new patients within three days of their appointments.

[Watch for an upcoming article in FPM about specific, cost-effective marketing actions you can try in your practice.]

8. Develop an implementation schedule. An implementation schedule is a time-line that shows which marketing actions will be done when and by whom. The schedule should also include the cost of each marketing action and how it fits into the budget estimates for the 24-month period. When creating the schedule, carefully consider how the activities will affect the current practice operations and whether there are sufficient resources (such as staff, time and money) to accomplish the necessary tasks. In some cases, it may be necessary to whittle down the list or postpone some activities. In other cases, it might be best to go ahead with full implementation of your plan. If you want to fully implement the plan but don’t quite have the staffing resources, you might consider bringing in a consultant to coordinate the marketing activities and/or adding a part-time staff member to handle the majority of the marketing tasks. The implementation schedule will also give you a basis on which to monitor the progress of your marketing plan.

9. Create an evaluation process. The value of a marketing plan is its effectiveness, which requires deliberate and timely implementation and monitoring and evaluation of results. It’s important to measure your results against the standards you set in establishing your goals. Review your plan periodically (we recommend quarterly) by comparing your progress with the implementation schedule. There are several ways you can measure the results of your progress: patient survey scores, referral sources, increased income, increased new patients and decreased complaints.

If at any time you find your progress does not measure up to your expectations, you need to determine why. Perhaps the advertisement about a new service you are marketing has not attracted new patients. If the ad campaign has been carried out as directed without results, dump the campaign and try other actions. Perhaps you’ll want to try giving a series of seminars specifically targeted to the group you want to attract or developing a new segment on your Web site for patients that describes the benefits of the new service. You may even find that if each physician in the practice talks about the new service with his or her patients as merely informational conversation, favorable results will follow. In other words, the actions – and even the strategies and goals – in the marketing plan are not written in stone. By regularly monitoring and evaluating each action, you can always change and try new approaches.

As good as you make it

A good marketing plan outlines realistic marketing goals, strategies and actions based on sound information and research about your practice and your community. But the plan is only as good as your commitment to implementing it, dedicating sufficient resources to the endeavor, involving your staff and communicating openly with them. The marketing plan should not merely be written, reviewed and put away on a shelf. Instead, your practice marketing plan should be an evolving blueprint that guides your efforts and monitors your success. Marketing works when the dedication is there. It’s up to you!

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Strategic Marketing Plan Components and Benefits

  • Sustainable Businesses
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  • Operations & Technology
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  • Becoming an Owner

Successful businesses create and rely on business plans to help guide them and to clarify priorities. Business plans spell out ways companies intends to rationalize their resources, engage in production, and even handle their clients. Most importantly, sound business plans include strategic  marketing plans . 

Strategic marketing planning is considered a  creative process  in its own right. Management and operations teams strive to come up with and implement practical marketing strategies that can guarantee a stable flow of business for a company.

Strategic marketing plans revolve around the kind of environment an entity desires to establish for clients in the quest to make sales. Plans include concepts such as geographical and demographic  target markets  as well as  market segmentation .

Components of a Marketing Plan

The specifics of strategic marketing plans will vary from business to business and industry to industry, but all plans should include five key components:

  • Company positioning: Outline the current position of the firm financially. Such an analysis allows the planning team to identify the strategies that were previously put in place and assess the success of the overall plan against the financial results. In the end, a SWOT analysis reveals the current situation of the company by examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Goals and strategies:  The strategic marketing plan is never complete without listing the organizational goals and strategies to be implemented. The goals inform the rationalization of resources in production, distribution, and marketing while the strategies discuss the conversion of targets into realities. For instance, a goal may state the intention to improve brand recognition and image while the corresponding plan defines the most appropriate media or promotion method to achieve desired results. 
  • Market opportunities: The plan always should assess emerging or existing market opportunities that may be harnessed in the short and long term. By so doing, the planners easily can dedicate resources to the most promising opportunity. 
  • Target market defined: It is important to define the target groups for all your products and services. This step allows you to conduct more research on their needs, demands, and even preferences to capitalize on sales. Also, define the demographic and geographic stratification of these groups.
  • Marketing budget: Last and most importantly, a strategic marketing plan is considered complete due to the inclusion of a realistic marketing budget and the dedication of an implementation period. Tough decisions have to be made at this point. These include the division of duties and responsibilities.

Benefits of Strategic Marketing Planning

The process of creating a plan facilitates a common understanding among all stakeholders in an organization. The plan informs management decisions, the behavior of the employees towards institutional goals, and also the response among current and potential clients. The plan also is subjected to changes over a period of time to meet changing demands.

A sound marketing plan allows a corporate entity to grow its market share which results in more revenue and profits. As a firm expands, it can enjoy large economies of scale and thus fewer operational costs. Overall, the strategic marketing planning process connects the production engine to consumption.

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  1. What is Strategic Marketing Planning? A Step-by-Step Guide

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  2. What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

    Oct 26, 2023. A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines your strategies to attract and convert your ideal customers as a part of your customer acquisition strategy. It's a comprehensive document that details your: Target audience: Who you're trying to reach. Marketing goals: What you want to achieve.

  3. How To Build a Strategic Marketing Plan (+ a Free Template!)

    The strategic marketing planning process follows 6 key components: Know where you are. Know your audience. Know where you want to go. Pick your channels and tactics. Develop your budget and your revised tactics. Measure and adjust your strategy periodically. By following these steps, your team will be well on their way to achieving a ...

  4. 9 Key Elements of a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

    Goals, Mission and Vision. Every action taken to promote a business should reflect their mission and vision. These are integral parts of a business as they are the building blocks of the brand's image. And the goals of any business are usually centred around growth. Those goals will serve as a driving force for implementing any strategic ...

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    8. Present your marketing strategy. A finished marketing strategy will pull together the sections and components above. It may also include: Executive Summary. A concise overview that outlines the marketing goals, target audience, and key marketing tactics. Brand Identity. You may want to create a brand identity as part of your strategy. Brand ...

  6. What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]

    A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics. A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your ...

  7. What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One

    A marketing plan is a business document used to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analysing campaign results.

  8. Strategic Marketing Plan in 10 Steps: A Comprehensive Guide

    A plan for strategic marketing typically contains several key components, including: An overview of the organization's mission and vision. An analysis of its external environment (competitors, customers, and trends) An assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. A definition of its target market. SMART Goal Setting.

  9. How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (With Free Templates)

    A strategic marketing plan is three things. 1. First, it's a set of business goals. These are SMART goals, meaning they're specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. I go into greater detail on setting clear goals in this post, so I won't dig deep into it here.

  10. Here's How the Marketing Process Works

    Here are the steps to a successful strategic marketing process. Mission. Situation Analysis. Marketing Strategy/Planning. Marketing Mix. Implementation and Control. Strategic marketing planning involves setting goals and objectives, analyzing internal and external business factors, product planning, implementation, and tracking your progress.

  11. PDF How to write a strategic plan

    Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls. Challenge of consensus over clarity. Challenge of who provides input versus who decides. Preparing a long, ambitious, 5 year plan that sits on a shelf. Finding a balance between process and a final product. Communicating and executing the plan. Lack of alignment between mission, action, and finances.

  12. Marketing Plan: 10 Components You Should Include in Your Marketing Plan

    Strategies to consider: Networking - Go where your market is. Direct marketing - sales letters, brochures, and flyers. Advertising - print media and directories. Training programs - to increase awareness. Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert. Direct/personal selling.

  13. 11 Main Components of Successful Marketing Plans

    11 Key components of a marketing plan. The size, granularity, and elements of a marketing plan differ for every business, depending on its industry, goals, and available resources. However, there are some elements that are common in most marketing plans: 1. Executive summary.

  14. How to Write a Marketing Plan (including a template and sample)

    What are the Key Components of a Traditional Marketing Plan? For a comprehensive marketing plan, you should include the following 11 key components: Executive Summary; ... Below is a free strategic marketing plan template to use. Simply answer the key questions below to complete your plan: Our target customers are:

  15. 2.1 Developing a Strategic Plan

    Learning Outcomes. By the end of this section, you will be able to: 1 Define strategic planning and list the steps in the strategic planning process.; 2 Write an effective vision statement and mission statement.; 3 Describe the role of company values.; 4 Perform a gap analysis.; 5 Write SMART objectives and goals.; 6 Summarize ways to monitor progress of the strategic plan.

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    Creating a great marketing strategy is not easy, but it can be done with the right components. In this blog post, you will learn about the five key components of a marketing strategy: segmentation, targeting, positioning, objectives, and tactics. You will also find out how to use Hurree, a data integration platform, to help you implement your strategy effectively and efficiently. Don't miss ...

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  22. What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One

    A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.

  23. Learn More About Key Components in a Strategic Plan

    The key elements of a strategic plan include your vision and mission statements, detailed goals and objectives, and action plans and scorecards to help you track your progress. Make sure you include each of these key parts of a strategic plan in order to create a plan that will serve your small business. Including these detailed sections will ...

  24. The 7 Key Marketing Principles and How to Apply Them

    The 7 key marketing principles are: Product. Price. Place. Promotion. People. Process (or Positioning) Physical Evidence (or Packaging) The classic principles of marketing, known as the 4 Ps, were initially defined several decades ago by a marketing professor at Harvard University.

  25. How to create an effective marketing plan: Eight best practices

    This approach provided a critical layer of strategic and tactical detail necessary for proper execution and management while keeping to our aggressive timeline. 7. Create healthy habits. A ...