What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]
Published: July 27, 2023
For a while now, you‘ve been spearheading your organization’s content marketing efforts. Your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.
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.
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
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.
If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. But 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.
A marketing plan is an important subset of a business plan that 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.
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, your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. This calls for the marketing department 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 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. 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.
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’ll 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.
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.
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 is 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.
A content strategy should stipulate:
- Which types of content you'll create. These can include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
- How much of it you'll create. You can describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on your workflow and the short-term goals you set for your content.
- The goals (and KPIs) you'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 you'll distribute this content. Popular channels at your disposal include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.
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.
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.
6. Define your marketing budget.
Your content strategy might use many free channels and platforms, but there are several hidden expenses a marketing team needs to account for.
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.
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.
Easily track and analyze your competitors with t his 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. You don‘t have to delve too deeply into your employees’ day-to-day projects, but it should be known 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.
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, this guide can 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
A successful book launch is a prime example of data-driven content and social marketing. Using data to optimize your social strategy spreads more awareness for your book, gets more people to subscribe to your content, converts more subscribers into buyers, and encourages more buyers to recommend your book to their friends.
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. To get a better idea of what this means, take a look at the diagram below:
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.
You can use Snow's marketing plan to cultivate a better content strategy plan, know your audience better, and think creatively about content promotion and distribution.
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:
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.
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.
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 :
When 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.
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
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 :
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:
This is a great option if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns.
- Visit Oxnard
- Safe Haven Family Shelter
- Wright County Economic Development
- The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
- Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Visit Billings
1. 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.
Why This Marketing Plan Works
- 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
2. 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
3. Wright County Economic Development
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
4. The 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
5. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
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
6. 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?
Most marketing plans are documents that 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, say a tech startup is launching a new mobile app. Its marketing plan would usually 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 .
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 you wanted to focus on social media growth, your 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.
- 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 your 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.
Use the following questions to clearly indicate who your 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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What Is a Marketing Plan?
Understanding marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, marketing plan vs. business plan.
- Marketing Plan FAQs
The Bottom Line
- Marketing Essentials
What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One
James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.
Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.
Investopedia / Zoe Hansen
A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market . A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:
- Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries
- Tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas
- Platform selection for product and service promotion: digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign
- Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines
A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy.
- The marketing plan details the strategy that a company will use to market its products to customers.
- The plan identifies the target market, the value proposition of the brand or the product, the campaigns to be initiated, and the metrics to be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.
- The marketing plan should be adjusted on an ongoing basis based on the findings from the metrics that show which efforts are having an impact and which are not.
- Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration.
- A marketing plan is part of a business plan, which describes all of the important aspects of a business, such as its goals, values, mission statement, budget, and strategies.
The terms marketing plan and marketing strategy are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.
Types of Marketing Plans
There are a variety of different marketing plans that suit different businesses and different business needs.
New Product Launch: This is a marketing plan that outlines how a new product will enter the market, who it will target, and in what way advertising will be done.
Social Media: A social media marketing plan focuses on the advertising strategies on different social media platforms and how to engage with the users on these platforms.
Time-Based: Time-based marketing plans, such as those that are executed quarterly or annually, focus on the time of the year, the current condition of the business, and the best strategies in that period.
Mission and Value Proposition
A marketing plan considers the value proposition of a business. The value proposition is the overall promise of value to be delivered to the customer and is a statement that appears front and center of the company website or any branding materials.
The value proposition should state how a product or brand solves the customer's problem, the benefits of the product or brand, and why the customer should buy from this company and not another. The marketing plan is based on this value proposition to the customer.
Establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to measure the success of your marketing plan in relation to your company's value proposition. For example, if your goal is to engage with a certain demographic in a certain region, you can track social media and website visits.
The most effective digital marketing techniques in 2020 according to marketers are content marketing and marketing automation.
Identify Your Target Market
The marketing plan identifies the target market for a product or brand. Market research is often the basis for a target market and marketing channel decisions. For example, whether the company will advertise on the radio, on social media, through online ads, or on regional TV.
Knowing who you want to sell to and why is an extremely critical component of any business plan. It allows you to focus your business and measure its success. Different demographics have different tastes and needs, knowing what your target market is will help you market to them.
Strategy and Execution
The marketing plan includes the rationale for these decisions. The plan should focus on the creation, timing, and placement of specific campaigns and include the metrics that will measure the outcomes of marketing efforts. For example, will you advertise on the radio or on social media? What time will you air advertisements if they are on the radio or TV?
Set Your Budget
A marketing plan costs money. Knowing your budget for a marketing plan will allow you to create a suitable plan within that context, stick to it, and prevent runaway costs. It will also help you allocate to different areas of your marketing plan.
Adjust Your Plan
A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results from the metrics. If digital ads are performing better than expected, for example, the budget for a campaign can be adjusted to fund a higher-performing platform or the company can initiate a new budget. The challenge for marketing leaders is to ensure that every platform has sufficient time to show results.
Without the correct metrics to assess the impact of outreach and marketing efforts, an organization will not know which campaigns to repeat and which ones to drop; maintaining ineffective initiatives will unnecessarily increase marketing costs.
Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration. In the traditional marketing mix model, a marketing plan would fall under the category of "promotion," which is one of the four Ps , a term coined by Neil Borden to describe the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and place.
A business plan details how a business will operate and function in its entirety. A business plan is a roadmap for a business. It will cover the goals, missions , values, financials, and strategies that the business will use in day-to-day operations and in the achievement of its objectives.
A business plan will include an executive summary, the products and services sold, a marketing analysis, a marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget , to name but a few items.
As mentioned, a business plan will include a marketing plan, which focuses on creating a marketing strategy on how to bring awareness to the public of the company's product or service, how to reach the target market, and generate sales.
Example of a Marketing Plan
John came up with a new business idea that he believes is a niche offering in the market. He decides to start a business and his first step is creating a business plan that outlines all of the objectives, goals, values, pitfalls, and finances of his company.
John is able to raise enough capital from friends and family to get started, hires a few employees, and eventually creates his product. He now has to start selling his product and generate sales to keep his business operating.
To achieve this, John, with the help of a marketing company, creates a marketing plan. The marketing plan consists of market research that details the target market for John's product, which is recently retired men.
The marketing plan then comes up with the best methods of reaching this target market. The marketing plan stresses radio and television as opposed to social media as older, retired men use social media less than traditional forms of media, according to the market research that was conducted.
The ads are tailored to the target market, showing how John's product will benefit their lives, particularly when compared to market alternatives. Once the marketing plan has been executed, the marketing team analyzes how the efforts translate into sales.
What Is a Marketing Plan Template?
A marketing plan template is a document that an individual can use to create a marketing plan. The marketing plan template will contain all the important elements and the various needed language with blank sections. A user can insert their own information related to their business in the blank sections to ultimately create their own marketing plan.
What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?
The executive summary of a marketing plan provides a brief overview of the entire marketing plan. The executive summary will contain the key findings of the market research, the company's objectives, marketing goals, an overview of the marketing trends, the description of the product or service being marketed, information on the target market, and how to financially plan for the marketing plan.
What Is a Top-Down Marketing Strategy?
A top-down marketing strategy is a traditional marketing strategy. This is where a business determines who it should sell to and how, and the customer base is largely passive and spurred to take action once they hear the advertisement. For example, a top-down marketing strategy would include ads on radio or television. Top-down marketing strategies are usually determined by the executives of a firm. It usually consists of what a firm desires to do and then determining a way to do it.
What Is a Bottom-Up Marketing Strategy?
A bottom-up marketing strategy focuses on discovering a workable strategy and then building on that strategy to create an impactful advertising campaign. Today's consumer wants to relate to a product or service in a meaningful way and a bottom-up marketing strategy is better suited to this. A bottom-up marketing strategy should focus on the target market and how better to create value for them.
How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?
The cost of a marketing plan will vary based on the company, the complexity, and the length of the overall strategy. The cost can range anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.
A marketing plan is the advertising strategy that a business will implement to sell its product or service. The marketing plan will help determine who the target market is, how best to reach them, at what price point the product or service should be sold, and how the company will measure its efforts.
Constantly monitoring and adjusting a market plan is an important part of running a business as it shows what are the best and worst ways to generate sales. Without a successful marketing plan, a business may not be able to continue operating for very long.
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6 Tips for Creating a Great Business Marketing Plan
Table of contents.
Every successful company needs a well-thought-out business plan to outline its course of action. A marketing strategy is one key part of that plan: It spells out critical information, including how a business will distinguish itself from competitors and what the team will aim to achieve.
While marketing plans don’t always produce immediate results, they are still a crucial aspect of a business plan and should be given a considerate amount of attention. A complete and effective marketing strategy can reveal opportunities through new audience segments, changes in pricing strategy or by differentiating the brand from the competition.
Here’s how to create an effective marketing plan for your business.
How to develop a business marketing plan
A focused marketing plan sets two goals. The first is to maintain engagement and customer loyalty , and the second is to capture market share within a specific audience segment of your target audience.
Your marketing plan outlines the strategies you’ll use to achieve both goals and the specific actions your marketing team will employ, such as the specific outreach campaigns, over which channels they will occur, the required marketing budget and data-driven projections of their success.
Marketing is a science-driven commitment that typically requires months of data to refine campaigns, and an interconnected marketing plan keeps your business committed to its long-term goals.
All marketing guidelines will circle back to the four P’s: product, price, place and promotion. The following tips are starting points that will ingrain the habit of continually returning to these four P’s.
1. Create an executive summary.
Marketing campaigns should not be considered individual functions. Marketing is the story of your brand as told to customers; like any narrative, its tone and characters should remain consistent. An executive summary details your marketing goals for the next year and helps tie each campaign together.
When establishing your marketing goals, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound – or SMART. These goals should work together to achieve both internal and external harmony, telling a consistent story that informs customers of your exact message while building on its previous chapters.
For example, you may set a SMART goal to increase your company’s social media traffic by 15% in a 90-day time frame, and plan to achieve this by creating four relevant, informative and high-quality posts per week on each platform, using your company’s brand kit.
2. Identify your target market.
Before you write a marketing plan, you need to find and understand your niche. Ask yourself who the specific demographic is that you’re targeting. For example, if your business sells 30-minute meals, then those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs are likely in your market. Study that group of individuals to understand their struggles and learn how your business can solve the problem.
Targeting your audience can drastically improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and help you avoid wasting resources on fruitless campaigns.
3. Differentiate your brand with inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing utilizes internal tools – such as content marketing, social media activity and search engine optimization (SEO) – to attract a customer’s attention primarily through online communication. Content marketing can include informative blog posts, interviews, podcasts with relevant industry figures or supplementary guides on how to best use your product. For example, if you sell cooking supplies, consider posting several fun recipes around the holidays that your tools can help prepare.
Each of these strategies empowers the others in a loop to achieve greater customer attention. A strong content offering can improve your search engine ranking, which brings more people to your website and social pages. You can then share those developed content pieces to that wider audience, who will again improve your search engine rankings. All of this can be done without the expense of a famous endorser or commercial advertising campaign.
4. Identify competitors that also target your customers.
No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer’s dollar. Small business personnel seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth or pinpoint companies outside their industry that are just as capable of luring customers away. Knowing who your competitors are, their core competitive advantages, and how they might respond to your offerings – like price cuts or increased communication – helps you devise strategies to combat such losses.
By seeking out these competitors, you can develop ways to differentiate your business by providing consumers with the things they may be lacking from your competition. Observe how your competitors operate to find ways in which you can stand out and steer your target audience toward your business.
According to SmallBizGenius, 19% of small businesses fail because of their competitors.
5. State your brand position for your target customers.
Ultimately, your brand – and what it symbolizes for customers – is your strongest advantage. You should be able to write a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.
6. Budget the plan.
When implementing a strategy, consider the marketing budget you will allot. Marketing requires money for various reasons, including paid promotions, marketing software, events and outsourced costs. Consider your budget when creating the plan so that there is money available to spend on marketing tactics to achieve your goals.
While drafting the plan and evaluating your course of action, note the estimated cost, assets, and time required to achieve the stated goals; this will help when it comes time to set the actual calculated budget. Any goals that you create should be realistically achievable within the budget you have set.
When developing your marketing plan, you should know why a customer would use your product, differentiate your brand from competitors, and audit your product offering and message to ensure consistency.
Channels to include in your marketing plan
Once you know the elements of your plan, the next step is to develop the blueprint of how you will reach your target customers. Aside from traditional print and broadcast media, here are three digital marketing channels that many business owners utilize.
Social media is an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans, because every type of customer is on some type of platform – such as Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn . You may feel overwhelmed at the possibilities, but focus on the sites that can benefit your business the most.
Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies starting out in social media to get to know their customers and the platforms they use.
“Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms,” he told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms.”
Though email marketing is not as new as social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for small business owners. Companies can implement email marketing techniques in many ways, including newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. For instance, Mailchimp and Constant Contact help companies manage their email drip campaigns .
Farmiloe added to set your email marketing efforts apart from the others by segmenting your markets.
“Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast,” he said. “Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers at the outset, and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity. Through segmentation, companies reduce the amount of unsubscribes, increase open rates and, most importantly, increase the amount of actions taken from an email send.”
The popularity of smartphones and tablets has changed how companies target consumers. Since people have these devices with them nearly all the time, companies are looking to implement strategies that reach customers on their gadgets.
“Mobile marketing is interruptive,” Farmiloe said. “It’s because of this power that a marketer has to let the consumer determine how and when to receive marketing material. That’s why almost every app comes with the option to turn notifications on or off. The consumer has to hold the power with mobile marketing.”
Use digital marketing channels – such as social media, email and mobile – to reach customers, but only after researching each channel in depth and developing a strategy to capture consumers’ interest.
Well-defined budgets, goals and action items – with appropriate personnel assigned to each – can make your marketing plan a reality. Think about how much you’re willing to spend, the outcomes you expect and the necessary tasks to achieve those outcomes.
Analytical tools that track customer behavior and engagement rates can serve as a helpful guide for your marketing strategy . Unlike billboards or commercials, digital channels allow you to assess each step of the customer journey and gain insights on the individual patterns and intent of prospects. Intention can soon develop into prediction, empowering your marketing team to develop campaigns that consistently reach target audiences at the right time.
You can find more tips for measuring your marketing ROI here.
Jordan Beier and Adryan Corcione contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
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Your Guide to Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan
Table of contents.
To have a successful business, you need a well-thought-out marketing plan to promote your products or services. Although making a few social media posts or blasting a few promotional emails may seem simple enough, disjointed marketing efforts not only confuse your target audience, but can ultimately harm your business.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic road map for how you communicate (online and offline) with your target audience to successfully promote your products or services. Depending on your goal, marketing plans can be extremely basic or highly detailed.
According to Molly Maple Bryant, vice president of marketing at Vibrent Health, a marketing plan is not simply a list of things you want to accomplish. Instead, it should list the outcomes you seek — measurable and contextual, like the pipeline you’re developing, or leads you’re generating — and it should explain the high-level strategies you will use to achieve those outcomes. Developing strategies can be complicated, but they make a major difference in keeping you on track and avoiding diversions, also called scope creep .
“Once you have an agreed-upon plan, you are able to compare any incoming requests against your strategies to determine ‘Yes, this adheres to my strategy so we can add it,’ or ‘No, this sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t adhere to our agreed-upon strategy, so we won’t adjust resources,'” Bryant told us.
Download a copy of our free marketing plan template .
Types of marketing plans
There are several different types of marketing plans you can use based on certain strategies that make sense for your organization. Your business will likely need a combination of the following marketing plans to create an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy:
- Advertising plan
- Branding plan
- Content marketing plan
- Customer acquisition plan
- Direct marketing plan
- Email marketing plan
- Public relation plan
- Print marketing plan
- Reputation management plan
- Retention plan
- Search engine optimization plan
- Social media marketing plan
Depending on your product positioning, niche marketing plans like influencer marketing or video marketing can be incredibly effective.
Why is it important to have a marketing plan for your business?
A marketing plan is a crucial resource for any small business because it helps you identify the market needs your product or service meets, how your product is different from competitors, and who your product or service is for. Marketing plans also serve as a road map for your sales strategy, branding direction and building your overall business. This is important for successfully conveying your brand messaging to your target audience .
Another significant benefit of a marketing plan for your company is that rather than simply guessing metrics, it forces you to sit down and do the math about your business goals and how to realistically fulfill them. When you look at your growth outcomes, you can delve further to determine what it will take to get to those numbers.
Bryant offered the following example: “Need $100,000 in revenue? How many sales is that? If 10, what’s your close rate? Let’s say 10 percent from lead to closed deal. Now you have a metric to start with — to get to 10 sales, we need 100 leads. Where will they come from, and what strategies will you use? The plan helps you put it all on paper so you can map out resources and tactics later with a lot of preparation and realism,” said Bryant.
When analyzing outcomes and resources, you can save time and avoid scope creep by focusing only on strategies that are relevant to your marketing plan. A marketing plan helps you think realistically about your strategies, gets your stakeholders on the same page, and holds your marketing team accountable for their decisions.
“When everyone’s tasks and goals are laid out for the stakeholders and company partners to see, it is much easier for the entire team to feel at ease about reaching sales goals and allowing the marketing team the space and freedom needed to execute work without constant supervision,” said Cassady Dill, digital marketing consultant and owner of Ethos Agency.
Additionally, Dill said a marketing plan should be easily understood by your entire team, executives and outside departments. Your plan should also serve as an easy guide for future marketing managers and team members to understand and implement.
What are the key elements of an effective business marketing plan?
A marketing plan should be customized to fit your business; however, Dill said, all marketing plans contain five essential functions:
- Your business goals
- Key metrics (how you quantify and measure success)
- Strategies (an overview of implementation and how that will achieve goals)
- A plan (the details of execution and the human resources, departments and software that will be involved)
- Reporting (what reports of progress will include and/or look like)
We broke down those five functions into 10 actionable categories to help you create a marketing plan that is unique and effective for your business.
1. Executive summary
The executive summary is a great place to give the reader of your plan an overview of your business’s mission or goals, as well as the marketing strategy you’re looking to employ. An executive summary is often written after you’ve completed the rest of the marketing plan, to ensure it covers all the important elements of your plan. If the executive summary is the only part of your marketing plan that someone reads (which is highly possible), you want to be sure they understand the most crucial details.
2. Mission statement
The mission statement , not to be confused with a vision statement, is a statement that encompasses your company’s values and how they relate to your overall goals as an organization. Here are some good questions to get you thinking:
- What does your company do today?
- What’s important to your company?
- What would your company like to do in the future?
- What is your brand identity?
- What’s your culture like ?
- How does your company benefit customers, employees and stakeholders?
3. Target markets
Identifying your target market is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. Without a defined target audience, your marketing expenses will be wasted. Think of it like this: Some people need your service or product but don’t know it exists yet. Who are those people?
Here are some other questions to help you brainstorm your target market :
- What is the demographic of your customers (gender, age, income, education, etc.)?
- What are their needs and interests?
- What’s their psychographic profile (attitudes, philosophies, values, lifestyle, etc.)?
- How do they behave?
- What are some existing products they use?
4. Products and services
In this section, don’t just list what your product or service is. Think critically about what you have to offer your customers and what that value proposition means to them.
- What do you make or provide for customers?
- What are your customers’ needs?
- How does your product or service fulfill customers’ needs?
- What value do you add to your customers’ lives?
- What type of product or service are you offering?
5. Distribution channels
At this point in your report, you should transition your thinking into actual marketing theory and practices. Distribution channels are the avenues you’ll use to reach a prospective customer or business . Think of all current and potential sales channels on which your specific target audience is active. One distribution channel that works great for one organization may be useless to another. For example, one company may host their website for free on a site like HubSpot and solely rely on that as their sales channel, while another company may have a whole team of people using Pinterest to drive sales. [Learn how CRM systems can help track your marketing leads based on various distribution channels.]
Examples of sales channels include the following:
- Mobile text message marketing
- Social media
- Print (newspapers, magazines, brochures, catalogs, direct mail)
- Broadcast (TV, radio)
- Press releases
- Trade shows, product demonstrations, event marketing
6. Competitive profile
One of the major aspects of your marketing plan is developing your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is a feature or stance that separates your product or service from competitors. Finding your USP is all about differentiation and distinguishing your company as a sole proprietor of one type of good or service. Conduct a competitive analysis to identify your competitive profile and how you stack up against the competition. It is important to remain unbiased when conducting this analysis.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- What’s your USP?
- Who are your competitors? What do they offer?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?
- What needs of the market (or customer) are not being served? What can you do to meet those needs?
If you are creating your USP for the first time, here are seven surefire strategies to help you stand out from the competition .
7. A pricing strategy
Consider pricing when drafting your marketing plan. Developing the right pricing strategy helps you better market your product. Think about your current and projected finances when developing a long-term marketing strategy that is realistic and beneficial for your business. Here are some key questions to ask yourself about your pricing:
- What are reasonable margins to make a profit and cover production costs?
- Is there a market for products or services at your projected price point?
- Are you willing to sacrifice profit margins in return for a greater market share?
- What are your marketing and distribution costs?
Consider your objectives when developing a marketing plan. This aspect of your plan should involve specific goals related to market penetration and revenue targets. Be sure to keep your marketing objectives on-brand with your business. Here are some things to consider:
- Sales quotas
- Number of new customers gained
- Customer retention percentages
- Revenue targets
- Market penetration
- Brand awareness
- Website traffic
9. Action plans
With all of the above items outlined, determine what steps need to be taken to enact your marketing plan. This includes determining the proper steps, setting goals, breaking down responsibilities, and establishing an overall timeline.
It’s also important to brainstorm potential roadblocks your business could face and some solutions to overcome them. Your research is useless if you don’t have an actionable plan that can be realistically implemented to carry out your ideas.
10. Financial projections
This last step allows you to establish a realistic marketing budget and better understand your marketing plan from a cost perspective. In addition to setting a budget, consider the overall return on investment as well. Here are some other financial projections to consider:
- Cost of implementation
- Cost to produce product or service
- Existing and projected cash flow
- Projected sales
- Desired profit margin on projected sales
What is a template for creating a successful marketing plan?
The internet is full of useful tools, including paid and free marketing plan templates, to help you build a successful marketing plan .
Whether you are looking for a free template generator to build a new marketing plan or a benchmarking tool to evaluate your current strategies, several great resources are available. Keep in mind that the best marketing plan for your business will be a customized one.
“Ultimately, you should design a marketing plan that best serves the needs of your team as you see fit,” said Dill. “Don’t force yourself into a plan that doesn’t fit your team. Use templates to shorten the workload time, but then adjust it for a more custom plan.”
Here are some tools and templates to get you started:
- Free marketing plan template : business.com has developed a free template that is fully customizable based on the needs of your business. Each section provides in-depth explanations, examples and resources to help you create an impressive marketing plan.
- Smart Insights: In addition to offering marketing plan templates, some companies, like Smart Insights, offer marketing benchmarking templates to help you evaluate your strategy performance. These are accessible with a free Smart Insights membership.
- GERU: Similarly, GERU offers a funnel-planning, profit-prediction and simulation tool to help you assess mock business ideas and simulations. This can help you identify weak points in your marketing strategy that need improvement. Although GERU requires users to sign up for a paid account, you can access a free trial to test it out.
What mistakes should you avoid when creating your marketing plan?
When creating an effective marketing plan, you need to avoid falling for common missteps and mistakes. For starters, failing to identify any of the 10 actionable categories above is an obvious mistake.
Here are some other key mistakes to avoid:
- Setting unrealistic budgets: Underestimating the costs of marketing activities or setting an unrealistic budget can limit your ability to execute your plan effectively. Marketing can be expensive, so it’s important to fully understand the estimated cost and budget before building a marketing strategy that you can’t afford.
- Focusing on quantity over quality: “More” doesn’t always mean “better” if you are posting on irrelevant marketing channels or your efforts are bringing in unqualified leads. Prioritizing the quantity of marketing activities over their quality can lead to superficial engagement and a lack of meaningful results.
- Not testing campaigns: Launching large campaigns without testing can lead to wasted resources if the messaging or tactics don’t resonate as expected. Test out your new campaigns to ensure they achieve your intended goal.
- Ignoring customer feedback: You may be tempted to ignore negative feedback, but disregarding customer comments and failing to address their concerns can lead to negative perceptions of your brand. Instead, use customer feedback to your advantage to improve your product and marketing efforts.
- Overpromising and underdelivering: Setting unrealistic expectations in your marketing messages that your products or services can’t fulfill can damage your brand’s reputation.
- Ignoring seasonality and trends: Failing to account for seasonal trends and market changes can result in missed opportunities for timely marketing efforts.
- Not reviewing and updating your plan: A rigid marketing plan that doesn’t allow for adjustments in response to market feedback and changing conditions can hinder your success. A marketing plan should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the market and your business’s goals.
Avoiding these mistakes and missteps can help you create a more effective and successful marketing plan that drives results for your business.
How can you take action with your new marketing plan?
Before you dive into marketing plan templates, it’s important to understand how to think about a marketing plan.
A good marketing plan targets who your buyers are, establishes the service or product you are offering, and determines your unique selling proposition. From here, you will tackle the marketing planning process and develop the best way to get your product in front of buyers who want your product or service.
Dill created a simple four-step process for how small businesses can take action with creating a marketing plan.
- The first step is to hold a marketing meeting with all the marketing team and executives or stakeholders. This gives them time to offer questions, concerns and criticisms you haven’t thought of so you can go back to the board room and revise your strategy or plan.
- Next, add a timeline to all your tasks and assign team members and all the help you’ll need to execute that plan.
- Once your plan is in action, hold weekly check-ins in person or by email to keep everyone on track.
- Share a weekly progress report with all parties involved and execs to ensure you are moving in the right direction.
In addition to drafting your own plan, you can work with a digital marketing agency or use internet marketing and pay-per-click management services to leverage your online presence.
Once you’ve established a general road map, update it annually. Developing an evolving marketing plan sets your business up for continued success because it allows you to prepare for the unexpected and establish a connection between your brand and your audience.
Matt D’Angelo contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
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15 marketing plan examples to inspire your work
Whether you’re a marketer or managing a team of marketers, a marketing plan is essential to keep your department on track. Following a marketing plan ensures your team executes the correct strategy and achieves its goals.
But every business is different, which means every marketing plan is unique. It’s helpful to see marketing plan examples to understand all the different formats and types of marketing plans.
In this guide, we’ll share 15 examples of successful marketing plans to inspire your team to create its next great strategy. We’ll also share best practices and tools to set direction and provide structure for your marketing efforts. At the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create the right marketing plan for your organization.
This post will cover:
How to create a marketing plan
- Visit Baton Rouge
- University of Illinois
- Lush Cosmetics
- The Wisconsin Public Library
- Botanical Bounty
- The Palm Beaches, Florida
- The City of West Chicago
- Safe Haven Family Shelter
- Austin, Texas
- Visit Oxnard
Create a strong marketing plan for your business
Adobe can help, marketing plan faq.
Before we look at marketing plan examples, it’s important to understand the foundational concepts of how companies structure their marketing plans.
Every organization is unique, but you can create a marketing plan by first identifying your business goals and establishing the metrics you’ll use to measure results. From there, learn about the customers you’re targeting and conduct competitor research. Then you can organize a team and set a budget before creating the marketing plan.
When it’s time to write the marketing plan, make sure your document includes these seven sections at a minimum:
- Executive summary. This is a high-level overview of your business and the marketing approach you’ll follow.
- Mission statement. Describe your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) and your brand’s purpose.
- Marketing objectives. This section of the plan should focus on marketing-specific goals that will help you achieve your broader business objectives.
- SWOT analysis. Through a SWOT analysis, your team will identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
- Market research. This section of the marketing plan addresses your market, competitors, existing solutions, and target audience.
- Marketing strategy. The marketing strategy part of your plan should detail exactly how you’re going to achieve your marketing goals. Be as specific as possible to make this document valuable to your marketing team.
- Budget. Finally, break down your marketing tactics and assign a budget for each area of your strategy. If your budget changes frequently, set aside a certain percentage of your total budget for each tactic, instead of dollar amounts.
Once you create a marketing plan, you might wonder whether it’s effective or if there’s a better way to structure the plan for your situation. For example, a SaaS business has very different needs than an ecommerce company, so your marketing plan likely needs some level of customization.
If you need more direction, check out marketing plan examples from businesses within your industry or with a similar business model. Learn from these 15 successful marketing plan examples to create an effective plan for your own business.
1. Visit Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana might not be as well-known as New Orleans, but the vibrant city wanted to change that through an ambitious new marketing plan . Not only is the plan organized and easy to follow, but it does a great job of highlighting the needs of its multiple audiences.
For example, its separate personas for “Leisure Travelers” and “Sales/Meetings Travelers” help Baton Rouge create custom marketing journeys based on each persona’s unique expectations. The marketing plan has a fully fleshed-out strategy that includes an event calendar, which gives the marketing team actionable next steps after creating its plan.
2. University of Illinois
In 2021, the University of Illinois set out to boost enrollment. Its Office of Undergraduate Admissions created an in-depth marketing plan with three major sections:
- Section I provides context on the admissions process and knowledge of its target students.
- Section II dives into market research on the current state of admissions and student demographics.
- Section III details the university’s strategic action plan, including success metrics.
The University of Illinois marketing plan is effective because it breaks down the high-level components of its strategy, as well as specific marketing tactics. Instead of aiming for generic goals like “interact with high school students,” the plan indicates specific tactics to make that happen, such as direct mail campaigns, swag, and events.
As this marketing plan example for Sony shows, it’s possible to compose a simple but actionable plan for your team. The plan keeps its introduction, vision, and marketing objectives clean, to-the-point, and easy to read.
This marketing plan does a great job of focusing on pricing as a marketing differentiator. Although you might consider pricing to be a sales or product issue, it can have a direct impact on how customers perceive your business. Specify what your prices will be, how the pricing model works, and why your pricing is a differentiator.
Marketing plans are usually documented in text, but this isn’t the only way you can share your marketing plan with the team. For example, Coca-Cola created its own video marketing plan in 2020. The video follows the typical format of a written marketing plan, but distills big concepts into easily digestible visuals through the power of video.
This approach is ideal if you need to communicate the contents of your marketing plan to a large group or to marketing-adjacent teams, like sales or product development. It doesn’t hurt that the whiteboard-style cartoon animation draws viewers in to ensure everyone truly understands your marketing strategy.
5. Lush Cosmetics
Lush Cosmetics is a renowned international beauty brand. In anticipation of its expansion into Portugal, Lush created a new marketing plan for customers in this new market.
The Lush in-depth marketing plan touches on several elements, including:
- Specific geographical areas of Lush’s two stores in Portugal, and the unique considerations for shoppers in these areas.
- Physical marketing within Lush stores, including the store and staff direction, as an extension of the marketing team.
- The brand’s unique approach to sensory marketing, which describes precisely how Lush products appeal to all of its shoppers’ senses.
When crafting your own marketing plan, consider adding new sections that are unique to your brand, such as Lush’s section on sensory marketing. This will make the plan more relevant to your business and simplify execution.
6. The Wisconsin Public Library
The Wisconsin Public Library created this no-frills marketing plan example specifically for other organizations to copy and use. Although it’s intended for use by libraries, anyone can access and use the components in this free marketing plan template.
The Wisconsin Public Library marketing plan includes several helpful resources. For example, the “Research Your Audience” section links to resources for conducting audience research, including the United States Census and focus groups.
As with any template, be sure to replace the library’s content with information about your business and market. This marketing plan example doesn’t include a list of marketing tools or media. If that’s important to your company, be sure to create a new section detailing the tools your marketing team will use to execute the strategy.
Sometimes it’s difficult for companies to articulate their mission statement. However, every business has a greater purpose. Outdoor brand Patagonia is a great example of how large companies should lead marketing initiatives with a mission statement.
On the Patagonia website , the brand makes its mission statement clear: “We're in business to save our home planet.” This isn’t lip service — Patagonia donates a percentage of its profits to protecting the environment.
Your marketing plan needs to marry your corporate mission statement with direct action. For example, if you’re a B2B brand and your mission is to support small businesses with affordable accounting software, your marketing plan could include interviews with small business owners. Or maybe you could host local get-togethers for small business owners while promoting your brand.
The goal is to blend your mission statement with your marketing tactics in a way that makes it clear your business is truly living out its mission statement.
Cyberclick is a marketing agency based in Barcelona, Spain. As a marketing agency, it knows the importance of understanding its target audience.
In this marketing plan example, Cyberclick creates multiple buyer personas to help it understand customer pain points. For example, it has personas like Bilingual Brandon, Millennial Molly, and Donor Dana to understand the unique traits of its target buyers.
When composing your own marketing strategy, follow Cyberclick’s example by creating in-depth personas that your marketing team will find useful. Your personas should include:
- Demographic information
- Geographic information
- Social media preferences
- Personal and professional goals
- Pain points
- Software and tools used
Coffee giant Starbucks is famous for its distinctive brand elements. Consumers immediately recognize the hunter-green mermaid logo, but the Starbucks marketing plan doesn’t just revolve around clever branding. If anything, the company’s success comes down to the buyer experience.
In fact, experience is part of the Starbucks marketing plan . The company targets higher-earning professionals who are willing to pay a premium for drinks. Instead of simply serving coffee, its marketing team works with interior designers and architects to create posh spaces that encourage buyers to spend time in the store as a “third place,” which also increases brand engagement and retention.
Your marketing plan should address the experience buyers can expect from your brand. In an age when many businesses compete over customer service and experience, the quality of service you provide can also give you a competitive marketing advantage.
10. Botanical Bounty
Botanical Bounty is an herbal tea and supplement company based out of New York City. In this marketing plan example , the Botanical Bounty executive summary quickly spells out the problem, solution, market overview, competition, and unique selling proposition (USP) for the company. Formatted like a case study, the executive summary is easy to read and does a great job of summarizing the entire report.
Botanical Bounty also highlights specific due dates for its marketing milestones, as well as target metrics for those milestones. Many marketing plans fail to set specific due dates for milestones, but Botanical Bounty holds itself accountable for executing the plan by assigning due dates for each goal.
11. The Palm Beaches, Florida
The Palm Beaches is known for upscale homes and beaches, but the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County wanted to turn the Florida town into more than a beach destination. In its marketing plan , the council lays out its plan to transform The Palm Beaches into a hub for culture and art in a post-COVID environment.
The marketing plan first describes the council’s past successes in 2020 and 2021, which lays the groundwork for the 2022 marketing plan. This is a great way to show a continuation between different marketing plans, especially if your company’s past initiatives feed into this year’s strategies.
12. The City of West Chicago
The City of West Chicago has a rich history, but it’s largely misunderstood by people in the surrounding areas. In an effort to revitalize tourism, the city created a new marketing plan to rebrand itself and promote the area as a travel destination.
If you’re considering a new image or brand for your company, the West Chicago marketing plan is a great example to follow. The plan creates new market segments for the city’s ideal audience, a plan to drive awareness, and a list of strategic partnerships to aid in the rebrand.
13. Safe Haven Family Shelter
Safe Haven Family Shelter is a nonprofit that aids families experiencing homelessness. Its 2022 marketing plan tells the story of Safe Haven while promoting itself as an industry authority.
In this marketing plan example , Safe Haven takes an action-focused approach. Its template aligns objectives and action steps side by side, assigning staff members to each action step. The marketing plan also includes items like an editorial calendar and social media calendar, which its staff use for planning precise messaging that fits the organization’s larger goals.
14. Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas isn’t just the state capital — it’s also considered the live music capital of the world. However, tourism dipped substantially during the pandemic, and the city’s Visit Austin nonprofit responded with an updated marketing plan to attract tourists to the Texas capital.
The Visit Austin marketing plan includes a visual representation of its wins from 2021, which measured the impact of the organization’s work in past years. But this marketing plan truly shines in terms of its market research. Visit Austin not only conducted in-depth research about travelers’ plans to visit Austin, but also visualized this data in an engaging format to boost understanding.
15. Visit Oxnard
Oxnard, California, faced similar challenges with pandemic recovery. Visit Oxnard created a marketing plan to position the city as a destination for both leisure and business.
What’s unique about the Visit Oxnard plan is that it leans heavily into the business side of travel. Its marketing plan includes considerations for business events and meetings, as well as a strategy for attracting film productions as a less expensive alternative to Los Angeles. This is a great example of how marketing plans can introduce new, out-of-the-box positioning and segmentation to take advantage of a gap in the market.
Marketing plans clarify your focus and give marketing teams a solid vision of what they need to do. But not all plans are effective. It’s important to develop a strong marketing plan to give your audience exactly what it needs, as well as make a name for yourself in an increasingly competitive market.
While these 15 marketing plan examples are a great jumping-off point, you might need more guidance on how to create a marketing plan. Check out Adobe’s guide to building a marketing plan to get the most results from your marketing plan. You can also use our marketing plan templates to save time organizing and formatting your marketing plan.
You need a marketing plan to move forward. But then you need to execute your plan, and that’s where things can get complicated.
After investing in a marketing plan, opt for an automation platform to save time and deliver a better user experience. Adobe Marketo Engage helps businesses make sense of complex buying journeys. Build engaging, personalized experiences at scale and prove your impact every step of the way with this all-in-one marketing platform.
Watch the Marketo Engage overview video or take the interactive tour to learn more.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a documented strategy for how a business plans to promote itself over a period of time. Organizations use this marketing plan to set goals, learn about their audience, and create marketing campaigns to help the business stand out.
What are some marketing plan examples?
Coca-Cola created a unique marketing plan formatted not as a written document, but as a video. This marketing plan example is a great illustration of how businesses should make their marketing plans as digestible as possible to increase internal adoption and understanding.
What are the elements of a good marketing plan?
Every good marketing plan should include an executive summary, a mission statement, marketing objectives, a SWOT analysis, market research, a marketing strategy, and a budget. Many marketing plans include additional sections as needed, depending on an organization’s goals and strategy.