Published November 5, 2019
How to create your marketing plan template
I’ve bundled 8 best marketing plan templates - free & interactive - essential for writing your marketing plan. Some of the templates are shared below, or download all 8 with a single click, above.
Why you need a marketing plan
A comprehensive marketing plan highlights everything from who your target audience is, to how you’ll engage and convert consumers into paying customers. It’s a strategic document that focuses your resources and helps you manage the factors that could affect your success.
Develop strategies that take consumers through your communication funnel.
Write a marketing plan that includes everything your team's responsible for - social media messaging, blog and website content, PR, email marketing, video marketing, SEO, PPC, lead generation, design, etc.
Without one, you’ll struggle to agree the budget you’ll need for your marketing campaigns, for maintaining your team, updating martech, and for outsourcing.
Creating your marketing plan template will…
- Identify your target market
- Build a description of your ideal target customer
- Define how your product meets consumers’ needs
- Identify your competitors, and their strengths and weaknesses
- Position your brand and product, highlighting the differences between you and the competition
- Help you establish SMART goals
- Establish how you’ll engage with your audience - messaging, channels, tools
To make your plan’s creation easier, I’ve put together a list of what to include in your plan along with several marketing planning templates where you can fill in the blanks.
Table of contents
The 12 essentials of a winning marketing plan
1. Executive summary
2. Mission statement
3. SWOT analysis
4. Consumer intelligence
5. Buyer personas
6. Competitor analysis
7. Marketing strategy
9. Marketing objectives
11. Pricing strategy
12. Distribution plan
Regardless of size, or whether you’re B2C or B2B, your business needs a marketing plan. It’s going to explain how you plan to persuade consumers to buy your products and services.
Here are 12 essentials for your marketing plan template…
A synopsis for possible investors, that gives an overview of your marketing plan. To get your executive summary spot on, I’d advise writing it after you’ve completed the rest of your marketing plan. You can then summarize each part. of your business plan - that includes…
- Company history
- Description of your product
- Management team
- Competitor analysis and positioning
- Product development
- Goals - short and long-term
- Marketing strategies
- Financial projections
- Sales targets
- Potential ROI
Your exec summary will give you... your team, advisors, investors, etc., an overview of your plan.
Your company’s ‘why’.
An abstract description of your marketing core purpose, on which all your business activities will be based. It should define and inspire your organization, working closely with your corporate philosophy and company culture. Setting you apart from your competitors.
Answer the following questions…
- What do you want to do?
- Why are you going to do it?
- How are you going to do it?
- Who are you targeting?
Mission statement examples…
Starbucks | To inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
Coca-Cola | To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.
TED | Spread ideas.
SWOT analysis- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.
SWOT analysis shows you what you need to improve. Where your weaknesses are. Your opportunities.
It has to be brutally honest. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Most of the information is subjective, so keep it simple…
What are your strengths?
- What makes your team amazeballs?
- What advantages does your team have?
- What quality or low price resources are available to you, but not others?
- Which factors result in definite sales?
- What do your competitors consider your strengths?
- What are you USPs?
Your team, strong brand identity, low churn, healthy balance sheet, unique technology.
What are your weaknesses?
- What internal processes could be improved?
- What do customers complain about?
- What tech limitations do you have?
- What factors contribute to loss of sales?
- What do competitors see as your weaknesses?
- What activities should you avoid?
Brand awareness is weak, dated technology, lacking skills, slow to publish and outreach.
What are you opportunities?
- Are there beneficial trends you should be following?
- What isn’t your competition doing that you could exploit?
- Are there good opportunities on the horizon?
Cross-selling, new markets, new services, partnerships, competitors late to jump on trends.
What are the threats you face?
- What barriers do you face?
- Has a tech change made your product obsolete or less popular?
- Are your competitors working on a better product?
- Do you have cash-flow or debt problems?
New competition, new products, channel conflicts, competitors outranking in search engines.
Listening to the voice of the customer.
An analysis of your industry, target market, and consumers. Be as detailed as possible. Your marketing campaigns will be created with this analysis in mind.
My consumer intelligence guide demonstrates how to build a CI strategy. It will reveal why consumers are buying from your competitors, and not you. You can’t guess what new products they crave. You mustn’t ignore their angry rants about features that aren’t up to scratch. You have to listen and give them what they want.
Check out our latest product launch - Customer Data+ - to find the complete user bio from media, customer, and market data.
A well-informed customer intelligence strategy will…
- Improve the customer journey
- Find changes in the market in real-time
- Increase sales
- Identify audience segments
- Personalize your marketing campaigns
Learn about your target audience with demographics from social analytics tool.
Understand your target audience. How they communicate. Where they communicate. The demographics - age, job title, location, gender, language, interests, pain points. Questions to answer include...
- Is your business B2B or B2C?
- Which brands are in your market?
- How will you target consumers?
- Why would they buy your product?
- Why wouldn’t they buy your product?
- What are they looking for?
Identify your target market using a customer segment profile.
You have to be able to identify your target customers so you can speak their language and create content that resonates with them. You need buyer personas…
Semi-fictional descriptions of your ideal customers. Focus on age, location, job title, language, interests, salary range, personal challenges.
Who’s your ideal customer?
Pinpoint the people in your target market. Which ones are part of your customer base. Include in your buyer personas…
- Give your ideal customer a name
- Background details - age, gender, location, income, education level, job title, family status
- Values and beliefs, objectives and pain points
- What they want to achieve?
- Goals and challenges
- Purchasing behavior
- How will you solve their problems?
I’ve written a competitor analysis guide, that explains in detail all you need to do to perform a comprehensive competitive marketing strategy.
To help with your competitor analysis, I’ve created a template. Click below and fill it with the results of your competitor audit.
What are your competitors up to?
Your analysis should include…
Identifying your competitors
- Yes, we all have competitors
Getting information about your competitors
- Brand awareness - % of your target market that are aware of your competitors
- Pricing - cost of your competitors’ products and services
- Financials - share prices, earnings reports
- Products - strengths and weaknesses of their products
- Customer experience - standard of customer care
- Intellectual property - copyrights, trademarks, patents
- Marketing - their campaigns, events, promotional activities, social media
- Risks - competitive strengths/advantages
- Opportunities - what they’re doing badly, that you can do better
- Company culture - old school or start-up?
- Distribution - the regions, countries they cover
Evaluating their strategies
- Determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand’s
- Predict their behavior and make informed business decisions
Competitor analysis - Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Red Bull, and Gatorade over 13 month period.
Use your target market/customer analysis in your marketing strategy. Explain how your business will approach your market. What products and services you’ll be offering, that your competitors aren’t.
Once you’ve created your marketing strategy, get to work on your marketing plan. Combined, they’ll guide your team towards establishing your business goals, identifying your brand voice, and more.
Check out my free, special-edition eBook - How to plan, execute, measure, and analyze your digital marketing campaigns.
Maximize the impact of your brand and increase the productivity of your team.
Why should I choose you instead of your competitors?
Your USP differentiates your brand and product from your competitors. It can be a product feature, awesome customer service, data coverage, company mission… It’s what makes you unique. Makes you relevant in your market.
A good USP is...
- Unique - obvs
- Enticing - appeal factor
- Short - seriously, short
- Specific - no fluff, please
- Memorable - don’t overdo the clever
Examples of USPs…
Avis | We’re number two. We try harder.
FedEx | when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
M&Ms | Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
Be ambitious. Be realistic. Be SMART. Set goals that are achievable, that are trackable, and that you can measure, during an agreed time period. Use a SMART goals template to ensure that you’re setting the best objectives.
SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely.
Example of SMART marketing goals...
- Generate 550 new leads from content, by creating 30 blog posts between March and May
- Increase LinkedIn followers to 1050 by Q3
- Achieve average email click through rate of 25% by November
Use a template to list your strategic SMART goals.
I’m not talking about what you charge for your products and services. Your budget describes how much money your marketing team has to spend. Break down your budget into specifics… how you’re going to spend it - events, campaigns, tools, etc.
You can apply your budget according to…
- Last year’s spending
- A clean slate
Planning to follow the same marketing plan as last year, you can stick with the same budget break down.
Alternatively, if you’re a start-up, or you’ve updated your marketing plan, you’ll need to calculate your potential ROI. Consider the costs of production, distribution, and promotion.
Get this wrong, and you could watch your brand die a slow and painful death.
Here’s five ways you could define your pricing…
- Production costs - how much does it take to make/build/design your product? Mark up the price, depending on the profit you want. Done!
- Competitors’ prices - come in under, match, or charge more - cos yours is better. There’s guesswork involved because you won’t know how they’ve priced. Take care not to underprice and lose money.
- Bundle pricing - multiple products or services sold as one package, charging a lower price than if each item was sold separately.
- Price skimming - enter the market with a highest price that customers will pay, then gradually reduce over time. This option is usually used for new types of products with the goal of grabbing as much revenue as possible, while consumer demand is high, and there’s less competition.
- Penetration pricing - the opposite of skimming. Enter a competitive market with a low price, meaning you’ll quickly win a large market share. Hey, it’s cheap! After you’ve made your name, crank those prices up.
Be aware that if you want to be recognized as a premier brand, going in low could lose your brand credibility.
How you’re going to reach and convert consumers.
This is how you’ll be delivering your product. You could be selling from a website or a brick and mortar store, or both. Questions to answer, include…
- How are you going to deliver your product to consumers?
- Which distribution channel will you use?
- What are the costs of distributing your product?
- How long will it take to deliver your product to consumers
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Video marketing
- SEO strategy
You can reach consumers in many ways. Find the channels and tactics that work best for your brand and target audience. Remember… you don’t have to be on every channel. You just have to be on the right ones.
This is where you’re going to post all that optimized content. To educate consumers about your product, generate leads, increase brand awareness.
Bear in mind that consumers go online to check out new products. 66% trust customer reviews, 12x more than brand content. With the right online marketing strategy, you’ll win new customers, retain existing ones, and gain the competitive advantage in your industry.
The most effective marketing channels…
It’s a no brainer.
Social media... a powerful marketing tool for some brands. A nightmare for others.
Social media is a fast-paced environment, and I get that you’re under pressure. But will your followers be so forgiving?
Creating, curating, scheduling, listening, responding, measuring, analyzing, planning. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every quarter. Download my social media checklist for increased engagement, awareness, credibility, and conversions.
Stop being a victim of social media overload!
Decide on which social networks you’ll build a presence. How you’ll measure your success. Prove an ROI.
It’s the most effective form of word of mouth advertising, and it’s free. Choose the channels that best suit your business and your target audience hangs around on. Build your community through interaction - jumping into conversations, helping consumers with issues. Post updates about your brand, product, promotions, team.
Social media make you nervous? Negative comments, inflammatory language, finding your voice… Make your life easier and establish social media best practices. This will minimize risks and ensure that your team is on the same page. Download my social media messaging checklist and you’ll...
- Understand what and why people share on social media
- Determine your brand voice and tone
- Learn what messaging works for each channel
Find your voice and cut through the noise.
Nurture your audience and build a relationship. An email marketing campaign takes place over time, increasing brand awareness and trust.
Check out the Ultimate Email Marketing Metrics post from Whatagraph. It explains how to create a successful email marketing campaign, and the metrics to measure.
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine!!!
Globally, videos will make up 80% of online traffic by 2021. You ready? Use video marketing for increasing engagement and promoting your brand. 83% of marketers say video brings them good ROI, with 84% saying it increased traffic to their website.
It’s all in the planning. Download my video marketing template and you can…
- Define your goals
- Position your content
- Choose your video content
- Choose your content team
- Schedule your content
To ensure that users can find you in search engines, SEO will help your website appear higher in page rankings. Page one, if you’re good. Research keywords relevant to your industry and optimize your website pages.
It’s crowded online, and visibility is key. Organic search is great, but it can take time to grab attention. Paid ads speed things up and drive direct conversions. You’ll quickly gain exposure in search results, and the interest of consumers.
Now that you know what to include in your marketing plan, it’s time to grab your 8 free marketing plan templates so you can organize the marketing elements I've explained above.
In this marketing plan bundle, you’ll get the following 8 essential templates...
- Buyer persona template
- Competitor analysis template
- Special edition marketing strategy eBook
- Social media checklist
- Social media messaging checklist
- Video markering strategy template
- Social media report examples
- Interactive marketing plan template
You won't know how you managed without them. Download now!
Subscribe to our newsletter for social resources
Join 70,000+ professionals and become a better social media marketer. Get social media resources and tips in your inbox weekly.