Do you take a good, hard look at your team’s marketing strategy every year?
You should. An annual marketing plan helps you set your marketing on the right course to make your company’s business goals a reality. Think of it as a high-level plan that guides the direction of your team’s campaigns, goals, and growth.
Without one, things can get messy — and it’s nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you’ll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you’ll encounter over the course of a year if you don’t have a plan.
Keep in mind there are variations to the marketing plan you need, depending on your industry and the goals of your marketing team. To make your plan’s creation easier, we’ve put together a list of what to include in your plan and a few different planning templates where you can easily fill in the blanks.
To start, let’s take a look at what a high-level marketing plan has inside.
Marketing plans can get quite granular to reflect the industry you’re in, whether you’re selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how big your digital presence is. Nonetheless, here are six elements every effective marketing plan includes:
In a marketing plan, your Business Summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. This includes the company name, where it’s headquartered, and its mission statement — all of which should be consistent with the business as a whole.
Your marketing plan’s Business Summary also includes a SWOT analysis, which stands for the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Be patient with your business’s SWOT analysis; you’ll write most of it based on how you fill out the next few marketing plan elements below.
The Business Initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you’d normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You’ll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.
Here’s where you’ll conduct some basic market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together.
Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you’re selling to, an analysis of your competitors, and your buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like age, location, job title, and personal challenges.
Your Market Strategy uses the information included in your Target Market section to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your buyer personas that your competitors aren’t already offering them?
In a full-length marketing plan, this section can contain the “seven Ps of marketing.” These Ps are product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence. (You’ll learn more about these seven sub-components inside our free marketing plan template, which you can download below.)
Don’t mistake the Budget element of your marketing plan with your product’s price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.
Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you’ll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include a marketing agency, marketing software, paid promotions, and events (those you’ll host and/or attend).
Lastly, your marketing plan will include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you’ll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.
If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to lay out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you’ll use this social network for, and how you’ll measure your success on this network. Part of this section’s purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside an outside Marketing, that these channels will serve to grow the business.