Do you take a good, hard look at your team’s marketing plan every year?

You should. Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy – and if you don’t have a plan, it’s nearly impossible to budget for projects, hiring and outsourcing throughout the year.

To make planning 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 begin, let’s dive into how to create a marketing plan, and then take a look at what goes into a high-level marketing plan.

  1. Business Summary

In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: an organizational summary. It’s essential to include this information so that all stakeholders, including your direct reports, learn about your company in detail before diving into the more strategic parts of your plan.

marketing plan

Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who have been with the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page.

Most business summaries include:

  • Company name
  • Where it is headquartered
  • Mission statement
  1. SWOT analysis

The business summary of your marketing plan also includes a SWOT analysis that covers your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is essential to include this information in order to create targeted strategies that will help you capitalize on your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

In my experience, you need a lot of patience when doing a SWOT analysis; it requires market research and competitive analysis to be truly accurate. I tend to visit this section regularly and edit it as I find out more about my own business and the competition.

  1. Business initiatives

The business initiatives element of the marketing plan will help you segment your department’s various goals. Be careful not to include major company initiatives that you would normally find in a business plan. This section should outline projects that are specific to marketing. You will also describe the goals of these projects and how these goals will be measured.

Every initiative should follow the SMART method for creating goals. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. For example, a broad goal might be something like “Increase Facebook followers”. But a SMART-ified version of that goal might be, “Increase my Facebook following by 30% by June.” Can you see the difference?

  1. Customer analysis

This section of your marketing plan outline gives you plenty of space to share all the data you gathered during your market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, it may be easier to build this part of your marketing plan. Either way, try to do your research before synthesizing it into a shared document like this one.

SWOT analysis

Ultimately, this component of your marketing strategy will assist you in delineating the industry you are targeting and defining your ideal customer profile.  A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on characteristics such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Title
  • Objectives
  • Personal challenges
  • Pain
  • Trigger event
  1. Analysis of competition

Incorporating competitive analysis is essential when creating a marketing plan. Your buyer persona has choices when it comes to solving their problems, choices in both the types of solutions they consider and the providers who can manage those solutions. In your market research, you should consider what your competition is doing well and where there are gaps that you can potentially fill. This may include:

  • Positioning
  • Market share
  • Offers
  • Prices

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