Sarah BerryWeb Marketing Consultant
- 10 minute read
- Sarah Berry is a Google Analytics-certified Web Marketing Consultant at WebFX. She’s written over 400 articles on digital marketing, covering topics like SEO, CRO, and Amazon. When she isn’t polishing her Time Magazine Person of the Year Award, she’s spending time with her flock of ducks.
Joan has a problem. Her company doesn’t have a plan. No, it’s not a business plan — it’s a marketing plan.
Luckily for Joan (and you), she’s come across this post on how to write a strategic marketing plan. The best part is that it comes with a marketing plan outline, which you can use as a marketing strategy planner for your company. Keep reading to get started on creating your marketing strategy plan! P.S. If you’re looking for even more tips on how to create a strategic marketing plan and get the best return on investment (ROI) from digital marketing, subscribe to Revenue Weekly and join more than 150,000 other marketers looking to drive results with marketing!
Table of Contents
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan outlines a company’s marketing strategies, both online and offline. Businesses use marketing plans to support the organization’s overall strategy, objectives, and values, as well as summarize, organize, and execute their marketing efforts.
In some cases, companies will create marketing plans for specific periods or strategies. For example, your business may want a quarterly and yearly marketing strategy planner, as well as planning marketing strategy for your social media advertising campaign, search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and content marketing initiatives.
How is a marketing plan different from a marketing strategy?
People will often use “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” interchangeably.
Since this post talks specifically about how to create a strategic marketing plan, though, it also makes sense to differentiate between “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy.”
You need a marketing strategy and a marketing plan to have a successful marketing campaign.
So, here is a quick breakdown of a marketing plan versus a marketing strategy:
- Marketing plan: A marketing plan is an outline that summarizes the approach, tactics, goals, and investment of an organization looking to market itself offline and online. You can look at the marketing plan as an itinerary, like what you may create when planning a road trip.
- Marketing strategy: At the core of effective marketing strategic planning lies a well-defined marketing strategy which is the “how” of the marketing plan. It explains how your business will accomplish its marketing plan goals. If you return to the road trip comparison, your marketing strategy lists what roads you’ll take to reach your various destinations.
When you create a strategic marketing plan, you’ll have to think about your marketing strategy or approach too. That’s why marketing plans and marketing strategies often overlap. You need both to have a successful marketing campaign.
8-step marketing plan outline
Are you ready to learn how to create a strategic marketing plan?
Then this eight-step marketing strategy planner template will help you get started. Use this marketing plan outline to ensure your plan includes everything it needs to succeed, as well as earn support from company leads.
1. Executive summary
Your executive summary provides a recap of your strategic marketing plan that explains:
- Overall marketing goals
- Current marketing status
- Action items for achieving your marketing goals
- Recommended marketing budget
When you write your executive summary, keep it short and to-the-point. You may find it helpful to draft your executive summary without a word limit, and then use the editing stage to shorten your executive summary.
2. Current situation
A current situation assessment helps you see where competitors are and what changes you need to prepare for to succeed.
Your current situation offers a market overview that covers the following points:
- Market: Answer questions related to your business. For example, what is your market, what kind of growth is your industry showing, who is your target audience, and what market trends should your company watch?
- Environment: Explain the current environment of your industry. Look at big and small changes, as well as upcoming trends that may influence your business and its target audience. Then, summarize how these changes could shape your company and its marketing efforts.
- Product or service: Provide essential product or service information. You’ll want to note sales, gross margin, and customer or product lifecycle. Depending on your company, you may need to get information from other departments for this part of your marketing strategy plan.
- Competition: Complete an analysis of direct and indirect competitors. For direct competitors, invest in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Your research should look at the competition’s market position, strategy, tactics, sales, pricing, and more.
- Channels and logistics: Look at how your business sells and distributes its products, whether through your sales team, client referrals, or ecommerce store. If you offer a physical product or service, investigate your fulfillment times.
This part of your marketing plan outline will take some time. Investing the time, however, can make a noticeable impact on your marketing strategy planner. You’ll know where your competitors are when it comes to marketing themselves, as well as what changes your business needs to prepare for if it wants to succeed.
3. SWOT analysis
Next, you want to complete a SWOT analysis of your business.
Answer the following questions for each quadrant of your SWOT analysis:
|What does our company do well? What are our unique selling points (USPs)? What resources do we have available?||Where could our business improve?
What are some USPs of competitors? Why do clients choose a competitor over us?
|What market trends could we use to our benefit? Which weaknesses could we fix, and how?
Which strengths can we improve?
|What market trends could hurt us? Which competitor’s actions could harm us? Which weaknesses pose the most threat?|
Depending on your business, you may have completed a SWOT analysis previously.
It’s helpful, however, to complete one at least once a year when learning how to plan marketing strategy that is effective. Your market and competitors aren’t static, so you need to assess what’s happening and how your business can respond to threats and opportunities to set yourself up for success.
4. Objectives and issues
Once you complete your SWOT analysis, your strategic marketing plan should cover:
- Duration: Outline the period of your marketing strategy. Does this document, for example, look at your company’s marketing plan for the next year, quarter, or month?
- Goals: Explain what your company wants to accomplish for the determined duration. Do you want to improve the number of leads generated in the next year by 15%, for example?
- Issues: Note any issues that could influence your ability to complete your marketing goals. A market trend, for instance, could impact your marketing strategy and lead behavior.
Outlining your goals, timeframe, and hurdles can help you think about ways to counter specific issues. You may even use your findings to refine your goal so that it’s more realistic and considerate of different market challenges.
5. Marketing strategy
Marketing strategy covers positioning, value proposition, strategy, pricing, distribution, communication, and market research.”
This part of your strategic marketing plan will require a decent amount of time because it covers:
- Positioning: Explain your company’s approach to marketing. How does your organization promote itself and its products or service as the ideal solution — and does that seem to work well with your target audience?
- Value proposition: Break down why people buy your products or services. What motivates consumers or business buyers to go with your company versus a competitor? Are there other value propositions your business could incorporate into its marketing?
- Strategy: Summarize the short- and long-term plan for your products or services. If you offer software, for example, what long-term updates do you have planned and how will those updates impact that product and its role in the market.
- Pricing: Outline the pricing model that your business follows. You should also highlight your pricing tier, like whether it’s economy or luxury. If you think your business needs to revise its pricing in any way, include your reasoning in this section of your marketing strategy plan.
- Distribution: Review your company’s supply chain. Should you have any ideas on how to improve your supply chain, like due to an upcoming market trend, share your thoughts and evidence here.
- Communication: Provide an overview of how your marketing communications will work and which departments will have a role. For example, you may highlight some necessary marketing tools, as well as list your company’s style guide.
- Market research: Review any relevant market research findings. A brick-and-mortar store, for example, may highlight trends with online shopping to support the opening of an ecommerce store.
Once you complete this step, you can move onto step six in creating your marketing strategy planner.
6. Action programs
Next, you’ll outline the action programs or items for marketing your business online. If you’re looking to launch a revised version of a product, for example, you may suggest the following:
- Video marketing
- Film a product video for the new optimized product page
- Upload YouTube videos that show the product’s uses and benefits
- Optimize uploaded YouTube videos for YouTube SEO to increase discoverability
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Create a PPC campaign that promotes the new product
- Develop a PPC campaign that targets competitor brand names
- Build a remarketing campaign for users that visit the new product page
In most cases, your business will likely outline some offline and online marketing action items. Either way, make sure your action items support your overall goals from step four. If they don’t, think about updating your goals or action items.
7. Marketing budget
You can’t create a strategic marketing plan without setting a budget.
That’s why your marketing strategy planner should include:
- Anticipated investment for each action item, like SEO
- Expected sales and revenue
- Predicted costs for any marketing tools or services, like freelancers
If you’re not sure how much you should invest in marketing, check out these pricing guides:
- Digital Marketing Pricing [Guide]
- SEO Pricing [Guide]
- PPC Pricing [Guide]
- Social Media Marketing Pricing [Guide]
- Social Media Advertising Pricing [Guide]
It’s important to research marketing costs so your business can make a realistic investment in marketing. If your business doesn’t set a reasonable budget, it can lead to a strategy that doesn’t perform.
Use your goals, which you shared in step four of your marketing plan outline, to determine which metrics will measure your goal progress the best. Remember to stay away from vanity metrics, like website traffic, which can offer a morale boost but nothing to your bottom line.
5 tips for how to write a strategic marketing plan
Before you start your marketing strategy plan, check out these tips for making the most of your time:
- Keep your goals S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely
- Break your goals into smaller timelines, and outline action items for each timeline
- Determine your marketing strategy process and tools for measuring your marketing strategies
- Explain your reasoning for not focusing on specific marketing strategies
- Highlight your teammates and how they will help achieve your marketing goals
With these tips, plus the included marketing plan outline, you can create a stellar marketing strategy planner.
Learn more about how to create a strategic marketing plan
Congrats — you now know how to create a strategic marketing plan! How can you execute that plan like a pro, though, and ensure your business gets results from your recommendations? Revenue Weekly can help.
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Sarah Berry is a Google Analytics-certified Web Marketing Consultant at WebFX. She’s written over 400 articles on digital marketing, covering topics like SEO, CRO, and Amazon. When she isn’t polishing her Time Magazine Person of the Year Award, she’s spending time with her flock of ducks.
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