7 steps to creating an effective marketing plan for businesses of all sizes
A marketing plan is a bit like a job description for your company. Everyone should have one, but they’re often not fit for purpose, out of date, and reviewed infrequently...
Research has shown that businesses with plans succeed, outperform competitors, and retain staff, more than those with no plan.
Without a plan there’s no direction for the company or its employees, decisions can be uninformed, opportunities can be missed and threats can damage or destroy the business.
Whether you are looking at creating a traditional marketing plan or a multichannel digital marketing plan, we've got resources to help you.
Free marketing plan template aimed at small businesses
In this article, Annmarie Hanlon recommends 7 simple steps for structuring a classic marketing plan. But for an SME or SMB, you need a little more detail about prioritizing your investment of time and…
Use our simple, 15 section download to quickly create a marketing plan for your business
Many marketing plan templates you will find online were created long ago for larger businesses and aren’t so relevant to small and startup business competing in today’s marketplace where effective digital marketing is essential. Long plans with sections labelled ‘mission and vision statement’ and ‘corporate strategies’ are irrelevant for smaller businesses. The template we recommend in this post is far more practical since it relates to the real-world challenges and opportunities of a small business.
In this post, we'll recommend what needs to go into a marketing plan and how to structure it. At the end of the article we link to a Word document you can download to write your own plan.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is an essential tool to compete and grow your business since it gives focus to your marketing activities…
Using the RACE OSA process to structure a marketing plan
A marketing plan is an essential tool to compete and grow your business since it gives focus to your marketing activities by setting realistic, achievable priorities within your budget.
It simply defines what you want to gain from your investment in marketing and how you will achieve these goals through selecting the best marketing strategies and channels to acquire and retain customers.
A typical definition of a marketing plan used by traditional marketers is:
"A marketing plan is a strategic document that specifies your organization’s target markets, marketing objectives, programs, and activities to achieve them, expected timescales, resources to be utilized, according to defined budgets, and how success will be measured".
This is logical and simple and that's what we need to achieve through the structure of an effective marketing plan. However, for today's marketing where digital marketing channels are so important we need a…
Discover our top 7 recommended different types of marketing plan options for developing and streamlining your marketing planning activities
Planning is a must for any business that wants to succeed, but choosing the right type of plan to define your strategy and structuring it can be difficult. Especially since there are so many different types of marketing plan within marketing and business, all with a different scope.
The challenge is compounded if you are new to creating plans, or to the culture of planning within a business. It seems that the difficulty of choosing the right type of plan and how to structure it to deliver results stops many in their tracks.
Our research shows that, shockingly, as many as half of businesses don't have a digital marketing plan or, perhaps worse, a marketing plan on which to base it.
Our free marketing plan template structured around RACE,…
The Ansoff Model is a matrix that helps marketing leaders identify business growth opportunities for their marketing strategies in a challenging market
What is the Ansoff Model?
Also referred to as the Ansoff matrix, due to its grid format, the Ansoff Model helps marketers identify opportunities to grow revenue for a business through developing new products and services or "tapping into" new markets. So it's sometimes known as the ‘Product-Market Matrix’ instead of the ‘Ansoff Matrix’.
The Ansoff Model's focus on growth means that it's one of the most widely used marketing models. It is used to evaluate opportunities for companies to increase their sales through showing alternative combinations for new markets (i.e. customer segments and geographical locations) against products and services offering four strategies as shown.
How to use the Ansoff Matrix
Strategic questions that can be answered using the matrix include:
A process for creating a multichannel marketing plan combining the SOSTAC® and RACE frameworks
Amidst the highs and lows of 2020 in multichannel marketing, one thing that remains constant for managers is strategic planning and frameworks for growth. At this time of year, many are reviewing their options for growing their business using improvements to their multichannel marketing.
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Our Multichannel Marketing Growth Wheel infographic gives a visual view of key planning activities that are needed as part of the process of producing an integrated digital marketing or multichannel marketing plan.
We originally created the Marketing Growth Wheel infographic back in 2012. In his post introducing the infographic, Dan…
How to apply our RACE Planning Framework and SOSTAC® to a B2B digital marketing plan
We pride ourselves in giving you content that you can apply directly to your company – whether you’re a burgeoning start-up trying to make your mark in a competitive market or an industry-leader taking your next step to global expansion. Our digital marketing plans are used by members from around the world in a wide variety of industries, which is why we’ve created a new batch of example marketing plans. These example plans will show you how our RACE planning framework can apply to specific industries and help you to set attainable targets for your marketing activities.
They combine two recognized methods of structuring digital marketing plans used throughout the Digital Strategy Toolkit – Smart Insights’ RACE Digital Marketing Planning™ and PR Smith’s SOSTAC®.
Our first digital marketing plan example is for the B2B packaging industry!
The 11 step launch marketing plan
The success of a startup will often depend on its approach to marketing. Unfortunately the vast majority of startup founders have little to no experience or marketing or managing a marketing budget. How do you deal with this dangerous contradiction? Well it's in the planning! Make sure that you’ve got your marketing strategy in line by applying this product launch framework.
There are a million articles out there on brand development, launch marketing, PR, viral videos and more. Reading them all would be a start – or you can check our tried and tested approach below!
The framework described below is typically rolled out step by step over 18 months. We hope it helps.
'In this world of intangibles and endless competition branding is everything.'
Phase 1 - Strategic Positioning, Brand and Web Presence
1. Strategic positioning (ad Early Adopter target market definition)
The first step in a successful brand/product…
Book review: Watertight Marketing - Delivering long-term sales results by Bryony Thomas
We know from our research published showing how businesses manage digital marketing, that many businesses don’t have a defined marketing strategy. In fact, more than half of businesses we surveyed (56%) didn’t have a marketing strategy, an even higher proportion than the 46% who didn’t have a digital strategy!
So when Bryony Thomas offered to share her advice on approaches to use a more planned approach to marketing, I was delighted to be able to publish these to help marketers looking to create a marketing plan. The techniques Bryony has shared in her popular series of posts on marketing planning on Smart Insights are based on the techniques she recommends in her book Watertight Marketing: delivering long-term sales results which I have been taking a look at recently to review our marketing approach.
The Watertight marketing approach
The book gets off…
A checklist of the 13 most common touchpoint leaks
Over nearly two decades in marketing, and across well over 200 businesses – from as large as Microsoft and as micro as the back bedroom – I have yet to find a single one that isn’t leaking potential profit somewhere in their marketing operation. And, even those that have it pretty tight can usually notch it up with a few judicious tweaks.
Categorising marketing profit leaks
In pulling all this together, I found that profit leaks fall into two clear categories. The first, and most obvious, are those that relate to how you interact with the outside world. That is, the touchpoints with customers, potential customers, or anyone else who might encounter your business. Of these, I have defined thirteen typical ways that most businesses lose money in their marketing.
The second category is what I call the Foundation Leaks, and they are far more…