7 steps to creating an effective marketing plan

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 Everyone should have one, but they’re often not fit for purpose, out of date, and reviewed infrequently...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.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is your place to document the process of defining and implementing your marketing strategy and creating a roadmap for future growth and business development. A marketing plan should be customer-centred, focused on your target audience and the value propositions…

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. Don't miss our free webinar on Wednesday 12th April during…

What are the essential parts of a marketing plan template?

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.

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to define strategies to engage audiences in order to achieve business objectives. The goal of a marketing plan is to ensure marketing activities are structured, relevant, and timely to achieve an organization’s objectives. It’s a plan defining your company's sustainable competitive position, structuring and setting marketing goals, and defining the resources necessary to achieve your business vision.

Context of a marketing plan

Here’s another way of understanding the context of a marketing plan, to put it into context with other types of plans, as shown in this table: …

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: Market Penetration:…

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. [si_guide_block id="88063" title="Access our Quick Win – Create a multichannel marketing plan" description="Discover the secrets to structuring an effective integrated marketing plan with tried-and-tested frameworks that will save time and get results."/] 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…

Marketing planning can be a long process. With the different steps involved, one area can often hold up another. This template is a quick way to get started as we know that companies that have a plan succeed better and faster than those without a plan.

And here’s a thing not many people know!  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a marketing plan, business plan, company plan or HR plan. The key is having a plan. A marketing plan is a little like a route map for a business. It shows where you’re headed and gives you a greater chance of achieving goals as there are built in mechanisms to measure progress. The template laid out in this post shows you how to create your marketing plan in 7 steps. For full details on what's involved at each stage see my guide to…