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Build your Marketing Plan with this useful Template

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 creating a marketing plan on Smart Insights and the worked example B2B service marketing plan.

Step 1. Situation Analysis - Understanding our customers

The template tales you through how a straightforward survey was conducted. Practical information including the two questions asked to existing customers.

Step 2. Situation Analysis - Marketing audit: where are we now?

A rough calculation of the company’s market size and potential based on online resources. This is a useful blueprint to estimate your company’s market size and shows how the figures were calculated and assumptions made.

This step also includes

  • The SWOT analysis based on the McKinsey 7S model. This takes a more holistic view to the business and focuses on a wider area than a usual SWOT. This is another useful template which you could complete and get other team members in your business to complete. You can then compare and contrast and identify key issues where your focus is needed.
  • Competitor benchmarking matrix. It’s shown here identifying the competitors’ product and customer groups. This matrix can be adapted to use in different ways, from comparing websites, online offers to marketing tactics.
  • PESTLE table which looks at the key factors and how this impacts on the business. This template can be copied and pasted and completed for your own business.

Step 3. Objectives – Create sustainable objectives: Where do we want to go?

Good objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-related) and this means it’s easier to see when you’ve achieved your goal and to measure Return On Investment (ROI).

This template shows how to make ordinary objectives SMART.

Step 4. Strategy: Segmenting your customer base

It’s easier to sell to a specific group of people than to sell to ‘everyone’. Segmenting your customer base enables you to better focus your marketing communications, product offer and pricing. This part of the example plan gives you a template that you can adapt for your own business. It’s one of those templates that makes you think and really identify the different segments within your business.

The segments depend on whether you’re in B2B, B2C and whether you’re selling goods or services based on your geography, customer demographics or other factor. The full version of the Business Marketing Plan Guide gives a long list of variables.

Step 5. Strategy: Targeting new customers and positioning our business

Growing a business involves finding new customers; this may be different segments or markets. This part of the Marketing Plan shows you how to explore new markets and create marketplace strategies.

Step 6. Tactics and Action – Our marketing action plan

This is the area where the plan can break down! Lots of ideas, but no action. The Action Plan is an essential element that shows

  • What you’ve agreed to do
  • The detail of what’s involved
  • Who will be responsible
  • When this will happen

The final column ‘status’ is part of the mechanism to monitor progress. Each month when you’re reviewing action, the status can be updated. This helps to stay on track.

Step 7.  Control - Monitor, manage and improve

The final step, this is where you decide how and when you’ll control the action plan.

It’s important that it’s not too complicated and not too long. Some companies that have monthly board meetings often have a pre-board meeting the day before, the day before than they may have a department meeting and the day before that a pre-department meeting. Worse case scenario, that’s 4 days of meeting a month!

Short meetings, with no chairs, ensure a swift response and more action taking place.

What can you share about your marketing planning experience? Have you created a plan? Are you adopting a plan? Do let us know.

The template is broadly based on  PR Smith’s SOSTAC ® Planning System.  You can read more in this ebook: The SOSTAC ®  Guide - to writing the perfect plan  by PR Smith (2011),  published by and available at

By Annmarie Hanlon

Annmarie Hanlon is the Smart Insights expert commentator on online and offline marketing strategies for business. Annmarie is the MD of Evonomie and author of Quick Win Marketing, and co-author of Quick Win Digital Marketing. She runs social media workshops in the UK and Ireland and shares marketing tips and news in her blog, B2B Marketing. You can follow Annmarie on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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