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How do you choose the best marketing plan for your business?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 20 Feb, 2024
Essential Essential topic

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, helps you achieve your goals by selecting the best marketing strategies and channels to acquire and retain your customers.

Optimize your marketing strategy with structured planning

Thousands of marketers around the world are applying the RACE Framework to help them react to the changing environment and adapt their marketing strategies to attract and retain new customers.

Strategic marketing planning is crucial to making the right decisions to execute an efficient and effective marketing strategy.

Our marketing funnel, the RACE Framework, offers a simple structure for marketers to quickly get to grips with the customer data and behavior insights needed to improve their marketing funnel across:

  • Plan
  • Reach
  • Act
  • Convert
  • Engage

Race Planning Framework

How many types of plan are needed, and why?

A single plan would be ideal, but in practice, different types and scales of businesses will need a different type of plan.

It can help to define the scope and purpose of each one, you should define, for example for a multichannel marketing plan, this could be:

  • Purpose: To define a strategy and plan resources needed to achieve business sales targets.
  • Timeframe: Annual, typically. Could have a longer-term outlook e.g. 18 months to three years.
  • Scope: The focus is on marketing communications techniques to deliver leads and sales targets for defined products. It can apply to a complete business, or if there are multiple markets and product categories, a single market.
  • Channels: Includes online channels and offline media as required.
  • Key outputs: Marketing objectives. Marketing budget. Campaign plans. Resource plans.

While you're at it, don't forget to check our top 18 digital marketing techniques recommended by Dr. Dave Chaffey in his dedicated blog - What is digital marketing?

Here's another way to understand the context of a plan, to put it into context with other types of plan as shown in this table.

Type of plan Purpose Scope and content
1) Business Define strategies for growing profitability over a long-term period Annual to three-yearly
- New product development
- Revenue sources and cost management
2) Marketing Define strategies to engage audiences to achieve business objectives Typically annual
3) Brand marketing Define audience engagement to achieve brand sales Typically annual
4) Digital marketing plan or transformation plan Define how to compete more effectively with digital marketing Typically annual
Transformation plans may be longer
- Review digital capabilities
- Define digital marketing technology
- Define resource requirements for digital
5) Multichannel marketing A long-term integrated communications plan for using different digital media to hit lead or sales targets Annual plan
- Engaging audiences
- Content marketing
- Integrated media schedule of always-on and campaign activities
6) Marketing campaign plan A shorter-term integrated communications plan for using different digital media to hit lead or sales targets Shorter-term plan
- Engaging audiences
- Content marketing
- Integrated media schedule
7) A 90-day marketing management plan A short-term plan of activities to review and optimize activities need to hit targets for other plans Review of actions
- Covers always-on and campaign activity


Depending on the type and scale of business there may be even more plans for individual channels where different people are responsible for each. For example:

That’s a lot of plans and a lot of complexity! So we provide guidance on all of these at Smart Insights. Yet, all of these types of plans are used in different ‘use-cases’ in different types of business. It’s likely that only in the very largest types of business you would need all of them and to be honest, we wouldn’t advise that.

But if you only have one marketing plan, we recommend using a multichannel marketing plan structured across the RACE Framework.

The RACE Framework will give you a focus to boost your leads and sales with a planned approach that enables you to select the best strategies and marketing channels to improve your results.

We designed our RACE Framework to help marketers keep their marketing strategies simple, streamlined, and actionable.

As you can see below, with our lifecycle marketing model it's easy to identify what's working and what isn't, so you can make data-driven decisions to improve your marketing.

Through RACE planning you can quickly identify the action needed to optimize your customer journeys. Find out how to create or optimize your marketing plan with our free marketing plan template.

Our recommended types of marketing plans

Here are our top five types of plans that our Business Members are using to transform their approach to marketing.

You can read about each type of plan by clicking through to the guide

We also cover how to structure a GTM strategy and plan - with a template in this separate article. GTM plans focus on product launch campaigns - see examples.

To help with the 'planning challenge', we have created a concise list of the important plans you need to consider. Here's a summary of what we see as the essential 2 types of plan a medium to large business needs.

Business plan

This is a must! It outlines objectives, goals, and strategies in order to achieve those objectives. Your business plan should outline how you will change and become more competitive in the future. Remember to include strategies,

Typically, you should be looking at 1-3 years with the aim to answer the most important question of any business: how do I plan to make my business succeed? This is the end goal - a successful business with clients (or customers) and profit. You need to include 3 key points:

  • New product development
  • Revenue sources
  • Means of cost management

But when should you use a business plan?

  • Gaining initial investment as a new business or startup
  • Planning market expansion for an existing company
  • Undertaking product development
  • Preparing for acquisition
  • Planning divestment
  • Gaining or sustaining a competitive advantage
  • Evaluating resource allocation and strategic goals

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Marketing plan

A marketing plan should include your organization's target market, marketing objectives, and the activities to achieve those objectives and budget.

Your marketing plan should define strategies to help you achieve business objectives. Think about including information such as:

  • Geographically based
  • Product-based
  • Business unit based
  • Focussed on segmentation

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

This blog post has been tagged with:

Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy plansMarketing planning

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