A marketing plan is a strategic document which specifies your organization’s target markets, marketing objectives, programmes and activities to achieve them, timescales and the resources to be utilized, according to defined budgets.
Our new, free download detailing the different types of marketing plans will help you structure different types of plan and gives recommendations on how to make them effective.
As outlined in the Quick Win – Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan, the purpose of a marketing plan is to define strategies to engage audiences in order to achieve business objectives. In smaller businesses, the scope of a marketing plan is typically annual and for the whole business. In larger organizations, its focus will change, depending on the type of organization. A separate marketing plan might be:
A marketing plan in a large organization may integrate a number of plans, specific to individual parts of the business. It is practical planning that takes place at divisional, business unit or individual company level.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to ensure that marketing activities are relevant and timely to achieve an organization’s objectives. It’s a plan defining a sustainable competitive position and defining the resources necessary to achieve it.
Here’s another way of understanding the context of this plan, to put it into context with other types of plan as shown in this table:
The process of marketing planning within an organization will differ, depending on whether a strategic marketing plan or an operational marketing plan is utilized. Here are the differences between the two:
In an organization’s planning process, marketing links:
A marketing plan should include:
A solid marketing plan has:
To make sure your marketing plan has all the essential features, I recommend the SOSTAC® structure developed by PR Smith—Dave Chaffey’s co-author of the printed book Digital Marketing Excellence. SOSTAC® is a great framework for structuring business, marketing or digital marketing plans since it’s relatively simple and logical, so it’s easy to remember and to explain to colleagues or agencies. SOSTAC® is a strategic planning process framework that gives you a clear structure to work through to create and manage your plan.
Marketing planning will assist in the day-to-day running of any size, type or age of business. The targets and milestones set will help organizations, from small start-ups to large corporates, to effectively:
Larger organizations with clearly defined management structures and a wealth of resources will make use of marketing principles very differently from smaller organizations.
Smaller organizations typically have:
Such differences between large and smaller organizations tend to be reflected in the development of marketing plans.
When establishing a small start-up, marketing planning is an essential element. A small number of these businesses launch and grow, but for those that are successful, a strategic marketing approach will ensure continued development.
Although the techniques for marketing planning may vary between different sizes and types of organization, the outcome is always the same: to implement the objectives, strategies and activities in order to gain an advantage.
A marketing plan should not be formulated or used in isolation; it should be informed by the corporate objectives identified in your organization’s business plan.
Integrated with a marketing plan may also be a digital marketing plan, multi-channel marketing plan and a campaign plan, for example. The marketing plan informs these plans and vice-versa.
An effective marketing plan will ensure the integration of activities, the scheduling of requirements, distinguishing responsibilities and the provision of benchmarks for measuring success. Different organizations will utilize differing plans, covering different areas and timeframes. What is crucial in a business is that the plans being utilized, the timeframes allocated and how they integrate with each other are collectively established.
To find out about more about how different types of marketing plans and how to structure them, download our free Understanding different marketing plans guide, which includes campaign planning, digital transformation plans and multichannel plans.
By Sarah Cowman
Thanks to Sarah Cowman for sharing their advice and opinion in this post. Sarah, Managing Director at The Yorkshire Marketing Agency, is an award-winning Chartered Marketer. Sarah holds over 10 years’ experience in implementing results-driven marketing and communications strategies, plans and campaigns. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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