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 Everyone should have one, but they’re often not fit for purpose, out of date, and reviewed infrequently...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

What are the essential parts of a multichannel marketing plan template?

Multichannel marketing, or omnichannel marketing, is the process of utilizing online and offline marketing communications channels to target and engage with your customers. As outlined in our popular Learning Path module, structure a plan using the RACE Planning framework, the purpose of a multichannel marketing strategy is to empower marketers and managers to plan, manage and optimize the resources needed to achieve business sales targets. The timeframe is typically annual but potentially longer-term, such as 18 months to three years. Examples of communications channels could include, for example: Websites Physical stores Catalogs E-mail marketing TV Text messaging Blogging Direct mail The goal is to deliver leads and sales targets for defined products and services, which can apply to an organization as a whole, or a single market if there are multiple markets and product or service categories. An effective omnichannel approach to marketing…

Digital marketing is more important now than ever. My recommendations on the challenges and opportunities for growth

Digital marketing is deceptively easy if you take the deliberately simple definition from my book Digital Marketing:Strategy, Implementation and Practice where I define Digital Marketing as: "Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital media, data and technology". But in reality, digital marketing is a tough challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers. Yet the research shared below shows that many businesses don't have an integrated plan to support digital transformation and business growth based on engaging their audiences effectively online. In this article, I will explain why a digital marketing strategy is essential for all businesses. If you're looking for an introduction to the scope of digital marketing and what should be included in a plan, see my post explaining What is Digital Marketing. Regardless of the type…

A content marketing planning tool to help marketers generate a matrix of ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences

We created our Content Marketing Matrix to help our members audit their content marketing assets as part of creating a content marketing strategy. It can also be used for content ideation, i.e. to brainstorm future content ideas to generate leads, nurture prospects, encourage sharing, and generate backlinks for SEO. Since we created it eight years ago it's been shared many times and has inspired many 'mashups' in different formats, as this Google search shows; great to see it's been useful! I think our Content Marketing Matrix is a powerful mindtool for marketers since it's a content mapping tool, structured to help you think through two key dimensions of which types of content will best support the path to purchase for your target audience.…

From SMART to SMARTER marketing objectives: Discover how to define marketing objectives, measure your digital marketing goals, and use data to inform your marketing strategy

When identifying specific marketing objectives to support your long-term goals, it is common practice to apply the widely used SMART mnemonic. You will know that SMART is used to assess the suitability of objectives set to drive different strategies or the improvement of the full range of business processes. By its simplest definition, an effective SMART marketing objective is: Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. But you will learn in this article that beyond this well-known acronym, there are different variations and nuances which you can apply to practice Smarter Marketing.

What is Smarter Marketing?

The SMART acronym is much more than a mnemonic since it defines a way of thinking about getting better results within business and marketing. This mindset is based…

Use our digital marketing strategy template integrated across the RACE Framework to plan and get ahead in your digital marketing

We all know the old saying “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, but when it comes to digital marketing, this really is the case. It has never been more important than it is now to create a digital marketing strategy template so you can plan, manage and optimize your online activities. Today, digital media is vital when it comes to driving leads and sales, meaning marketers need to understand how best to engage and convert online audiences. Despite this, our research shows that many businesses still don’t have a digital marketing plan. As a result, companies are missing out on the benefits of having a digital marketing plan integrated into their overall marketing plan or as a separate roadmap for digital transformation. At a time when marketers are increasingly…

Set the right goals for digital marketing using the 5Ss

Do your set of goals for online marketing cover all the bases? A good set of digital marketing goals covers a range of different measures to help set, review, and control performance across all digital marketing activities. In this article, we cover the 5S framework which are a simple method to gain more focus on how digital marketing can support a business. The 5Ss are a great simple framework, as the examples show. It's worth bearing in mind that goals are broader than objectives which we recommend as essential for setting targets and reviewing performance using digital marketing dashboards. If you need to use a more data-driven approach to digital marketing, see these primers or our free template for more examples: Setting SMART objectives for…

What goes into the Amazon marketing strategy secret sauce? Our business case study explores Amazon's revenue model and culture of customer metrics, history of Amazon.com and marketing objectives

In the final quarter of 2022, Amazon reported net sales of over $149.2 billion. This seasonal spike is typical of Amazon's quarterly reporting, but the growth is undeniable as this was the company's highest quarter ever. There is no doubt that the e-commerce retail giant continues to lead the way in e-commerce growth. The Amazon marketing strategy we are familiar with today has evolved since it was founded in 1994. I've highlighted the Amazon marketing strategy case study in my books for nearly 20 years now since I think all types of businesses can learn from their digital business strategy. Their response to the pandemic is impressive but not entirely surprising…

Our recommendations of the best global online marketing consumer adoption and marketing benchmark statistics

Online marketers love statistics about digital marketing. We do too since they enable us to use a more data-driven approach to inform our future investments. They allow us to review the growth in customer adoption of the latest digital platforms and technologies, make the business case for investment in marketing and allow us to benchmark our growth and performance against competitors. From reviewing thousands of stats sources over the years, I've found that there are a very small number of quality online marketing statistics sites and sources which are updated at least annually and have a representative sample size from different countries. Here we share our experience of ten of the best, most reliable free and paid sources we use to update our benchmarks. Everyone has their favourites, but I thought it would be…

An introduction and examples of using a planned approach to business digitalization with examples

In this article, you will learn what should be included in a digital strategy for a business and how to set goals and structure it. We will also explain the difference between a digital marketing strategy and cover some examples of digital strategy.

What is digital strategy?

A digital strategy defines an organization’s priority initiatives for future investment in digital technology to make a business more competitive by digitalization of its processes and review of its business model. It has a broad scope, covering how digital technology can support business goals across the business. Technology analyst Gartner (2023) highlights this in their definition of digitalization where they emphasize a focus on improving business model rather than process. However, for me, digital strategy should consider both digitalization of both business processes and business model innovation. Although ‘digital strategy’ usually focuses on…