5 steps to creating a great marketing plan [Free Templates]

Do you look closely at your team’s marketing strategy every year?

You should. An annual marketing plan will help you get your marketing on the right track to achieve your company’s business goals. Think of this as a high-level plan that guides the direction of your team’s campaigns, goals, and growth.

Without one, things can get messy – and it’s almost impossible to put a number on the budget you’ll need for the projects, hires, and outsourcing you’ll experience over the course of a year if you don’t have a plan.

Note that the marketing plan will vary depending on the industry and the goals of your marketing team. To make creating your plan easier, we’ve compiled a list of the items to include in your plan, as well as a few different planning templates that you can use to easily fill in the gaps.

First, let’s examine how to create a marketing plan, then let’s take a look at what a high-level marketing plan entails.

In this article we will discuss:

How to create a marketing plan

  1. Conduct a situation analysis.
  2. Define your target audience.
  3. Write SMART goals.
  4. Analyze your tactics.
  5. Set your budget.

1. Perform a situation analysis.

Before you can begin your marketing plan, you need to know your current situation.

What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Performing a basic SWOT analysis is the first step in creating a marketing plan.

In addition, you should also have an understanding of the current market. How do you compare with your competitors? A competitive analysis should help you with this step.

Think how other products are better than yours. Also, consider the gaps in a competitor’s approach. What are they missing? What can you offer that will give you a competitive advantage? Think about what sets you apart.

Answering such questions should help you figure out what your customer wants and brings us to step number two.

2. Define your target audience.

Once you have a better understanding of the market and your company’s situation, make sure you know who your target audience is.

If your business already has buyer personas, this step may just mean that you need to refine your current personas.

If you don’t have a buyer personality, consider creating one. To do this, you may need to do market research.

Your buyer personality should include demographic information such as age, gender, and income. However, it will also include psychographic information such as pain points and goals. What drives your audience? What problems can they fix with your product or service?

Once you have this information written out, you can better define your goals and move on to step three.

3. Write SMART goals.

My mom used to tell me, “You can’t go anywhere if you don’t have a map.” For me, someone geographically challenged, that was literal advice.

However, it can also be applied metaphorically to marketing. You can only improve your ROI if you know your goals.

Now that you’ve figured out your current situation and met your audience, it’s time to start defining your SMART goals.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This means that all of your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete them.

For example, your goal could be to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months. Depending on your general marketing goals, this should be relevant and achievable. In addition, this goal is specific, measurable and time-bound.

Before starting any tactic, write down your goals. You can then analyze which tactics are used to achieve this goal. That brings us to step number four.

4. Analyze your tactics.

At this point you will have written down your goals based on your target audience and the current situation.

Now you need to figure out what tactics can be used to achieve your goals. And which channels and action elements should you focus on?

For example, if you want to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, you can, among other things, host a giveaway, reply to every comment and post on Instagram three times a week.

Once you know your goals, it should be easy to come up with various tactics to achieve those goals.

However, as you write your tactic, you need to keep an eye on your budget, which brings us to step number five.

5. Set your budget.

Before you can start implementing your ideas that you came up with in the steps above, you need to know your budget.

For example, your tactic could include social media advertising. However, if you don’t have the budget to do it, you may not be able to achieve your goals.

When writing your tactic, be sure to write down an estimated budget. You can include the time it will take to complete each tactic in addition to any assets you may need to acquire, such as: B. Advertising space.

Now that you know how to create your marketing plan, let’s dive into the elements that a high-level marketing plan should contain.

Overview of the marketing plan

Marketing plans can be very detailed to reflect the industry you are in, whether you sell to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how large your digital presence is. Still, here are the elements that any effective marketing plan contains:

1. Business overview

In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: an organization summary. This contains:

  • The company name
  • Where it is headquartered
  • His mission statement

2. Business Initiatives

You can use the Business Initiatives element of a marketing plan to segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include large-scale corporate initiatives that are usually included in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should describe the projects that are specific to marketing. They also describe the goals of these projects and how those goals are measured.

3. Customer analysis

This is where you conduct basic market research. If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan may be easier to put together.

Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you are selling to and your buyer personality. A buyer personality is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer that focuses on properties such as:

  • Age
  • place
  • title
  • Gates
  • Personal challenges
  • Pain
  • Trigger events

4. Competitive analysis

Your buyer personality has choices when it comes to solving their problems, both in terms of the types of solutions they are considering and the vendors who can manage those solutions. In your market research, you should consider your competition, what they do well, and what are the gaps that you can potentially fill. This can include:

  • positioning
  • Market share
  • deals
  • Pricing

5. SWOT analysis

The business overview of your marketing plan also includes a SWOT analysis that represents the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Be patient with your company’s SWOT analysis. You will be writing most of this based on your market research from the sections above and your strategy below.

6. Market strategy

Your marketing strategy uses the information in the sections above to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your company offer your buyer personalities that your competitors haven’t yet?

In a complete marketing plan, this section can include the “Seven Ps of Marketing”:

  • product
  • price
  • place
  • promotion
  • People
  • process
  • Physical evidence

(For more information on these seven sub-components, please see our free Marketing Plan template, which you can download below.)

7. Budget

Don’t confuse the budget element of your marketing plan with the price of your product or other company data. Your budget describes how much money the company has allocated to the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals described in the items above.

Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you might want to consider breaking that budget down by the specific expenses of your budget. Exemplary marketing costs include:

  • Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and / or other provider
  • Marketing software
  • Paid promotions
  • Events (that you host and / or attend)

8. Marketing channels

Finally, your marketing plan includes a list of your marketing channels. While your company may self-promote the product through certain advertising spaces, post content in your marketing channels that educates your buyers, generates leads, and increases brand awareness.

If you post (or want to post) on social media this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to determine which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you use that social network for, and how you measure your success on that network. Part of the purpose of this section is to prove to your supervisors inside and outside the marketing department that these channels are there to help grow the business.

Companies with extensive social media presences could even consider explaining their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.

9. Financial projections

Once you know the budget and analyze the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan of how much budget to invest in which tactic based on the expected ROI. From there you can make financial projections for the year. These are not 100% accurate, but can be helpful in executive planning.

Free marketing plan template [Word]

Now that you know what to include in your marketing plan, it is time to read your marketing plan template and see how best to organize the six elements discussed above. The following marketing plan template opens directly in Microsoft Word so you can edit each section as you wish:

Free Marketing Plan Template Cover Page

Download your marketing plan template here.

Social media marketing plan templates

As the marketing departments grow, so too does their presence on social media. As social media presence increases, there is also a need to measure, plan, and reschedule what types of content to publish on each network.

If you’re looking for a way to deepen your social media marketing strategy – even beyond the marketing plan template mentioned above – the following collection of social media marketing plan templates is perfect for you:

Download 10 social media report templates here.

In the above collection of marketing plan templates, you can fill out the following content (and more) that fit your business:

  • Annual budget tracking on social media
  • Weekly social media topics
  • Required social media image dimension key
  • Social media traffic pie chart sorted by platform
  • Social media post calendar and publication time

Let’s review the social media report templates and each of them below.

1. Social media issues

Analysis and questions about publishing social media.

This template contains questions to help you decide which social media management platform to use.

Once you know what social media tactics you are going to implement in your marketing plan, you need to figure out which channels are right for you. This template will help you.

2. Hashtag Holidays

Social media hashtag holidays.

If you want to rely on social media in your marketing plan, you can use hashtag holidays to generate ideas.

These holidays are a great way to fill in your social media posting schedule. This template will give you a list of all the hashtag holidays for the year.

3. Facebook live schedule

Facebook live schedule template.

If Facebook Live is one of the marketing tactics in your plan, this template will help you design an editorial calendar. You can use this template to organize which Facebook Live Actions to take and when.

4. Instagram Post Log

Instagram post log for social media publishing management.

Are you going to start using Instagram regularly? Do you want to increase your fan base? Use this template to organize your Instagram posts so everyone on your team knows which posts are going live and when.

You can also organize your assets and campaigns in this document.

5. Paid social media template

paid social media template for annual budgeting

Use this template to organize your annual and monthly budget for your paid social media calendar.

6. Social Media Audit

Social media exam template.

Carrying out a social media audit? You can use this template to create the right analyzes.

7. Editorial calendar for social media

Editorial calendar template for social media.

Use this template to organize your social media editorial calendar. For example, you can include social media posts for each platform so your team knows what is going live on a given day.

8. Image sizes for social media

Social media image size template.

With this template, your team can have the latest social media image sizes on hand. This template includes image sizes for all major social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

9. Social Media Marketing Proposal

Social media marketing proposal template.

You can use this template to create a complete social media marketing proposal. This outlines the social media goals, the scope of the work, and the tactics you want to implement.

10. Social media report template

Social media report template.

This template gives you access to a slide deck that contains templates for reporting on social media. If you plan to implement social media into your marketing plan, you can use these report templates to track your progress.

Simple marketing plan template

Of course, this type of planning takes a lot of time and effort. So if you have time before the holidays, try our new marketing plan generator. This tool simplifies annual planning and sets your strategies, initiatives, and goals in one simple template so you can identify what’s most important for the year ahead.

Try our free marketing plan generator here.

Once you’ve entered your information, you’ll be given a plan to help you:

  • Outline your annual marketing strategy
  • Identify your key annual initiatives
  • No projects that don’t help you achieve your goals
  • Track the right metrics all year round
  • Align your team on a common mission

Pro tip: The best way to start setting up your marketing plan for the year is to start with quick profits first. That way, you can get up and running quickly and prepare yourself (and your team) to meet more challenging goals and take on more challenging projects by the fourth quarter. So what do you say Are you ready to try

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for completeness.

Marketing plan template

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