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Blog Marketing What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

What is a Marketing Plan & How to Create One [with Examples]

Written by: Sara McGuire Oct 26, 2023

Marketing Plan Venngage

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines your strategies to attract and convert your ideal customers as a part of your customer acquisition strategy . It’s a comprehensive document that details your:

  • Target audience:  Who you’re trying to reach
  • Marketing goals:  What you want to achieve
  • Strategies and tactics:  How you’ll reach your goals
  • Budget:  Resources you’ll allocate
  • Metrics:  How you’ll measure success

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about creating a marketing plan . If you need a little extra help, there are professionally designed marketing plan templates that’ll make the process much easier. So, let’s ditch the confusion and get started!

Click to jump ahead:

What is a marketing plan?

How to write a marketing plan .

  • Marketing plan v.s. business plan
  • Types of marketing plans

9 marketing plan examples to inspire your growth strategy

Marketing plan faqs.

A marketing plan is a report that outlines your marketing strategy for your products or services, which could be applicable for the coming year, quarter or month.  

Watch this quick, 13-minute video for more details on what a marketing plan is and how to make one yourself:

Typically, a marketing plan includes:

  • An overview of your business’s marketing and advertising goals
  • A description of your business’s current marketing position
  • A timeline of when tasks within your strategy will be completed
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking
  • A description of your business’s target market and customer needs
  • A description of how you will measure the performance of the strategy

For example, this marketing plan template provides a high-level overview of the business and competitors before diving deep into specific goals, KPIs and tactics:

Orange Content Marketing Plan Template

Learning how to write a marketing plan forces you to think through the important steps that lead to an effective marketing strategy . And a well-defined plan will help you stay focused on your high-level marketing goals.

With Venngage’s extensive catalog of marketing plan templates , creating your marketing plan isn’t going to be hard or tedious. In fact, Venngage has plenty of helpful communications and design resources for marketers. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for  Venngage for Marketers   now. It’s free to register and start designing.

Venngage for Marketers Page Header

Whether you’re a team trying to set smarter marketing goals, a consultant trying to set your client in the right direction, or a one-person team hustling it out, Venngage for Marketers helps you get things done.

As mentioned above, the scope of your marketing plan varies depending on its purpose or the type of organization it’s for.

For example, you could create a marketing plan that provides an overview of a company’s entire marketing strategy or simply focus on a specific channel like SEO, social media marketing, content marketing and more, like in this example:

content marketing plan template

A typical outline of a marketing plan includes:

  • Executive summary
  • Goals and objectives
  • User personas
  • Competitor analysis/SWOT analysis
  • Baseline metrics
  • Marketing strategy
  • Tracking guidelines

Below you will see in details how to write each section as well as some examples of how you can design each section in a marketing plan.

Let’s look at how to create a successful marketing plan (click to jump ahead):

  • Write a simple executive summary
  • Set metric-driven marketing goals
  • Outline your user personas
  • Research all of your competitors
  • Set accurate key baselines & metrics
  • Create an actionable marketing strategy
  • Set tracking or reporting guidelines

1. Write a simple executive summary

Starting your marketing plan off on the right foot is important. You want to pull people into your amazing plan for marketing domination. Not bore them to tears.

Creative Marketing Plan Executive Summary

One of the best ways to get people excited to read your marketing plan is with a well-written executive summary. An executive summary introduces readers to your company goals, marketing triumphs, future plans, and other important contextual facts.

Standard Business Proposal Executive Summary

Basically, you can use the Executive Summary as a primer for the rest of your marketing plan.

Include things like:

  • Simple marketing goals
  • High-level metrics
  • Important company milestones
  • Facts about your brand
  • Employee anecdotes
  • Future goals & plans

Try to keep your executive summary rather brief and to the point. You aren’t writing a novel, so try to keep it under three to four paragraphs.

Take a look at the executive summary in the marketing plan example below:

Content Marketing Proposal Executive Summary

The executive summary is only two paragraphs long — short but effective.

The executive summary tells readers about the company’s growth, and how they are about to overtake one of their competitors. But there’s no mention of specific metrics or figures. That will be highlighted in the next section of the marketing plan.

An effective executive summary should have enough information to pique the reader’s interest, but not bog them down with specifics yet. That’s what the rest of your marketing plan is for!

The executive summary also sets the tone for your marketing plan. Think about what tone will fit your brand ? Friendly and humorous? Professional and reliable? Inspiring and visionary?

2. Set metric-driven marketing goals

After you perfect your executive summary, it’s time to outline your marketing goals.

(If you’ve never set data-driven goals like this before, it would be worth reading this growth strategy guide ).

This is one of the most important parts of the entire marketing plan, so be sure to take your time and be as clear as possible. Moreover, optimizing your marketing funnel is key. Employing effective funnel software can simplify operations and provide valuable customer insights. It facilitates lead tracking, conversion rate analysis, and efficient marketing optimization .

As a rule of thumb, be as specific as possible. The folks over at  VoyMedia  advise that you should set goals that impact website traffic, conversions, and customer success — and to use real numbers.

Avoid outlining vague goals like:

  • Get more Twitter followers
  • Write more articles
  • Create more YouTube videos (like educational or Explainer videos )
  • Increase retention rate
  • Decrease bounce rate

Instead, identify  key performance metrics  (KPI) you want to impact and the percentage you want to increase them by.

Take a look at the goals page in the marketing plan example below:

Creative Marketing Plan Goals

They not only identify a specific metric in each of their goals, but they also set a timeline for when they will be increased.

The same vague goals listed earlier become much clearer when specific numbers and timelines are applied to them:

  • Get 100 new Twitter followers per month
  • Write 5 more articles per week
  • Create 10 YouTube videos each year
  • Increase retention rate by 15% by 2020
  • Decrease bounce rate by 5% by Q1
  • Create an online course  and get 1,000 new leads
  • Focus more on local SEO strategies
  • Conduct a monthly social media report to track progress

You can dive even deeper into your marketing goals if you want (generally, the more specific, the better). Here’s a marketing plan example that shows how to outline your growth goals:

Growth Goals Roadmap Template for a Marketing Plan

3. Outline your user personas

Now, this may not seem like the most important part of your marketing plan, but I think it holds a ton of value.

Outlining your user personas is an important part of a marketing plan that should not be overlooked.

You should be asking not just how you can get the most visitors to your business, but how you can get the right visitors.

Who are your ideal customers? What are their goals? What are their biggest problems? How does your business solve customer problems?

Answering these questions will take lots of research, but it’s essential information to get.

Some ways to conduct user research are:

  • Interviewing your users (either in person or on the phone)
  • Conducting focus groups
  • Researching other businesses in the same industry
  • Surveying your audience

Then, you will need to compile your user data into a user persona  guide.

Take a look at how detailed this user persona template is below:

Persona Marketing Report Template

Taking the time to identify specific demographic traits, habits and goals will make it easier for you to cater your marketing plan to them.

Here’s how you can create a user persona guide:

The first thing you should add is a profile picture or icon for each user persona. It can help to put a face to your personas, so they seem more real.

Marketing Persona

Next, list demographic information like:

  • Identifiers
  • Activities/Hobbies

The user persona example above uses sliding scales to identify personality traits like introversion vs. extroversion and thinking vs. feeling. Identifying what type of personality your target users tend to have an influence on the messaging you use in your marketing content.

Meanwhile, this user persona guide identifies specific challenges the user faces each day:

Content Marketing Proposal Audience Personas

But if you don’t want to go into such precise detail, you can stick to basic information, like in this marketing plan example:

Social Media Plan Proposal Template Ideal Customers

Most businesses will have a few different types of target users. That’s why it’s pertinent to identify and create several different user personas . That way, you can better segment your marketing campaigns and set separate goals, if necessary.

Here’s a marketing plan example with a segmented user persona guide:

Mobile App Market Report

The important thing is for your team or client to have a clear picture of who their target user is and how they can appeal to their specific problems.

Start creating robust user personas using Venngage’s user persona guide .

4. Conduct an extensive competitor analysis

Next, on the marketing plan checklist, we have the competitor research section. This section will help you identify who your competitors are, what they’re doing, and how you could carve yourself a place alongside them in your niche — and ideally, surpass them. It’s something you can learn to do with rank tracking software .

Competitor research is also incredibly important if you are starting a blog .

Typically, your competitor research should include:

  • Who their marketing team is
  • Who their leadership team is
  • What their marketing strategy and strategic marketing plan are (this will probably revolve some reverse-engineering)
  • What their sales strategy is (same deal)
  • Social Media strategy (are they using discounting strategies such as coupon marketing to get conversions)
  • Their market cap/financials
  • Their yearly growth (you will probably need to use a marketing tool like Ahrefs to do this)
  • The number of customers they have & their user personas

Also, take as deep a dive as you can into the strategies they use across their:

  • Blog/Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO Marketing
  • Video marketing
  • And any other marketing tactics they use

Research their strengths and weaknesses in all parts of their company, and you will find some great opportunities. Bookmark has a great guide to different marketing strategies for small businesses  if you need some more information there.

You can use this simple SWOT analysis worksheet to quickly work through all parts of their strategy as well:

Competitive SWOT Analysis

Click the template above to create a SWOT chart . Customize the template to your liking — no design know-how needed.

Since you have already done all the research beforehand, adding this information to your marketing plan shouldn’t be that hard.

In this marketing plan example, some high-level research is outlined for 3 competing brands:

Content Marketing Proposal Competitive Research

But you could take a deeper dive into different facets of your competitors’ strategies. This marketing plan example analyses a competitor’s content marketing strategy:

Competitor-Analysis-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

It can also be helpful to divide your competitors into Primary and Secondary groups. For example, Apple’s primary competitor may be Dell for computers, but its secondary competitor could be a company that makes tablets.

Your most dangerous competitors may not even be in the same industry as you. Like the CEO of Netflix said, “Sleep is our competition.”

5. Set accurate key baselines & metrics

It’s pretty hard to plan for the future if you don’t know where your business stands right now.

Before we do anything at Venngage, we find the baselines so we can compare future results to something. We do it so much it’s almost like second nature now!

Setting baselines will allow you to more accurately track your progress. You will also be able to better analyze what worked and what didn’t work, so you can build a stronger strategy. It will definitely help them clearly understand your goals and strategy as well.

Here’s a marketing plan example where the baselines are visualized:

Social Media Marketing Proposal Success Metrics

Another way to include baselines in your plan is with a simple chart, like in the marketing plan example below:

Simple-Blue-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan

Because data can be intimidating to a lot of people, visualizing your data using charts and infographics will help demystify the information.

6. Create an actionable marketing strategy

After pulling all the contextual information and relevant metrics into your marketing plan, it’s time to break down your marketing strategy.

Once again, it’s easier to communicate your information to your team or clients using visuals .

Mind maps are an effective way to show how a strategy with many moving parts ties together. For example, this mind map shows how the four main components of a marketing strategy interact together:

Marketing Plan Mind Map Template

You can also use a flow chart to map out your strategy by objectives:

Action Plan Mind Map

However you choose to visualize your strategy, your team should know exactly what they need to do. This is not the time to keep your cards close to your chest.

Your strategy section may need to take up a few pages to explain, like in the marketing plan example below:

Creative-Modern-Content-Marketing-Plan-Template

With all of this information, even someone from the development team will understand what the marketing team is working on.

This minimalistic marketing plan example uses color blocks to make the different parts of the strategy easy to scan:

Blue-Simple-Social-Media-Marketing-Plan-Template

Breaking your strategy down into tasks will make it easier to tackle.

Another important way to visualize your marketing strategy is to create a project roadmap. A project roadmap visualizes the timeline of your product with individual tasks. Our roadmap maker can help you with this.

For example, this project roadmap shows how tasks on both the marketing and web design side run parallel to each other:

Simple Product Roadmap Plan Template

A simple timeline can also be used in your marketing plan:

Strategy Timeline Infographic

Or a mind map, if you want to include a ton of information in a more organized way:

Business Strategy Mindmap Template

Even a simple “Next, Now, Later” chart can help visualize your strategy:

3 Step Product Roadmap Template

7. Set tracking or reporting guidelines

Close your marketing plan with a brief explanation of how you plan to track or measure your results. This will save you a lot of frustration down the line by standardizing how you track results across your team.

Like the other sections of your marketing plan, you can choose how in-depth you want to go. But there need to be some clear guidelines on how to measure the progress and results of your marketing plan.

At the bare minimum, your results tracking guidelines should specify:

  • What you plan to track
  • How you plan to track results
  • How often you plan to measure

But you can more add tracking guidelines to your marketing plan if you see the need to. You may also want to include a template that your team or client can follow,  for  client reporting ,  ensure that the right metrics are being tracked.

Marketing Checklist

The marketing plan example below dedicates a whole page to tracking criteria:

SEO Marketing Proposal Measuring Results

Use a task tracker to track tasks and marketing results, and a checklist maker to note down tasks, important life events, or tracking your daily life.

Similarly, the marketing plan example below talks about tracking content marketing instead:

Social Media Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy

Although often used interchangeably, the terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” do have some differences.

Simply speaking, a marketing strategy presents what the business will do in order to reach a certain goal. A marketing plan outlines the specific daily, weekly, monthly or yearly activities that the marketing strategy calls for. As a business, you can create a marketing proposal for the marketing strategies defined in your company’s marketing plan. There are various marketing proposal examples that you can look at to help with this.

A company’s extended marketing strategy can be like this:

marketing strategy mind map

Notice how it’s more general and doesn’t include the actual activities required to complete each strategy or the timeframe those marketing activities will take place. That kind of information is included in a marketing plan, like this marketing plan template which talks about the content strategy in detail:

Content Marketing Proposal

Marketing plan v.s business plan

While both marketing plans and business plans are crucial documents for businesses, they serve distinct purposes and have different scopes. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of your business, including:

  • Mission and vision
  • Products or services
  • Target market
  • Competition
  • Management team
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing strategy (including a marketing plan)
  • Operations plan

Marketing plan on the other hand, dives deep into the specific strategies and tactics related to your marketing efforts. It expands on the marketing section of a business plan by detailing:

  • Specific marketing goals (e.g., brand awareness, lead generation, sales)
  • Target audience analysis (detailed understanding of their needs and behaviors)
  • Product:  Features, benefits, positioning
  • Price:  Pricing strategy, discounts
  • Place:  Distribution channels (online, offline)
  • Promotion:  Advertising, social media, content marketing, public relations
  • Budget allocation for different marketing activities
  • Metrics and measurement to track progress and success

In short, business plans paint the entire business picture, while marketing plans zoom in on the specific strategies used to reach your target audience and achieve marketing goals.

Types of marketing plans that can transform your business strategy

Let’s take a look at several types of marketing plans you can create, along with specific examples for each.

1. General marketing strategic plan / Annual marketing plan

This is a good example of a marketing plan that covers the overarching annual marketing strategy for a company:

marketing strategy template marketing plan

Another good example would be this Starbucks marketing plan:

Starbucks marketing plan example

This one-page marketing plan example from coffee chain Starbucks has everything at a glance. The bold headers and subheadings make it easier to segment the sections so readers can focus on the area most relevant to them.

What we like about this example is how much it covers. From the ideal buyer persona to actional activities, as well as positioning and metrics, this marketing plan has it all.

Another marketing plan example that caught our eye is this one from Cengage. Although a bit text-heavy and traditional, it explains the various sections well. The clean layout makes this plan easy to read and absorb.

Cengage marketing plan example

The last marketing plan example we would like to feature in this section is this one from Lush cosmetics.

It is a long one but it’s also very detailed. The plan outlines numerous areas, including the company mission, SWOT analysis , brand positioning, packaging, geographical criteria, and much more.

Lush marketing plan

2. Content marketing plan

A content marketing plan highlights different strategies , campaigns or tactics you can use for your content to help your business reach its goals.

This one-page marketing plan example from Contently outlines a content strategy and workflow using simple colors and blocks. The bullet points detail more information but this plan can easily be understood at a glance, which makes it so effective.

contently marketing plan

For a more detailed content marketing plan example, take a look at this template which features an editorial calendar you can share with the whole team:

nonprofit content marketing plan

3. SEO marketing plan

Your SEO marketing plan highlights what you plan to do for your SEO marketing strategy . This could include tactics for website on-page optimization , off-page optimization using AI SEO , and link building using an SEO PowerSuite backlink API for quick backlink profile checks.

This SEO marketing plan example discusses in detail the target audience of the business and the SEO plan laid out in different stages:

SEO marketing plan example

4. Social media marketing plan

Your social media marketing plan presents what you’ll do to reach your marketing goal through social media. This could include tactics specific to each social media channel that you own, recommendations on developing a new channel, specific campaigns you want to run, and so on, like how B2B channels use Linkedin to generate leads with automation tools and expand their customer base; or like making use of Twitter walls that could display live Twitter feeds from Twitter in real-time on digital screens.

For B2C brands, you can target Facebook and Instagram. Gain Instagram likes to build trust for your brand’s profile and post engaging content on both platforms

Edit this social media marketing plan example easily with Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor:

social media marketing plan example

5. Demand generation marketing plan

This could cover your paid marketing strategy (which can include search ads, paid social media ads, traditional advertisements, etc.), email marketing strategy and more. Here’s an example:

promotional marketing plan

1. Free marketing plan template

Here’s a free nonprofit marketing plan example that is ideal for organizations with a comprehensive vision to share. It’s a simple plan that is incredibly effective. Not only does the plan outline the core values of the company, it also shares the ideal buyer persona.

business plan on marketing strategies

Note how the branding is consistent throughout this example so there is no doubt which company is presenting this plan. The content plan is an added incentive for anyone viewing the document to go ahead and give the team the green light.

2. Pastel social media marketing campaign template

Two-page marketing plan samples aren’t very common, but this free template proves how effective they are. There’s a dedicated section for business goals as well as for project planning .

Pastel Social Media Marketing Plan Template

The milestones for the marketing campaign are clearly laid out, which is a great way to show how organized this business strategy is.

3. Small business marketing strategy template

This marketing plan template is perfect for small businesses who set out to develop an overarching marketing strategy for the whole year:

Notice how this aligns pretty well with the marketing plan outline we discussed in previous sections.

In terms of specific tactics for the company’s marketing strategy, the template only discusses SEO strategy, but you can certainly expand on that section to discuss any other strategies — such as link building , that you would like to build out a complete marketing plan for.

4. Orange simple marketing proposal template

Marketing plans, like the sample below, are a great way to highlight what your business strategy and the proposal you wan to put forward to win potential customers.

Orange Simple Marketing Proposal Template

5. One-page marketing fact sheet template

This one-page marketing plan example is great for showcasing marketing efforts in a persuasive presentation or to print out for an in-person meeting.

Nonprofit Healthcare Company Fact Sheet Template

Note how the fact sheet breaks down the marketing budget as well as the key metrics for the organization. You can win over clients and partners with a plan like this.

6. Light company business fact sheet template

This one-page sample marketing plan clearly outlines the marketing objectives for the organization. It’s a simple but effective way to share a large amount of information in a short amount of time.

Light Company Business Fact Sheet Template

What really works with this example is that includes a mission statement, key contact information alongside all the key metrics.

7. Marketing media press kit template

This press kit marketing plan template is bright and unmistakable as belonging to the Cloud Nine marketing agency . The way the brand colors are used also helps diversify the layouts for each page, making the plan easier to read.

Marketing Media Press Kit Template

We like the way the marketing department has outlined the important facts about the organization. The bold and large numbers draw the eye and look impressive.

8. Professional marketing proposal template

Start your marketing campaign on a promising note with this marketing plan template. It’s short, sharp and to the point. The table of contents sets out the agenda, and there’s a page for the company overview and mission statement.

Professional Marketing Proposal Template

9. Social media marketing proposal template

A complete marketing plan example, like the one below, not only breaks down the business goals to be achieved but a whole lot more. Note how the terms and conditions and payment schedule are included, which makes this one of the most comprehensive marketing plans on our list.

Checkered Social Media Marketing Proposal Template

What should marketing plans include?

Marketing plans should include:

  • A detailed analysis of the target market and customer segments.
  • Clear and achievable marketing objectives and goals.
  • Strategies and tactics for product promotion and distribution.
  • Budget allocation for various marketing activities.
  • Timelines and milestones for the implementation of marketing strategies.
  • Evaluation metrics and methods for tracking the success of the marketing plan.

What is an executive summary in a marketing plan and what is its main goal?

An executive summary in a marketing plan is a brief overview of the entire document, summarizing the key points, goals, and strategies. Its main goal is to provide readers with a quick understanding of the plan’s purpose and to entice them to read further.

What are the results when a marketing plan is effective?

When a marketing plan is effective, businesses can experience increased brand visibility, higher customer engagement, improved sales and revenue, and strengthened customer loyalty.

What is the first section of a marketing plan?

The first section of a marketing plan is typically the “Executive Summary,” which provides a concise overview of the entire plan, including the business’s goals and the strategies to achieve them.

Now that you have the basics for designing your own marketing plan, it’s time to get started:

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business plan on marketing strategies

  • Marketing |
  • How to create a winning marketing plan, ...

How to create a winning marketing plan, with 3 examples from world-class teams

Caeleigh MacNeil contributor headshot

A marketing plan helps leaders clearly visualize marketing strategies across channels, so they can ensure every campaign drives pipeline and revenue. In this article you’ll learn eight steps to create a winning marketing plan that brings business-critical goals to life, with examples from word-class teams.

quotation mark

To be successful as a marketer, you have to deliver the pipeline and the revenue.”

In other words—they need a well-crafted marketing plan.

Level up your marketing plan to drive revenue in 2024

Learn how to create the right marketing plan to hit your revenue targets in 2024. Hear best practices from marketing experts, including how to confidently set and hit business goals, socialize marketing plans, and move faster with clearer resourcing.

level up your marketing plan to drive revenue in 2024

7 steps to build a comprehensive marketing plan

How do you build the right marketing plan to hit your revenue goals? Follow these eight steps for success:

1. Define your plan

First you need to define each specific component of your plan to ensure stakeholders are aligned on goals, deliverables, resources, and more. Ironing out these details early on ensures your plan supports the right business objectives, and that you have sufficient resources and time to get the job done. 

Get started by asking yourself the following questions: 

What resources do I need? 

What is the vision?

What is the value?

What is the goal?

Who is my audience?

What are my channels?

What is the timeline?

For example, imagine you’re creating an annual marketing plan to improve customer adoption and retention in the next fiscal year. Here’s how you could go through the questions above to ensure you’re ready to move forward with your plan: 

I will need support from the content team, web team, and email team to create targeted content for existing customers. One person on each team will need to be dedicated full-time to this initiative. To achieve this, the marketing team will need an additional $100K in budget and one new headcount. 

What is the vision?  

To create a positive experience for existing customers, address new customer needs, and encourage them to upgrade. We’ll do this by serving them how-to content, new feature updates, information about deals and pricing, and troubleshooting guides. 

According to the Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) , CEOs and go-to-market leaders report that more than 60% of their net-new revenue will come from existing customers in 2023. By retaining and building on the customers we have, we can maintain revenue growth over time. 

To decrease the customer churn rate from 30% to 10%, and increase upgrades from 20% to 30% in the next fiscal year. 

All existing customers. 

The main channel will be email. Supporting marketing channels include the website, blog, YouTube, and social media. 

The first half of the next fiscal year. 

One of the most important things to do as you create your marketing strategy is to identify your target audience . As with all marketing, you need to know who you’re marketing to. If you’re having a hard time determining who exactly your target audience is, try the bullseye targeting framework . The bullseye makes it easy for you to determine who your target audience is by industry, geography, company size, psychographics, demographics, and more.

2. Identify key metrics for success 

Now it’s time to define what key marketing metrics you’ll use to measure success. Your key metrics will help you measure and track the performance of your marketing activities. They’ll also help you understand how your efforts tie back to larger business goals. 

Once you establish key metrics, use a goal-setting framework—like objectives and key results (OKRs) or SMART goals —to fully flush out your marketing objectives. This ensures your targets are as specific as possible, with no ambiguity about what should be accomplished by when. 

Example: If a goal of your marketing plan is to increase email subscriptions and you follow the SMART goal framework (ensuring your objective is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) your goal might look like this: Increase email subscription rate from 10% to 20% in H1 . 

3. Research your competition 

It’s easy to get caught up in your company’s world, but there’s a lot of value in understanding your competitors . Knowing how they market themselves will help you find opportunities to make your company stand out and capture more market share.

Make sure you’re not duplicating your competitors’ efforts. If you discover a competitor has already executed your idea, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm new ways to differentiate yourself.  By looking at your competitors, you might be surprised at the type of inspiration and opportunities you’ll find.

To stay ahead of market trends, conduct a SWOT analysis for your marketing plan. A SWOT analysis helps you improve your plan by identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

Example: If your competitor launches a social media campaign identical to what you had planned, go back to the drawing board and see how you can build off their campaign. Ask yourself: How can we differentiate our campaign while still getting our message across? What are the weaknesses of their campaign that we can capitalize on? What angles did they not approach?

4. Integrate your marketing efforts

Here’s where the fun comes in. Let’s dive into the different components that go into building a successful marketing plan. You’ll want to make sure your marketing plan includes multiple supporting activities that all add up into a powerful marketing machine. Some marketing plan components include: 

Lead generation

Social media

Product marketing

Public relations

Analyst relations

Customer marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Conversational marketing

Knowing where your consumer base spends the most time is significant for nailing this step. You need to have a solid understanding of your target audience before integrating your marketing efforts. 

Example: If your target audience is executives that spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, focus your social media strategy around placing branded content on LinkedIn. 

5. Differentiate with creative content

Forty-nine percent of marketers say visual images are hugely important to their content strategy. In other words, a clear brand and creative strategy is an essential component to every marketing plan. As you craft your own creative strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind: 

Speak to your audience: When defining your creative strategy, think about your audience—what you want them to feel, think, and do when they see your marketing. Will your audience find your creative work relevant? If your audience can’t relate to your creative work, they won’t feel connected to the story you’re trying to tell. 

Think outside the box: Find innovative ways to engage your audience, whether through video, animations, or interactive graphics. Know what screens your creative work will live on, whether desktop, mobile, or tablet, and make sure they display beautifully and load quickly across every type of device. 

Tie everything back to CTAs: It’s easy to get caught up in the creative process, so it’s important to never lose sight of your ultimate goal: Get your audience to take action. Always find the best way to display strong Calls to Action (CTAs) in your creative work. We live in a visual world—make sure your creative content counts.

Streamline creative production:   Once you’ve established a strong creative strategy, the next step is to bring your strategy to life in the production stage. It’s vital to set up a strong framework for your creative production process to eliminate any unnecessary back and forth and potential bottlenecks. Consider establishing creative request forms , streamlining feedback and approval processes, and taking advantage of integrations that might make your designers’ lives easier.

Example: If your brand is fun and approachable, make sure that shows in your creative efforts. Create designs and CTAs that spark joy, offer entertainment, and alleviate the pressure in choosing a partner.

6. Operationalize your marketing plan

Turn your plan into action by making goals, deliverables, and timelines clear for every stakeholder—so teams stay accountable for getting work done. The best way to do this is by centralizing all the details of your marketing plan in one platform , so teams can access the information they need and connect campaign work back to company goals.  

With the right work management tool , you can: 

Set goals for every marketing activity, and connect campaign work to overarching marketing and business objectives so teams focus on revenue-driving projects. 

Centralize deliverables for your entire marketing plan in one project or portfolio .

Mark major milestones and visualize your plan as a timeline, Gantt chart, calendar, list, or Kanban board—without doing any extra work. 

Quickly loop in stakeholders with status updates so they’re always up to date on progress. This is extremely important if you have a global team to ensure efforts aren’t being duplicated. 

Use automations to seamlessly hand off work between teams, streamlining processes like content creation and reviews. 

Create dashboards to report on work and make sure projects are properly staffed , so campaigns stay on track. 

With everything housed in one spot, you can easily visualize the status of your entire marketing plan and keep work on track. Building an effective marketing plan is one thing, but how you operationalize it can be your secret to standout marketing.

Example: If your strategy focuses on increasing page views, connect all campaign work to an overarching OKR—like “we will double page views as measured by the amount of organic traffic on our blog.” By making that goal visible to all stakeholders, you help teams prioritize the right work. 

See marketing planning in action

With Asana, marketing teams can connect work, standardize processes, and automate workflows—all in one place.

See marketing planning in action

7. Measure performance

Nearly three in four CMOs use revenue growth to measure success, so it’s no surprise that measuring performance is necessary. You established your key metrics in step two, and now it’s time to track and report on them in step eight.

Periodically measure your marketing efforts to find areas of improvement so you can optimize in real-time. There are always lessons to be learned when looking at data. You can discover trends, detect which marketing initiatives performed well, and course-correct what isn’t performing well. And when your plan is complete, you can apply these learnings to your next initiative for improved results. 

Example: Say you discover that long-form content is consistently bringing in 400% more page views than short-form content. As a result, you’ll want to focus on producing more long-form content in your next marketing plan.

Marketing plan examples from world-class teams

The best brands in the world bring their marketing plans to life every day. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these examples from successful marketing teams.

Autodesk grows site traffic 30% three years in a row

When the Autodesk team launched Redshift, it was initially a small business blog. The editorial team executed a successful marketing plan to expand it into a premier owned-media site, making it a destination for stories and videos about the future of making. 

The team scaled content production to support seven additional languages. By standardizing their content production workflow and centralizing all content conversations in one place, the editorial team now publishes 2X more content monthly. Read the case study to learn more about how Autodesk runs a well-oiled content machine.

Sony Music boosts creative production capacity by 4X

In recent years the music industry has gone through a pivotal transition—shifting from album sales to a streaming business model. For marketing and creative teams at Sony Music, that meant adopting an “always on” campaign plan. 

The team successfully executed this campaign plan by centralizing creative production and approvals in one project. By standardizing processes, the team reduced campaign production time by 75%. Read the case study to learn more about how Sony Music successfully scaled their creative production process.

Trinny London perfects new customer acquisition 

In consumer industries, social media is crucial for building a community of people who feel an affinity with the brand—and Trinny London is no exception. As such, it was imperative that Trinny London’s ad spend was targeted to the correct audience. Using a work management tool, Trinny London was able to nail the process of creating, testing, and implementing ads on multiple social channels.

With the help of a centralized tool, Trinny London improved its ad spend and drove more likes and subscriptions on its YouTube page. Read the case study to learn more about how Trinny London capitalized on paid advertising and social media. 

Turn your marketing plan into marketing success 

A great marketing plan promotes clarity and accountability across teams—so every stakeholder knows what they’re responsible for, by when. Reading this article is the first step to achieving better team alignment, so you can ensure every marketing campaign contributes to your company’s bottom line. 

Use a free marketing plan template to get started

Once you’ve created your marketing strategy and are ready to operationalize your marketing plan, get started with one of our marketing templates . 

Our marketing templates can help you manage and track every aspect of your marketing plan, from creative requests to approval workflows. Centralize your entire marketing plan in one place, customize the roadmap, assign tasks, and build a timeline or calendar. 

Once you’ve operationalized your entire marketing plan with one of our templates, share it with your stakeholders so everyone can work together in the same tool. Your entire team will feel connected to the marketing plan, know what to prioritize, and see how their work contributes to your project objectives . Choose the best marketing template for your team:

Marketing project plan template

Marketing campaign plan template

Product marketing launch template

Editorial calendar template

Agency collaboration template

Creative requests template

Event planning template

GTM strategy template

Still have questions? We have answers. 

What is a marketing plan.

A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines the different strategies your team will use to achieve organizational objectives. Rather than focusing solely on the end goal, a marketing plan maps every step you need to reach your destination—whether that’s driving pipeline for sales, nurturing your existing customer base, or something in-between. 

As a marketing leader, you know there’s never a shortage of great campaign and project ideas. A marketing plan gives you a framework to effectively prioritize work that aligns to overarching business goals—and then get that work done. Some elements of marketing plans include:

Current business plan

Mission statement  

Business goals

Target customers  

Competitive analysis 

Current marketing mix

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Marketing budget  

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to grow your company’s consumer base and strengthen your brand, while aligning with your organization’s mission and vision . The plan should analyze the competitive landscape and industry trends, offer actionable insights to help you gain a competitive advantage, and document each step of your strategy—so you can see how your campaigns work together to drive overarching business goals. 

What is the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy? 

A marketing plan contains many marketing strategies across different channels. In that way, marketing strategies contribute to your overall marketing plan, working together to reach your company’s overarching business goals.

For example, imagine you’re about to launch a new software product and the goal of your marketing plan is to drive downloads. Your marketing plan could include marketing strategies like creating top-of-funnel blog content and launching a social media campaign. 

What are different types of marketing plans? 

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, what your timeline is, or which facet of marketing you’re driving, you’ll need to create a different type of marketing plan. Some different types of marketing plans include, but aren’t limited to:

General marketing plan: A general marketing plan is typically an annual or quarterly marketing plan that details the overarching marketing strategies for the period. This type of marketing plan outlines marketing goals, the company’s mission, buyer personas, unique selling propositions, and more. A general marketing plan lays the foundation for other, more specific marketing plans that an organization may employ. 

Product launch marketing plan: A product launch marketing plan is a step-by-step plan for marketing a new product or expanding into a new market. It helps you build awareness and interest by targeting the right audience, with the right messaging, in the right timeframe—so potential customers are ready to buy your new offering right away. Nailing your product launch marketing plan can reinforce your overall brand and fast-track sales. For a step-by-step framework to organize all the moving pieces of a launch, check out our product marketing launch template .

Paid marketing plan: This plan includes all the paid strategies in your marketing plan, like pay-per-click, paid social media advertising, native advertising, and display advertising. It’s especially important to do audience research prior to launching your paid marketing plan to ensure you’re maximizing ROI. Consult with content strategists to ensure your ads align with your buyer personas so you know you’re showing ads to the right people. 

Content marketing plan: A content marketing plan outlines the different content strategies and campaigns you’ll use to promote your product or service. When putting together a content marketing plan, start by identifying your audience. Then use market research tools to get the best insights into what topics your target audience is most interested in.

SEO marketing plan: Your SEO marketing plan should work directly alongside your content marketing plan as you chart content that’s designed to rank in search results. While your content marketing plan should include all types of content, your SEO marketing plan will cover the top-of-funnel content that drives new users to your site. Planning search engine-friendly content is only one step in your SEO marketing plan. You’ll also need to include link-building and technical aspects in order to ensure your site and content are as optimized as possible.

Social media marketing plan: This plan will highlight the marketing strategies you plan to accomplish on social media. Like in any general or digital marketing plan , your social media strategy should identify your ideal customer base and determine how they engage on different social media platforms. From there, you can cater your social media content to your target audience.  

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What Is a Marketing Strategy?

  • How It Works
  • Marketing Strategies vs. Plans

How to Create a Marketing Strategy

The bottom line.

  • Marketing Essentials

Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One

business plan on marketing strategies

Investopedia / Daniel Fishel

A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan to facilitate the buying and selling of its products or services. A marketing strategy determines how to reach prospective consumers and turn them into customers. It contains the company’s value proposition , key brand messaging, data on target customer  demographics, and other high-level elements.

A thorough marketing strategy covers the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

Key Takeaways

  • A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.
  • Marketing strategies should revolve around a company’s value proposition.
  • The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.

Understanding Marketing Strategies

A clear marketing strategy should revolve around the company’s value proposition, which communicates to consumers what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves its business.

This provides marketing teams with a template that should inform their initiatives across all of the company’s products and services. For example, Walmart ( WMT ) is widely known as a discount retailer with “everyday low prices,” whose business operations and marketing efforts are rooted in that idea.

Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans

The marketing strategy is outlined in the marketing plan —a document that details the specific types of marketing activities that a company conducts and contains timetables for rolling out various marketing initiatives.

Marketing strategies should ideally have longer life spans than individual marketing plans because they contain value propositions and other key elements of a company’s brand, which generally hold constant over the long haul. In other words, marketing strategies cover big-picture messaging, while marketing plans delineate the logistical details of specific campaigns.

For example, a marketing strategy might say that a company aims to increase authority in niche circles where their clients visit. The marketing plan puts that into action by commissioning thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.

Benefits of a Marketing Strategy

The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies by understanding the needs and wants of its consumers. Whether it’s a print ad design, mass customization , or a social media campaign, a marketing asset can be judged based on how effectively it communicates a company’s core value proposition.

Market research can help chart the efficacy of a given campaign and can help identify untapped audiences to achieve bottom-line goals and increase sales.

Creating a marketing strategy requires a few steps. Here are some of the steps you should consider when creating your marketing strategy.

  • Identify your goals: While sales are the ultimate goal for every company, you should have more short-term goals such as establishing authority, increasing customer engagement, or generating leads. These smaller goals offer measurable benchmarks for the progress of your marketing plan. Think of strategy as the high-level ideology and planning as how you accomplish your goals.
  • Know your clients: Every product or service has an ideal customer, and you should know who they are and where they hang out. If you sell power tools, you’ll choose marketing channels where general contractors may see your messaging. Establish who your client is and how your product will improve their lives.
  • Create your message: Now that you know your goals and who you’re pitching to, it’s time to create your message. This is your opportunity to show your potential clients how your product or service will benefit them and why you’re the only company that can provide it.
  • Define your budget: How you disperse your messaging may depend on how much you can afford. Will you be purchasing advertising? Hoping for a viral moment on social media organically? Sending out press releases to the media to try to gain coverage? Your budget will dictate what you can afford to do.
  • Determine your channels: Even the best message needs the appropriate venue. Some companies may find more value in creating blog posts for their website. Others may find success with paid ads on social media channels. Find the most appropriate venue for your content.
  • Measure your success: To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts.

Why Does a Company Need a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy helps a company direct its advertising dollars to where it will have the most impact. Compared with the data from 2018, the correlation between organization and success in marketers jumped from being almost four times more likely to almost seven times more likely in 2022.

What Do the Four Ps Mean in a Marketing Strategy?

The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a good or service . The four Ps can be used when planning a new business venture, evaluating an existing offer, or trying to optimize sales with a target audience. It also can be used to test a current marketing strategy on a new audience.

What Does a Marketing Strategy Look Like?

A marketing strategy will detail the advertising, outreach, and public relations campaigns to be carried out by a firm, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives.

They will typically follow the four Ps. The functions and components of a marketing plan include market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries, tailored messaging  that targets certain demographics and geographic areas, and platform selection for product and service promotion—digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign, and metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.

Is a Marketing Strategy the Same as a Marketing Plan?

The terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

Companies need to sell their products and services to generate revenue and put them on the path of being a successful business. To sell their products or services, they have to let consumers know of them. They must also convince consumers to buy them as well as convert consumers from competitors. Having a marketing strategy that outlines this process and more is a crucial step in converting consumers into customers.

Walmart Corporate. “ About .”

CoSchedule. “ Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022 .”

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Your Guide to Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan

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Table of Contents

To have a successful business, you need a well-thought-out marketing plan to promote your products or services. Although making a few social media posts or blasting a few promotional emails may seem simple enough, disjointed marketing efforts not only confuse your target audience, but can ultimately harm your business. 

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategic road map for how you communicate (online and offline) with your target audience to successfully promote your products or services. Depending on your goal, marketing plans can be extremely basic or highly detailed.

According to Molly Maple Bryant, vice president of marketing at Vibrent Health, a marketing plan is not simply a list of things you want to accomplish. Instead, it should list the outcomes you seek — measurable and contextual, like the pipeline you’re developing, or leads you’re generating — and it should explain the high-level strategies you will use to achieve those outcomes. Developing strategies can be complicated, but they make a major difference in keeping you on track and avoiding diversions, also called scope creep .

“Once you have an agreed-upon plan, you are able to compare any incoming requests against your strategies to determine ‘Yes, this adheres to my strategy so we can add it,’ or ‘No, this sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t adhere to our agreed-upon strategy, so we won’t adjust resources,'” Bryant told us.

Types of marketing plans

There are several different types of marketing plans you can use based on certain strategies that make sense for your organization. Your business will likely need a combination of the following marketing plans to create an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy:

  • Advertising plan
  • Branding plan
  • Content marketing plan
  • Customer acquisition plan
  • Direct marketing plan
  • Email marketing plan
  • Public relation plan
  • Print marketing plan
  • Reputation management plan
  • Retention plan
  • Search engine optimization plan
  • Social media marketing plan

Why is it important to have a marketing plan for your business?

A marketing plan is a crucial resource for any small business because it helps you identify the market needs your product or service meets, how your product is different from competitors, and who your product or service is for. Marketing plans also serve as a road map for your sales strategy, branding direction and building your overall business. This is important for successfully conveying your brand messaging to your target audience .

Another significant benefit of a marketing plan for your company is that rather than simply guessing metrics, it forces you to sit down and do the math about your business goals and how to realistically fulfill them. When you look at your growth outcomes, you can delve further to determine what it will take to get to those numbers.

Bryant offered the following example: “Need $100,000 in revenue? How many sales is that? If 10, what’s your close rate? Let’s say 10 percent from lead to closed deal. Now you have a metric to start with — to get to 10 sales, we need 100 leads. Where will they come from, and what strategies will you use? The plan helps you put it all on paper so you can map out resources and tactics later with a lot of preparation and realism,” said Bryant.

When analyzing outcomes and resources, you can save time and avoid scope creep by focusing only on strategies that are relevant to your marketing plan. A marketing plan helps you think realistically about your strategies, gets your stakeholders on the same page, and holds your marketing team accountable for their decisions.

“When everyone’s tasks and goals are laid out for the stakeholders and company partners to see, it is much easier for the entire team to feel at ease about reaching sales goals and allowing the marketing team the space and freedom needed to execute work without constant supervision,” said Cassady Dill, digital marketing consultant and owner of Ethos Agency.

Additionally, Dill said a marketing plan should be easily understood by your entire team, executives and outside departments. Your plan should also serve as an easy guide for future marketing managers and team members to understand and implement.

What are the key elements of an effective business marketing plan?

A marketing plan should be customized to fit your business; however, Dill said, all marketing plans contain five essential functions:

  • Your business goals
  • Key metrics (how you quantify and measure success)
  • Strategies (an overview of implementation and how that will achieve goals)
  • A plan (the details of execution and the human resources, departments and software that will be involved)
  • Reporting (what reports of progress will include and/or look like)

We broke down those five functions into 10 actionable categories to help you create a marketing plan that is unique and effective for your business.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is a great place to give the reader of your plan an overview of your business’s mission or goals, as well as the marketing strategy you’re looking to employ. An executive summary is often written after you’ve completed the rest of the marketing plan, to ensure it covers all the important elements of your plan. If the executive summary is the only part of your marketing plan that someone reads (which is highly possible), you want to be sure they understand the most crucial details.

2. Mission statement

The mission statement , not to be confused with a vision statement, is a statement that encompasses your company’s values and how they relate to your overall goals as an organization. Here are some good questions to get you thinking:

  • What does your company do today?
  • What’s important to your company?
  • What would your company like to do in the future?
  • What is your brand identity?
  • What’s your culture like ?
  • How does your company benefit customers, employees and stakeholders?

3. Target markets

Identifying your target market is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. Without a defined target audience, your marketing expenses will be wasted. Think of it like this: Some people need your service or product but don’t know it exists yet. Who are those people?

Here are some other questions to help you brainstorm your target market :

  • What is the demographic of your customers (gender, age, income, education, etc.)?
  • What are their needs and interests?
  • What’s their psychographic profile (attitudes, philosophies, values, lifestyle, etc.)?
  • How do they behave?
  • What are some existing products they use?

4. Products and services

In this section, don’t just list what your product or service is. Think critically about what you have to offer your customers and what that value proposition means to them.

  • What do you make or provide for customers?
  • What are your customers’ needs?
  • How does your product or service fulfill customers’ needs?
  • What value do you add to your customers’ lives?
  • What type of product or service are you offering?

5. Distribution channels

At this point in your report, you should transition your thinking into actual marketing theory and practices. Distribution channels are the avenues you’ll use to reach a prospective customer or business . Think of all current and potential sales channels on which your specific target audience is active. One distribution channel that works great for one organization may be useless to another. For example, one company may host their website for free on a site like HubSpot and solely rely on that as their sales channel, while another company may have a whole team of people using Pinterest to drive sales. [Learn how CRM systems can help track your marketing leads based on various distribution channels.]

Examples of sales channels include the following:

  • Mobile text message marketing
  • Social media
  • Print (newspapers, magazines, brochures, catalogs, direct mail)
  • Broadcast (TV, radio)
  • Press releases
  • Trade shows, product demonstrations, event marketing

6. Competitive profile

One of the major aspects of your marketing plan is developing your unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is a feature or stance that separates your product or service from competitors. Finding your USP is all about differentiation and distinguishing your company as a sole proprietor of one type of good or service. Conduct a competitive analysis to identify your competitive profile and how you stack up against the competition. It is important to remain unbiased when conducting this analysis.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • What’s your USP?
  • Who are your competitors? What do they offer?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?
  • What needs of the market (or customer) are not being served? What can you do to meet those needs?

7. A pricing strategy

Consider pricing when drafting your marketing plan. Developing the right pricing strategy helps you better market your product. Think about your current and projected finances when developing a long-term marketing strategy that is realistic and beneficial for your business. Here are some key questions to ask yourself about your pricing:

  • What are reasonable margins to make a profit and cover production costs?
  • Is there a market for products or services at your projected price point?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice profit margins in return for a greater market share?
  • What are your marketing and distribution costs?

8. Objectives

Consider your objectives when developing a marketing plan. This aspect of your plan should involve specific goals related to market penetration and revenue targets. Be sure to keep your marketing objectives on-brand with your business. Here are some things to consider:

  • Sales quotas
  • Number of new customers gained
  • Customer retention percentages
  • Revenue targets
  • Market penetration
  • Brand awareness
  • Website traffic

9. Action plans

With all of the above items outlined, determine what steps need to be taken to enact your marketing plan. This includes determining the proper steps, setting goals, breaking down responsibilities, and establishing an overall timeline.

It’s also important to brainstorm potential roadblocks your business could face and some solutions to overcome them. Your research is useless if you don’t have an actionable plan that can be realistically implemented to carry out your ideas.

10. Financial projections

This last step allows you to establish a realistic marketing budget and better understand your marketing plan from a cost perspective. In addition to setting a budget, consider the overall return on investment as well. Here are some other financial projections to consider:

  • Cost of implementation
  • Cost to produce product or service
  • Existing and projected cash flow
  • Projected sales
  • Desired profit margin on projected sales

What is a template for creating a successful marketing plan?

The internet is full of useful tools, including paid and free marketing plan templates, to help you build a successful marketing plan .

Whether you are looking for a free template generator to build a new marketing plan or a benchmarking tool to evaluate your current strategies, several great resources are available. Keep in mind that the best marketing plan for your business will be a customized one.

“Ultimately, you should design a marketing plan that best serves the needs of your team as you see fit,” said Dill. “Don’t force yourself into a plan that doesn’t fit your team. Use templates to shorten the workload time, but then adjust it for a more custom plan.”

Here are some tools and templates to get you started:

  • Free marketing plan template : business.com has developed a free template that is fully customizable based on the needs of your business. Each section provides in-depth explanations, examples and resources to help you create an impressive marketing plan.
  • Smart Insights: In addition to offering marketing plan templates, some companies, like Smart Insights, offer marketing benchmarking templates to help you evaluate your strategy performance. These are accessible with a free Smart Insights membership.
  • GERU: Similarly, GERU offers a funnel-planning, profit-prediction and simulation tool to help you assess mock business ideas and simulations. This can help you identify weak points in your marketing strategy that need improvement. Although GERU requires users to sign up for a paid account, you can access a free trial to test it out.

What mistakes should you avoid when creating your marketing plan?

When creating an effective marketing plan, you need to avoid falling for common missteps and mistakes. For starters, failing to identify any of the 10 actionable categories above is an obvious mistake.

Here are some other key mistakes to avoid:

  • Setting unrealistic budgets: Underestimating the costs of marketing activities or setting an unrealistic budget can limit your ability to execute your plan effectively. Marketing can be expensive, so it’s important to fully understand the estimated cost and budget before building a marketing strategy that you can’t afford.
  • Focusing on quantity over quality: “More” doesn’t always mean “better” if you are posting on irrelevant marketing channels or your efforts are bringing in unqualified leads. Prioritizing the quantity of marketing activities over their quality can lead to superficial engagement and a lack of meaningful results.
  • Not testing campaigns: Launching large campaigns without testing can lead to wasted resources if the messaging or tactics don’t resonate as expected. Test out your new campaigns to ensure they achieve your intended goal.
  • Ignoring customer feedback: You may be tempted to ignore negative feedback, but disregarding customer comments and failing to address their concerns can lead to negative perceptions of your brand. Instead, use customer feedback to your advantage to improve your product and marketing efforts.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering: Setting unrealistic expectations in your marketing messages that your products or services can’t fulfill can damage your brand’s reputation.
  • Ignoring seasonality and trends: Failing to account for seasonal trends and market changes can result in missed opportunities for timely marketing efforts.
  • Not reviewing and updating your plan: A rigid marketing plan that doesn’t allow for adjustments in response to market feedback and changing conditions can hinder your success. A marketing plan should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the market and your business’s goals.

Avoiding these mistakes and missteps can help you create a more effective and successful marketing plan that drives results for your business.

How can you take action with your new marketing plan?

Before you dive into marketing plan templates, it’s important to understand how to think about a marketing plan.

A good marketing plan targets who your buyers are, establishes the service or product you are offering, and determines your unique selling proposition. From here, you will tackle the marketing planning process and develop the best way to get your product in front of buyers who want your product or service.

Dill created a simple four-step process for how small businesses can take action with creating a marketing plan.

  • The first step is to hold a marketing meeting with all the marketing team and executives or stakeholders. This gives them time to offer questions, concerns and criticisms you haven’t thought of so you can go back to the board room and revise your strategy or plan.
  • Next, add a timeline to all your tasks and assign team members and all the help you’ll need to execute that plan.
  • Once your plan is in action, hold weekly check-ins in person or by email to keep everyone on track.
  • Share a weekly progress report with all parties involved and execs to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

In addition to drafting your own plan, you can work with a digital marketing agency or use internet marketing and pay-per-click management services to leverage your online presence.

Once you’ve established a general road map, update it annually. Developing an evolving marketing plan sets your business up for continued success because it allows you to prepare for the unexpected and establish a connection between your brand and your audience.

Matt D’Angelo contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

A marketing strategy can set your business up for success. Learn why and how to make one for your business.

[Featured image] A women stands in front of a digital whiteboard and leads a marketing strategy meeting with several coworkers.

A marketing strategy is a long-term vision outlining a business’s value proposition to its customers. Rather than describing the concrete actions required in specific advertising campaigns, marketing strategies are used as a compass to direct overall marketing efforts. 

While it may be tempting to jump ahead and hash out a marketing plan right away, marketing strategies have been shown to improve success. Read on to learn more about marketing strategy, why it matters, different types of marketing strategy, and what you need to do to make one yourself. 

What is a marketing strategy? 

A marketing strategy is an overview of how a business or organization will articulate its overall value proposition to its customers. Generally, a marketing strategy outlines business goals, target market, buyer personas, competitors, and customer value. It provides a long-term vision for overall marketing efforts, often looking many years ahead. 

Advantages of a marketing strategy

Marketing strategies can have a measurable impact on success. 

In 2022, for instance, CoSchedule surveyed 3,599 marketers and bloggers to identify their most successful marketing practices. It found that marketers who documented their marketing strategy were 331 per cent more likely to report success than those who didn’t. Furthermore, the most organized marketers were found to be 674 per cent more likely to report success than those who weren’t [ 1 ].

Taking the time to create a marketing strategy can pay dividends in the future.

Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan

People often use the terms “marketing strategy” and “marketing plan” interchangeably, but in reality, they are two different processes.  

A marketing plan describes the concrete actions and marketing tactics undertaken to complete a marketing campaign. A marketing strategy , meanwhile, outlines the big picture of a marketing effort, such as the business's target audience and its product’s value proposition for customers. 

As a result, it is common to refer to an existing marketing strategy when developing a marketing plan. While the strategy describes what the marketing objectives are, the plan describes how those objectives are going to be achieved. Without a well-thought-out marketing strategy, marketing plans will likely miss the mark. 

For example, imagine an e-commerce business trying to grow its customer base. It uses marketing tactics like a referral program to encourage positive word of mouth. But its efforts only have marginal success. 

If it had created a marketing strategy,  the company might have realized that it actually needed to grow its customer base by appealing to an untapped target audience. As a result, its marketing plan would have instead outlined a digital marketing strategy focused on content creation through targeted blog posts and search engine optimization.

A great strategy can lead to a great plan. 

Types of marketing strategy 

There are many different approaches to marketing—such as social media marketing or content marketing—but the most elementary strategies for market growth are found in Ansoff’s matrix . These four strategies are: 

Market penetration 

Product development 

Market development

Diversification

H. Igor Ansoff created his matrix to help businesses understand the different strategies required for market growth. Ansoff made two basic assumptions about how growth could be achieved: firstly, by varying what product is being sold and, secondly, by varying who the product is being sold to [ 2 ]. As a result, each quadrant in his matrix features a mix of these two factors.  

An image of Ansoff's matrix. The matrix includes tiles for "market penetration," "product development," "market development," and "diversification."

In outlining these four growth strategies, Ansoff’s matrix also emphasizes the different marketing tactics businesses and marketers must consider when undertaking them. Each strategy requires a different consideration of the four Ps, also known as the “marketing mix,” which marketers should consider together to ensure an effective marketing strategy. The four Ps are: 

Product: What is being sold 

Place: Where it is being sold 

Price: What the product costs

Promotion: How the product is marketed to the target audience

How a marketer defines the four Ps for their marketing efforts will depend on their growth strategy and their market’s political and economic outlook. 

Let’s take a closer look at each strategy from Ansoff’s matrix. 

Market penetration strategy 

Market penetration is a growth strategy involving selling existing products to existing markets. It is considered the least risky of all the strategies in Ansoff’s matrix. The strategy is typically considered most beneficial if the market either grows or the marketer alters its promotional efforts through existing marketing channels [ 2 ]. 

An example of a market penetration strategy can be found in McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign from 2003. 

In the early 2000s, McDonald's faced flagging sales and plummeting stock prices. Rather than creating a new product (product development strategy), McDonald's focused on attracting existing customers in an existing market with a catchy ad campaign. The result was its wildly successful “I’m Lovin’ it” campaign, which featured a catchy new jingle sung by Justin Timberlake [ 3 ]. 

“I’m Lovin It” has since become McDonald’s longest-running marketing campaign since its founding in 1940 [ 4 ]. 

Product development strategy

A product development strategy involves the development of a new product for an already existing market. Typically, it is considered riskier than a market penetration strategy because it requires the creation of a totally new product.  To be successful, product development strategies typically require innovation and further research into the existing market, including the profiles and needs of the target audience [ 2 ].  

An example of a successful (and surprisingly interesting) product development strategy can be seen in the Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil. 

As odd as it may seem, the Uni Kuru Toga is something of a star in the mechanical pencil world. “[T]he Uni Kuru Toga is the best mechanical pencil for everyday writing,” opined the New York Times’s Wirecutter in a 2018 article [ 5 ]. Wired, meanwhile, called it “the ultimate geek tool” [ 6 ]. 

What makes the pencil so unique? A specially designed internal gear mechanism that rotates the lead so it stays sharp as you write and diamond-infused lead that doesn’t easily break under pressure. In effect, as a 2009 commercial for the pencil demonstrated, it was meant for people concerned with even handwriting and durable lead [ 7 ]. 

While the market for mechanical pencils was already well-established, the Uni Kuru Toga found success through a product development strategy that offered consumers something new and useful.

Market development strategy

A market development strategy takes an existing product into new markets. Much like a product development strategy, a market development strategy is considered riskier than a market penetration strategy because it involves introducing a familiar product into an unfamiliar marketplace. While the product remains the same, the new place it is sold requires possibly new pricing and promotional efforts [ 2 ].  

An example of a market development strategy is when Microsoft introduced its Hololens technology to an additional 29 markets in Europe in November of 2017 [ 8 ]. The augmented reality headset provides a unique user experience that allows professionals to work in a “mixed reality” environment. To promote their efforts, Microsoft released a YouTube video showcasing the unique use cases of the product in the workplace, such as through interactive employee training programs in industrial environments [ 9 ]. 

Diversification strategy

A diversification strategy involves the development of a new product for a new market. The novelty required of a diversification strategy means that it is also the riskiest of the Ansoff matrix’s four strategies. Diversification strategies require full attention on all four Ps – product, price, place, and promotion—but the biggest risks can also lead to the biggest rewards [ 2 ]. 

An example of a diversification strategy is when Apple introduced the first iPhone on June 9, 2007, at the MacWorld Expo. At the time, Apple was new to the mobile phone market, but it innovated by adding a music player and web browser to its new touchscreen phone [ 10 ]. 

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” CEO Steve Jobs declared before an audience of reporters [ 10 ]. Through much of the presentation, Jobs outlined the phone’s unique value proposition to customers.

It worked. As of June 2022, there were an estimated 1.8 billion active iPhone users [ 11 ].

How to create a marketing strategy

A marketing strategy can set you up for marketing success. As you create your own marketing strategy, consider the following steps to help guide your process.

1. Define your business and marketing goals.

The first step in creating an effective marketing strategy is clarifying your business objectives and goals. In other words, what is the end outcome you are trying to achieve with your market growth strategy?

The answer to this question will inevitably depend on your particular place in the market and your comfortability with different risk levels. 

Some examples of business and marketing goals include: 

Grow customer base 

Increase sales 

Increase brand awareness 

Whatever you ultimately decide are your objectives, though, the purpose is simply to take time out and consider what you want to accomplish by expanding your marketing efforts. These overarching goals will guide you as you further develop your marketing strategy.

2. Conduct market research. 

Strategic marketing requires a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace, its economic and political context, and your place in it. So, market research is a must.

As you are conducting market research, some of the factors you will want to consider include: 

Competitors, particularly their value proposition and market share

Market size, including the realistic number of customers who would be interested in your products  

Market gaps where you can provide value

Possible economic and political realities that could impact the market in the long term

 As you gain a better understanding of the market, you will also better understand how you fit into it and where you can grow in it. 

3. Create a customer profile. 

The purpose of every marketing campaign is to connect with a consumer. To help guide the development of a strong marketing plan, your marketing strategy needs to include a comprehensive profile of your target audience.

It is helpful to consider your target audience relative to the four Ps. So, you might ask yourself the following questions: 

Based on what you know about the market, who is your target audience? What are their key demographics? 

What is your product’s value proposition to your customer? (Product)

How much will your target audience pay for your product or service? (Price)

Where does your target audience shop? (Place)

What marketing tactics are most persuasive to your target audience? (Promotion)

As you research and consider these questions, your customer should come more clearly into view. A comprehensive understanding of your target market will help you create a strategy that impacts those you are trying to reach. 

4. Synthesize and strategize. 

Finally, you will take the goals you have outlined, your research, and the profiles you have created to construct a marketing strategy. The critical question you will want to answer is: how will you align with your target market to meet your overall objectives?

Your answer to this question will be your strategy.  

Ultimately, your marketing strategy should cover the following: 

Business and marketing objectives

Market overview, including key facts and figures

Competitor research 

Customer profile

General statement of strategy highlighting the product’s value proposition to customers

While you may have collected much information while conducting research, your marketing strategy doesn’t need to be too long. In fact, a strong marketing strategy can be as short as one to two pages. Remember, the marketing strategy is meant to act as a long-term guide for directing specific marketing tactics, not an action plan of how a marketing campaign will be done. 

Get market ready 

A great market strategy sets the stage for future marketing success. Whether you are a seasoned marketing pro or a budding entrepreneur, develop your marketing prowess with Developing a Winning Marketing Strategy from the University of Illinois. Considering a career in social media marketing? Build job-ready skills from the industry leaders with the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate or Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate .

Article sources

CoSchedule. “ The Marketing Management + Strategy Statistics You Need to Know in 2019 , https://coschedule.com/marketing-statistics.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Oxford College of Marketing. “ Using the Ansoff Matrix to Develop Marketing Strategy , https://blog.oxfordcollegeofmarketing.com/2016/08/01/using-ansoff-matrix-develop-marketing-strategy/.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

The Take Out. “ TIL McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ jingle was born out of desperation , https://thetakeout.com/history-of-mcdonald-s-i-m-lovin-it-jingle-1846400888.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Chicago Magazine. “ Five Things You Never Knew About ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ , https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/November-2014/McDonalds-Im-Lovin-It-Campaign/.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

NYT Wirecutter. “ The Best Mechanical Pencils , https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-mechanical-pencils/.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Wired. “ Kura Toga: The Ultimate Geek Tool , https://www.wired.com/2011/11/kuru-toga-the-ultimate-geek-tool/.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

YouTube (Uni Ball UK). “ Uni Kuru Togat from Mutsibishi Pencil Company , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80k7Jl1o8Lc&t=22s.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Tech Crunch. “ Microsoft expands HoloLens headsets to 29 new markets, now up to 39 , https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/01/microsoft-expands-hololens-headsets-to-29-new-european-markets/.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

YouTube (Microsoft HoloLens). “ Microsoft HoloLens: Mixed Reality in the Modern Workspace , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIJM9xNg9xs.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Computer World. “ Update: Jobs touts iPhone, Apple TV , https://www.computerworld.com/article/2549128/update--jobs-touts-iphone---appletv-.html.” Accessed March 25, 2024. 

Earthweb. “ How many people use iPhones in 2022? , https://earthweb.com/how-many-people-use-iphones/.” Accessed March 25, 2024.

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How a marketing strategy helps achieve business goals

A woman reads on her laptop about how a marketing strategy helps achieve business goals.

Perhaps you’ve heard how important it is for your business to have a marketing strategy, but you don’t know what that really means or where to start. Whether you’re new to using marketing strategies or you just want to create better ones, it can be tricky to craft a documented, tactical approach for your marketing team.

But understanding the nuances of marketing strategy can help you create more successful campaigns that put your business ahead.

This article will give you a basic understanding of what a marketing strategy is and how to create one. You’ll also learn how to execute a marketing strategy to get the biggest return on your investment.

This post will explore:

  • What a marketing strategy is

Understanding marketing strategies

Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan, importance of a marketing strategy, how to create a marketing strategy, types of marketing strategies, what is a marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy is an overarching approach companies take to promote their products or services and reach potential customers. It’s a marketing playbook used to generate measurable business results.

The purpose of a marketing strategy is to generate brand awareness, nurture customer relationships, and convert leads into paying customers. The ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to boost a business’s share of voice and generate more sales.

Marketing strategy is usually very high level. It marries your company’s goals with your marketing department’s objectives to create a strategic direction for your campaigns.

Key takeaways

A documented marketing strategy helps your team decide on the company’s future direction. You’re free to adjust your marketing strategy over time, but it’s a necessity for making the most of your resources.

The key benefits of marketing strategies include:

  • A better understanding of who your customers are and what motivates them
  • More clarity about your company’s value proposition and what makes you unique
  • Understanding how to position your product and communicate your value so you can outperform the competition

Without a marketing strategy, you risk promoting the wrong features, selling to the wrong audience, and misunderstanding your competition. Regardless of your company’s size or type, a marketing strategy can help you make the most of your resources while maximizing the results you get from marketing.

An effective marketing strategy involves researching your customer, positioning your product, and planning how to promote it. Every business should have a unique marketing strategy tailored to the 4 Ps :

Once you have the 4 Ps in place, you can use them as a foundation for your marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy:

  • Determines the general direction (but not the specific details) of your marketing
  • Informs marketing initiatives across all of your company’s products and services
  • Is long term and measurable

Although the two terms sound similar, it’s important to remember that a marketing strategy isn’t the same as a marketing plan .

Marketing strategies:

  • Are long-term, big-picture plans
  • Ensure the company delivers on its mission and marketing activities support business goals
  • Are a component of the marketing plan that explains your high-level goals

Marketing plans:

  • Are shorter term
  • Are documents that contain your marketing strategy, plus all of your high-level marketing activities
  • List all of your campaigns, usually for the year, alongside your overarching marketing and business goals

For example, your marketing strategy might focus on attracting more subscribers for your SaaS products. Your marketing plan would help you attract these subscribers with tactics like content marketing campaigns, informational webinars, or LinkedIn influencers. But marketing plans by themselves aren’t very actionable, which is why it’s smart to break your strategies down one step further into marketing tactics. These are the actionable steps you take to achieve your plan and, as a result, your strategy. For example, you might sign up for an influencer marketing platform to get influencers to promote your SaaS product, which delivers on your strategy of attracting more SaaS subscribers.

Plans and tactics matter, but they can’t work without an effective strategy. In fact, the right marketing strategy can make your business more successful.

According to a report by CoSchedule , organized marketers are 674% more likely to be successful. Marketing teams that paired their marketing strategy with a project management solution were 426% more likely to be successful too.

A marketing strategy is important because it helps you understand your customers’ needs and better communicate your offerings. It also sets a clear direction for your department and unifies marketing activities, so everyone works toward the same goal.

However, Smart Insights found 45% of companies don’t have a digital marketing strategy at all — and yet they still invest in digital marketing. Whether you do digital marketing or not, failing to document a marketing strategy can hurt your business in many ways, such as:

  • Not being able to justify enough of a budget to execute your vision
  • Causing internal chaos by changing strategic direction every few weeks
  • Seeing little to no return on investment for marketing activities
  • Missing out on timely marketing opportunities
  • Misunderstanding your customers’ needs and expectations

Your first marketing strategy likely won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. An imperfect strategy is always better than a nonexistent strategy because you can refine an imperfect strategy as you go.

If you’re ready to create your own marketing strategy, follow these seven steps to make one that is useful and actionable.

1. Define business goals

Marketing should deliver on your main goals. That’s why you first need to know your business goals, so you can create a marketing strategy that supports them.

Every business is different, but general goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Increasing profits
  • Diversifying income
  • Increasing market share
  • Retaining employees
  • Beating the competition
  • Fostering deeper customer relationships

For example, if your business goal is to increase sales by 10%, your marketing plan needs to support that goal. For marketing to increase sales by 10%, you might focus on generating more leads or expanding your target audience. By first understanding your overall business goal, you can pivot your marketing strategy to focus on things that matter most to the business as a whole.

2. Identify and research the target market

Before you can understand your customers, you need to understand the realities of your target market. This will give you valuable context on how to best promote your business.

You might spot a few opportunities while you learn about your target market. In-depth market research can also help you predict your profitability and earning potential.

Some aspects to research include market:

  • Competitors
  • Economic factors
  • Political factors

For example, if you realize that impending legislation will drastically change your market, that’s going to have a big impact on how you can promote your business. At the same time, if you realize there’s a lot of competition in the market, that means you’ll need to think outside of the box when marketing your product. Don’t let this research deter you, though. The purpose of market research is to understand the current state of the market so you can overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

3. Create buyer personas

Marketing works by pairing a business solution with a customer need. At this point, you might have a solid solution, but you can’t forget about the other side of the equation — the customer.

Once you know your goals and target market, it’s time to create buyer personas (for B2C) or ideal customer profiles (for B2B). Think of these depictions as an internal tool that helps your marketing team understand and empathize with your target audience.

Your buyer personas or customer profiles should include demographics, interests, and pain points. This data will inform your messaging, marketing channels, and strategic direction.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one profile, either. Most companies sell to a variety of customers, so it isn’t unusual to have three to seven buyer personas or customer profiles.

4. Identify your unique value proposition

Your unique value proposition — or unique selling point (USP) — answers why consumers should choose your solution. It should also detail the key benefits of your product or service.

What makes your product, service, or company unique? What do you do better than everyone else? Why should customers buy from you?

List all of your products and services and document the benefits of each in your marketing strategy. Your marketing team can use these bulletpoint benefits to craft more compelling ad copy, emails, and content to persuade more leads to convert — so think carefully.

5. Craft your positioning and messaging

From here, you’ll take your unique benefits and create approved brand messaging.

How will you position your products, services, or brand to your target audience? Create preapproved messaging with boilerplate or templated language that your marketing team can pull from easily.

Blend your product benefits with your buyers’ pain points to make your message as enticing as possible. Documenting your messaging will also help you stick with one consistent story throughout your marketing campaigns and channels.

6. Determine your marketing channels and tactics

Next, you’ll need to define how specifically you’ll achieve your overall marketing strategy. To do that, you’ll need to choose channels and tactics.

Be sure to choose channels that your audience uses. For example, if Facebook is your audience’s social network of choice, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of energy and resources in TikTok. Every company’s approach will differ, but you should consider these channels and tactics to get started:

  • Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram , and TikTok
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Social media advertising
  • Influencer marketing
  • Organic search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing, including blogs, podcasts, and videos
  • Affiliate marketing

Once you’ve chosen your marketing channels, choose tactics for each channel that align with your marketing strategy. For example, if your B2B leads respond well to email marketing, you might create tactics to boost your email subscriber list or pre-plan a few seasonal email campaigns.

7. Measure your progress

Marketing strategies are a constant work in progress. Your strategy needs to include metrics or KPIs that help you assess whether you’ve been successful.

Your marketing strategy should list which KPIs you track and the acceptable benchmarks for those metrics. This should tie into your overall business objectives and marketing goals. For example, if your goal is to increase customer acquisition, you need to track metrics like leads generated and churn rate.

Try measuring your progress with metrics such as:

  • Subscribers
  • Views and clicks
  • Comments and shares
  • Conversion rates
  • SEO rankings
  • Click-through rates
  • Social media followers
  • Email subscribers

Regardless of your metrics, you need to assess your progress at least once a year (if not more often). If this is your first marketing strategy, you might need to meet monthly or quarterly to adjust as you go.

A marketing strategy can apply to an organization’s overall marketing strategy or just to one channel. Some companies have omnichannel marketing strategies that blend all of their channels together. But if you’re a smaller business, you might have separate strategies for email, social media, or content marketing.

There are several types of marketing strategies to consider, such as:

1. Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing persuades customers to come to you instead of pursuing customers yourself (outbound marketing). With inbound marketing strategies, you craft a playbook for connecting with leads who express interest in your brand. This includes tactics like email marketing and content marketing.

2. Search engine marketing. Search engine marketing strategies help businesses optimize their web pages to stand out on search engines. This type of marketing strategy focuses on keywords, rankings, and backlinks.

3. Content marketing. Content marketing is similar to inbound marketing, but this strategy focuses solely on content production and distribution. It includes blogs, podcasts, videos , reports, case studies, testimonials, and more.

4. Social media marketing. Social media marketing strategies detail which social networks you’ll use and your individual strategy for posting and interacting on each network.

5. Email marketing. Email marketing strategies help businesses get more mileage out of their email lists. Use this strategy to segment your lists, craft the perfect messages, and send emails at the right time.

Some businesses choose to create one overarching marketing strategy, while others prefer to create separate strategies that allow them to do deeper dives into separate strategies. Do what works best for your business.

Start building a marketing strategy

Marketing strategies can help you clarify your company’s value proposition, better understand your customers, and come out ahead of the competition.

Follow the seven steps in this guide to craft your own marketing strategy to see the difference firsthand. If you’re ready to get started, define your business goals and research your market. Don’t overlook the power of buyer personas, your USP, messaging, marketing tactics, and KPIs to create a strong marketing strategy.

When it comes to executing on strategy, even large marketing teams struggle to make sense of their big-picture marketing goals. That’s why many organizations rely on solutions like Adobe Campaign to help them plan, strategize, and execute.

Campaign makes it simple to visualize and connect personal customer journeys across every channel. With Campaign, you can control both online and offline customer journeys, delivering tailored experiences to every single person. Rooted in email but extending across all channels, it synchronizes campaign elements into one manageable workflow.

Transform multichannel marketing into unified experiences with Adobe Campaign.

Watch the demo video to learn more.

Adobe Marketo Engage can also help B2B marketing teams nurture leads and enhance customer engagement for complex B2B buying journeys.

To learn more about Marketo Engage, take an interactive product tour or watch the overview video .

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/marketing-plans-how-create

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/marketing-mix-and-four-ps-of-marketing

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/ecommerce-marketing-strategy

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Cambridge Strategy Group

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

The start up businesses in Cambridge are in need of a consulting firm that helps them decide how to market themselves and build themselves to a successful business. Research shows that many of these businesses fail since they don’t have the resources to make the right choices. Helping them keeps people employed and the economy going strong. 

The Cambridge Strategy Group (CSG), L.L.C. is dedicated to providing marketing and management consulting services to small and emerging businesses looking for opportunities to increase their potential for success. 

The target market is defined by the customer needs that create the market, the structural forces that govern operation within the market, and the attractiveness of the market based on strategic value, market size, market growth, and potential for profit.

Competition

There are many rivals in the Cambridge area that fall into 4 categories: segment rivals, market rivals, generic rivals, structural rivals.

The Cambridge Strategy Group is focused specifically on helping small and emerging businesses maximize their potential for success. 

Expectations

The market for Cambridge Strategy Group’s services is enormous. Initially, the three founding members intend to work part-time on this venture while maintaining full-time positions with other corporations. As we determine how best to enlarge our operations, we will consider expanding the business as defined in our strategy.

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

The three managing directors will contribute $115,000.  John Gordon is contributing $40,000, Todd Kuczaj will be contributing $40,000 and Ben Cordell will be contributing $35,000. 

Problem & Solution

Problem worth solving.

The new businesses in the area  were started by an entrepreneur with a solid idea, but little experience in creating the formal business strategies or marketing deliverables necessary to turn their idea into a successful business. With recent IPOs giving back much of their initial valuations, companies are now being forced to demonstrate profitable business models in order to maintain strong valuations. Venture capitalists need to focus on making their existing companies successful instead of simply prospecting for the next great idea. To accomplish this, founders need to effectively define and communicate their value propositions. Since this is not a core competency for many entrepreneurs, there is an opportunity to provide this skill set through outsourcing arrangements. Additionally, founders need experience in sales and marketing to exploit market opportunities and create early revenue wins. Finally, no business currently exists with dominant mind-share as a "small business consulting" firm.

Our Solution

The Cambridge Strategy Group is focused specifically on helping small and emerging businesses maximize their potential for success. We differentiate ourselves in the following ways:

  • Focus on small business:   Our mission is to help small businesses of today become the leading corporations of tomorrow. Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to own the words "small business" in the minds of our potential clients.
  • Cost-effective personal interaction with local consultant presence: We will target new regions with local consultants, allowing us to personally interact with small businesses without needing to bring consultants to the region.
  • A diverse network of consultants and alliance partners:   By relying on a nationally distributed talent base coordinated to work together remotely, we will be able to bring together a variety of skills to meet the needs of our clients.

Target Market

Market size & segments.

Market Segmentation

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS The following factors define the environment in which CSG hopes to succeed.

  • Physical:  New businesses are being formed across the United States every day. Providing consulting services to these businesses will require local presence. North Carolina’s Triangle Area has recently been rated as one of the top three metropolitan areas for small businesses by Dun and Bradstreet’s  Entrepreneur  magazine.
  • Legal:  The creation of the Limited Liability Company has made it very simple for new businesses to organize as formal business entities. Limited Liability Companies are ideal for small businesses as they avoid the double taxation characteristic of C Corporations, while providing limited liability for the company members.
  • Economic:  Current economic conditions are continuing to challenge investors’ views regarding the potential for return. The market is no longer rewarding entrepreneurs solely on the strength of their ideas. Instead, business owners and Venture Capitalists are expected to show profitability before they will be allowed to reap the rewards of their hard work. While small business owners bring innovative ideas and possibly leadership qualities to their organization, they will need to rely upon skills from other disciplines, including marketing, to succeed.
  • Social:  According to a Small Business Administration report, U.S. small business is at an all-time high  (The Facts About Small Business, 1999) "interest in owning or starting a small business has broken new records [between 1993 and 1998]." While recent stock market corrections may have frightened a segment of potential entrepreneurs, the opportunity for financial reward keeps many small business owners diligently chasing their dreams.
  • Technological:  Recent advances in technology have greatly enhanced the ability for distributed teams to work together on common projects. The proliferation of the Internet facilitates data sharing and communication. Voice-over-IP technology reduces the cost of conversation between CSG members working across the country.

With these conditions in mind, CSG will concentrate on initially building clients in the North Carolina area before expanding into other areas. We will be concentrating on all businesses that employ less than 100 individuals. CSG will not segment its market to any greater degree since the company wants to build clients as quickly as possible. Therefore our market analysis chart below reflects this initial strategy.

Target Market 

The target market is defined by the customer needs that create the market, the structural forces that govern operation within the market, and the attractiveness of the market based on strategic value, market size, market growth, and potential for profit. Each of these areas is described below.

STRUCTURAL FACTORS Particular market forces affect the ability of the Cambridge Strategy Group to succeed. These forces are identified below:

  • Buyer Power:  With almost 900,000 new businesses starting each year, there is ample demand for consulting services. If any particular business chooses to work with another consulting firm, there are still a large number of firms that can be targeted by CSG. Buyers have power in this market, but the size of the market makes it unlikely that buyer power will have any significant negative impact on the consulting firm.
  • Threat of Conventional Competitors:  No other conventional competitor owns the idea of "small business consulting" in the minds of today’s business owners. A number of high-profile management and marketing consulting firms exist, yet most of these firms have a reputation for being expensive and much too theoretical for small business owners who have practical, short-term concerns. Still, there is potential for these firms to open distinct teams of consultants focused on this market place. These teams would have particular strength in an area where the competitors already have an established consulting presence, such as the major U.S. cities. By beginning our efforts in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, Cambridge Strategy Group will exploit an area that has a very strong market of small businesses, yet does not have many high-profile competitor offices outside of tax specialists. No smaller competitor has emerged in this area.

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  • Supplier Power:  Suppliers have minimal power over a consulting firm. The www.cambridgestrategy.net website URL as well as all of the Cambridge Strategy Group email addresses are owned by CSG. Our Web-hosting provider can be changed quickly in the event of any disruption of service. CSG intends to work with third party alliance partners to fulfill client projects. For example, CSG is in the process of entering into an agreement with a Web development firm. This supplier will provide website development for the www.cambridgestrategy.net website in exchange for first right of refusal for future client projects. Contractual stipulations have given the Group legal remedies to terminate the contract due to cost, quality, or time issues with the supplier. By crafting supplier contracts in a careful manner, we hope to limit our exposure to risk due to suppliers’ power.
  • Threat of Substitutes:  Potential substitutes are a very real threat. Venture Capitalists could add more consulting services to their portfolio in order to have more points of contact with the new business. Additionally, non-profit groups such as the Council for Entrepreneurial Development offer basic business plan services, primarily focusing on pre-Angel businesses. Cambridge Strategy Group intends to form relationships with each of these potential substitutes. By working with Venture Capitalists, CSG is able to provide a set of core competencies in marketing and business strategy that complements the VCs funding and business model assessment competencies. Also, by becoming more involved with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and other non-profit organizations, CSG will gain access to a number of firms who will be potential prospects for marketing consulting once they receive their initial funding.
  • Threat of New Entrants:  This threat is significant as there are very few barriers to entry in a consulting market. Consulting firms do not normally have significant intellectual property that can be patented, and the requirements for creating these firms are minimal. Fortunately, the size of the new business market should sustain a number of firms in this area. The Cambridge Strategy Group will focus on gaining ownership of the idea "small business consulting" in the mind of the market. By owning that idea, CSG will minimize its exposure to new consulting firms with similar targets. Owning this idea is an expensive task that will have to start locally and move from one city to another as the company expands.

Current Alternatives

Competitors to the Cambridge Strategy Group fall into four categories:

  • Segment Rivals:  Segment Rivals offer the exact same services as the Cambridge Strategy Group. These firms must focus exclusively on small businesses and offer marketing and/or management strategy services.
  • Market Rivals:  There are a number of available Market Rivals who compete with the Cambridge Strategy Group while having slightly different business focuses. Examples of market rivals include start-up focused branches of Big Five Consulting Firms, Management Consulting Firms, and Venture Capitalists who also provide business services.
  • Generic Rivals:  Generic Rivals represent alternative solutions. The main alternative to outsourcing work to a consulting firm is performing the work in-house.
  • Structural Rivals:  Structural Rivals are the forces inherent in the market through which the firm must operate. These forces were described in the previous section entitled Target Market Analysis.

Our Advantages

Key Success Factors:   After exploring the opportunities and threats that permeate this market, the following Key Success Factors emerge as the requirements to be successful at providing marketing and management consulting services to small businesses.

  • Local presence in a strong small business market;
  • Affordable pricing structure/minimal costs;
  • Clear value proposition, communicated into target market;
  • Core competencies in marketing and strategy;
  • Recognition as leading "small business consultants" or, no other firm claiming that title;
  • Venture Capitalist relationships.

Keys to Success

UNIQUENESS OF SERVICES The Cambridge Strategy Group is focused specifically on helping small and emerging businesses maximize their potential for success. We combine Blue Chip training with small business experience and local presence. We differentiate ourselves in the following ways:

  • Focus on small business.  We place our best people on small business customers. Our mission is to help small businesses of today become the leading corporations of tomorrow. Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to own the words "small business" in the minds of our potential clients.
  • Cost-effective personal interaction with local consultant presence. Personal interaction provides small businesses with a level of comfort not available with remote consultants. There may be many occasions where the small business founders may ask the consultant to simply "stop by," to react to a new development, or to answer a question. While this local presence and personal interaction is highly valued, business owners are often unable to afford the cost associated with bringing consultants to them from other areas.
  • A diverse network of consultants and alliance partners.  Solving the unique problems that face small businesses today demands a wide range of skills and experiences. By relying on a nationally distributed talent base coordinated to work together remotely, Cambridge Strategy Group will be able to bring together the skills required by a particular client without incurring the expense of physically bringing all of the individuals together. In the book,  22 Immutable Laws of Marketing , authors Al Ries and Jack Trout note that being first in the customer’s mind is more important than being the overall leader. In the world of small business, this is particularly true. With 898,000 small businesses starting each year, there is a significant opportunity for a consulting firm such as Cambridge Strategy Group to become the "first" consulting firm dedicated exclusively to small businesses in the minds of a number of these potential clients.

Marketing & Sales

Marketing plan.

We have a number of ways to promote We will use a number of relationships to promote the Cambridge Strategy Group.

Through participation in the North Carolina Chapter of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, we will make contacts with key Venture Capitalists, small business founders, and small businesses resources in the area. Once we have helped our first few clients, we will then explore relationships with local newspapers. Participating in local chambers of commerce will also help us to get increased exposure. In every method of communication, we will constantly reinforce our differential advantage:

  • Focus on helping small businesses start moving in the right direction;
  • Practical, actionable, short-term marketing and business strategy help;
  • Local presence for availability and minimization of costs;
  • Broad skill base combining Fortune 500 training with small business experience.

The 20 projects averaging 200 hours each listed represents approximately two person-years of work. However, additional time must be included for finding new clients and building Venture Capitalist relationships. For this forecast to become a reality, it will require either: (a) additional consultants to join the firm or (b) some members of CSG to work full-time on group activities. Note that "projects" are not synonymous with "clients." Any given client may require multiple projects from CSG.

The Cambridge Strategy Group understands the importance of implementing the technological components of a small business as soon as possible in order to facilitate communication between the company and its clients, employees, and partners. Therefore, we offer assistance in email enablement as well as phone and fax set-up. CSG also offers expertise in constructing an Internet presence through Web development and Web hosting.

Milestones & Metrics

Milestones table, key metrics.

Our Key Metrics are: 

  • Total clients per month 
  • Average billing per engagement. 
  • Repeat business vs. new business. 
  • Facebook likes, Twitter follows. 

Ownership & Structure

The company is organized as a manager-managed Limited Liability Company. Initially, we will have three members with equal equity stakes in the company making all voting decisions. An executive director who is one of the managers will be identified to run meetings and provide some form of order to ongoing discussions. Additionally, we will hire consultants as needed to help our clients. Consultants will be paid on a per-deliverable basis.

Management Team

The CSG management team brings a broad range of industry experience and training from both energetic small firms and experienced industry leaders.

John B. Gordon, Executive Director: John has worked in marketing, business development, and corporate strategy for a number of small and large firms, including EMC Corporation, IBM Corporation, and Larscom, Incorporated. John’s participation on the North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development, plus his experience providing consulting services to small businesses, catalyzed the formation of the Cambridge Strategy Group.

Todd D. Kuczaj, Managing Director: Todd has worked in Internet consulting, Web design/development, financial services, and media publications for a variety of companies, including a Big Five consulting firm, Integrated Information Systems Inc., SunAmerica Securities Inc., and the Foothills Sentinel. Todd currently functions as an experienced analyst for a Big Five consulting firm, working with Fortune 100 and Fortune e-50 firms to solve their business and technology issues.

Ben S. Cordell, Managing Director: Ben has worked in business development, account management, systems engineering, marketing, and product development positions at LifeServ and ONE Co. (formerly DC Systems). Ben currently functions as a corporate strategy specialist at LifeServ, discovering and developing merger, acquisition and strategic partnership opportunities.

The Cambridge Strategy Group will create an advisory board to bring insight into new areas including consulting management, finance and accounting, venture capital, and local media. The Founders of CSG have a number of contacts that could certainly provide useful guidance in our future operations. We will determine the value and compensation for the advisory board in future discussions.

Personnel Table

Financial plan investor-ready personnel plan .">, key assumptions.

Below is a list of assumptions that define the short-term business model:

  • Year 1 will  be spent preparing and learning how best to approach clients and building relationships with VCs;
  • All managers will hold full-time positions with other companies;
  • We will focus on business opportunities in NC until we create sufficient revenue to open foreign LLC’s in other states;
  • year 1  financial model represents only three managers;
  • All revenue is realized when a project is finished

Revenue by Month

Expenses by month, net profit (or loss) by year, use of funds.

Our Startup Expenses are: 

Start-up Expenses

Stationery etc.$100

Brochures$150

Insurance$200

Other$4,000

TOTAL START-UP EXPENSES$4,650

Sources of Funds

Our 3 owners will contribute to our startup: John Gordon is contributing 40,000, Todd Kuczaj is contributing 40,000, Ben Cordell contributed 35,000. The total from the owner investment is 115000

Projected Profit & Loss

Projected balance sheet, projected cash flow statement.

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How To Create Marketing Plans for Small Businesses

business plan on marketing strategies

Big businesses make big plans. They also create elaborate marketing schemes to put those plans into action.

It’s easy for SMB (small and medium business) owners and their teams to feel that a full-fledged marketing plan is out of their reach. While they may lack the resources to go toe to toe with larger competitors in the market, though, that makes the strategic planning and guidance of small business marketing efforts that much more valuable.

Let’s go over what it means to create marketing plans for small businesses, why having a small business marketing strategy is so important for success, and how your business can create its own master marketing plan.

What are Marketing Plans for Small Businesses?

A marketing plan, at its most fundamental level, is a series of steps that you can take to promote your brand and its products and services to consumers. In other words, a marketing plan isn’t your actual marketing activity. It’s the strategy or guidelines that you create to set those initiatives in motion. 

In the context of marketing plans for small businesses, this could include anything from creating a website to crafting an email drip campaign, drafting a social media marketing campaign, building credibility through digital PR , and more. A small business marketing plan takes the limited resources of a small business and considers how that entity can effectively reach its target audience with its marketing.

Why are Marketing Plans for Small Businesses Important?

Grasping the goal of a marketing plan is the easy part. For a small business team with finite time and resources, justifying the investment in a marketing plan is where things can bog down.  

It’s tempting to redirect your team’s efforts toward activities with more immediate or tangible results, such as sales or product development. When you take the time to invest in a genuine growth-oriented marketing plan , though, you can provide a long-term blueprint for growth that you simply can’t recreate through other areas of business activity.

The goal of a marketing plan is to create basic parameters, such as a schedule and marketing budget, that help you optimize your promotional resources. Developing the plan itself may require some extra investment, but the benefits are well worth it.  

By planning ahead of time, you give yourself the opportunity to consider all of your marketing options. It also allows you to either establish or revisit key factors, such as your target audience, primary selling points, and your competition. From there, you can decide which marketing activities are the most cost-effective and beneficial for your brand, as well as the order in which you need to execute them.  

For example, a marketing plan might reveal that paying for ongoing PPC (pay-per-click) ads is exorbitant and expensive over the long term. It also may reveal that the money saved from slashing your PPC ads in half allows you to invest in a content marketing strategy. From there, you can plot out the steps required to generate, optimize, and promote that content (see the next section) as an effective way to put your marketing in motion. 

Small business marketing plans also allow you to gauge the ROI of your marketing investments over time. This gives you the ability to make adjustments and maximize results as you go along. It also frees you up to be more creative in your long-term approach to marketing by building on past successes that you otherwise might not have known about.

What Should You Include in Marketing Plans for Small Businesses?

If you’re sold on the concept of developing a marketing plan for your small business but aren’t quite sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In the following section, we’ll break

down a step-by-step analysis of how you can turn your marketing ambitions into a solid plan of action that can guide you.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

It’s easy to skip this step, but trust us, you don’t want to do that. Most small business owners think they know their marketing goals — and in a certain sense, that’s true. As an involved executive of a smaller enterprise, you probably have your finger on the pulse of your organization more than most leaders. 

But that proximity to daily operations and activities can also make it easy to cloud out the big-picture stuff at times. Before you establish your marketing plan, take a minute to step back. 

What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing in the next year? What about the next five years? Do you want to generate revenue? Build brand awareness? Increase online visibility? Spark long-term growth? 

Each goal is related to your marketing, but the differences are important. Get each specific marketing goal in place before you flesh out your plan.

Step 2: Identify Your Audience

Your target audience should be the central focal point of your entire operation. When you develop products, you should consider whom they serve. When you bring them to market, you want to consider how to communicate to a select group of consumers that they’re available to solve their problems.

Make sure you have a buyer persona in place that reflects precisely whom you’re trying to market to and what their pain points are. If you’ve already considered what your customer base looks like, use this step to review that data and ensure that it’s informed by up-to-date market research.

Step 3: Consider Resources and Competition

As a final step to set the stage for your planning, review what resources you have available. As a small business, do you have a marketing team, or does that responsibility overlap with other employees (or yourself)? How much time do you have to invest in marketing? What is your marketing budget? What assets do you already have, such as a CRM or social media marketing tools?

Also, consider conducting a fresh round of competitive analysis. You likely did this when you were pulling together your business plan. Go back and observe how your competitors are marketing themselves to your target audience. Note the pros and cons of their efforts.

Step 4: Identify the Marketing Tactics You Can Use

Now comes the marketing magic. Once you’ve considered your goals, target audience, resources, and competition, it’s time to bring it all together. 

Consider the marketing tactics you have available and which ones best meet your current marketing needs. Then, weave these marketing ideas into a plan that considers resources and timelines. A few common marketing tactics that work well for small businesses include:

  • Creating a strong website : This becomes your central online presence and a place to host your blogs, user-generated content, landing pages, and other content marketing.
  • Optimizing your website : SEO is important. Optimizing your site with long-tail keyword phrases, links, and technical SEO (think metadata, mobile-friendly, etc.) is a powerful way to maximize your content creation efforts.
  • Build up off-site marketing : Create a social media presence using platforms your target audience prefers. Nurture email marketing, as well, including drip campaigns, newsletters, and targeted announcements.
  • Organize leads in a CRM : As a small business owner, you want to stay organized. When your marketing begins to gain momentum, have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform ready to keep things organized and under control.

Remember, you’re a small business with limited marketing resources. Consider which tactic is particularly relevant to your brand at the moment, and invest in those areas first.

Step 5: Establish Success Metrics and Feedback Loops

Finally, consider how you’ll track your marketing over time. Use tools like Google Analytics 4 to keep tabs on important marketing metrics, such as ranking for brand keywords, measuring organic traffic, and tracking conversions.

Also, request feedback from customers and team members and then use that information to hone your marketing activities moving forward. If you’re unsure how to adapt your plan (or create one in the first place), consider working with a growth marketing agency that can bring a cost-effective degree of experience and knowledge to bear on your brand’s marketing initiatives.

Building Master Marketing Plans for Small Businesses

As a small business, you may have limited time, money, and tools to work with. However, that doesn’t mean investing in a marketing plan isn’t worth it.

On the contrary, creating an effective marketing strategy helps you ensure that every ounce of resources you pour into promoting your business has a purpose. This gives you the best chance of sparking genuine, measurable growth, which can enable you to build larger marketing budgets, plans, and strategies in the future.

How to Start a Small Business in 10 Steps

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Learn how to start a small business from scratch with expert guidance. Get essential tips and steps for launching your dream journey successfully.

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Brett Grossfeld

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Do you have a killer idea that you think would be perfect for launching a small business? If you believe what you see on TikTok, becoming an entrepreneur is just about as easy as posting a 30-second video. But in the real world, launching a small business can be a bit more challenging.

Starting a small business may seem daunting, but if you ask those same business owners if it’s worth the risk — few would trade the opportunity to shape their own destiny.

But where to start? Thankfully, you don’t need to have everything figured out before going out on your own. Successful small business owners are constantly learning from their mistakes — and improving their ideas and dreams along the way.

If you’re ready to take the leap and become a small business owner, keep reading.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

What is a small business, how much does it cost to start a small business, how to start a small business in 10 steps, what do you need to start a small business, start small — but think big.

Small businesses are generally defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as independent operations having fewer than 200 employees. And the majority of small businesses in the United States have fewer than five employees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau . 

But the number — or lack — of employees doesn’t necessarily define a “small business.” A business’s size can also be determined by the number of sales, the range of individual business locations, and other factors.

Along with size requirements, the SBA considers a company to be small if it’s:

  • Independently owned and operated
  • Not dominant in its field
  • Physically located and operated in the U.S. (or a U.S. territory)

If your company meets the SBA’s definition of a small business, many government programs offer resources and local assistance for you to turn your dreams into reality.

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If you’re skilled in a certain trade — say, bookkeeping — you can launch a business with almost no money . But if your idea needs to be fleshed out and developed by researchers, scientists, and engineers, your startup costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and beyond. But most startup costs fall somewhere in the middle. 

Factors that influence cost

A sole proprietor working from home is going to have very different startup costs than a Silicon Valley startup flush with venture capital funds. But it doesn’t matter if you have $1,000 or $1 million to launch your small business — you’ll need to have a budget.

Are you moving the clutter out of your garage to make room for a desk? Or are you going to hire an architect to remodel a warehouse space in a trendy neighborhood? Obviously, both businesses are going to have wildly different expenses.

Think about your budget and what you can afford to get started. And it’s good to assume that unexpected expenses will pop up along the way — especially in your first year of business.

What kinds of costs to expect

The SBA has a worksheet that will help you calculate typical expenses for a small business, including one-time expenses such as:

  • Rent : This includes security deposit, first month’s rent and utilities. If you’re working from home, you can deduct a percentage of your rent or mortgage on your taxes .
  • Improvement costs: Anything that you might spend on your physical place of business to make it suitable for work.
  • Inventory : If you’re selling a product, you’ll need goods to keep up with customer demand.
  • Employees : This includes payroll, payroll taxes, and health insurance.
  • Professional services: Accountants, lawyers, and consultants will all need to be paid
  • Supplies : Think office supplies, such as paper and pencils, and operating supplies, like computers and printers.
  • Marketing: Business cards, stationery, flyers, and advertising all fall under this category.
  • Miscellaneous : This includes licenses, permits, legal fees, signage, technology, and accounting software. Everything else — liability insurance, repairs, maintenance, and dues.

The most difficult part of starting a small business is committing to your vision. It’s easier if you break down the process into small, achievable goals. Here are 10 steps that will get you on your way:

1. Do your research

If you don’t do basic market research before you launch your business, you may be down for the count before you even get started. Ask neighbors, friends, and even your barista if they would be interested in your product or service — and ask how much they’d be willing to pay for it. 

Conduct competitor research, local and global searches, and even offer surveys to consumers to see what the need versus want ratio is. 

2. Write a business plan

A business plan is your roadmap; it helps guide you as you start and grow your company. If you need capital to get started, most investors will want to review a business plan before they commit to any financing. 

To organize your ideas, download and fill out a business plan template . A well-written business plan provides clarity, confirms the math, and helps you establish goals so your business has the best chance of success.

3. Choose a business name

Finding the perfect brand name is a vital step in launching a new business. But hiring a professional naming company doesn’t come cheap — it can cost as much as $100,000 , according to Fast Company. 

If that’s outside your budget, there are countless AI-powered business name generators available online, and Fiverr has entrepreneurs who will help brainstorm business names for three figures or less.

4. Decide on your location

Take a look at the taxes, zoning laws, and regulations in your location. You may find that operating your business in a different location could offer financial advantages. Review the fees, costs, and tax benefits of each state to see which location makes the most sense for your business . A strategic move may put you ahead of the game before you even open the doors.

5. Get your finances in order

Startup costs discourage many would-be entrepreneurs, but the reality is that many successful businesses got started with little more than a vision, discipline, and hard work. However, if you really need cash for that newly opened business bank account, here are four ways of getting that money:

  • Self-funding: If you have the means, you may use your own earnings to kickstart your business or see out financial counsel to work it into your budget.
  • Outside investors: For a stake in your company, relatives or venture capitalists may be willing to invest in your business.
  • Small business loans: If you want to keep full ownership of your business, a small business loan may be the way to go.
  • Crowdfunding: If you’re feeling creative and confident, try sites such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe to generate capital.

6. Take care of the legal stuff

Register your business in the state where it was formed — and make sure that you’re set up to pay state income and unemployment tax. Review whether your local municipality requires filing for a license or permit to operate your business. 

To satisfy Uncle Sam, apply for an EIN from the IRS . Confirm that no one else is using your business name by contacting your state filing office or online database. Some business structures require using a doing business as (DBA) name, and you may be required to open a business bank account.

7. Develop a marketing plan

Once you have a terrific name for your company locked down, you’ll want to create an online presence for your business. Be consistent on your social media channels , ideally creating accounts on the channels — meeting them online where they are. 

Develop a website that’s intuitive and filled with all the information your customers need. Your marketing may also include advertising campaigns and public relations.

8. Set up your CRM software

To enhance your marketing efforts and grow your small business, try customer relationship management ( CRM) for Small Business . This will be your solution for storing and managing prospect and customer information such as contact information, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities — all in one single source of truth. 

With Salesforce’s Starter Suite , you can start in minutes and easily manage your marketing, sales, and customer service as your business scales.

9. Launch your product or service

Congratulations: You’ve done all the hard work and you’re ready to introduce your product to the world. Make sure to announce your launch on social media — and consider throwing a media-friendly bash to celebrate.

10. Keep your customers happy

When you use CRM software, you can keep track and personalize support for all your customers. And happy customers are good for business — 80% of them say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services .

The United States has more than 33 million small businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce , and that number represents 99.9% of all U.S. businesses. And most of those small businesses started the same way — with an entrepreneur and an idea. But it takes more than just a dream to launch a small business.

So, where to start?

It’s time to take some notes. First, start outlining your business plan. If you’re stuck, ask yourself these four questions when developing your plan :

  • Goals : What do you need to accomplish to achieve your vision?
  • Methods : What are the steps you need to follow to get you there?
  • Measurements : How will you determine when each objective has been met?
  • Obstacles : What could throw you off course along the way?

Once you’ve written a business plan and are feeling confident, you’re ready to establish:

A name for your business

A great business name should succinctly identify your company and its audience. Brainstorm and get feedback from friends, family, and potential customers. And before you fall in love with your new company name, make sure that an established business in your industry isn’t already using that name.

A location for your business

Choosing where to conduct business is one of the most important decisions you can make for your small business. While staying close to home may be your first instinct, a change of venue may prove to be financially advantageous.

A business structure

For tax purposes and protection of personal assets, you need to choose a business structure that offers the right balance of legal protections and benefits. Common business structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, and cooperative.

A legal presence

If you want personal liability protection, legal protection, and tax benefits for your company, you’ll need to register your business with state and local governments.

Federal and state tax ID numbers

Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) works like a personal Social Security number, but for your business. You need an EIN to pay state and federal taxes for your company.

Licenses and permits

Whether your business needs to apply — and pay for — licenses and permits depends on your business activities, location, and government rules. Review regulations from city, state, and federal agencies.

A business bank account

Opening up a bank account exclusively for business use will help keep your personal finances separate, making life easier at tax time. There are several banks that will allow you to open a business checking account with a zero balance, but traditionally banks will require an opening deposit of anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000.

Start-up funds

Even if you open a business checking account with a zero balance, you’re going to want to have some funds to cover basic operating expenses. The SBA offers guidance on obtaining funding for your small business, including loans, grants, and investors.

Starting a new business may feel like a gamble, but business insurance will help you cover your bet. The right insurance policy will help protect you against accidents, natural disasters, and lawsuits.

You should also consider:

Customer relationship management

A CRM platform keeps your customer data organized and provides the foundation to build connected customer experiences (that can be made even better through artificial intelligence). Starting with a suite of sales, service, marketing, and commerce tools is easy.

Invoice and billing software

While it is possible to keep track of your financial records on a traditional paper ledger, modern invoice and billing software makes the process much, much easier.

A graphic designer

A well-designed logo can make or break a business. The Nike “swoosh” was created by a graphic design student — and the $35 Nike initially spent paid for itself many times over.

Many small businesses exist with just a presence on social media, but having a professionally designed website adds legitimacy to your business.

Marketing experts

Like graphic design, marketing expenses are costs that many small business owners initially want to avoid. But strategically investing in a marketing campaign can be a boon for a small business that wants to make noise in a crowded marketplace.

A Human Resources department

Once your business grows to a certain size, it’s time to create a human resources (HR) department — or, at least, to hire an HR professional. This professional can focus on things such as labor law compliance, employee recruitment, employee engagement and development, and compensation and benefits management while you manage your business.

An assistant

For most small businesses starting out, hiring an assistant to perform administrative and clerical duties is something of a luxury. If your budget is tight, consider a virtual assistant .

What are some popular small business ideas?

If you have a unique idea for a small business, great. But some of the best small business ideas build on your strengths and experience. What do you love to do? What lights you up when you are helping the community? Do you have a pull to do something more?

What are the odds that my small business will succeed?

Starting a small business is no guarantee of success. Approximately 80% of small businesses survive their first year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survival rate decreases to 50% after five years and 30% after 10 years.

What are some Fortune 500 companies that started small?

Not all big companies started with millions of dollars in venture capital. Some of America’s biggest brand names had far more modest beginnings . Apple famously got started in a Silicon Valley garage, while Mattel was building dollhouse furniture from picture frame scraps in its early days.

What are the most business-friendly states?

Before setting up shop in New York or California, consider launching your small business in North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, or North Carolina. These states offer the best conditions to start a business , according to Forbes Advisor.

What can I deduct for my small business at tax time?

(Almost) everyone knows that you can deduct entertainment and travel expenses as a small business owner. But you can also deduct software subscriptions, office furniture, and interest on small business loans, according to NerdWallet .

Taking the leap to start your own small business is just the first step on your entrepreneurial path. But you’re in good company. Nearly half of all U.S. employees are employed by a small business — and more than 80% of those small businesses are solo ventures , according to Forbes Advisor. There’s no better time than the present to start turning your dreams into reality.

Want to grow your new small business? Sign up for a Salesforce free trial .

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Free MS Word Strategic Planning Templates

By Courtney Patterson | May 11, 2024

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Below is a collection of the best strategic planning templates in Microsoft Word to help you create a comprehensive roadmap for future growth and success.

Included in this article, you'll find: 

  • A one-page business strategy template
  • A Microsoft Word IT Strategic Plan Template
  • A 5-year strategic business plan template
  • A nonprofit strategic plan template
  • A list of related strategic planning templates

Microsoft Word Basic Strategic Plan Template

Basic Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download the Sample Basic Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word   Download the Blank Basic Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word  

When to Use This Template : Use this template with or without sample data when you are starting your business and need to outline a clear direction and foundational strategies. This tool is crucial for transitioning from an informal approach to a more structured strategic planning process. 

Notable Template Features : This basic strategic plan template simplifies the planning process with a clear, easy-to-follow structure that covers essential strategic elements. It includes sections for mission and vision statements, a SWOT analysis, goals, and action plans, making it accessible for first-time strategists.

Check out these  free strategic planning templates that offer robust resources, including ready-to-use frameworks and expert advice, so you can meticulously craft and execute your strategic vision.

Microsoft Word One-Page Business Strategic Plan Template

One Page Business Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download Sample One-Page Business Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word Download Blank One-Page Business Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Consider this template when you’re on a deadline and need a swift, comprehensive snapshot of your strategy. Available with or without sample data, the template is ideal for pre-meeting preparations, allowing you to quickly and thoroughly review your strategic position.

Notable Template Features : This one-page business strategic plan template boils down intricate strategies to a single, accessible page. Featuring streamlined sections for goals, actions, and metrics, it delivers a clear and concise strategic outline that's easy to share and discuss. Download the sample version for a pre-filled template, or try the blank version to fill in the sections with your own data.

Check out this  strategic planning guide , complete with free templates that offer you all the tools and insights you need to expertly develop and implement your strategic plans.

Microsoft Word IT Strategic Plan Template

Information Technology Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download Microsoft Word IT Strategic Plan Template Download Sample IT Strategic Plan Template  

When to Use This Template : Dive into this template when your IT department is gearing up for a major overhaul or aligning with new business strategies. Available with or without example text, the template is a must-have for plotting out the technological roadmap that supports your organization's long-term vision.

Notable Template Features : This IT strategic plan template features IT-specific sections, such as technology assessments and future roadmaps, making it a powerhouse for managing and planning IT investments. The template includes detailed prompts, so you can thoroughly address and align each aspect of your IT strategy, from cybersecurity to cloud computing, with overarching business objectives.

Explore this  article on crafting strategic plans . It offers a treasure trove of free templates to guide your team through the strategic planning process, ensuring a seamless and effective strategy formulation.

Microsoft Word Advanced Strategic Planning Template

Advanced Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download the Sample Advanced Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Advanced Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Turn to this dynamic template with or without sample data when you’re ready to plan an all-inclusive strategy. Perfect for times of significant growth or change, it's especially useful for teams looking to blend comprehensive market insights with long-term planning.

Notable Template Features : This advanced strategic planning template is designed to guide you through every facet of strategic development, from SWOT analysis to detailed financial planning. Offering structured sections for an all-encompassing view of your business landscape, it ensures that you have a robust foundation for decision-making and future growth. Download the sample version for a pre-filled template, or try the blank version to fill in your own data.

Dive into this comprehensive  guide on strategic planning model templates to access a diverse array of free resources and streamline the path to your strategic goals.

Microsoft Word One-Year Strategic Business Plan Template

One Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download Sample One-Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word Download Blank One-Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Use this one-year template with or without sample data to reach your key goals within the next year. It's a must for companies looking to translate annual objectives into clear, actionable steps.

Notable Template Features : This one-year strategic business plan template is designed with simplicity in mind, featuring sections that help break down goals into achievable actions and timelines. The template’s streamlined approach ensures that you can focus on what matters most, making it easier to track progress and adjust strategies as needed.

Microsoft Word 5-Year Strategic Business Plan Template

5 Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download the Sample 5-Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank 5-Year Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Use this template to lay the strategic groundwork for the medium-term achievements your organization aims to reach in the next five years. Available with or without sample text, it's perfect for transitioning from startup to established entity, allowing you to focus on expansion and scalability.

Notable Template Features : This 5-year strategic business plan template empowers you to set ambitious yet attainable goals and create strategies for market expansion. It also includes tools for financial forecasting and resource allocation, making it easier to manage growth and measure success over a longer period.

Microsoft Word Long-Term Strategic Business Plan Template

Long Term Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word

Download the Long-Term Strategic Business Plan Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Use this template when you’re aiming for a plan of 10 years or longer and envisioning your business's journey toward long-term innovation and industry leadership.

Notable Template Features : Featuring a decade-spanning outlook, this long-term strategic plan template empowers you to set visionary goals and detailed strategies for sustainable growth and innovation. It’s designed to help you align your long-range plans with actionable steps, ensuring every department is moving toward a common, ambitious future.

Microsoft Word University Strategic Plan Outline Template

University Strategic Plan Outline Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download Sample University Strategic Plan Outline Template for Microsoft Word Download Blank University Strategic Plan Outline Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : This template helps university leaders chart a future course that enriches academic excellence and campus life. Use it during periods of strategic reflection or in advance of accreditation reviews to ensure all goals align with the institution's mission and vision.

Notable Template Features : Tailored to the academic sector, this strategic plan outline includes sections for setting educational priorities, creating a strategy for program development, and planning campus enhancements. Available with or without example text, it facilitates a comprehensive approach to institutional growth, encouraging stakeholder engagement and long-term planning for academic and infrastructural improvements.

Microsoft Word Marketing Strategic Planning Template

Marketing Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word Example

Download the Sample Marketing Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Marketing Strategic Planning Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Turn to this template when you're preparing to put a new product on the market or revamping your brand's presence. It's ideal for synchronizing your marketing initiatives with your overarching business goals.

Notable Template Features : This template with or without sample data stands out with its clear sections for defining marketing objectives, pinpointing your audience, and crafting detailed campaign strategies. It supports marketers by laying out a comprehensive plan that not only attracts but also retains customers, ensuring all marketing activities are in lockstep with the business's vision and objectives. Try the pre-filled template to see sample text, or use the blank template to fill in your own data.

Microsoft Word Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word

Download the Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template for Microsoft Word

When to Use This Template : Reach for this template when your nonprofit is gearing up for a period of strategic renewal or aiming to better align its efforts with its core mission. Helping you clearly articulate your organization's direction and impact, this tool is crucial for running annual planning sessions or preparing funding and grant applications.

Notable Template Features : This template is designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, featuring sections dedicated to mission statement clarification, stakeholder engagement strategies, and impact assessment methods. It offers a comprehensive framework for nonprofits to navigate the complexities of sustainability and mission-driven planning, ensuring every activity contributes to long-term success.

Related Strategic Planning Templates

Discover this list of free templates that perfectly complement your strategic planning needs. From business model canvases to detailed market analyses and customer journeys, these tools ensure a solid value proposition and guide your business toward success.

Free Microsoft Word Action Plan Templates

Check out these  free Microsoft Word action plan templates for tools to streamline your project planning, enhance your task management, and achieve your goals more efficiently.

Simple Action Plan Template

Free Gap Analysis Templates

Explore this  collection of free gap analysis templates to help you identify the discrepancies between your business's current state and its desired future state, offering a clear pathway for strategic improvement and goal achievement.

General Gap Analysis Template

Free Scenario Analysis Templates

Use these  free scenario analysis templates to get frameworks that prepare you for various future possibilities, enabling strategic decision-making and risk management.

Simple Scenario Analysis Spreadsheet Template EXAMPLE

Secure Your Organization’s Future Success with Strategic Planning Templates from Smartsheet

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The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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Artificial intelligence in strategy

Can machines automate strategy development? The short answer is no. However, there are numerous aspects of strategists’ work where AI and advanced analytics tools can already bring enormous value. Yuval Atsmon is a senior partner who leads the new McKinsey Center for Strategy Innovation, which studies ways new technologies can augment the timeless principles of strategy. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, he explains how artificial intelligence is already transforming strategy and what’s on the horizon. This is an edited transcript of the discussion. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, follow the series on your preferred podcast platform .

Joanna Pachner: What does artificial intelligence mean in the context of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: When people talk about artificial intelligence, they include everything to do with analytics, automation, and data analysis. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence research in the 1960s, talked about AI as a “suitcase word”—a term into which you can stuff whatever you want—and that still seems to be the case. We are comfortable with that because we think companies should use all the capabilities of more traditional analysis while increasing automation in strategy that can free up management or analyst time and, gradually, introducing tools that can augment human thinking.

Joanna Pachner: AI has been embraced by many business functions, but strategy seems to be largely immune to its charms. Why do you think that is?

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Yuval Atsmon: You’re right about the limited adoption. Only 7 percent of respondents to our survey about the use of AI say they use it in strategy or even financial planning, whereas in areas like marketing, supply chain, and service operations, it’s 25 or 30 percent. One reason adoption is lagging is that strategy is one of the most integrative conceptual practices. When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI capabilities that would decide, in place of the business leader, what the right strategy is. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy that could significantly improve outcomes.

I like to use the analogy to virtual assistants. Many of us use Alexa or Siri but very few people use these tools to do more than dictate a text message or shut off the lights. We don’t feel comfortable with the technology’s ability to understand the context in more sophisticated applications. AI in strategy is similar: it’s hard for AI to know everything an executive knows, but it can help executives with certain tasks.

When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI deciding the right strategy. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of tasks can AI help strategists execute today?

Yuval Atsmon: We talk about six stages of AI development. The earliest is simple analytics, which we refer to as descriptive intelligence. Companies use dashboards for competitive analysis or to study performance in different parts of the business that are automatically updated. Some have interactive capabilities for refinement and testing.

The second level is diagnostic intelligence, which is the ability to look backward at the business and understand root causes and drivers of performance. The level after that is predictive intelligence: being able to anticipate certain scenarios or options and the value of things in the future based on momentum from the past as well as signals picked in the market. Both diagnostics and prediction are areas that AI can greatly improve today. The tools can augment executives’ analysis and become areas where you develop capabilities. For example, on diagnostic intelligence, you can organize your portfolio into segments to understand granularly where performance is coming from and do it in a much more continuous way than analysts could. You can try 20 different ways in an hour versus deploying one hundred analysts to tackle the problem.

Predictive AI is both more difficult and more risky. Executives shouldn’t fully rely on predictive AI, but it provides another systematic viewpoint in the room. Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, a key consideration is to use AI transparently in the sense of understanding why it is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it is making from which information. You can then assess if you trust the prediction or not. You can even use AI to track the evolution of the assumptions for that prediction.

Those are the levels available today. The next three levels will take time to develop. There are some early examples of AI advising actions for executives’ consideration that would be value-creating based on the analysis. From there, you go to delegating certain decision authority to AI, with constraints and supervision. Eventually, there is the point where fully autonomous AI analyzes and decides with no human interaction.

Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, you need to understand why AI is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it’s making from which information.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of businesses or industries could gain the greatest benefits from embracing AI at its current level of sophistication?

Yuval Atsmon: Every business probably has some opportunity to use AI more than it does today. The first thing to look at is the availability of data. Do you have performance data that can be organized in a systematic way? Companies that have deep data on their portfolios down to business line, SKU, inventory, and raw ingredients have the biggest opportunities to use machines to gain granular insights that humans could not.

Companies whose strategies rely on a few big decisions with limited data would get less from AI. Likewise, those facing a lot of volatility and vulnerability to external events would benefit less than companies with controlled and systematic portfolios, although they could deploy AI to better predict those external events and identify what they can and cannot control.

Third, the velocity of decisions matters. Most companies develop strategies every three to five years, which then become annual budgets. If you think about strategy in that way, the role of AI is relatively limited other than potentially accelerating analyses that are inputs into the strategy. However, some companies regularly revisit big decisions they made based on assumptions about the world that may have since changed, affecting the projected ROI of initiatives. Such shifts would affect how you deploy talent and executive time, how you spend money and focus sales efforts, and AI can be valuable in guiding that. The value of AI is even bigger when you can make decisions close to the time of deploying resources, because AI can signal that your previous assumptions have changed from when you made your plan.

Joanna Pachner: Can you provide any examples of companies employing AI to address specific strategic challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: Some of the most innovative users of AI, not coincidentally, are AI- and digital-native companies. Some of these companies have seen massive benefits from AI and have increased its usage in other areas of the business. One mobility player adjusts its financial planning based on pricing patterns it observes in the market. Its business has relatively high flexibility to demand but less so to supply, so the company uses AI to continuously signal back when pricing dynamics are trending in a way that would affect profitability or where demand is rising. This allows the company to quickly react to create more capacity because its profitability is highly sensitive to keeping demand and supply in equilibrium.

Joanna Pachner: Given how quickly things change today, doesn’t AI seem to be more a tactical than a strategic tool, providing time-sensitive input on isolated elements of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: It’s interesting that you make the distinction between strategic and tactical. Of course, every decision can be broken down into smaller ones, and where AI can be affordably used in strategy today is for building blocks of the strategy. It might feel tactical, but it can make a massive difference. One of the world’s leading investment firms, for example, has started to use AI to scan for certain patterns rather than scanning individual companies directly. AI looks for consumer mobile usage that suggests a company’s technology is catching on quickly, giving the firm an opportunity to invest in that company before others do. That created a significant strategic edge for them, even though the tool itself may be relatively tactical.

Joanna Pachner: McKinsey has written a lot about cognitive biases  and social dynamics that can skew decision making. Can AI help with these challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: When we talk to executives about using AI in strategy development, the first reaction we get is, “Those are really big decisions; what if AI gets them wrong?” The first answer is that humans also get them wrong—a lot. [Amos] Tversky, [Daniel] Kahneman, and others have proven that some of those errors are systemic, observable, and predictable. The first thing AI can do is spot situations likely to give rise to biases. For example, imagine that AI is listening in on a strategy session where the CEO proposes something and everyone says “Aye” without debate and discussion. AI could inform the room, “We might have a sunflower bias here,” which could trigger more conversation and remind the CEO that it’s in their own interest to encourage some devil’s advocacy.

We also often see confirmation bias, where people focus their analysis on proving the wisdom of what they already want to do, as opposed to looking for a fact-based reality. Just having AI perform a default analysis that doesn’t aim to satisfy the boss is useful, and the team can then try to understand why that is different than the management hypothesis, triggering a much richer debate.

In terms of social dynamics, agency problems can create conflicts of interest. Every business unit [BU] leader thinks that their BU should get the most resources and will deliver the most value, or at least they feel they should advocate for their business. AI provides a neutral way based on systematic data to manage those debates. It’s also useful for executives with decision authority, since we all know that short-term pressures and the need to make the quarterly and annual numbers lead people to make different decisions on the 31st of December than they do on January 1st or October 1st. Like the story of Ulysses and the sirens, you can use AI to remind you that you wanted something different three months earlier. The CEO still decides; AI can just provide that extra nudge.

Joanna Pachner: It’s like you have Spock next to you, who is dispassionate and purely analytical.

Yuval Atsmon: That is not a bad analogy—for Star Trek fans anyway.

Joanna Pachner: Do you have a favorite application of AI in strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: I have worked a lot on resource allocation, and one of the challenges, which we call the hockey stick phenomenon, is that executives are always overly optimistic about what will happen. They know that resource allocation will inevitably be defined by what you believe about the future, not necessarily by past performance. AI can provide an objective prediction of performance starting from a default momentum case: based on everything that happened in the past and some indicators about the future, what is the forecast of performance if we do nothing? This is before we say, “But I will hire these people and develop this new product and improve my marketing”— things that every executive thinks will help them overdeliver relative to the past. The neutral momentum case, which AI can calculate in a cold, Spock-like manner, can change the dynamics of the resource allocation discussion. It’s a form of predictive intelligence accessible today and while it’s not meant to be definitive, it provides a basis for better decisions.

Joanna Pachner: Do you see access to technology talent as one of the obstacles to the adoption of AI in strategy, especially at large companies?

Yuval Atsmon: I would make a distinction. If you mean machine-learning and data science talent or software engineers who build the digital tools, they are definitely not easy to get. However, companies can increasingly use platforms that provide access to AI tools and require less from individual companies. Also, this domain of strategy is exciting—it’s cutting-edge, so it’s probably easier to get technology talent for that than it might be for manufacturing work.

The bigger challenge, ironically, is finding strategists or people with business expertise to contribute to the effort. You will not solve strategy problems with AI without the involvement of people who understand the customer experience and what you are trying to achieve. Those who know best, like senior executives, don’t have time to be product managers for the AI team. An even bigger constraint is that, in some cases, you are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important. There could be plenty of opportunities for incorpo­rating AI into existing jobs, but it’s something companies need to reflect on. The best approach may be to create a digital factory where a different team tests and builds AI applications, with oversight from senior stakeholders.

The big challenge is finding strategists to contribute to the AI effort. You are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important.

Joanna Pachner: Do you think this worry about job security and the potential that AI will automate strategy is realistic?

Yuval Atsmon: The question of whether AI will replace human judgment and put humanity out of its job is a big one that I would leave for other experts.

The pertinent question is shorter-term automation. Because of its complexity, strategy would be one of the later domains to be affected by automation, but we are seeing it in many other domains. However, the trend for more than two hundred years has been that automation creates new jobs, although ones requiring different skills. That doesn’t take away the fear some people have of a machine exposing their mistakes or doing their job better than they do it.

Joanna Pachner: We recently published an article about strategic courage in an age of volatility  that talked about three types of edge business leaders need to develop. One of them is an edge in insights. Do you think AI has a role to play in furnishing a proprietary insight edge?

Yuval Atsmon: One of the challenges most strategists face is the overwhelming complexity of the world we operate in—the number of unknowns, the information overload. At one level, it may seem that AI will provide another layer of complexity. In reality, it can be a sharp knife that cuts through some of the clutter. The question to ask is, Can AI simplify my life by giving me sharper, more timely insights more easily?

Joanna Pachner: You have been working in strategy for a long time. What sparked your interest in exploring this intersection of strategy and new technology?

Yuval Atsmon: I have always been intrigued by things at the boundaries of what seems possible. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s second law is that to discover the limits of the possible, you have to venture a little past them into the impossible, and I find that particularly alluring in this arena.

AI in strategy is in very nascent stages but could be very consequential for companies and for the profession. For a top executive, strategic decisions are the biggest way to influence the business, other than maybe building the top team, and it is amazing how little technology is leveraged in that process today. It’s conceivable that competitive advantage will increasingly rest in having executives who know how to apply AI well. In some domains, like investment, that is already happening, and the difference in returns can be staggering. I find helping companies be part of that evolution very exciting.

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Marketing for financial advisors: how to develop a plan.

Forbes Agency Council

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Trey Robinson, Founder of Story Amplify .

When meeting with a prospect for the first time, you probably don’t automatically offer your products or services. Instead, you build a foundation by talking with them to learn where they are now and where they hope to be. Only then do you offer a plan and products to help them reach their goals.

Creating an effective marketing plan requires the same process. First, you must build the foundation, and then you can lay out the strategy. Here's the approach my agency uses to create successful marketing plans for our financial advisor clients.

The Foundation

Part 1: know your audience.

The foundation of financial advisor marketing is the same as that of your first client meeting. You must understand your audience and its pain points. This knowledge helps you craft the right message to solve their problems. For example, an older audience’s pain point might be having financial resources post-retirement, whereas younger families have different worries, such as reducing debt and having enough money to send their kids to college.

Fallout Dethroned In Amazon Prime Video s Top 10 List By A New Offering

Google chrome gets second emergency update in a week as new exploit confirmed, metallica makes history with their new no 1 single, part 2: solidify your brand.

A great deal of complex information is out there about the importance of “brands” and “branding.” Boiling it down, your brand is your identity. It’s what comes to your audience’s mind when they hear or think about your name.

To introduce and solidify your brand, you should communicate:

• Your products, services and their benefits.

• What drives you (i.e., why you’re in this business and industry).

• How you differ from the competition.

For example, many financial advisors offer 529 programs to parents and grandparents. Tell those parents and grandparents why your products—and services—are better than others. Maybe you offer workshops in addition to account management, or you might offer budgeting advice as a freebie.

The Strategy

With a solid foundation, developing a marketing strategy is your next step. Digital marketing for financial advisors involves content creation, distribution and lead capturing.

Content Creation

Content includes the text, images and video you use to message your audience. Available content formats include:

• E-books and white papers

• Social media posts

• Newsletters

• Educational videos

• Display ads

• Website copy

Remember your audience. Determine how they consume content. Young families might respond more positively to social media and video, while older adults might prefer written content, such as white papers, blogs and e-books.

The content format you use will also depend on your content distribution strategy.

Content Distribution

There are two types of content distribution: organic channels and paid channels.

Organic Channels

Organic channels mean you don’t pay to build search engine rankings or engage with your audience.

Let’s say a prospect types “financial advisor” into a search engine. A successful organic channel strategy puts your name near or at the top of the resulting search engine results page (SERP). The best way to boost your organic search ranking is to consistently create unique, relevant and valuable content that addresses your audience’s problems.

You can also boost your ranking through the following:

• Google reviews: Positive reviews on Google are great—they position you as a trustworthy source. As a trusted business, search engines could reward you with a higher SERP rank.

• Local business listings: Digital listings on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau's website help leads and prospects locate you. They should include your name, address, phone number, website URL and business description to improve your online presence, potentially leading to a higher SERP ranking.

• Social media: Social media is a terrific outlet for your content. Posting regularly on social media provides you with more backlinks to your website (especially if your content is shared). This increases awareness of your brand—and potentially your SERP ranking.

Another way to boost your visibility in the search results is by earning a free Google Screened badge . Once you've been screened and verified, you receive a green checkmark next to your business's name in your Google Local Services listing, which indicates your trustworthiness to prospective clients.

Paid Channels

To improve traffic flow to your website, you can pay for a more visible presence through paid channels including search engines, other websites or social media. Many paid channels are pay-per-click.

Here are some paid channels to consider using:

• Paid search advertising: A paid search ad guarantees a higher position for your business on a SERP. If a prospect searches for “financial advisors and retirement,” your paid search ad will appear close to the top of that search page.

• Social media: You can post content for free on social media, but paying can help you stand out. When determining your ad’s best social media outlet, consider LinkedIn’s business orientation, Facebook’s friend-to-friend interface and Instagram’s visual requirements.

• Retargeting ads: When prospects visit your website but don’t act, retargeting ads step in. These small display ads “follow” prospects as they visit other sites or social media accounts, encouraging them to leave their contact information or set up an appointment with you.

Lead Capturing

Lead capturing converts your website visitors and prospects to leads so you can follow up.

One way to capture leads is to offer something that entices your audience to return for more. An older audience might appreciate a complimentary dinner and retirement information. Younger families could value a well-written white paper or video about 529 investing.

Appointment setting is another way to capture leads. Encourage prospects to schedule a no-obligation meeting where they can have a no-pressure discussion with you.

How Much Should You Spend?

Even if you decide not to pursue paid channels, you still need resources to support your marketing efforts. How much is enough?

A study by Broadridge found that the average advisor spent $17,400 on marketing in 2022. You can calculate a break-even point by determining your anticipated marketing costs and the revenue necessary to cover that expense.

Final Takeaways

You have a strategy in place when you first meet with clients. You need a similar approach when marketing to and communicating with prospects.

Marketing requires planning and audience knowledge. Take the time to understand your audience’s pain points. Then, develop and distribute content to meet their needs.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Trey Robinson

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5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan [Free Templates]

Rebecca Riserbato

Published: January 04, 2024

Do you take a good, hard look at your team's marketing strategy every year?

marketer using a free marketing plan

You should. Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy — and it's nearly impossible to put a number on your budget for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing over the course of a year if you don't have a plan.

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template [Get Your Copy]

To make your plan's creation easier, we've put together a list of what to include in your plan and a few different planning templates where you can easily fill in the blanks.

To start, let's dive into how to create a marketing plan and then take a look at what a high-level marketing plan has inside.

In this article, we're going to discuss:

  • What a High-Level Marketing Plan Includes

How to Create a Marketing Plan

  • Marketing Plan Templates You Can Use
  • Simplified Marketing Plan Template
  • Plus — Social Media Plan Templates

business plan on marketing strategies

Free Marketing Plan Template

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

  • Pre-Sectioned Template
  • Completely Customizable
  • Example Prompts
  • Professionally Designed

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out this form to access a free marketing plan template.

Marketing plan outline.

free marketing plan outline

Download This Marketing Plan Outline for Free

The above marketing plan outline will help you create an effective plan that easily generates buy-in from stakeholders and effectively guides your marketing efforts.

Marketing plans can get quite granular to reflect the industry you're in, whether you're selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how big your digital presence is. Nonetheless, here are the elements every effective marketing plan includes:

1. Business Summary

In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. It's essential to include this information so that all stakeholders, including your direct reports, learn about your company in detail before delving into the more strategic components of your plan.

Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who’ve been in the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page.

Most business summaries include:

The company name

Where it's headquartered

Its mission statement

Our marketing plan outline also includes information on marketing leadership, which is especially helpful for companies with large marketing teams.

2. SWOT Analysis

Your marketing plan's business summary also includes a SWOT analysis , which covers your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s essential to include this information so you can create targeted strategies that help you capitalize on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.

In my experience, you need a lot of patience when doing a SWOT analysis; it requires market research and competitive analysis to become truly accurate. I tend to revisit this section periodically, adjusting it as I discover more information about my own business and competition.

3. Business Initiatives

marketing plan template for hubspot

The business initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you'd normally find in a business plan. This section should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You'll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.

Every initiative should follow the SMART method for goal-making . They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, a broad goal might be something like, "Increase my Facebook following." But a SMART-ified version of this goal could be, "Increase my Facebook following by 30% by June." See the difference?

4. Customer Analysis

marketing plan customer analysis template

In this part of the marketing plan outline, you get plenty of space to share all the data you collected during your market research . If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Either way, try to do your research before synthesizing it in a shareable document like this one.

Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you're selling to and your buyer persona . A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:

Personal challenges

Triggering event

5. Competitor Analysis

marketing plan competitive analysis template

Positioning

Market share

Our marketing plan template includes space to list out the specific products you compete with, as well as other facets of the other company’s strategy, such as their blogging efforts or customer service reputation. Keep this part of your plan simple — your full competitive analysis should be done separately. Here are a few competitive analysis templates to get started.

6. Market Strategy

marketing strategy for business lan

Your market strategy uses the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. 

For instance, when I'm filling out this section, I always pull insights from my SWOT analysis, my competitive analysis, and my general market research. This helps me write targeted, effective descriptions of my strategies.

Here's an example: if you found that one of your competitors employs stronger social media marketing strategies , you might add "We'll post 3 times per week on our social media profiles" under "Promotion."

In our full-length marketing plan outline, the market strategy section contains the "seven Ps of marketing" (or the “ extended marketing mix ”):

Physical Evidence

(You'll learn more about these seven sub-components inside our free marketing plan template, which you can download below.)

marketing plan Budget template

When I created my first marketing plan, I made the mistake of confusing the marketing budget section of my plan with my product's price and other financials.

Here's a better way to think of this section: it should describe how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.

Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you'll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include:

Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers

Marketing software

Paid promotions

Events (those you'll host and/or attend)

Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you'll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won't be 100% accurate but can help with executive planning.

Remember: Your marketing plan only includes a summary of the costs. We recommend keeping a separate document or Excel sheet to help you calculate your budget much more effectively. Here’s a marketing budget template to get started .

8. Marketing Channels

marketing plan marketing channels template

Your marketing plan should also include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you'll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.

If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you'll use this social network for, and how you'll measure your success on this network.

Part of this section's purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.

Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.

9. Marketing Technology

marketing plan outline: marketing technology

Last, but certainly not least, your marketing plan should include an overview of the tools you'll include in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack . These are the tools that will help you achieve the goals you outlined in the previous sections. Since all types of marketing software usually need a generous investment from your company’s leadership, it’s essential to connect them to a potential ROI for your business.

For each tool, describe what exactly you’ll use it for, and be sure that it’s a strategy that you’ve mentioned elsewhere. For instance, we wouldn't recommend listing an advertising management tool if you didn’t list “ PPC Advertising ” under “Marketing Channels.”

  • Conduct a situation analysis.
  • Define your target audience.
  • Write SMART goals.
  • Analyze your tactics.
  • Set your budget.

1. Conduct a situation analysis.

The first step I take when creating a marketing plan is conducting a SWOT analysis. It helps me uncover the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing my business.

Additionally, I need a good picture of the current market. How do I compare to my competitors? Doing a competitor analysis can help.

In doing so, I can identify the gaps (and opportunities) in a competitor's approach. What are they missing? What can I offer that'll give me a competitive advantage?

Answering questions like this should help you figure out what your customer wants, which brings us to step number two.

2. Define your target audience.

If your company already has buyer personas , this step might just mean you have to refine your current personas.

But if you don't have a buyer persona, you should create one. To do this, you might have to conduct market research.

Your buyer persona 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 do they have that your product or service can fix?

Once you have this information written out, it'll help you define your goals, which brings us to step number three.

3. Write SMART goals.

My mother always used to tell me, "You can't go somewhere unless you have a road map." Now, for me, someone who's geographically challenged, that was literal advice.

However, it can also be applied metaphorically to marketing. You can't improve your ROI unless you know what your goals are.

After you've figured out your current situation and know your audience, you can begin to define your SMART goals .

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that all 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 overall marketing goals, this should be relevant and attainable. Additionally, this goal is specific, measurable, and time-bound.

Before you start any tactic, you should write out your goals. Then, you can begin to analyze which tactics will help you achieve that goal. That brings us to step number four.

4. Analyze your tactics.

At this point, you've written down your goals based on your target audience and current situation.

Now, you have to figure out what tactics will help you achieve your goals. Plus, what are the right channels and action items to focus on?

For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, your tactics might include hosting a giveaway, responding to every comment, and posting three times on Instagram per week.

Once you know your goals, brainstorming several tactics to achieve them should be easy. That said, you may not be able to pursue every tactic on your list (unless you have an unlimited budget, which, if so, jealous ) — which brings us to step number five.

5. Set your budget.

Before you can begin implementing any of the ideas that you've come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget.

For example, your tactics might include social media advertising. However, if you don't have the budget for that, then you might not be able to achieve your goals.

While you're writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it'll take to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase, such as ad space.

Now that you know how to create your marketing plan, let's dive into creating a marketing campaign outline that will help you reach the goals outlined plan.

Marketing Plan Timeline

Rolling out a new marketing plan is a big lift. To make sure things are running smoothly with all of your projects, you'll want to create a timeline that maps out when each project is happening.

A marketing plan timeline allows your team to view all projects, campaigns, events, and other related tasks in one place — along with their deadlines. This ensures everyone on your team knows what’s due, when it’s due, and what’s up next in the pipeline. Typically these plans cover marketing efforts for the entire year, but some companies may operate on a bi-annual or quarterly basis.

Once you’ve completed your analysis, research, and set goals, it’s time to set deadlines for your assignments. From new blog posts and content initiatives to product launches, everything will need a deadline. Take into account any holidays or events taking place over the course of the year.

While setting deadlines for the entire year may seem daunting, start by estimating how long you think each task will take and set a deadline accordingly. Track the time it actually takes for you to complete similar types of projects. Once you’ve completed a few of them, you’ll have a better idea of how long each takes and will be able to set more accurate deadlines.

For each project, you’ll want to build in time for:

  • Brainstorming : This is the first phase where your idea comes to life in a project outline. Decide what you want to achieve and which stakeholders need to be involved to meet your goal. Set a due date and set up any necessary meetings.
  • Planning : This can include determining the project’s scope, figuring out how much budget will be allocated for it, finalizing deadlines and who is working on each task. Map out any campaigns needed for each project (social media, PR, sales promotions, landing pages, events, etc.).
  • Execution : This third phase is all about your project launch. Decide on a date to launch and monitor the progress of the project. Set up a system for tracking metrics and KPIs.
  • Analysis : In this final phase you will analyze all of your performance data to see whether or not your marketing efforts paid off. Did you meet your goals? Did you complete your projects on time and within budget?

HubSpot marketing plan calendar tool

All projects and their deadlines should be in a central location where your team can access them whether that’s a calendar like HubSpot's tool , shared document, or project management tool.

One-Page Marketing Plan Template

As demonstrated above, a marketing plan can be a long document. When you want to share information with stakeholders or simply want an overview of your plan for quick reference, having a shorter version on hand can be helpful. A one-page marketing plan can be the solution, and we’ll discuss its elements below.

HubSpot one-page marketing plan template

Include your company name, list the names of individuals responsible for enacting the different stages of your plan, and a brief mission statement.

business summary example

2. Business Initiatives

Business Initiatives example

3. Target Market

Outline your target audience(s) that your efforts will reach. You can include a brief overview of your industry and buyer personas.

Target Market example

This is an overview of the money you’ll spend to help you meet your marketing goals. Create a good estimate of how much you'll spend on each facet of your marketing program.

marketing plan budget example

5. Marketing Channels

List the channels you’ll use to achieve your marketing goals. Describe why you're using each channel and what you want to accomplish so everyone is on the same page.

marketing plan marketing channel example

Free Marketing Plan Template [Word]

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

free marketing plan template

Download your marketing plan template here .

Marketing campaign template.

Your marketing plan is a high-level view of the different marketing strategies you’ll use to meet your business objectives. A marketing campaign template is a focused plan that will help achieve those marketing goals.

A marketing campaign template should include the following key components:

  • Goals and KPIs: Identify the end goal for each of the individual campaigns you’ll run and the metrics you will use to measure the results of your campaign when it ends. For example, conversion rates, sales, sign-ups, etc.
  • Channels: Identify the different channels you’ll use to enact your marketing campaign to reach your audience. Maybe you run a social media campaign on Twitter to raise brand awareness or a direct mail campaign to notify your audience of upcoming sales.
  • Budget : Identify the budget you’ll need to run your campaign and how it will be distributed, like the amount you’ll spend on creating content or ad placements in different areas. Having these numbers also helps you later on when you quantify the success of your campaign, like ROI.
  • Content: Identify the type of content you’ll create and distribute during your campaigns—for example, blog posts , video ads, email newsletters, etc.
  • Teams and DRIs: Identify the teams and people that will be part of enacting your marketing plan from start to finish, like those responsible for creating your marketing assets, budgets, or analyzing metrics once campaigns are complete.
  • Design: Identify what your marketing campaigns will look like and how you’ll use design elements to attract your audience. It’s important to note that your design should directly relate to the purpose of your campaign.

Digital Marketing Plan Template

A digital marketing plan is similar to a marketing campaign plan, but, as the name suggests, it’s tailored to the campaigns that you run online. Let’s go over the key components of a digital marketing plan template to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

  • Objectives: The goals for your digital marketing and what you’re hoping to accomplish, like driving more traffic to your website . Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website, or
  • Budget : Identify how much it will cost to run your digital marketing campaign and how the money will be distributed. For example, ad placement on different social media sites costs money, and so does creating your assets.
  • Target audience: Which segments of your audience are you hoping to reach with this campaign? It’s essential to identify the audiences you want to reach with your digital marketing, as different channels house different audience segments.
  • Channels: Identifies the channels that are central to your digital marketing campaign.
  • Timeline: Explains the length of time your digital campaigns will run, from how long it should take to create your assets to the final day of the campaign.

Many people use social media in their digital campaigns, and below we’ll discuss some ideas you can use for inspiration.

Social Media Marketing Plan Templates

As your marketing department grows, so will your presence on social media. And as your social media presence grows, so will your need to measure, plan, and re-plan what types of content you want to publish across each network.

If you're looking for a way to deepen your social media marketing strategy — even further than the marketing plan template above — the following collection of social media marketing plan templates is perfect for you:

Download 10 social media reporting templates here .

In the above collection of marketing plan templates, you'll get to fill in the following contents (and more) to suit your company:

  • Annual social media budget tracking
  • Weekly social media themes
  • Required social media image dimension key
  • Pie chart on social media traffic sorted by platform
  • Social media post calendar and publish time

Below, let's review the social media reporting templates, and what you'll find in each one.

1. Social Media Questions

Social media publishing analysis and questions

This template lists out questions to help you decide which social media management platform you should use.

What We Like

Once you know what social media tactics you're going to implement in your marketing plan, it's time to figure out what channels are right for you. This template will help you do that.

2. Facebook Live Schedule

facebook live schedule for marketing

If Facebook Live is one of the marketing tactics in your plan, this template will help you design an editorial calendar. With this template, you can organize what Facebook live's you want to do and when.

Once you've decided on dates, you can color-code your FB calendar and coordinate with your editorial calendar so everyone can see what lives are running in relation to other campaigns.

3. Instagram Post Log

Instagram post log for social media publishing management

Are you going to begin using Instagram regularly? Do you want to increase your following? With this template, you can organize your Instagram posts, so everyone on your team knows what posts are going live and when.

This is more than just a content calendar. You can use this doc to collaborate with your team on messaging, landing pages linked in your bio, and campaign rollouts.

4. Paid Social Media Template

paid social media template for annual budgeting

With this template, you can organize your annual and monthly budget for your paid social media calendar.

With this spreadsheet, all you need to do is plug in your numbers and the formulas will do the works for you. I recommend using this in conjunction with your marketing plan budget to make sure you are not overspending and funds are allocated appropriately.

5. Social Media Audit

Social media audit template

Conducting a social media audit? You can use this template to help you gather the right analytics. Tracking the results of your marketing efforts is key to determining ROI.

Use this template to track each of your campaigns to determine what worked and what didn't. From there, you can allocate funds for the strategies that deliver the results you want.

6. Social Media Editorial Calendar

Social media editorial calendar template

With this template, you can organize your social media editorial calendar. For example, you can include social media posts for each platform, so your team knows what's going live on any given day.

This calendar makes it easy to track activity across every social media platform, since each platform is assigned a specific color. 

7. Social Media Image Sizes

Social media image size template

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

Having a resource like this readily available for your team ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding image sizes and prevents delays.

8. Social Media Marketing Proposal

Social media marketing proposal template

With this template, you can create an entire social media marketing proposal. This will outline the social media goals, the scope of the work, and the tactics that you plan to implement.

This proposal functions as more of a deep dive into the marketing channel section of your marketing plan. It's relatively straightforward and contains all the essential sections of a proposal.

9. Social Media Reporting Template

Social media report template

With this template, you'll gain access to a slide deck that includes templates for social media reporting.

If you plan to implement social media in your marketing plan, these reporting templates can help you track your progress. If using the social media audit above, you can add all of your data here once it's been collected.

10. Hashtag Holidays

Social media hashtag holidays

If you're going to lean into social media in your marketing plan, you can use hashtag holidays to generate ideas.

These holidays are a great way to fill out your social media publishing schedule. With this template, you'll get a list of all the hashtag holidays for the year. Once you've come up with content ideas, you can add them to your social media calendar.

Simple Marketing Plan Template

Of course, this type of planning takes a lot of time and effort. So if you're strapped for time before the holidays, give our new Marketing Plan Generator a try.

This tool simplifies yearly planning by asking prompted questions to help guide your process. You’ll be asked to input information about:

Try our free Marketing Plan Generator here .

  • Your annual marketing mission statement, which is what your marketing is focused on for the year.
  • The strategy that you’ll take with your marketing throughout the year to accomplish your marketing goals.
  • Three main marketing initiatives that you’ll focus on during the year (i.e., brand awareness or building a high-quality pipeline) metrics you’ll use to measure your success.
  • Your target goals for those marketing initiatives like generating 100 leads per week.
  • Marketing initiatives that are not aligned with your current strategy to stay focused on your goals and activities that will help you be successful.

Once you input all information, the tool will spit out a table (as shown in the image below) that you can use to guide your processes.

simple marketing plan template

Pro Tip: If the tool doesn't work, clear your browser's cache or access it in incognito mode.

Start the Marketing Planning Process Today

The best way to set up your marketing plan for the year is to start with quick wins first, that way you can ramp up fast and set yourself (and your team) up to hit more challenging goals and take on more sophisticated projects by Q4. So, what do you say? Are you ready to give it a spin?

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The year 2024 combines innovation and a strategic marketing approach. You can successfully promote and grow your small business with the right plan.

Social Media And E-Commerce

Social media strengthened its position in 2024. It is now the leading platform for e-commerce. Social networks have become powerful tools for direct interaction between brands and consumers. Modern companies actively use TikTok marketing to develop a personal brand and increase the number of users. 

Today, it is popular to integrate advanced AR, personalized recommendations, and shopping directly on social networks, taking customer interaction to a new modern level. Shopping in this way has become more convenient and intuitively popular.

Statistics provide the following information:

  • more than 40% of consumers have found the right product on social media in the last three months;
  • more than 25% of users made a purchase directly on the social media platform;
  • more than 20% of social media users use direct messages for customer service.

Indicators of social media's positive impact on the development of small businesses are constantly increasing, which indicates the right choice of platforms for product advertising.

Influencer Marketing: The Evolution of Authenticity

The trade focuses on micro- and nano-influencers who have a high degree of engagement and authenticity. Advertising on the personal blogs of famous people in specific niches is yielding positive results and helping small businesses grow. We can observe a shift in priorities from the number of subscribers to the quality and relevance of content.

Current statistics show the following results:

  • 50% of marketers have allocated a budget for advertising from bloggers;
  • 59% of marketers plan to increase spending on social media advertising;
  • 24% of users have purchased a product advertised by an influencer.

Small businesses will benefit from promoting their products through bloggers with different audiences. Find the right influencers, use LinkedIn email finder to connect with media personalities, and start collaborating to grow your business. 

Video Content: A Major Player in the Content Scene

Video content has held a leading position over the past few years. This presentation and broadcasting of information has become an integral part of modern media. Companies are eagerly integrating video content into their marketing strategies. The following types of video content are popular:

  • short videos;
  • live broadcasts;
  • interactive videos.

Live broadcasts will be the most popular video format in 2024. They help to interact with the audience as closely as possible in real time. Interactive video advertising and 360-degree volumetric videos are gaining popularity. Experts predict their active use this year and the active improvement of video marketing. 

To Summarize

Small businesses are actively using modern marketing trends for development and growth. Research helps to identify prosperous advertising areas and choose the appropriate option to promote the brand or product. We can observe the active use of social networks as advertising platforms.

Popular social networks and bloggers have become integral to promoting almost any product or merchandise. This year's list of the best marketing strategies for small business development included social media, influencer marketing, and video content

Copyright © 2024 SCORE Association, SCORE.org

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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    Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan. A marketing strategy outlines the long-term goals and overall approach, while a marketing plan covers the specific actions and tactics to achieve those goals. Phrased another way, marketing strategy guides the overall marketing efforts of a business. It includes goal-setting, market and competitor research ...

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    The milestones for the marketing campaign are clearly laid out, which is a great way to show how organized this business strategy is. 3. Small business marketing strategy template. This marketing plan template is perfect for small businesses who set out to develop an overarching marketing strategy for the whole year:

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    You need to have a solid understanding of your target audience before integrating your marketing efforts. Example: If your target audience is executives that spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, focus your social media strategy around placing branded content on LinkedIn. 5. Differentiate with creative content.

  4. Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

    A marketing strategy is an overview of how a business or organization will articulate its value proposition to its customers. Generally, a marketing strategy outlines business goals, target market, buyer personas, competitors, and value for customers. It provides a long-term vision for overall marketing efforts, often looking many years ahead.

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    A marketing plan includes analysis of the target audience, the competitors, and the market so that teams can determine the best strategy for achieving their goals. The plan's length and detail depend on the company's size and the scope of the marketing project. A marketing plan is useful for all types of marketing, including digital, social media, new product, small business, B2C, and B2B.

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    A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.

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    At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you're going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are. Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future.

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    3. Create a customer profile. The purpose of every marketing campaign is to connect with a consumer. To help guide the development of a strong marketing plan, your marketing strategy needs to include a comprehensive profile of your target audience. It is helpful to consider your target audience relative to the four Ps.

  16. How a marketing strategy helps achieve business goals

    Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan. Although the two terms sound similar, it's important to remember that a marketing strategy isn't the same as a marketing plan. Marketing strategies: Are long-term, big-picture plans; Ensure the company delivers on its mission and marketing activities support business goals

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