Digital Marketing

Marketing Plan: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2021)

A marketing plan is a must-have roadmap for your business.

Businesses put a lot of money into marketing. A good marketing plan makes sure your hard-earned money doesn’t go to waste. A great marketing plan helps your business grow and gets you a high return on investment.

In this guide, we’ll learn about different marketing plans and how they can help your business grow.

Let’s dive in.

What Is A Marketing Plan?

So what exactly is a marketing plan?

Much like planning a vacation, you have a vision in mind when you create your marketing plan. You know exactly where you want to go—now you just need to plan out how you’ll get there.

Also like planning a vacation, you save a lot of money by planning ahead. Making sure you have all your flights and hotels booked ahead of time saves you both a lot of money and stress-induced headaches!

A marketing plan is an outline of different strategies that will help you meet your business goals. It includes your vision, your goals, the strategies you need to get there, and what to do when you encounter changes or things just don’t quite work out the way you planned.

Your plan should include things like:

  • Your overall goals
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Your marketing budget
  • An overview of your ideal customer
  • Competitor research and analysis
  • An outline of your marketing strategies
  • Contributors and their roles
  • A timeline overview
  • Tracking and reporting

Next, we’ll discuss the different types of marketing plans and how these differ from strategies.

Types of Marketing Plans

Content Marketing Plan

This plan focuses on creating valued, pertinent, and consistent content that will be given or distributed to the audience or the consumers to use as the promotion for a certain product.

Social Media Marketing Plan

This plan focuses on the use of social media to connect with your customers and to reach the things you plan in order to achieve your business’s goals.

Paid Marketing Plan

This plan focuses on highlighting paid strategies like Social Ads, Paid Content Discovery, Video Promotion, and many more in order to reach the interests of the customers. It is also known as digital advertising.

Product Launch Marketing Plan

This plan provides an outline of how you will introduce the business’s product or strategy to the market or consumers. It includes ideas, activities, and procedures that you will do in order to accomplish your business’s goals.

Email marketing plan

This plan focuses on the use of email to promote the business’s products and services to potential customers or clients. It is done through direct electronic mailing. 

Marketing Plan Vs. Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy shows how a certain business will be able to attain its business’s goals. It uses campaign materials, content, channels, and marketing software for them to accomplish their mission.

A marketing plan has one or more marketing strategies and it includes a marketing plan outline of how business goals will be achieved. It is the backbone of every marketing strategy. It is used to collect and connect each strategy that will be used in a given time to accomplish each goal of a business.

For example, your company is going to help launch a new computer software and you need to encourage customers to use it. This will require the marketing department to develop a marketing plan that will help introduce this product to interested customers.

Your company agrees to launch it through the use of different social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) to interact with potential customers for the product with posts about its features.

You also plan to launch tutorial videos on YouTube to help them learn the software. The goal is to make them your new computer software users.

Breaking down this example, the business’s marketing plan is to introduce new computer software to its potential customers and the marketplace.

To meet the goals outlined in this marketing plan, they used three strategies—interacting with the potential customers through social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), publicizing the features of the new product, and uploading YouTube video tutorials to make the software accessible to new customers.

How to Make A Marketing Plan for Your Business

1. Business Goals

What are your goals? Your mission? These are questions you have to ask before constructing a business plan. Make sure your goals are specific, clear, and measurable.

For example, if your business’s mission is to “help them find the joy in traveling through easy booking” so your marketing mission might be to attract the travelers by educating them about the industry and introducing to them your booking platforms.

2. Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are a type of metric that demonstrates the performance of an organization against its strategic objectives. KPIs help to cut the difficulty associated with performance tracking by reducing a large number of measures into a practical number of key indicators.

KPIs can be used to track the operational performance of departments, projects, or individuals against targets or goals. They can provide a management tool for gaining insight and decision making. It will help you to establish your goals and assess or monitor your progress together with the business leaders.

Using the example above, let’s identify the key importance indicators. Given that the business mission is to “help them find the joy in traveling through easy booking”, you can look for the number of views of the websites where your booking links are indicated.

3. Budget

The marketing plan to achieve your business’s goals won’t work out if you don’t have the budget for it.

Sure, there are some situations where you may acquire free channels or platforms for advertising your product/business, but there are still lots of ongoing marketing expenses.

Whether it’s a commercial, billboards, hiring freelancers to fulfill marketing duties, paid sponsorships, or a new marketing employee, you need a clear, well-documented budget.

4. Customers

Know your potential customers. This will tell you about the things that you have to focus on attracting customers for your new product. Buyer persona may include age, sex, location, family size, job title, and more. The buyer that you’ll develop should reflect your ideal customer.

5. Competitors

Knowing who you’re competing with is a big part of marketing. You have to do research aligned with the business that you have and categorize them accordingly. Not all competitors are doing the same thing that you’re doing.

Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one in this section.

6. Marketing strategies

Choose marketing strategies that you’ll be able to align with your marketing plan to achieve the business’s goals. You’ll want to include the central points in your marketing and content strategy.

With lots of content and many different channels to manage, it can be difficult for you to choose an area of focus and explain how you’re going to use the content and channels in your marketing plan.

You can specify the following through the Content Strategy:

  • What type of content will you create? You can include infographics, blog posts, YouTube videos, e-books, and more.
  • How many pieces will you publish and how frequently? You can publish content daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. It depends on your business’s goals and the deadline set to achieve them.
  • How will you track or monitor the progress of your business’s goals? This is where KPIs come in. They might include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. You also have to specify how you will use the KPIs in monitoring.
  • Where will you publish your content? For you to reach your potential customers, you may include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • You can also have paid advertisements.

7. Contributors and their role

It’s important to get to know your contributors and what tasks they’re responsible for completing. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to micromanage contributors, but be aware of team leaders and know who’s managing specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.

8. Timeline

Don’t forget to provide specific timelines in your plan. It’s helpful to specify timelines for various projects and goals, especially when there are many moving parts and you’re working with lots of contributors.

9. Tracking & reporting

You need to track if contributors are sticking to your marketing plan to attain the business goals. There are KPIs that can be used as well in checking short-term goals.

Depending on what the reports show you, you may also need to make some changes to short-term goals and strategies.

Marketing Plan Examples & Templates

1. HubSpot’s Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy

Main objective: Content Marketing Plan

At HubSpot, they have built a marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees.

Along the way, they have learned countless lessons that have shaped the current content marketing strategy, so they decided to illustrate the insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a marketing plan successfully, regardless of the team size.

In this marketing plan example for modern marketers, you’ll learn:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Why do you need to have content marketing?
  • Who should be leading the content marketing efforts?
  • How will structure a content marketing team depending on how big the company is?
  • How will you hire the right person for the tasks/job?
  • What are the tools and technologies you need?
  • What are the types of content your team is going to create and who should be working for it?
  • What is the essence of delivering your content through social media?
  • What KPIs are you going to use?

2. Shane Snow’s Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team

Main objective: Content Marketing Plan

Effective content marketing can be seen in a successful book launch.

Through content strategy, it helps you to spread awareness, gather more interest and subscription to your book from a lot of buyers and give them the reason for recommending your book to their friends.

To leverage a data-driven content strategy framework, Shane Snow used the content strategy waterfall when he is promoting his new book Dream Team. It is defined by the Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach.

He decided to write a blog post about how the content strategy waterfall helped him in launching his new book successfully. After reading it, you can refer to his techniques to learn how to put together a marketing plan.

  • He applied his business objectives in deciding what is the marketing track needed to be tracked.
  • He used his ultimate goal of earning $200,000 of sales or 10,000 purchases in estimating the conversion for every stage of his funnel.
  • He created his buyer personas to determine what are the channels his audience would prefer to consume in his content.
  • He used his post view average for each of his marketing channels to know how often he had to post on social media and how much content he needed to have.
  • He calculated how much earned and paid media could down the amount of content he had to create and post.
  • He designed his process and workflow, organized his team, and assigned members to tasks.
  • He analyzed content performance metrics to improve his overall content strategy.

You can use Snow’s marketing plan to construct a better content strategy plan, know your audience better, and think creatively if it is about content promotion and distribution.

3. Chief Outsiders Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product

Main objective: New Product Launch Marketing Plan

If you are looking for a marketing plan for your new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a very good place to start. Market planning for a new product will require you to be more specific because you are targeting one product versus the entire marketing strategy of a company.

After reading this, you’ll learn to:

  • Authenticate a product
  • Compose strategic objectives
  • Categorize your market
  • Accumulate a competitive landscape
  • Generate a value proposition for a new product
  • Contemplate sales and service in your marketing plan

4. Buffer’s Content Marketing Strategy Template

Main objective: Content Marketing Plan

It’s challenging to write a content plan especially if you haven’t experience doing it before. Only 55% of marketing teams have a documented content strategy, Buffer chose to help out the content marketing community.

He tried a lot of marketing strategy templates in testing what is best to use. They created a template with instructions and examples of a marketing plan for those who have not documented their marketing strategy.

After reading Buffer’s marketing plan template, you’ll learn how to:

Answer four basic questions that will help you arrange a clear executive summary.

  • Set SMART content marketing goals.
  • Create highly accurate audience personas through interviewing real content strategists.
  • Solve your audience’s problems with your content.
  • Do competitive research by analyzing your competitors’ and industry thought leaders’ content.
  • Evaluate your existing content strategy by examining the topics and themes of your highest and lowest performing pieces.
  • Determine which types of new content to craft, based on your team’s ability and bandwidth.
  • Establish an editorial calendar.
  • Develop a promotional workflow.

Buffer’s template is a step-by-step guide that you will be able to use thoroughly and incredibly. It has examples for each section. In the audience persona section, it has case studies of real potential audience personas.

If you are having difficulties in creating a marketing plan, this will help you a lot.

5. Contently’s Content Plan

Main objective: Content Marketing Plan

Contently’s content methodology is working like a flywheel.

They control the strategy of their previous marketing campaign to drive the next one, instead of applying an entirely new strategy to each new marketing campaign.

Similar to a flywheel, their content methodology needs to have an initial push of energy to get the gears in motion. Their content plan serves as the supplier of energy.

Contently construct their entire content plan in a blog post to help marketers in having a marketing process. After reading it, you’ll learn more about the following:

  • Aligning your content objectives and KPIs with your business goals.
  • Creating highly detailed buyer personas using psychographics instead of using traditional demographics.
  • Creating content for each stage of your marketing funnel, based on your prospects’ pain and passion points.
  • Knowing your most effective marketing channels.
  • Discovering the content topics which get the interest of the audience.
  • Assessing your organization’s need for resources.

By applying this strategy to your marketing efforts, you take away the burden of applying new strategies to each marketing campaign. You’ll have more time for prior efforts to gain momentum over time and scatter continual energy into whatever you publish next.

6. Forbes’ Marketing Plan Template

Main objective: Content Marketing Plan

Old but gold. Forbes published a marketing plan template that has collected almost four million views since late 2013.

To help you on how to build a marketing plan with true vision, their template will help you to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Target Customers
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Pricing & Positioning Strategy
  • Distribution Plan
  • Your Offers
  • Marketing Materials
  • Promotions Strategy
  • Online Marketing Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy
  • Joint Ventures & Partnerships
  • Referral Strategy
  • Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
  • Retention Strategy
  • Financial Projections

Summary & Takeaways

Putting together a marketing plan is not easy if you have not done it yet before. In this guide, you have learned the following:

A marketing plan is an outline of strategies talking about how to achieve the business goals of different businesses.

There are a few types of marketing plans which are:

  • Content Marketing Plan
  • Social Media Marketing Plan
  • Paid Marketing Plan
  • Product Launch Marketing Plan
  • Email Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy shows how a business will be able to attain its business goals.

Here are some things that need to be considered in crafting your marketing plan.

  • Business goals
  • KPIs
  • Budget
  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Marketing strategies
  • Contributors and their role
  • Timeline
  • Tracking & reporting

Try out some different marketing plans and strategies to accomplish your business goals. Later on, you will be able to deliver what your audience wants and needs.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to developing an effective content marketing plan? Feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

By Kevin Frei

Kevin Frei is an entrepreneur, paid media specialist, and intermittent nomad from Arizona. Ethical Digital is his third startup after and an online traffic school company. An avid traveler and economics hobbyist, Kevin's goal is to revolutionize the way service companies are organized so that more people can achieve the dream of professional (and locational) independence.

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