You don’t have to be a marketing expert to create a successful marketing plan. In fact, most businesses fail because they lack one. So get started today! I’m here to help you write a great marketing plan from scratch – following the method I learned and practised as a marketer for the last 5 years.
So let’s start from the very beginning.
What is a Marketing Plan and why do you need one?
A Marketing Plan is a business tool that has been getting more recognition over the last several years. You see, when I studied for my MBA course, my lecturers emphasised that there’s no need to write a full-fledged business plan anymore – but a short-term Marketing Plan is crucial.
The logic is simple: A Marketing Plan is usually shorter in time span (usually covers 3 months, 6 months or 1 year) and is more suitable in times of frequent changes. And we live in those changing times. As such, you’d be wasting your time writing a 10-year business plan now – because in 6 months’ time it may be irrelevant.
Do I sound too harsh? Perhaps … 🤔
But I’ve also been working with various businesses and owners and helped them craft Marketing Strategies. So I know that if you spend too much time on planning, your competitors will get ahead of you – and you’ll miss your chance to get ahead.
So let’s get straight to the point.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a small business, a large one or working freelance. Every business needs a marketing plan. Having a plan makes you think of your business in the short-medium term. And by knowing your business environment, target audience, competitors and internal resources you’ll be able to stay on top of your competitors.
4 Reasons why you need a Marketing Plan:
- A marketing plan pushes you to think of specific, measurable, and realistic goals for your business
- It ensures everyone in your business has clarity and focus on the goals
- By tracking performance against your goal, you can make better decisions based on facts & data
- It makes you think of a marketing budget seriously (most people overspend!)
Next, I’m going to show you how to create a professional Marketing Plan using the SOSTAC method that I learned in my MBA programme.
How to Write a Marketing Plan for Your Business
Before you start gather the following information:
- Latest industry and trend reports for your market/industry
- List your top 3 competitors and download their financial reports (What services/products do they sell? How is their pricing structure? Do a Social Media Audit)
- Build your target audience profiles (Who are your ideal customers?)
Marketing Plan Structure
Part 1: Situational Analysis (Where are we now?)
When writing a marketing plan, you need to find out the market conditions, as well as identify any threats and opportunities. You need to know your industry in and out so you can potentially discover gaps that you can fill with your product or tactics. Trust me, this step is crucial for crafting a winning marketing strategy down the line.
Here’s an example of a SWOT matrix I created for my Instagram Marketing Success course:
Note: This is a more complex matrix version because it looks at your internal strengths and weaknesses and helps you generate SO’s (Strategic Objectives).
Part 2: Objectives (Where do we want to be?)
For this second part, list down your marketing objectives. If you don’t know where to start, think of what do you want to achieve from marketing your product? Here are some common marketing objectives to help you out:
Marketing Objectives Examples
- Increase sales on social media by …%
- Get 3 x more business leads from social media
- Reach & engage with new audiences online
- Delight existing customers to ensure loyalty
If you’re thinking “Do I need to have just one goal?” – the answer is absolutely not. Feel free to set multiple goals for your social media. Just know that in order for your goals to be effective they need to meet the S.M.A.R.T criteria:
- S – Specific (well defined, not ambiguous)
- M – Measurable (contains exact numbers, dates, percentages, targets)
- A – Attainable (make sure you have the resources and capability to reach those goals)
- R – Realistic and relevant to your business
- T – Timely or time-bound (you have a start date and an end date)
Below is an example of a SMART GOAL:
To get 1000 new leads from LinkedIn between Jan 2023 to Aug 2023.
Part 3: Strategy (How do we get there?)
This part is where you think of the actions you and your team need to take to reach your objectives. Let’s say your objective is the same as above:
“To get 1000 new leads from LinkedIn from Jan – Aug 2023.”
In order for you to reach your goal, you need to work out an STP strategy. An STP strategy is basically your approach to segment and target the market and position your brand.
- S = Segmentation: How will you divide your market into different segments?
- T = Targeting: Which customer segment will you choose to target and why?
- P = Positioning: How will you position your brand vs. existing competitors?
I discussed in more detail how to find your ideal audience and build a buyer’s profile in this post.
After you have segmented and targeted your ideal audience, you should create a Positioning Map, that allows you to visualize where exactly you’ll stand against your competitors. Do you want to go high quality and high price and become a luxury brand?
Below is an example of popular fashion brands positioning map .
Part 4: Tactics (What tactics do we need to employ to get there?)
This part is where you think about the details of your strategy and includes your Marketing/E-Marketing Mix (aka. Product, Price, Place, Promotion) that you will use to achieve your objectives.
- What tools and tactics are you going to use to reach your customers? Will you use social media, content marketing, SEO blogs or email marketing?
Part 5: Actions (Who does what?)
This section is where you think of how will you assign tasks to your team and finalize your marketing budget. You also need to determine whether you have the necessary human resources (skills & manpower) to handle it all internally – otherwise, you should start identifying contractors and freelancers.
- Human Resources Allocation: Who does what? (eg. Content Creation, Paid Advertising, Customer Service, Tracking Leads, Emails, Shooting Videos, Updating Website etc.)
- Budget Planning: How much money will you spend on Marketing activities (Paid ads, Content marketing, Staff salary, Agency Fees)?
- Internal Resources vs Contractors: Do you have all the skills & manpower internally or will you hire external expertise?
- Deadlines: Don’t forget to set deadlines for all marketing actions, so they’re easier to implement & track by your team.
Part 6: Control (How do we monitor performance)
Finally, with any marketing strategy you need to measure results.
Now with analytics tools like Pallyy or Sprout Social you can generate performance reports from your social media content and ad campaigns easily. Just make sure you choose the right set of KPIs for measuring your marketing goals – I’ve seen people using them wrongly!
For example, if your marketing goal was to “increase leads from LinkedIn” a good set of KPIs would be: no. of new leads, form sign-ups, enquiries or LinkedIn DMs. An ineffective set of KPIs would be the no. of likes or shares on a LinkedIn post.
How to Build a Social Media Content Calendar: https://alexandraceambur.com/2022/02/12/building-a-social-media-calendar/