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GuidesMarket researchHow to develop your marketing plan (with templates)

How to develop your marketing plan (with templates)

Last updated

1 April 2024

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Cathy Heath

Finding sound marketing plan development advice can be challenging, and the internet is teeming with conflicting advice. All you really want is a proven set of marketing plan templates and insights to review and implement. We've got you covered. 

Paving your best marketing path forward requires a strong foundation, clear objectives, and proven tactics. 

Today, we'll share valuable marketing plan templates and best practices. 

Whether you're preparing to launch your business, release a new line of services, or incorporate relevant and fresh ideas, these are the marketing tips you need. 

Whatever products or services you offer, these templates and suggestions apply to any business model. Let’s get into it.

Market analysis template

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Why you need a marketing plan

If you want to grow your business, improve audience engagement, and boost sales, you need a marketing plan. A few well-placed ads or witty social media posts won't sustain the growth and results you need to reach consumers and make your business viable. 

You can use a marketing plan template to maximize your results and craft a roadmap. These templates are incredibly helpful in creating a plan and articulating a strategy.

The marketing plan will help you visualize the campaign components and: 

  • Understand and target your audience effectively

  • Optimize resource allocation

  • Ensure consistency in brand messaging

  • Facilitate evaluation and adaptation

  • Provide a competitive advantage

It can also serve as the foundation for subsequent marketing campaigns. 

A marketing plan template removes the guesswork, and you can enjoy these additional key advantages:

Create better goals

When you have a thoughtful, well-designed marketing plan, you can use insights and data to inform your objectives. 

Novice companies often set unrealistic benchmarks, especially when leaders make blind predictions. Your team can use a robust marketing plan template and roadmap to determine and achieve realistic targets.

Improve your focus

Marketing can sometimes feel like a creative space that leads to unproductive rabbit holes of campaign ideas, ad spending, and trend-chasing duds. 

However, when a well-planned marketing strategy guides your team, you can maintain your focus on critical elements that matter to your business. 

Marketing plan templates allow you to focus on goals and value metrics so you don't chase "shiny objects" and waste budgets and resources.

Stay consistent

A plan will keep your marketing efforts consistent. Nothing undermines marketing performance faster than inconsistent, contradictory, or confusing messages. 

Inconsistency in marketing leads to disengaged customers and brand misalignment, while consistency improves brand image and customer loyalty.

With a roadmap for all team members to follow, every marketing effort will build on the last. This will grow momentum, boost awareness, and drive results. 

Marketing plan outline

When you sit down to create your marketing plan, follow this outline to account for every detail. 

Remember, these should be well-thought-out and robust elements. Spend time developing these foundational elements, and you'll streamline future marketing campaigns.

1. Business summary

An executive or business summary is a great starting point for any marketing plan template. 

This statement describes your company, its management, direction, history, and core offerings. 

It should also state how your offering fits into the market and what differentiates your company. 

Be thorough in your description and establish your business's purpose.

2. SWOT analysis

The next phase of your plan should include a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

After outlining each SWOT category, work with your team to identify critical points to leverage. 

Carefully create details for each to visualize where your company excels and where it needs improvement.

The categories cover:

  • Strengths: What your company does best

  • Weaknesses: Areas of improvement for your products, services, or company 

  • Opportunities: Where your competitors are struggling or market gaps you can fill

  • Threats: Potential trouble areas or challenges you may face in your market

3. Business initiatives

Begin creating action steps and business initiatives to determine the path to achieving your goals. 

Examples of these initiatives might include:

  • Creating high-quality content that resonates with consumers

  • Converting website visitors to purchasers

  • Developing a strengthened sales funnel

  • Building a mobile strategy

  • Capturing a new market segment

These initiatives describe "how" you plan to get from an idea to a result. And this list will inspire what marketing campaigns you should facilitate and focus on first.

4. Customer analysis

A thorough customer analysis ensures you understand your target audience. Most importantly, you'll know how to reach them. 

Examine insights about your ideal customer's geographic region, demographics, behaviors, and information consumption preferences. 

This analysis will ensure any marketing steps you take align with the best-fit customer profiles for your products or services.  

From there, you can create buyer personas, especially if you have multiple target audiences. You can also segment customers by their place in the buying process: 

  • New prospects who need to be introduced to your company and offerings

  • Prospects who know your brand but need the inspiration to become leads 

  • Leads who know your brand and offering but need nurturing to convert

  • Existing or past customers who need the motivation to purchase again or refer others

5. Competitor analysis

The next step in developing your marketing plan outline involves competitive analysis: Study what your competitors are doing well and where they're missing the mark. 

This is crucial since you can learn what mistakes to avoid. Plus, you can spot value proposition opportunities to lead your marketing efforts and take market share. 

Identify your main competition and gather relevant data about their marketing and sales efforts. 

Next, study their online presence, ad campaigns, and overarching brand and content strategies. 

Profile their target audiences and develop your strategy to improve or take advantage of opportunities you have discovered. 

6. Market strategy

Use a framework to outline a market strategy. Consider examining the five Ps: Product, pricing, promotion, placement, and people. 

Recognize if your company's offering will compete in an existing space or innovate in a new direction. Can you lead, challenge, or disrupt the market with your core offering?

A market strategy will help you envision how your product or service fits into its niche market segment and how it will solve your customers' unique pain points.

7. Budget for success

Consider an annual budget to fund your marketing plan. Any marketing-related campaign or project can count towards potential expenses. 

Break it down by quarter first, considering any seasonal fluctuations, sales, or holidays pertaining to your business model. 

Include more than just ad spend or digital copy. You may want to leave room in your marketing plan budget for marketing staff, software purchases, or automation. 

Remember, you don't need to allocate the same budget every month to be effective. For example, florists will often budget the most for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, two of the industry's main holidays for sales. 

8. Marketing channels

You can use several marketing channels or avenues to execute your marketing plan. You won't need to use all of them as they may not be relevant to your business or audience. 

Consider which channels your ideal customers spend the most time on. It's best to dominate a few rather than to sample too many. 

Choose the strongest channels for your brand, including social media, email marketing, SEO, ads, or content marketing. 

9. Marketing technology

At this point in the marketing plan outline, you'll want to research the tools and technologies to facilitate your plan. 

For example, you might develop a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. 

You might also need other tools, like communication dashboards for your teams or online schedulers for calls and appointments. 

Look for solutions that streamline your process for executing your marketing plan. Before making any purchasing decisions, ensure the solution is user-friendly, capable of integrating with existing software, and flexible to grow with your needs.

How to create a marketing plan

With your marketing plan outline in mind, you can create plans for specific campaigns. 

Companies ready to strategize for new and upcoming marketing campaigns will follow these steps. While each campaign will vary in goals and audiences, maintaining this approach ensures you account for every detail that matters.

1. Conduct a situation analysis

Use a situation analysis to identify key opportunities or challenges to address first. Think internal and external, and define the scope of those efforts. 

Essentially, the situation analysis will help you decide what marketing plan step to take first and lead with your best-solution foot forward. 

2. Define your target audience

Next, based on your situation analysis, decide who the target is for that specific problem or opportunity your offering can solve. This prospect might be a segment of your broader audience. 

Identify key demographics and customer preferences with this target audience to properly align them with your unique value proposition. 

Creating personas can help visualize their needs and assist you in deciding how to approach these potential buyers. 

3. Write SMART goals

Develop SMART goals for your marketing plan. This acronym reminds you to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. 

Goals outside these parameters won't secure results. 

So, carefully consider the objectives you need this marketing campaign to achieve, like increasing leads, online engagement, and sales conversions.

4. Analyze your tactics

Only enact your marketing plan after reviewing the data and metrics you have. Analyze your tactics and form predictions from data. 

Ensure you know everything you need to know about your audience, the effectiveness of your messaging, the precision of your marketing channels, and the soundness of your timing. 

Marketing campaigns should always come from a position of knowledge. This step ensures that.

5. Set your budget

With your details and data in place, you can set your budget expectations for the campaign. 

Remember to include staff compensation, ad spending, and the technology for implementing your campaigns effectively. 

You might also have design, printing, and follow-up analytics expenses.

Marketing plan timeline

Timing is everything, especially when executing your marketing plan. 

You should have a timeline from before a campaign launch to the results afterward. 

Determine realistic timelines for each task, and include time for each of these steps for every marketing campaign:

Brainstorming

Create a timeline for creative brainstorming among your teams. The most brilliant ideas come from nurtured creativity, so don't rush. 

Involve your teams and get feedback from those in direct contact with your ideal customers.

Planning

Allocate enough time to work out: 

  • Your goals

  • The scope of your marketing plan

  • Deadlines

  • Task delegation

Follow your marketing plan template and create a detailed list of tasks for each campaign.

Implementation

This timeline essentially manages the launch and operation of your campaign or marketing project. Set up a system and necessary mechanisms to track and manage metrics. 

Analysis

Develop timelines that allow time to review and assess available metrics to determine which campaigns are on point. 

Follow up with analytics weekly, monthly, and quarterly to improve your ongoing marketing. The only thing worse than running a bad campaign is running it longer than necessary.

Four marketing plan templates to get you started

These marketing plan templates are great tools for getting started. 

When you've created your marketing plan outline, you can develop templates for various campaigns. The more segmented you can get with your templates, the more effective they'll be.

Social media marketing plan templates

Your social media marketing plan will outline your efforts to engage, connect, and advertise across the various social media platforms. 

Consider these elements for your social media marketing plan template:

Social media questions

Create a series of questions to decide which social media platform is best for each campaign.

Facebook Live schedules

Create a schedule to implement Facebook Live engagements.

Instagram post logs

Develop a process for creating and tracking Instagram content.

Paid social media templates

Establish social media templates to maintain voice, frequency, and style consistency.

Social media audits

Prepare for ongoing social media campaign audits to review data and analytics.

Social media editorial schedule

Create teams and timelines that allow creative and editorial processes.

Social media image sizes

Develop a process for capturing, editing, and producing images and videos.

Social media marketing proposal template

Create an outline that includes goals, audience, scope of work, and tactics to provide a deeper dive into each social campaign.

Social media reporting template

Consider itemizing a slide deck template that captures metrics you'll use to gauge each campaign's effectiveness.

Hashtag strategies

Research hashtags you plan to use with each social campaign, confirming validity, holidays, and audiences.

Digital marketing plan templates

A digital marketing plan template will govern your initiatives for online campaigns. 

Whether you're crafting a campaign for blog content or pay-per-click ads, make sure your template includes the following:

Objectives

Determine the precise goals you need your online campaign to achieve.

Budget parameters

Govern your ad spend and determine which digital tools you need.

Target audience

Craft a focused snapshot of personas for each campaign.

Digital channels

Build a select list of digital channels to facilitate your campaign.

Appropriate timelines

Determine timelines for launch, follow-up, and analysis.

Simple marketing plan templates

When developing a simple marketing plan template, keep it basic. 

Use these details to develop the roadmap that works best for your business model:

Mission statement

Create an annual marketing mission statement to direct your efforts.

Marketing strategy 

Choose an annual marketing strategy to reach your brand goals.

Be selective

Choose three marketing initiatives to focus your efforts throughout the year.

Be SMART

Create goals for those three marketing initiatives.

Set the metrics 

Establish KPIs to measure your campaigns.

Choose the right channels

Determine the most effective channels for realizing your campaign.

Budget carefully

Outline the budgets needed to execute each campaign successfully. 

Finesse your strategy

Create a thoughtful content strategy that aligns with your brand and has strong CTAs.

Delegate

Assign teams and responsibilities for tasks.

Design matters 

Develop design processes for engaging, relevant, and brand-aligned designs.

Content marketing plan templates

A content marketing plan template will guide your efforts in creating engaging and effective content across all channels. 

Include these steps in your template:

Define goals

Establish objectives for each content effort.

Audience analysis

Develop personas for a precise audience.

Competitive analysis

Study your competitors' content.

Resource assessment

Build your toolbox of resources and people.  

Budget parameters

Understand your budget and allocate necessary spending.

Analytics methods

Establish the data you'll collect and review to gauge content effectiveness.

Don't get overwhelmed with all the marketing plan templates and strategy advice out there. 

Instead, stick with these formats and templates and apply these methods and outlines to your process. 

With a robust and thorough marketing plan, you can move forward with your campaigns and see bottom-line results.

FAQs

What is a basic marketing plan?

There are basic and comprehensive marketing plans. 

The basic marketing plan can serve as a foundation for future campaign development. It typically consists of four pillars: Identify the product, price, place, and promotion of the campaign you intend to use to reach your customers.

What is a good marketing plan?

Instead of thinking about a good or bad marketing plan, focus more on effectiveness. 

An effective marketing plan is the messaging, tools, and strategies to connect your offering to your target audiences. Use your product or service as a solution for your customer’s problems. 

Analytics are key to determining the effectiveness of each campaign. Develop strategic steps to measure every marketing endeavor. 

How do you write a marketing plan for beginners?

If you're a beginner drafting your first marketing plan, it's best to stick with the basics. 

Create a plan around introducing your offering to those ready to purchase. 

Start by: 

  • Developing a position statement

  • Identifying your target audience

  • Establishing goals

  • Carving out your budget

Leverage the data and insights from each campaign to build better templates in future.

Build your brand, grow your audience, boost sales, and achieve success with every campaign you launch.

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