How to write a marketing plan

By Lizzie Davey



Without a marketing plan, you’ll struggle to get the results you want from promoting your business online.


Think about it:


You won’t know what kind of activities you should be running, what content you need to be creating, and where you should be marketing your business.


The biggest purpose of your marketing plan is to guide you down the right path while making sure your activities align with your overall company objectives.


Easier said than done, right?


But, while it might seem confusing when laid out like this, if you break it down into simple steps it doesn’t have to be a difficult activity.

Why you need a marketing plan


1. Track and measure marketing activity

If you don’t know what you’re doing or what results you’re generating, you won’t know which activities are working.


When you know which tactics are bringing in the best results and converting the most customers, you can focus on those.


2. Attract customers in the digital age

In an age where customers expect businesses to respond to their queries in 30 minutes or less, it’s impossible to not promote your brand online.


Without any measured digital activity, you’ll fall behind your competitors who are putting themselves out there online and reaching prospects where they’re hanging out.


3. Map out how to get more customers

As a business, your goal is to get more customers.


If you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks, you’re going to get frustrated fast and see little improvement in the amount of sales you’re making.


Having a marketing plan can help you strategically map out how to get more customers so you can boost your average number of sales.


4. Get everyone on the same page

For larger businesses with multiple members of staff, a marketing plan helps keep everyone on the same page.


This gives your business a more consistent online image and ensures staff know and understand best practices that align with your brand vision and mission.


What to include in your marketing plan


Goals

Before you do anything, you need to have a goal (or a set of goals) for your marketing plan, along with a measurement plan and a series of KPIs (key performance indicators).


To make sure your goals are effective and align with your business needs, make sure they’re SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based).

For example, “I want more customers” is a bad goal, whereas “I want to convert 10 customers each month for the next six months” is a good goal, because it tells you exactly what you need to do and by when.


Competitor analysis

Knowing what your competitors are up to helps you position your brand and understand what your prospects are already buying into.


With your competitor analysis, you should look at what other similar brands are touting as their unique selling point (USP) and what marketing tactics they are using to promote their product or service, including:

  • Where they’re promoting their business
  • How they’re promoting their business
  • What specific parts of their business they’re promoting
  • Who they’re marketing to

Audience analysis

Once you’ve carried out competitor research, it’s time to look inwards and determine who the people are that you want to reach with your marketing activities.


This goes a lot deeper than simply noting the sex, age, and location of your ideal customers. Instead, you want to dig into what interests them and what their biggest struggles are that you can help with.


As a result, you’ll be able to resonate with them in a laser-focused way by saying exactly the right things at exactly the right time.


Sales funnel (or the buying cycle)

Do you know the exact journey your customers go on when buying something from you? If not, it’s time to wise up on this.


It’s important that you know what guides your customers towards buying from you so you can provide them with the right content at the right times.


For example, someone who is near the end of the buying cycle and has their wallet out ready to purchase is going to need different information than someone who has just discovered your brand but doesn’t know they have a need for your product yet.


Marketing channels

Now you can start looking into what platforms and channels you should focus your marketing activities on.


This depends on who your target audience is, what struggles they have, where they hang out, and what path they take during the buying process.


For example, if you discover that your prospects tend to watch a demo video on YouTube before buying, you know you need to focus a lot of your energy there.


For this part, think about which platforms your audience are most active on and which ones align with your brand vision.


Consider channels like:

  • Social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Google search results
  • Email marketing
  • Paid media

Key strategies

Marketing comes in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s important that you decide what strategies work best for your needs and are most likely to help you reach your goals.


Think about common digital strategies like:

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid search
  • PR

How will each of these tie into your plan? Will they help you reach your goals and, if so, in what way?


Your budget

Business budgets vary wildly from brand to brand depending on their size, how many employees they have, what products they’re selling, and the audience they’re selling to.


Start by thinking about how much money you have to play with and then break that down into a budget for each activity.


Remember, you can always tweak your plan later down the line so, if one tactic isn’t bringing in much ROI, you can switch it out for another (again, this is why it’s important to have goals and KPIs).


Boost your ROI with a solid marketing plan


A marketing plan is one of the most important assets you can have when promoting your business online.


Not only is it vital in the internet age where consumers of all ages expect brands to have a visible online presence, but it can help you track where your business is at and what you need to do to improve it.


When you break down the process into a few key steps, it’s easy to then bring it all together to track and measure your results.


And, once you’ve got a solid marketing plan in place, you can start increasing your ROI and continue to boost your sales.