Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Marketing Plan in 2022
You have big ideas in your marketing leadership position, but how are you going to realize them? The Ascent seeks to successfully articulate your marketing plan.
Marketing is everywhere in our digital age. You see it in marketing activities such as sponsored social posts and branded accounts, the constant trickle of promotional emails meant to get shut down, and countless other forms.
But strategic marketing is not everywhere. It’s snappy and efficient and sits exactly where it needs to be to seduce you. This is where a marketing plan comes in.
Good marketing is intentional in its goals and results. It takes tons of planning to deliver consistently engaging content across all channels, but that’s what’s needed today.
Keep reading to learn some key marketing tips as well as tips for developing a marketing plan.
Presentation: What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is the roadmap your marketing team will execute to achieve strategic goals and drive business value. There are many different types of marketing plans, with different skill sets, tactics, tools, and marketing funnels mixed in for each.
As you will see below, your strategic marketing plan consists of one or more marketing strategies. Marketing plans define the required strategies to be executed to achieve overall business goals.
Remember this: your marketing plan is not set in stone. It should be an agile framework, which you can bend and twist with new tactics, channels, and content to achieve your goals.
Marketing plan vs marketing strategy: what is the difference?
Your marketing plan and your marketing strategy are essential and distinct marketing components.
A marketing strategy is your action plan. It’s the roadmap and implementation steps your marketing team needs to follow to achieve the goals set out in your marketing plan. It includes individual marketing campaigns, tactics and tools, content creation and other day-to-day initiatives.
A marketing plan explains performance-based marketing goals, how those goals support the entire business, and how your team will achieve them. While the strategies that support your plan may come and go, marketing plans are often set for years at a time.
Plans dictate resources such as headcount, budgets, and integration with the business.
3 types of marketing plans
There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan, especially for small business marketing plans. Many businesses use multiple marketing plans, each with intertwined strategies and tactics, to achieve their overall goals.
The internet age has singled out digital marketing as the fundamental marketing plan. If it’s not happening on digital – or at least not shared there – then it’s not happening.
The goal of digital marketing is the construction of information. It relies heavily on inbound marketing tactics designed to drive people to your website.
Once there, conversions such as email signups and other actions are key to personalizing future marketing, maximizing engagement, and driving a purchase.
Digital marketing includes social media marketing plans, paid advertising strategies, email marketing plans, and more. And even traditional marketing channels such as print and event marketing all require digital campaigns for promotion and awareness.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing creates compelling blogs, reports, e-books, and other content. It is the reverse of digital marketing in that it permeates all other channels, strategies and plans, feeding them with essential assets.
Successful content marketing uses SEO best practices to rank high and drive organic traffic to the site. It’s highly shareable and should drive social and email engagement. And it positions your company or individual executives as thought leaders in your industry.
A content marketing plan is not just a blog. It takes strategy, great writing skills, knowledge of SEO and conversion best practices, and more.
3. Marketing of the brand
Brand marketing strategically positions your brand to consumers, investors, media and beyond.
Brand marketing planning takes traditional public relations and takes it forward. It updates traditional public relations with new marketing tactics and sharper goals.
Businesses can use brand marketing to introduce their brand to new consumers and better position themselves for investor and media relations.
It uses specialized content focused on industry and brand awareness and a corporate social account designed to build relationships rather than highlight product offerings.
How to Create an Effective Small Business Marketing Plan
Follow these five steps for a successful marketing plan. Look for sample marketing plans to inspire you, and include some of the same creative zeal in your proposed marketing assets.
Step 1: Define your business goals
Creating an effective marketing plan starts with having an end in mind. Don’t just mindlessly market. Set goals and be intentional in your tactics. This is critical as marketing teams continue to take on more and more responsibility.
Your marketing goals should be tied to business revenue. This ensures the longevity of your marketing plan and instills your marketing team as essential to the operation.
It also means that your metrics should adequately track the impact of marketing efforts. You need to prove the effectiveness of your marketing plan, from acquisition to sales and beyond.
Keep your leadership in mind when setting your marketing goals. While the high level goals should all be understood, it’s the individual numbers that you need to be hyper aware of. Do leaders expect you to exceed your targeted goals, or should your goals be so important that hitting 75% is an annual win? There are no wrong answers. You just need to understand the expectations.
A great way to handle this is to set a primary goal as well as a stretch goal that’s 10%-20% higher than the primary goal.
Step 2: Determine the resources needed
Once you have set your goals, you can determine what you will need to achieve them. This is an opportunity to outline your needs in:
- Number of heads
- Office space
- Event budget
- Marketing and advertising expenses
It is essential that you remember the stages of growth as your marketing plan progresses. This can help you scale the requested resources for greater efficiency. This is especially important for your workforce and technology needs.
It’s up to you to plan and request resources as your team needs to grow and evolve. If you submit an annual budget request in December, you must project and request resources for the skills and technologies you will need in June.
This is another time when it’s critical for you to understand how your leaders operate and what they expect to get what you need to succeed.
Step 3: Establish the target persona(s)
The third step in your plan is to identify your target personas and audiences. This is where you really start laying the groundwork for real marketing.
Establishing your personas further ensures the intentionality of your marketing efforts. You need to have a goal in mind to shape the type of marketing, marketing channels, etc. Personas are the key to unlocking this precise targeting.
It can take many hours of research to generate personas. The complexity and breadth of your personas depends on your product and your sales process. You might not need such extensive personas for marketing shoes as you would for a marketing automation platform. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need personas at all.
Persona creation is up to marketing, but there should be a shared buy-in between sales, product, and leadership on the persona(s). It is essential that marketers have detailed personas to refer to as beacons of truth. This “truth” will only come if the leaders of all departments agree on the personalities.
Step 4: Idea of marketing materials, content assets and creative needs
Creating blogs, sell sheets, charts, and other creative elements is too complicated to include in a marketing plan. But your plan should come up with ideas for the types, quantity, quality, and cadence of marketing assets.
This early articulation will show leadership the strengths to come and provide new team members with a high-level roadmap for what they will create. This is a great opportunity to get sales and other leaders excited about the successful sales and branding materials that will come from your marketing plan.
Make sure you have the technology and the corresponding number of employees to create the creative media you choose.
Step 5: Assign roles and responsibilities
Your final step in creating your marketing plan is to assign roles and responsibilities to current and proposed members of your team.
This breakdown should paint a picture of all current team members, new additions, and growth additions down the road. This should include seniority levels of team leaders.
Define shared responsibilities upfront, such as a creative team that works with all marketers to deliver materials for email, social media, sales enablement, and more.
The role breakdown will influence your hiring needs and should be detailed enough to serve as an appealing job description.
Manage expectations with a marketing plan
The importance of your marketing plan is in the details. Yes, you want to generate qualified leads for the sales team. Yes, you want to increase your number of social media followers. And yes, your mailing list should double or even triple. But how are you going to get there?
Leadership and your future marketers will appreciate a detailed marketing plan that serves as a level-setter roadmap. It should paint the picture of what, when, where, who and how your marketing will serve the business.