Everything You Need to Know: Marketing Plan Template, Samples, and Step-By-Step Instructions
You could have the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t market it, no one will know. Your marketing strategy plan is one of the most important things you can create for your business.
A survey of small and medium-sized businesses found that 50% of them did not have a marketing business plan.
What? You have no marketing plan?!!
Having no marketing action plan is like trying to steer a ship with no rudder and can keep you from reaching your full sales potential.
What are you selling? Who are you selling it to? How will you tell them about it? What’s your value statement? Those are just a few questions that are answered when creating a marketing plan.
A good marketing plan example is put together thoughtfully and includes details about your branding, customer personas, budget, and more. Your marketing plan template is basically the roadmap for how you’re going to tell customers about your products or services and keep sales coming in the door.
How to Write a Marketing Plan
Businesses that just jump into creating a social media campaign or putting up a website without a basic marketing plan, risk ending up with disconnected sales channels and no real understanding of what’s working for them and what’s not.
Marketing that’s done without a marketing plan outline can be a hit or miss, can confuse customers with non-aligned messages, and can cause you to blow your marketing budget on channels and messages that just aren’t bringing in the right leads.
One of the biggest reasons that small businesses don’t engage in the marketing planning process is because they aren’t sure how to begin. They don’t have a marketing plan example to guide them and don’t know what elements need to be included.
We’re Here to Help with Your Marketing Planning!
We’re here to make building a small business marketing plan easier by outlining exactly what should be included when developing a marketing plan. In this article, you’ll find:
- The answer to, “What is a marketing plan?”
- An example of a marketing plan outline, with steps
- A marketing plan sample customer persona
- Everything to include when developing marketing strategies and plans
- BONUS: AGS-Marketing-Plan-Template
If you’ve been looking for a great marketing campaign template to use, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find an example of a good marketing plan, tips on how to create a marketing plan, plus a free MS Word marketing plan template.
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What is a Marketing Plan?
Before you get started creating a marketing plan template in Excel, Word or written down on paper, it’s important to understand exactly what a business marketing plan is and some of the basic components.
A marketing communication plan is an important piece of the main business plan. It lays out how you’re going to market your products or services and what your brand message and value propositions are going to be to your markets.
Trying to do a business plan without including a marketing plan for new product offerings or services you’re planning to sell, leaves out the most important element to business survival – revenue.
A strategic marketing plan template will include some of the following key elements:
- Marketing plan objectives
- Products/Services that you’re offering
- Competitive analysis and SWOT analysis
- Descriptions of industries your sales and marketing plan template is designed to reach
- Details on customer personas that are your target customers
- Value statements and calls to action
- Budgets for your offline and online marketing plan channels
A sample marketing plan template, such as the one we provide in this article, can help a business to lay out a foundation for their sales and marketing that will set them up for the successful and cohesive lead and sales generation in the future.
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How to Write a Marketing Plan
There are a few main ways to approach how to create a marketing plan yourself, so you’re not having to pay to have one put together by an outside company.
You can follow a marketing plan executive summary example and branch out from the main brand mission and “free form” your own business plan marketing strategy from scratch.
You can also use a simple marketing plan example that another company is using to craft your own, changing the pertinent areas. This could, however, leave out some key areas you might want to include in your marketing plan presentation.
A third option is to use a simple marketing plan template that’s downloadable from one or more sources and choose the elements of each marketing implementation plan example to ensure all your bases are covered.
How to Create a Marketing Plan with No Experience
If you have zero experience with how to write a marketing plan, then the best option would be to first review a marketing plan sample for small business. This will help you get a better understanding of, “What is a marketing plan?”
Once you’ve reviewed samples of marketing plans, if you have no experience writing a plan for sales and marketing yourself, then it’s best to download a small business marketing plan template (or two) and use that as a foundation.
Steps for How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Business
Whether you’re crafting a digital marketing plan template or one that incorporates both offline and online marketing efforts, taking the following steps will help you avoid spending time on marketing that’s not producing results.
When marketing without a well-crafted strategy you can expect some of the following marketing plan outline mistakes:
- Using conflicting calls to action for the same marketing campaign
- Not understanding your customer pain points to market properly
- Losing control of the budget for your marketing strategy plan
- Confusing customers with inconsistent marketing plan objectives
- Limiting your sales by not putting enough time into developing a marketing plan that matches your business goals
Before we begin on the steps to crafting your marketing plan template for your business, there’s some terminology used when creating a marketing plan that you should know.
Marketing Planning Process Terminology
Knowing these terms upfront will help you as you’re working with a marketing plan example or free marketing strategy template since you’ll understand what they’re talking about in conjunction with your business.
- Channel: This typically represents the marketing channel you’re planning for in a marketing campaign template, such as “social media,” “paid online ads,” “postcard mailings,” ”Webinar,” etc.
- SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis helps companies zero in on their strengths and weaknesses and is included in many marketing plan sample templates. It stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.”
- Customer/Buyer Persona: The customer/buyer persona is a description of the type of person you want to sell your products and services to. Understanding and describing these is an important part of any small business marketing plan.
- Brand Voice: When reading a website and social posts for a company like Microsoft, they’re typically more “corporate sounding” than content put out by a brand like Old Spice, that uses humor in their ads. Your brand voice is how you present yourself to your customers in all content.
Marketing Plan Outline Example
Before we detail each step, here is a simple marketing plan outline you can follow:
- Define what you’re selling
- Summarize your company’s marketing plan objectives
- Do a SWOT analysis
- Define your target markets
- Do a competitive analysis
- Detail customer personas
- Define your branding for consistency
- List your key selling propositions
- Plan your marketing calendar
- Detail your marketing channels
- Define your marketing budget
- Create your content ideas
Steps for Approaching Your Marketing Business Plan
When you download our free marketing plan template, you’re going to see several areas of information to fill in, beginning with a listing of your company’s core products and services that you’re selling.
AGS Free Marketing Plan Template MS Word
The path you’ll take when creating a marketing plan will start with the basics of your company, rather than just jumping right into your marketing campaign ideas.
Often businesses make the mistake of “brainstorming ideas” for social media campaigns, videos, or other marketing channels without properly setting up a marketing action plan first.
This leads to marketing that doesn’t incorporate important company objectives, strengths, and weaknesses based on thorough research of your competitors and customers.
An example of a good marketing plan starts with mindful research so you can end up with the best value statements possible for generating leads and turning those leads into paying customers.
When you download the AGS free marketing plan MS Word template, you’ll quickly realize it’s designed to take you through the steps that will lead to the strongest marketing campaigns because you’ll be doing the necessary research and planning upfront.
Step 1: Define What You’re Selling
Whether you provide accounting services or sell fancy dog beds, you want to define the products/services you’re including in your strategic marketing plan template.
Once you have your products/services listed out with their prices, it may help you see them in a different way when developing marketing strategies and plans. For example, say you make a list like this:
- Round Dog Bed: $30
- Square Dog Bed: $35
- Washable Dog Bed Cover: $10
- “Cool Comfort” Dog Bed Pedestal: $15
Seeing your products listed all together in that simple marketing plan example might spark the idea to also sell a bundled kit that includes a dog bed, washable cover, and pedestal for a reduced price than purchasing them separately.
Step 2: Summarize Your Company’s Marketing Plan Objectives
The obvious answer is “Get more sales!” when asked to define your marketing plan objectives, but an example of a good marketing plan will be more detailed than that.
Not every marketing initiative is going to be to send a customer to your online store or have them call up to order. Some will be designed to generate more newsletter subscribers and others will have a goal to get more website traffic.
For this section, you’ll want to create an executive summary, then detail all your goals for your marketing business plan.
Marketing plan executive summary example:
ACME Dog Beds has a goal of marketing to consumers, animal hospitals, and pet hotels. Offering high-quality dog beds that are affordable and the accessories that can add to their pet’s comfort.
Our sales and marketing plan template will include the following objectives:
- Brand recognition
- Driving leads to our website
- Social media following on Instagram and Facebook
- Getting people to sign up for our newsletter
- Driving direct sales through our online store
Step 3: Do a SWOT Analysis
The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis is often skipped over when creating a basic marketing plan because it’s one of those things that people have heard of but aren’t really sure how to put together.
Don’t skip this important component of your business marketing plan! Our digital marketing plan template makes it easy to fill out your SWOT analysis. We offer a few ideas and give you an easy “fill in the blank” table to use.
Sample Marketing Plan Template
The SWOT Analysis helps you understand what strengths to highlight when entering your marketing plan template in Excel or Word, and what weaknesses you may want to address to be more successful.
Step 4: Define Your Target Markets
The most simple marketing plan templates you find will ask you to define your target markets. How you market to various industries can vary widely, so you’ll want to understand exactly who encompasses your desired customers.
For example, you might offer accounting services to both individuals and small businesses, and the marketing campaigns that you use for both will need to be tailored accordingly.
Don’t forget to detail the subcategories of industries in your marketing communication plan, because they might offer additional nuance that will impact your calls to action and value statements.
Step 5: Do a Competitive Analysis
Who are you going up against to earn business? A competitive analysis is another important research step in any marketing plan presentation because it helps you understand who else is selling to your target industries and where you can outshine them.
During your competitive analysis, review your competitor’s websites and social media to see how they’re marketing. This isn’t to copy what they’re doing, but rather see what’s missing that you can incorporate into your marketing plan for a new product or service.
Step 6: Detail Customer Personas
Your online marketing plan already has industries by now, but who are the PEOPLE working in those industries? After all, you’re not selling to a faceless industry, you’re selling to a human being with goals, pain points, and emotions.
Your business plan marketing strategy should detail things like:
- Average age
- Job/position and responsibilities
- Pain points
- Selling points
This will help you position your marketing message to best capture the emotions or solve the pain points for that client.
Here’s an example that’s in addition to the one included in our free small business marketing plan template:
Customer Persona Sample: Millennial Pet Parents
The Millennial Pet Parent is 23-38 years old. They may not have children and think of their pets as their “kids.” They are willing to spend more for quality and they care greatly that their pets are comfortable and healthy. Traits include being into sustainable materials, wanting pet products that are easy to clean, and heavy use of mobile apps.
- Things that their pets don’t like
- Poor quality of materials
- Things that are hard to clean
- Improved pet comfort
- Easy to wash (i.e. removable cover for a pet bed)
- An app that allows them to order and share pet photos
Step 7: Define Your Branding for Consistency
According to an article in Forbes magazine, consistent branding across all your marketing channels increases revenue by 23%.
There are about 5-7 brand interactions that a customer has to go through before they remember a brand, which makes it important to define your branding in any marketing implementation plan example to ensure it’s consistent whether you’re putting out a social media post or holding a webinar.
In our marketing plan sample for small businesses, we include areas for defining your brand voice and brand colors.
Are you fun and tongue-in-cheek? Are you staid and professional? Whatever your brand voice is, it should be consistent across all channels in your marketing plan outline example.
Here are two very different marketing plan samples of brand voices:
Marketing Plan Example: Brand Voices
Decide whether you’re more corporate like Microsoft, sassier like Old Spice, or somewhere in between. Then consistently use that same voice while creating your small business marketing plan.
Your brand colors are important because they’re part of your overall branding. We know that if we see something from Target, it’s going to incorporate their signature red and white. If we see a postcard from UPS, we’re expecting it to incorporate their iconic brown.
One feature that AGS’ free marketing strategy template incorporates (that many others don’t) is a place to enter your brand color palette so you can ensure consistency throughout your marketing.
Free Marketing Strategy Template from AGS
Step 8: List Your Key Selling Propositions
This step is going to give you an important foundation for your marketing strategy plan. Your key selling propositions will be what you tailor your marketing text and call-to-actions (CTAs) around.
As you’re going through this step in your marketing plan outline, remember that your key selling propositions might be different for each customer persona.
For example, if you’re selling boutique dog beds, the key selling proposition for a pet owner might be how comfortable they are. But if you’re selling to a pet hotel, the durability may be a more important selling point.
Step 9: Plan your Marketing Calendar
Different industries may have different sales and promotions depending upon the season. For example, someone selling outdoor paints might discount it during the winter, when people are less likely to purchase. They may also plan to spend more on marketing during the spring when the weather changes and painting is more popular.
Your marketing campaign template should include a calendar including any seasonal marketing promotions that you’re planning to incorporate during your marketing planning process.
Step 10: Detail Your Marketing Channels
Most businesses have multiple marketing channels that they may use. And the advent of digital marketing has only increased the number.
Examples to consider adding to your marketing plan template in Excel or Word include:
- Social media
- eBook lead magnet
- Paid digital ads
- Postcard mailers
When developing a marketing plan, you’ll want to both account for all the ways you plan to market and how you’ll measure their success. If you don’t incorporate marketing goals and how to measure them into your strategic marketing plan template, then you could end up spending money on effective methods.
Here is a sample of how you might detail a marketing channel in your marketing action plan:
Channel 1: Guest Blogs
Key Objective: Drive traffic to the website
Success Metrics: 2,000 referrals/month
Target frequency: 1 per month
Step 11: Define Your Marketing Budget
No company can really have a complete sales and marketing plan template without knowing how much they’re going to spend.
You’ll want to decide how much you’ll be spending on each marketing channel that you’ve defined in your simple marketing plan template and include an annual or monthly amount.
One feature that we’ve included in our digital marketing plan template is a graph that you can use as an important marketing communication plan tool to help your team visualize how your budget is being split into different channels.
Sample Marketing Plan Template
Using a pie chart or other type of graph can add a nice comprehensive element to your marketing plan presentation when you’re showing it to others for approval.
Step 12: Create Your Content Ideas
You’ll note that actually creating the content comes last (not first) when developing marketing strategies and plans that are well thought through. All the steps you’ve taken up to this point will inform your content and help ensure it’s as powerful as possible.
In any simple marketing plan example, this is one of the most enjoyable parts of developing a business marketing plan because it’s when you can let your imagination run free and get into the creative process of your basic marketing plan.
You’ll find that defining your customer personas, marketing channels, value propositions, and the other earlier steps taken in your business plan marketing strategy are going to make creating content much easier.
If you try to do this step first when creating an offline and online marketing plan, you could be missing valuable selling propositions that would boost your sales.
When brainstorming your marketing content remember the brand voice that you’ve defined earlier in the marketing plan outline example. You want to keep consistency throughout all your marketing to enhance brand recognition.
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Where to Find a Marketing Strategy Template
You can make creating a marketing strategy plan much easier by using a template. We’ve included a few screenshots of our AGS free MS Word marketing plan template throughout this article, which is one way to get started.
If you prefer downloading a marketing plan template in Excel, there are plenty of those available online as well.
A simple search on “example of a good marketing plan” or “strategic marketing plan template” will bring up multiple results.
Additionally, you can also find a marketing campaign template specifically for your content creation that’s a helpful addition to your marketing planning process. And there are also many marketing plan executive summary example templates out there as well.
Just be careful of information overload when developing a marketing plan. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with data in today’s digital age, which could cause creating your marketing business plan to take longer than it needs to.
We recommend looking for between 2-3 sample marketing plan templates to begin and then incorporating the best parts of each.
You may also find that the first marketing plan sample for small businesses that you download is perfect for your marketing action plan. And that’s okay too.
More Tips on How to Write a Marketing Plan
Looking for more tips on developing marketing strategies and plans? Once you get past the marketing plan executive summary example, it can be easy to become stuck. We’ve got a few tips to help you get past any writer’s block when making your basic marketing plan.
Take it One Step at a Time
If you look over the entire marketing implementation plan example with its multiple steps, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never get through it. Just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about the other steps until you get there.
Just focusing on a single part of a marketing plan sample for small businesses at a time makes it much less intimidating to create, and before you know it, you’ll be on the last step in the process.
Get Help from Your Team
If you’re a business owner making a marketing plan for a new product or service, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Get some help from your team.
By making your sales and marketing plan template a “team effort,” you’ll gain valuable insight from more input, share the work to make it easier to complete, and can also teach your employees, “What is a marketing plan?” which will better prepare them for future company growth.
Start with a Simple Marketing Plan Example
If you’re looking over a complex marketing implementation plan example, it can be confusing and may include parts that an enterprise corporation may use that aren’t pertinent to your small business.
Search for a “small business marketing plan template” rather than a more generic search in order to find a simpler marketing plan template that better fits your business and will be easier to follow.
Conclusion – Using an Easy Marketing Plan Template
When it comes to creating your marketing strategy plan, using a free marketing plan template can save time and provide you with valuable steps that you may not have considered when creating a marketing plan on your own.
One of the most important things to remember when developing a marketing plan for your business is to take the time to properly do your research. Both in your company and your competitors. Skipping over a SWOT analysis or competitor research can leave you with a much weaker marketing strategy overall.
Your marketing planning process is one of the most important parts of a business plan because it’s how you decide where sales revenue is going to come from.
So, take your time with it and do it right, so you can make the most of your marketing plan objectives in the years ahead.
And…don’t forget to download our free marketing plan template!
Images: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/business-establishing-a-business-3639463/, https://twitter.com/Microsoft?s=20, https://twitter.com/OldSpice?s=20