• Kate Nguyen

BACK TO BASICS: HOW TO WRITE A MARKETING PLAN

Updated: Jan 4


A marketing plan is crucial for every business no matter how big the size is. A well- prepared marketing strategy will get people on the same page, set the motivation for achieving the sales, and especially become the benchmark for performance and development at the end of the period.

With a well-integrated marketing plan with a clear vision and mission statement as well as promotion activities, it can be easier for business owners to evaluate the upcoming opportunities and ensure that ROI is maximized.


Marketing plan vs Marketing strategy?

Don’t mix it up between Marketing plan and marketing strategy. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are two separate elements.

Marketing strategy is what you need to do in marketing to accomplish a specific business goal. This will include campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software used to execute that mission and track its performance.

The marketing plan outlines the whole marketing activities included to achieve those marketing goals, and it contains one or more marketing strategies.

For example, let’s say, your company would like to launch a new skincare product and the goal is sales. In this case, the marketing plan will be introducing that new product and driving sales. That marketing plan will contain three marketing strategies: Building a new e-commerce website, a Facebook account, and Out-of-house advertising.


Four types of marketing plan

Depending on the requirements of the business, four common types of a Marketing plan include:

  • Annual marketing plans: outline the campaigns or strategies for the business during a specific period of time.

  • Social media marketing plans: highlight the marketing activities that you will take to achieve the goals via Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

  • Paid marketing plans: refer to the use of paid marketing strategies, such as PPC, paid social media advertising, etc.

  • Content marketing plan: depending on the goal and characteristics of your marketing campaigns, content marketing plans will be drafted to ensure that the messages from your business are well- received and translated right by the target audience.


How to write a marketing plan?

A marketing plan can take time and effort to build. Here are 8 steps that will help you lay a sturdy foundation for your tactical marketing plan, and allow you to have reasonable and actionable plans for use.

Do the research

Understanding all of the information regarding the industry structure, associations, previous statistics can help you get the big picture of the industry your firm is operating, and its position on the market.

When conducting the market research, considering these factors:

  • Industry structure: size, expected outlook (growing or shrinking), sources of potential profits, the major players on the market, etc.

  • Market research: these kinds of information can be found via secondary research (from the trusted associations, the government departments, industry reports, etc) or your business can conduct your own market research, which is more expensive but of course, more precise to your own organization).

Conduct the analysis

Three of the most popular methods used for the industry are the PESTEL, Five Forces, and SWOT analysis.

  • PESTEL analysis is used to analyze and monitor the macro-environmental factors that have an impact on an organization, including Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal factors.

  • Porter’s Five Forces Analysis is a framework used for understanding the competitive environment of the industry your business is operating. Those five forces, which are: The number and power of a company's competitive rivals, potential new market entrants, suppliers, customers, and substitute products will affect the profitability of a company.

  • SWOT analysis: represents the analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats within your business. By doing SWOT, you can understand your Unique Selling Points (USPs) and utilize them for future opportunities, as well as minimize the weaknesses.

Define your target audience

Once you get the big picture of the market and the company’s situation, the target audience should be defined. Understanding who your customers are is a crucial part of success when doing marketing.

To establish your customer profiles, these points should be taken into consideration:

  • Geographic: the customers are divided based on geographic boundaries, including the address and zip code.

  • Demographic: basic information of your audience, such as gender, age, marital status, and education.

  • Behavior: customers are divided based on behaviors and decision-making patterns such as purchase, consumption, lifestyle, and usage.

  • Psychographic: the psychological aspects of consumer behavior will be taken into consideration. Those traits will contain lifestyle, personality traits, values, opinions, and interests of consumers.

By setting up your target audience personas, your marketing plan will become clear, and the efforts when executing the plans will become more precise. Remember that, quality over quantity. Don’t try to catch every fish in the sea. Instead, putting effort into the specific kinds of fish you want, and the ROI will be incredible.


Set your SMART goals

After having a sturdy foundation of relevant information, your marketing plan needs SMART goals and objectives. A clear roadmap with targeted destinations will speed up the journey to success, as well as save time and money for the organization.

SMART goals mean that the objectives you would like to achieve must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In other words, your goals should be set within a specific time, and be realistic about the performance.


For example, if your goal is: increase the number of fans on Facebook before Christmas, this statement is too vague, as there is no benchmark for success without definite numbers. Instead, you can change the goal into: “To increase the number of followers on Facebook by 20% in three months”


Outline your marketing strategies

At this point, you’ve already known what you want. Let’s jump to the most important step: execution plan. Without action, the plan is just on the paper. You need detailed marketing tactics to turn those ideas into reality.

Based on the information you have decided in the previous steps, you can choose suitable marketing activities that will help to achieve the business’ objectives and goals. Many strategies can be combined together to achieve one specific goal, and one strategy can be used for relevant objectives. But first thing first, adaptability and suitability should be taken into consideration while drafting your marketing tactics.

For example, your marketing goal can be: increase the number of followers on your Facebook page by 15% within 3 months. Then, your marketing strategies can be: paid advertising content, give- away campaigns, and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders).


Set your budget

A defined budget will definitely be a must before implementing any marketing activities. Depending on different marketing activities, the amount of money spent will vary.

When developing your marketing plan, the budget for marketing must be calculated carefully to ensure that every dollar spent is worth the investment. Some paid advertising is expensive. For small businesses who cannot afford an unlimited amount of money for advertising like Coca-Cola or Nike, the marketing budget will definitely keep your feet on the ground, and allow you to pick the options that “give you the best bang for your buck” and deliver the right messages to your intended audience.


Continuously improve

Marketing is always changing in a fraction of seconds. Working in the marketing industry means that you have to keep updating with any factors that can detour your initial marketing activities and make in-time adjustments. Many events can happen beyond your expectation, and the most important is you have to be aware of them. Remember that your marketing plan is a reference so that you can tweak and change in accordance with the environment.


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