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What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One

You did it.

You’ve been spearheading your organization’s content marketing efforts for a while now, and your team’s performance has convinced your boss to fully adopt content marketing. There’s one small problem, though.

Your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan to them, but you’ve never done something like that before. You don’t even know where to start.

Fortunately, we’ve curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete marketing plan that’s rooted in data and produces real results.

In this post, we’ll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans implement strategies that serve their respective businesses.

 

What is a marketing plan?

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down your tactics and strategies in an organized fashion. This will help keep you on track, and measure the success of your campaigns.

Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign’s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all of this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign, noticing what works and what doesn’t, and measuring the success of your strategy.

Types of Marketing Plans

Depending on the company you work at, you might want to leverage a variety of different marketing plans. Here are just a few:

  • Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans: These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you’ll take on in a certain period of time.
  • Paid Marketing Plan: This plan could highlight paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.
  • Social Media Marketing Plan: This plan could highlight the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media.
  • Content Marketing Plan: This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you’ll use content to promote your business or product.
  • New Product Launch Marketing Plan: This plan will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you’ll implement to promote a new product.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular mission or goal. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they’ll use to execute on that mission and track its success.

For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.

A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It is the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created, and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.

Let’s say, for example, your company is launching a new software product it wants customers to sign up for. This calls for the marketing department to develop a marketing plan that’ll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.

The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject — all of which serve to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.

Can you see the distinction between the business’s marketing plan versus the three marketing strategies?

In the above example, the business’s marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups to that product. The business will execute on that plan with three marketing strategies: a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.

Of course, the business might also consider these three things one giant marketing strategy, each with their own specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, there are a certain set of steps every marketing plan goes through in its creation. Learn what they are below.

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How to Write a Marketing Plan

1. State your business’s mission.

Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business’s main mission statement. Be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you’ll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.

For example, if your business’s mission is “to make booking travel a delightful experience,” your marketing mission might be “to attract an audience of travelers, educate them on the tourism industry, and convert them into users of our bookings platform.”

2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.

Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission’s progress. To do so, you’ll need to determine your key performance indicators, or “KPIs” for short. KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.

Let’s take our example marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track websites visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.

These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4, below.

3. Identify your buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a description of whom you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, job title, and more. Each buyer persona should be a direct reflection of your business’s customers and potential customers. Therefore, it’s critical that business leaders all agree on what your buyer personas are.

4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.

Here’s where you’ll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there are a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, it’s critical that you choose wisely and explain how you’ll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.

A content strategy should stipulate:

  • Which types of content you’ll create. These can include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, ebooks, and more.
  • How much of it you’ll create. You can describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on your workflow and the short-term goals you set for your content.
  • The goals (and KPIs) you’ll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
  • The channels on which you’ll distribute this content. Some popular channels at your disposal include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.

5. Clearly define your plan’s omissions.

A marketing plan explains what the marketing team is going to focus on. However, it also explains what the marketing team is not going to focus on.

If there are other aspects of your business that you aren’t serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn’t on the hook for something, you need to make it known.

6. Define your marketing budget.

Your content strategy might leverage many free channels and platforms, but there are a number of hidden expenses to a marketing team that need to be accounted for.

Whether it’s freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.

7. Identify your competition.

Part of marketing is knowing whom you’re marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one in this section.

Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.

8. Outline your plan’s contributors and their responsibilities.

With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it’s time to explain who’s doing what. You don’t have to delve too deeply into your employees’ day-to-day projects, but it should be known which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.

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