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Digital Marketing 10 min read

What Is a Marketing Plan and Why Do You Need One? A Beginner’s Guide

Ayesha Renyard photo

Written by Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Carolyn Noel photo

Expert reviewed by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Published 15 Jun 2022

No matter how spontaneous we think we are, we create plans all the time—to throw a party, clean the house, or save up for a big purchase. Through inconspicuous planning, we’re achieving personal goals every day. (Go us!)

Source: Giphy

To achieve your marketing goals, you also need a plan. A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategies over a given time period. They can consist of several strategies for the various marketing teams, but all work toward the same business goals. 

While you may not be an expert on marketing plans, you do have experience in planning—and we have a feeling after reading this blog, you’ll be able to execute your marketing plan like a pro. 

So today, as part of our Digital Marketing Series, we’re helping you take the first step in achieving your marketing goals. Let’s discuss what a marketing plan is and how to create one. 

Types of Marketing Plans

A marketing plan will look different from one company to the next. Businesses may choose to create one—or several. Here are a few common types of marketing plans: 

  • Quarterly or annual marketing plans: These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you’ll take on in a certain period of time
  • Paid media plan: This plan involves different paid media strategies, including PPC and social media advertising. 
  • SEO plan: This plan covers all SEO strategies, including on-page and off-page SEO
  • Content marketing plan: This plan considers how you’ll use content to promote your business or product. 

Keep in mind that a plan is not a strategy. Let’s dig into the difference below. 

Marketing Plans vs Marketing Strategies

When you throw a party, you typically create a list of things to do: send out invitations, prepare food, buy drinks, clean the house, find a babysitter for the kids, etc. Throwing the party is the plan. The to-do list outlines your strategies. 

The same goes for marketing. A marketing plan is the framework from which all your marketing strategies are created, helping you connect each strategy back to the larger marketing operation and business goals. Marketing strategies can be campaigns, content, channels, or software you’ll use to execute your marketing plan and track its success

Let’s say your business goal is to build your brand. Your marketing plan could focus on increasing brand awareness—and your marketing strategies might then be to build SEO content, launch social or PPC campaigns, and work with influencers.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

Your marketing planning process involves six steps: identifying your goal, buyer persona, competition, strategies, KPIs, and resources. Let’s dive into each of these steps in more detail, shall we?

1. Identifying your goal 

The first step in creating a marketing plan is identifying your marketing goals. To do this, refer back to your business mission and goals. 

Let’s say your fintech business’s mission is “to make invoicing a fast and frictionless experience for finance teams,” and your business goal is to increase market share. Your marketing goals might be “to increase brand recognition within the finance community and increase new users.”

Drawing clear connections between your marketing and business goals will help your team work more efficiently and drive a bigger impact. 

2. Identifying your buyer persona 

Creating a buyer persona is essential for any marketing plan. A buyer persona is a research-based profile that depicts a target customer. They describe who your ideal customers are, what their days are like, the challenges they face, and how they make decisions. 

To identify your buyer persona, ask yourself these starter questions. They consider your target audience’s demographics, locations, lifestyles, jobs, goals, values, fears, and challenges. 

buyer persona questions

Source: Algorithmic Global

Can you have more than one buyer persona? Absolutely! But try to keep it to two to three. 

Once you outline your marketing goal, you should identify the buyer persona most relevant for achieving it. Again, let’s suppose you’re a fintech company selling invoicing software. But this time, your business goal is to increase customer lifetime value. Your marketing goal will focus on retaining customers—and the buyer persona you’d target in your strategies are the users of your software (i.e., companies’ finance teams.)

3. Identifying your competition 

After identifying your marketing goal and buyer persona, the wheels will be turning—and you’ll probably start dreaming up your marketing strategies. 

Not so fast! To get the most mileage out of your marketing strategies, you should conduct a competitor analysis first.

By researching your competitors’ marketing, you can: 

  • Identify gaps in the market
  • Identify your unique value proposition 
  • Uncover market trends
  • Market and sell more effectively

Let’s say you find that long-form social media posts perform the best in your industry. Your social media marketing strategy can incorporate more long-form posts. Or, perhaps you’ll notice that all your competitors’ ads promote the same value prop. Your paid media strategy can test different value props.   

Here’s a template to help you visualize your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. If you see a gap, that’s where your brand should strive to be!

Source: Moqups

4. Identifying your strategies

With marketing goals in hand and a birds-eye view of your competitors, you can now identify the winning strategies to support your marketing plan

As a reminder, marketing strategies are the tactics you’ll use to execute your marketing plan. They can be campaigns, content, channels, or software.

Example

Imagine you’re an e-commerce skincare business on a mission to provide effective, affordable products for acne-prone skin. And your marketing mission is to raise awareness of your brand among young adults and become their go-to solution for healthier skin. Some of your marketing strategies may then be:

  • Influencer marketing: Since you’re marketing to young adults, you could leverage TikTok, a social media platform that appeals to Gen Z and is currently the top app for consumer spend.
  • User-generated content: Most people will first look for customer reviews and testimonials when buying online products. It may be worth dedicating resources towards supporting user-generated content, like video reviews.
  • SEO marketing: If you’re looking to raise awareness of your skincare line and become the go-to solution, you need to educate your audience that you’re the solution to their problems. Doing some SEO keyword research will help you identify what your target audience is searching for. Then, you can create web content that targets these search queries to grow your organic traffic. 

Remember, when choosing marketing strategies, make sure they ladder up to your marketing goals and business mission. A focused approach is the best way to reach success!

5. Identifying your KPIs

Nailing down your KPIs is one of the most important steps in the marketing planning process. How can you say you reached your goal if you haven’t defined what success looks like? 

KPIs, or key performance indicators, are the metrics your business tracks to determine the effectiveness of your business’s marketing and sales efforts. You can find all the metrics specific to marketing in this blog post. As you’ll see, they vary according to each channel, such as social media, email, blog, and website.

For your marketing plan, you’ll need to set KPIs for your marketing goals and each of your marketing strategies. Don’t forget that KPIs should be time-bound and support your overarching business goal. 

Example

Let’s say your business goal is to increase market share. Your marketing goals may be to increase brand awareness and new customers. To track success, you’ll need to attach KPIs for these goals:

“By Q4, we aim to increase brand awareness by X percent and increase the number of new customers to X amount to support our business goal of increasing market share by X percent.”

Once you identify the marketing strategies that will support these goals, you can set KPIs for them too. Let’s say you launch an SEO strategy to support your brand awareness goal. 

“By Q4, we aim to increase our rankings in the SERPs for X keywords and organic web traffic by X percent to support our brand awareness goal.”

You may also launch a paid media campaign for your marketing goal of increasing new users. Some metrics you’d want to track are clicks, conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs. 

How do you measure success? Here’s a quick video on how to use Google Analytics, one of the most commonly used tools for tracking marketing metrics:

6. Identifying your resources

After identifying your marketing strategies and their KPIs, your marketing plan isn’t complete just yet. You must ensure you have the budget and contributors to execute them successfully.

Let’s say you want to launch an SEO, paid media, content marketing, and social media strategy. Do you have in-house specialists who know what to do to achieve your goals? Do they have access to the tools they need to track success? Do they even have the bandwidth to tackle all of these strategies?

If you don’t have enough internal resources or team members, you may have to put some strategies on the back burner until the next quarter. Or, if your budget permits, you can outsource for help. (And if that’s the case, we have a team of SEO and paid media specialists that would be happy to lend a hand!)

You’re Now an Expert in Marketing Plans

After reading this post, you’re well on your way to creating a marketing plan for your business—after all, everyone’s a planner at heart. To work smarter, not harder, follow these six steps. You’ll see results in no time!

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Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

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