What is a marketing plan? Discover your roadmap to results.

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale

As a business leader, you understand the importance of courage. It took courage to take a dream and turn it into reality. You had to believe even when no one else did and push through the moments that would have made others give up. This courage has gotten you to where you are today.

But with success comes new challenges. Before, sales were centered around you and your network. As you scale, outreach becomes more challenging and you now find yourself needing new sources for leads. How can you create a marketing program that will feed sales for years to come?

When you think about this question, past attempts at marketing may come to mind. These attempts, possibly failures, make it hard to imagine creating a marketing program that actually works. Where do you start?

When you started making sales, hiring employees, and making a profit it was all because you had a plan. Many businesses see their marketing efforts fail time and time again. This is because without a roadmap they are trying to fill in gaps on the fly and hire specialists with no vision or goal in mind.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to create a marketing plan that gets you from where you are to where you want to be. With a clear path forward, you’ll create next-level results and boost revenue year over year.

A marketing plan can double your chances of success

You may have gotten along fine without a marketing plan up to this point, but businesses that plan are twice as likely to succeed. A marketing plan helps identify your goals, target the right audience, and effectively direct company resources.

You already know that people who set goals are more likely to be high achievers. But how does this apply to your business? Antoine de Saint-Exupéry summed it up best when he said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Business goals backed by a clear marketing plan can unlock untold benefits for you and your business.

Guiding principles for an effective marketing plan

While every business’s marketing plan will differ, there are a few guiding principles everyone can follow:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Treat it is a fluid document.
  • Make it a priority.

Let’s dig into what each of these points means for your marketing plan.

Simple is best.

Don’t assume you need to create a 100 page marketing plan. If your plan is too complicated, it won’t be actionable and it’ll likely be abandoned. Your plan should have space to define your marketing focus as well as one-year, three-year, and 10-year goals. By keeping long term goals in mind as you plan what is most important to accomplish in the next 90 days, your plan will remain simple and actionable.

Your marketing plan should be fluid.

You may envision being at a certain point at the one, three, and ten-year marks of your business. But, many factors can impact your growth. By treating your plan as flexible, you’re able to fine-tune and eliminate tactics that don’t work. This mindset also enables you to adapt to the changing market.

Don’t let it be a side project.

When you have a growing business, your marketing plan needs dedicated time and resources. If you can’t provide those in-house, it may be necessary to bring in some outside expertise. For businesses that can’t afford a full-time CMO but need marketing leadership, a fractional CMO can bridge the gap and take your business to the next level.

Once you understand the basics for creating a successful marketing plan, you need to start.

When should I start creating a marketing plan?

When you go on a trip abroad, you usually start planning months, or years, in advance. And it’s no different for marketing plans. The earlier you start, the more likely you are to achieve your goals along the way.

Planning isn’t a one-time event. For your marketing program to be truly effective, it should be revised and executed in 90-day intervals. The 90-day review will give you enough time to test most marketing strategies and the flexibility to adjust or eliminate ineffective tactics.

Before creating your marketing plan you should understand the main components. Let’s look at the key ingredients.

Let’s break the marketing plan down into its key ingredients

A well-crafted marketing plan should answer three basic questions: what’s your goal, who are your customers, and how can you connect the two? Here are five components you shouldn’t overlook.

  1. Clear “so what” message. Most businesses go to market with a “what” message: focusing on their own products, services, values, team, process, etc. All of these aspects become important after you’ve captured the attention of a potential buyer, but first you need to spark their interest and gain their engagement. To do so, the strongest marketing messages begin with a “so what” story that appeals to the buyers’ true motivators – their specific pains and gains. In order to craft a strong “so what” story, you must first understand who your buyers are. Which leads us to the next point.
  2. Key audiences. What are the demographics, interests, and psychographics of your buyers? The first step in marketing is always identifying and empathizing with your target customer. This is the foundation on which your future marketing should be built. You can start with historical data, but it’s always best if you can talk to current customers or prospects.
  3. Market focus. In what region will your audience be based, if anywhere? Online? Offline? Think about where you are based and the logistics of reaching your audience. As your business grows, so will your capabilities and target market.
  4. Growth Vision and Focus. What does your plan look like for the next 90-days and 12-months? Your marketing plan should include both short-term and long-term strategies and the steps for getting there. This includes your 1, 3, and 5-year vision. Only when you know where you want to go can you plan the steps that will get you there.
  5. Budget. How much time and money can you allocate to carrying out your marketing plan? Make sure you cover all your marketing channels. How much will you spend on marketing content, materials, and promotions? Specifying your marketing budget will ensure your plan is in line with the resources you actually have.
  6. KPIs and measurement metrics. What does success look like? How will you know when you’ve arrived? It’s important to identify the metrics that indicate success. These will help you self-correct when veering off course, and give you cause to celebrate when you achieve your goals.  

Once you create a marketing plan that is clear and has all the necessary components, you’re part way to creating a marketing program that builds your brand and drives measurable results.

A marketing plan that gets business results

The world is a sphere, yet maps are flat. While no 2D map of the world could ever be 100 percent accurate, it is still a very effective navigational tool.

Likewise, your marketing plan won’t be 100 percent perfect. But when you have a plan, you can make it more robust by building in contingencies and alternatives. By being agile and forward thinking, you can give your business the best chance for continued growth.

At Authentic Brand, we help companies go from a blank whiteboard to a comprehensive, living marketing strategy. Our team of fractional CMOs is well equipped to help you chart your future business growth. If you’re ready to gain marketing traction, let’s talk today.

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Jennifer Zick

Founder and CEO at Authentic Brand
Jennifer Zick is the Founder and CEO of Authentic Brand, a Minneapolis-based marketing consultancy that helps great businesses attain next-level growth through Marketing Traction™.
Jennifer Zick
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