For anyone, choosing to start a new business or a new marketing campaign can be an intimidating process. An immediate challenge might be not knowing where to start.
This is where a marketing plan is helpful. Using one can help you clearly define your goals and the specific actions you should take to achieve them. To understand why a marketing plan is important, you’ll need to know about what it is, what it would typically consist of, and how you and your business can benefit from using one.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that outlines the course of action for enacting a marketing strategy.
This would ideally cover the specific tasks required to reach marketing goals. Businesses might want to use a marketing plan to help establish a timeline for a marketing team’s work, with specific milestones outlined. These milestones might be measurable goals, giving your business a way to measure the success of their marketing efforts.
What’s the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy?
Typically, when discussing marketing plans, the subject of marketing strategy is just as relevant. The two are easily confused as being the same, but they are separate elements of a business’s overall marketing, two sides of the same coin.
The truth is, you can’t have one without the other. A marketing strategy is built around supporting your marketing plan. A plan is a roadmap of how you aim to reach these marketing goals, considering what activities your marketing team engages in to achieve your goals. Your marketing plan is designed to support your strategy and the overarching goals of your business.
|Marketing Strategy||Marketing Plan|
|A marketing strategy is created before any actual work takes place.||A marketing plan is created once a clear strategy has been established.|
|A strategy is the overall approach your business can use to attract leads and convert them into customers.||Your plan should focus on putting your market strategy to work, and executing it.|
|A strategy includes elements like your business’s value proposition, brand messaging, and relevant data on your target audience.||A plan is more specific and concentrated on the exact steps to use the strategy, it might include elements like what marketing tactics you’ll use, the timeline on which you’ll put your plan into effect, and the overall budget needed.|
|While flexibility is important, it is ideal for a marketing strategy to not be changed significantly over short periods, instead of being adjusted quarterly to adapt to changes your business might encounter in its team and budget.||A plan is more specific and concentrated on the exact steps to use the strategy, it might include elements like what marketing tactics you’ll use, the timeline on which you’ll put your plan into effect, and the overall budget needed.|
Knowing the key differences between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy is important for implementing them productively and ensuring your plan can support the demands of your strategy. Once your plan is capable of this, there are many benefits your business can leverage.
What are the benefits of using a marketing plan?
A well-structured marketing plan allows your business to access unique advantages and opportunities that help streamline your activities as well as your future operations.
- Improved cooperation — A detailed plan can allow for organizational cohesion and transparency, which means everyone on your marketing team would be working together towards a common, established goal.
- Measures your marketing efforts — Using a plan allows for goals to be measurable, letting you understand if your current strategies and methods are aligned with reaching the goals and milestones your plan has laid out.
- Provides strategic insight — A plan can also help evaluate any opportunities that may arise, helping you consider if these new opportunities would be helpful to achieving your marketing goals and growing your business.
- Helps you better understand your target audience — These plans can provide you and your team with the opportunity to recognize the most effective ways of reaching your target audience—granting you the ability to target them most efficiently.
Creating a comprehensive and well-developed marketing plan can help you make the most of these advantages. To create this, you need to familiarize yourself with the elements that create the foundation of an effective marketing plan.
Essential elements of a marketing plan
To get the most out of your plan, it’s going to be key to understand each element of the marketing plan and how they may be able to support your business’s overarching marketing strategy.
|Element of Plan||What is it?||How do you integrate this element?|
|Business Goals||The overarching goals and objectives of your business.||Keeping your plan in line with the business’s goals helps you continue working towards the correct objectives.|
|Marketing Objectives||These goals and milestones underpin your marketing plan, helping to determine whether your plan is succeeding or not.||Goals like this can be integrated in the form of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). You can use it to define your Key Performance Indicators and model your performance.|
|Target Audiences||This is the specific group of people you want to target with the tactics of your marketing plan, typically divided by demographic segments like age, gender, and income.||By taking note of the characteristics of your target audience, you can determine the best channels to use to reach them and make your promotion more appealing to them.|
|Marketing Tactics||These are the specific methods named in your plan that you intend to use to promote your business throughout your plan.||This can be integrated by researching what marketing vehicles can be best used to reach your target audience, like paid media, owned media, and more.|
|Budget||An outline and allocation of the resources you can expend on your marketing plan.||This can be used in your plan by considering the expense of all the promotional activities you want your marketing team to engage in.|
|Timeline||The order of activity your marketing plan has to follow. It would describe when specific activities need to be executed as well as the marketing goals and milestones you expect to reach.||Establishing a concrete timeline as a part of your plan should account for the goals you expect to reach and when you expect to reach them, so if things are not going to plan, the plan can be adjusted accordingly.|
Keeping elements like your marketing objectives and timeline in mind when developing your marketing plan will provide you with a structure that can help set your plan, and by extension your strategy up for success.
So why use one?
It might be enticing to immediately jump into your marketing efforts and begin carrying out parts of your business’s strategy. However, using one will help you effectively support your strategy and avoid the common pitfalls and challenges you may encounter when organizing your business’s marketing resources. If carried out effectively, your plan can lay the groundwork and structure to set your business’s long-term marketing efforts up for success.
Do you want to get started on building your business’s marketing plan? Speak with one of our marketing experts to find out more about how Surge can help your business develop a plan that best suits its needs.