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How to Create a Marketing Plan: 10 Essential Steps

How to Create a Marketing Plan: 10 Essential Steps
Bitrix24 Team
July 21, 2022
Last updated: September 28, 2022

Just like in any area of life or work, you can’t go far if you don’t know where you’re going. That’s why creating a marketing plan should be at the top of any manager’s agenda.

While being flexible and adapting to unforeseen circumstances is a great skill to have, the more detailed your plan is, the higher the chances of achieving your goals. 

However, too many managers overlook the details and work on assumptions and general targets. That’s why we’ve laid out a roadmap for how to create a marketing plan in 10 essential steps. 


FAQs

Why do companies create marketing plans?

Both multinationals and fresh startups create marketing plans to better achieve overall business goals. The plan itself works as a pathway to success, holds people accountable, and is an indicator of progress.

What should a marketing plan template include?

Any marketing plan template should include the following points as a minimum:
  • Market research
  • Competitor analysis
  • Clear targets and goals
  • A strategy to achieve said goals
  • Progress checks
  • Analysis and improvement


What tools can help to develop a marketing plan?

The best tools to create a marketing plan include:
  • Project management software
  • Calendars
  • A customer relationship manager
  • An integrated social media poster
  • Internal and customer-focused analytics and reporting
  • Collaborative documents
  • Artistic design tools


1. Understand your starting point

It’s impossible to make a plan if you don’t know where you are to begin with. Therefore, the first port of call when asking how to create a marketing plan is to analyze your own or your client’s company. You need to run the numbers to produce a picture of your company now in order to inform your plan. 

By adopting a data-driven approach, you cut out the guesswork in what improvements are necessary. As we’ll see in the rest of this list, using data when creating a marketing plan is a reliable (and relatively simple) way of getting ahead of your competitors.

Make a document that includes all your KPIs, such as leads, sales, followers, and more to identify where you excel and where you need to improve. With your key stakeholders, identify the areas that are most important for your business as a whole. From this analysis, you can move on to setting targets that bring you closer to your company’s aims.


2. Define your marketing goals

Your goals are your benchmark of success that you and your clients can agree upon. It's not just enough to set targets, you need to decide on how they will be measured. For instance, it's no good increasing the number of contacts on your CRM if they are left cold or if they immediately unsubscribe. 

Don't worry about the overarching business goals. Instead, focus on the department-specific KPIs that you can control. 

When deciding on how to create a marketing plan nowadays, your goals could include aspects such as:

  • Increase social media followers by 5% every month

  • Get yearly customer churn to under 10%

  • Grow sales by 10%

  • Boost web traffic by 30%

Note that all of these examples are specific, not general. By including percentages, you make them measurable, which is one of the five aspects that makes up SMART criteria for goals:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Relevant

  • Time-bound

This systematic approach to goals not only makes building a marketing plan more clear and concise for your team, it also makes your client presentations much more professional.


3. Outline your project scope

Your scope should come early in the conversation of how to create a marketing plan as it defines your framework. Clients can gauge what is possible and what isn’t, meaning you can deliver on promises rather than stretching your budget (and yourselves) to meet an ever-increasing demand. 

First of all, set the activity scope. For example, if you’re an SEO specialist, developing a professional-level social media strategy may be too much to ask. Therefore, you can limit your tasks to technical and content SEO to reduce the pressure on your team. 

Similarly, one of the key elements of how to create a marketing plan for clients is to make a clear cost scope before embarking on your marketing mission. By agreeing on a price for the entire project, you can then advise your customers on what fits into their budget. 


4. Get to know your users

When thinking about how to create a marketing plan, researching your audience should be front and center. Market research projects give you a good idea of the demographics your plan should be aiming to attract, along with their trends, habits and interests. 

You can run research in various ways, such as by scouring your CRM for patterns or launching feedback forms to get an idea of your users, what they use your product for, and what they might want in the future. 

From all this information, you can then draw out buyer personas. These fictional customers bring together all the elements that your customers share and are a key part of creating a marketing plan. Don’t just stick with one persona though. Most companies appeal to different demographics. For example, a SaaS company may have a full package for multinationals and a lite offering for new startups. 

Your buyer personas should include details such as:

  • Age

  • Sex

  • Company type

  • Position in the company

  • Pain points

  • Aims

  • Budget


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5. Keep your competitors close

As well as your audience, you also need to know your industry: Who are your competitors? What sets them apart? How can you fit into the picture? 

Understanding what works for your competitors is the first step to understanding how you will stand out as a brand. Therefore, part of how to create a marketing plan is calling them up, trawling their website, and reading reviews to get a well-rounded idea of what they’re all about. 

Running a SWOT analysis is a tried-and-tested, methodical way of looking into your competitors, and categorizes analysis into the following steps:

Strengths

Under strengths, you look at what gives them that wow factor. You won’t have to look hard for these, they should be plastered all over your competitor’s website and social media channels.

Weaknesses

Brands naturally try to hide weaknesses, but you can find them if you try. Look at reviews for any recurring complaints, or find out their market share in various areas — they might not have a foothold where you’re starting out.

Opportunities

Your analysis should cover opportunities, such as changing industry trends that increase profits. Another area could be new customer behavior that reduces costs, such as a shift from in-store to online preferences. 

Threats

The opposite of opportunities, threats to a business include any problems they have to overcome. Examples of threats include supply chain issues and labor shortages, but they can be more industry-specific too.


6. Make your plan presentable

We live in a world where the delivery is often more important than the message itself. You could create the best marketing plan in the world, but if your clients or superiors don’t understand it, you’re unlikely to get the green light. This is even more important when presenting to people who aren’t marketing specialists.

If you’re wondering how to create a marketing plan that convinces even the most detached clients, start off with a Gantt chart. By laying out all the tasks on a timeline, your stakeholders can get a clear idea of the big picture, as well as each of the steps that get you to the finish line. While your presentation shouldn’t include every micro aspect, you should have the finer details at hand, ready to go when asked a question.

Your marketing plan doesn’t have to cover the entire process all at once. We would recommend breaking down your overall plan into smaller, more digestible chunks. Checkpoints could be activating advertising campaigns, launching a website, or a business event. 


7. Choose your channels wisely

With marketing channels, the key is to always remember your aim: to connect with new and current contacts. Therefore, if your buyer personas simply don’t use a certain network, it’s probably not worth investing your time and energy into it.

You can, of course, save time by copying material from one platform to another, but we would recommend taking the time to go for quality over quantity. Choose the channels where your users are active and plan well-thought-out posts that suit the platform you’re using. 

As you’re thinking about how to create a marketing plan, get a feel for your voice for different platforms. For example, LinkedIn should remain professional and relatively formal, while TikTok gives you a lot more freedom. That said, try not to sacrifice your identity for a few more likes — a company with no clear ethos can be off-putting to both new and old users. 

Finally, when looking at how to create a digital marketing plan, consider what social media metrics you will use to measure your success. Not only will analysis like this help you improve your approach, you’ll also be able to present your progress to clients and superiors in a clear, concise way. 


8. Set periodic progress checks

A stitch in time saves nine, and this wisdom applies just as well when thinking about how to create a marketing plan as it does to a ripped dress. 

So, instead of setting out on your plan and waiting until the end before you verify how well you’ve done, include time to reflect on how your team is doing. We don’t mean “keep an eye on things”. We mean setting periodic targets and booking meetings into your calendar from the outset. After your team has painted a picture of their progress, you can pass on the information to your stakeholders to keep everybody in the loop.

Another, quicker way of checking progress is to get your team into the habit of doing daily standups. Limited to no more than 10 minutes, these quick morning meetings give your entire team the chance to offer updates and raise any issues that are preventing them from completing their tasks. Instead of things snowballing into project-threatening problems, you can nip them in the bud and stay within your time and cost restraints. 


9. Align your strategy with your brand

Dipping into the technicals now, you can’t start thinking about how to create a marketing plan without establishing your brand. Your brand is what sets you apart from the competition and should solve a problem that your customers face, with a focus on quality and value. 

The elements to cover in your brand book include:

  • Brand name

  • Company story, values, and mission

  • Convincing taglines that summarize your brand

  • Images, logos, color schemes, fonts, and other design attributes

  • A style guide and written voices

With your brand work as a base, you now have an idea of how to create a digital marketing plan through email campaigns, social media posts, landing pages, and more with a coherent link between them. Don’t look at your branding as a restrictive framework. Instead, see it as your public face — the images and text that identify you in the market. Your values and mission should help to give you direction as you form your creative concepts, while your artwork and voice serve to grab attention.


10. Analyze your performance and prepare for the next project

There’s no better relief than getting to the end of a project and taking a well-earned break. But for the best teams, the job isn’t over just yet. One of the most important elements when building a marketing plan is to reflect on your performance as a team and look for ways to improve next time. 

While customer-facing analytics will help you measure how well you have performed with respect to your goals, an internal focus covers your team’s efficiency. With the right analytical tools, you can take a global view, measure one checkpoint in particular, or get down and dirty with each individual task.

Pull out individual performance reports on each individual in your team to see where their efforts are best spent and identify roadblocks in your project. With these insights, you can then make changes for next time round and provide more reliable plans to your stakeholders.


Now you know how to develop a marketing plan, it’s over to you to get the ball rolling. 

However, as we’ve seen throughout this list, you don’t have to do all the hard slog yourself. With the right tools, you can make molehills out of mountains, streamlining each individual task as well as the overall project.

Over 10,000,000 managers have already made the smart move to Bitrix24 — a single platform that covers all your marketing needs and more. 

If that sounds too good to be true, sign up for free today and see for yourself!

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