A Marketing Plan for Any Business

August 7th, 2013 by Robert Pease

In order to know where you’re going you need to have a good map (or good map app these days).  The same holds true for your marketing strategy.  It is important to have a map of what you are trying to accomplish, how you are going to go about doing it, and how you will know when you’ve been successful.  This means explicitly stating objectives, metrics, and milestones for your marketing plan and detailing your marketing process.

There are lots of sample marketing plans and even a good marketing plan template can be found floating around out there but we thought we’d share what we believe are the most important pieces with a bit of commentary about each section.  The actual details will vary based on the product or service you sell, the markets you are targeting, and the type of marketing budget and staff you have available to drive implementation.

Marketing Plan Outline:

Purpose of the Marketing Plan

This doesn’t have to necessarily include your mission statement but it should cover exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing plan.  Are you launching a new company, have a new product, extending a product line, or expanding into a new geography?  Explain succinctly what you are trying to do and it will help focus your efforts as well as set the stage as you communicate with others.  Also, what is the timeframe you are covering?  Is this a monthly, quarterly, or annual marketing plan?

Metrics and Measurements

This is where you need to cover and detail your goals for metrics of success.  Some to consider are Cost per Lead (CPL), Cost per Action (CPA), and a series of conversion metrics like site visit to registration rate, registration to trial rate, trial to transaction rate.  Also very important are knowing the sources of your customers and both how much and how long it took to convert them into a customer so detail leads by lead source, by number/type of touches, and by the days/weeks/months from registering.  This gets at the core of your marketing process and how you can use both automation technology as well as off-line processes to support your marketing plan.

Customer Acquisition Model

How are you going to find and acquire customers?  Will you use a direct sales team, go to market through distribution partners, only focus on online marketing or include offline tactics as well?  What are the details of your online marketing strategy?  Will you focus on blogging or will you do paid advertising?  Who is your target buyer?  Are the “user buyer” and “economic buyer” the same person?  Knowing how you are going to reach your target customer needs to be detailed in this part of the marketing plan.  Get tactical and detailed.  The details matter here…

Target Markets and Segments

The best strategic marketing approaches have a very detailed understanding of who they are targeting and why.  Here you cover how you are looking at the market.  Is it by industry (ie, Financial Services), geography (ie, US), attribute (iPhone users)?  Is this a domestic or international marketing plan?  Do you have your marketing research completed or is that part of the plan to do surveys, access existing market research, etc? It’s ok to lay out a timeline view here stating where the initial emphasis will be and where you plan on going over the next couple years.

Marketing Budget

Here is where you are going to detail how much you are going to pay for all this awesome.  All your marketing planning efforts need to be reflected here with accurate cost projections and when they will be incurred (I am a fan of a monthly view).  Your business and product strategy will dictate the relative percentages across the following categories:

  • Public Relations (both 3rd party firms as well as costs related to issuing press releases)
  • Advertising (display, search, etc.)
  • Lead Generation (paid programs like sponsored webcasts, tele-prospecting, etc.)
  • Creative (web design, collateral, videos, etc.)
  • Events (trade shows, conferences, etc.)
  • Premiums (a little schwag never hurts!)
  • Technology (webinar, blog, marketing automation, email marketing, analytics, and other marketing technology that you will be using)

Ok there you go.  Enough of a sample marketing plan to get you started and generic enough to apply to pretty much any business.  If not, leave us a comment and we’ll weigh in or point you to someone who can help.

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