The marketing plan is the roadmap that guides your marketing strategy.
This document describes the operational marketing actions planned for the coming period (often a year) and their different methods, while quantifying their cost.
It is also an element that can be very interesting to integrate into a business plan .
So how do you make a solid and well-structured marketing plan ?
Here is a complete file on the main steps to follow to succeed in this process and meet the challenges of the marketing plan, plus several resources and templates to complete.
1) Internal and external analysis
4) Marketing channels
5) Marketing budget
6) Performance indicators
1) Perform an internal and external analysis of the company
It is high time to take stock of the situation of your business and the environment in which it operates:
Getting to know yourself better, but also getting to know your competitors and the world around you better, is the best way to take informed marketing decisions.
An essential first step in your plan, therefore.
The SWOT analysis (which stands for “Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats”) makes it possible to diagnose the situation of the company internally and externally:
The internal level:
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the company allows you to detect qualities and skills that can help you gain an advantage in your market, but also gaps that need to be filled or protected.
Opportunities and threats represent the possibilities of growth and development of the company or, on the contrary, the obstacles that can harm it.
To carry out your SWOT analysis with ease, we offer you a blank matrix to fill in , downloadable for free:
Download the SWOT table
For even more efficiency, the SWOT matrix can be supplemented with a PESTEL analysis .
The latter focuses on external analysis, evaluating 6 areas of the business environment:
It gives a more complete and more structured view of the organization’s environment, allowing more informed decision-making.
To save time, download our free PESTEL table to fill in :
Download the PESTEL table
To go further than the SWOT and PESTEL matrices, it can be very useful to carry out a competitive analysis in order to:
Get to know your competitors better;
Determine the key success factors in your industry;
Identify a competitive advantage that will help you grow.
To read: 12 questions to ask yourself to do a good competitive analysis
Market research is most often useful when launching a new product, but it is still an important source of information for your marketing plan, especially if you use it as part of a a business plan.
The study informs you about the viability of your project, but also and above all about the characteristics of your market, which will help you in the targeting phase (see below).
Define your goals
The development of a solid marketing plan is based on concrete objectives, which can take many forms:
Increase your sales;
Gain market share in a target market;
Retain your customers (or a customer segment);
Increase your notoriety;
Improve the perception of your brand, your products or services by the public;
Increase your website traffic;
Get subscribers to your mailing list…
Based on the lessons you’ve learned from your internal and external diagnostics (but also your industry and other factors), set the most appropriate business goals to grow your business, protect against the threat of a competitor, or take advantage of a new economic opportunity…
Read also: 6 writing tips to achieve your marketing goals
Describe your target market
Marketing actions are effective when they are judiciously targeted :
aim too broadly or miss the target, and failure is guaranteed.
Hence the importance of this step, which consists of determining one (or more) market segment, that is to say a particular category of customers , that you wish to reach.
targeting in a marketing plan
To perform a good segmentation, we generally rely on 3 types of criteria (although many others can be considered):
Socio-demographic criteria : age, sex, level of income, level of education, etc.
Geographical criteria : place of residence, type of residence, climate, etc.
Psychographic criteria : opinions, lifestyles, attitudes…
The idea is to portray the consumer who is likely to buy your range of products or services, and to whom your marketing actions will be aimed.
Crucial for building a coherent and essential strategy for the rest of your marketing plan.
The concept of buyer personas can also help you build very personalized and relevant buyer profiles to target.
Read also: 5 tools to create your buyer personas
Choose your marketing channels
Another decisive step: the choice of the marketing channels that you will use for your promotional actions.
Depending on your objectives, your target and the other information gathered through your analyses, choose the most appropriate tools from the many options available: