Why you need a marketing plan

A good marketing plan will help you:

  • answer key questions about your business
  • act as a reference document to help execute your marketing strategy
  • develop a structured approach to creating services and products that satisfy your customers' needs.

When writing a marketing plan you need to be clear about your marketing objectives and how you're going to achieve them.

Use our marketing plan template to set realistic and measurable objectives, includes budgets and action plans, and allocate responsibilities.

What you should include in your marketing plan

Your marketing plan should illustrate that you've carefully considered how to produce a product or provide a service that is innovative, unique and marketable. Some marketing plan templates may vary, but a good marketing plan captures basically the same information.

The contents of your plan should include:

A background analysis

Give some background about your business.

Detail the opportunities and challenges that your business has come across along the way. This helps define your business's capabilities and identify opportunities within the market. It will also play a key role in helping you to meet your customers' needs.

Read more about how to do your market research.

Your marketing objectives

What do you want your marketing plan to accomplish? Be specific. Your objectives may be financial, with a goal to increase sales, or marketing focused to build your brand, and increase awareness of your product.

The most effective way to define your marketing objectives is to follow the 'SMART' acronym:

  • Specific: have clearly outlined objectives.
  • Measurable: indicate what you intend to use as a measure of success.
  • Achievable: are the objectives attainable for the business?
  • Realistic: do you have the knowledge of resources to achieve your objectives?
  • Timely: be clear about the time-frame in which you intend to achieve your objectives.

A marketing strategy and marketing mix

An effective strategy will help you to define the overall direction for your marketing program. It will also detail how you're going to bring your products and services to market in ways that will satisfy your customers.

The elements that make up your marketing strategy are often referred to as the marketing mix. In this case, your mix will include the 7P's of marketing - product (or service), pricing, position, promotion, people, process and physical environment.

Read more about marketing strategies and tactics.

Actions plans and budgets

Strategies and marketing goals are theoretical objectives. It's your action plans and budgets that will bring them to life, and represent key tools for implementation. To ensure they're successful, they should be detailed, definitive and revisited regularly.

The organisational implications

Organisational implications are often overlooked when business owners tackle a marketing plan.

For example, if your goal is to increase your customer base by 15 percent, and your staff by 10 percent – will you be able to house them in your current offices? Could you outsource some tasks? It's important to consider and document these decisions in your plan.

An evaluation and monitoring plan

To ensure ongoing improvement, it's critical to test and measure the results of your marketing activities. Whatever method or technology you choose to use – formal methods of evaluation and monitoring will help you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing and return on investment.

A summary of your plan and supporting documentation

Your marketing plan summary should summarise the key components of your marketing plan. Think of it as a quick reference tool that you can refer to at any time to keep your goals on track.

Use this section of the marketing plan to reference and attach documents supporting the claims or assumptions made within the marketing plan.