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.

What to include in your marketing plan

Your marketing plan should show that you've carefully considered how to produce a product or provide a service that is innovative, unique and marketable.

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
  • your marketing objectives
  • a marketing strategy and marketing mix
  • actions plans and budgets
  • the effects on the organisational
  • an evaluation and monitoring plan
  • a summary of your plan and supporting documentation.

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.

Marketing objectives

What do you want your marketing plan to accomplish? Be specific. Your objectives might 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 – what are your objectives?
  • Measurable –what will you use as a measure of success?
  • Achievable – are the objectives possible for the business?
  • Realistic – do you have the knowledge and resources to achieve your objectives?
  • Timely – in what time frame do you want to achieve your objectives?

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 7 Ps of marketing:

  • product (or service)
  • price
  • position
  • promotion
  • people
  • process
  • physical environment.

Actions plans and budgets

Strategies and marketing goals are theoretical objectives. It's your action plans and budgets that will be the tools you'll use to bring them to life.

To ensure your actions are successful, they should be detailed and definitive. Revisit them regularly to track your progress.

Business implications

Many business owners overlook the flow-on effects that their goals and actions will have on their business.

For example, if your goal is to increase your customer base by 15% and your staff by 10%:

  • Will you be able to house your staff in your current offices?
  • Could you outsource some tasks instead?

It's important to consider and document these decisions in your plan.

Evaluation and monitoring plan

You must test and measure the results of your marketing activities to ensure ongoing improvement.

Whatever method or technology you choose to use, regular analysis will help you to understand if your marketing is effective and worth your investment.

Summary of your plan and supporting documents

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.