How to Write a Marketing Strategy Plan – Step-by-Step Guide, Tips, FAQs & More
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Every brand’s marketing efforts are as strong as the foundation that is laid out for them.
This is something that is lost on many new business owners as they tend to jump into marketing campaigns without any concrete plan.
As you can probably imagine, in most cases, this does not turn out well for most business owners.
In this post, we will discuss:
- The difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy
- The different types of marketing plans
- How to develop an effective marketing plan?
- How to develop an effective marketing strategy?
So without further ado, let’s get started.
The Difference Between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we need to establish that there’s a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy. Oftentimes, we see both of these terms being used interchangeably and it’s important for you to be aware that they’re not the same.
A marketing plan is a detailed, comprehensive, and overarching roadmap that you develop for your business. It consists of goals that you want your business to achieve over a long-term period.
A marketing strategy is more specific and dictates what steps the business needs to take in order to achieve specific goals that are not as long-term. Examples of these goals could be increasing brand awareness, increasing conversion rates, etc.
For example, you may have a marketing plan that deals primarily with all aspects of different social media campaigns you will run for your brand. However, you can develop a specific marketing strategy that deals primarily with Instagram marketing.
Now, let’s look at an example of a marketing plan:
Let’s assume that your company just created a new product and wants to introduce it to your target market.
In order to introduce it to the different audience segments that would most likely be interested in it, you develop a marketing plan.
This marketing plan dictates that in order to effectively tap into all of the different audience segments that would most likely be interested in it, different channels need to be used.
These different channels are:
Hence, in order to effectively market the product across these different platforms, you would need to develop 3 marketing strategies.
The first one would have a team that would deal with content creation and content marketing on Instagram. The second one would handle Tiktok and the third one would handle Youtube.
Hence, the overarching marketing plan would dictate everything that needs to be done to effectively market the product.
It would also consist of the different marketing strategies that would be required to effectively market the product across all these different platforms.
At the same time, the marketing plan would also include metrics and key performance indicators that need to be monitored. This could be an increase in the number of clicks, follows, shares, etc. It could also be an increase in sales or revenue, etc.
Once the campaigns start rolling, these analytics would be monitored. If you feel that you’re not on the right track, you should go ahead and make adjustments to your marketing strategies to see if a different approach works.
Your marketing plan can consist of several different marketing strategies that different teams within your business may handle.
These different marketing strategies often have different goals. However, in the long-term, all of these strategies are defined to help your business achieve the long-term goals that you define within your marketing plan.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to note down all of the goals you want to achieve and the different marketing tactics you will use to achieve those goals. It’s important to have goals outlined in your marketing plan since they will help you measure your progress.
You need to develop a marketing plan that will help you think about:
- The goals of the different marketing strategies you will need to develop
- The different buyer personas you will have for those different strategies
- The budget you will allocate to those different strategies
- The tactics you will use within those different strategies
- What metrics and key performance indicators you will monitor for those different strategies
- The deliverables you will need to have for those different marketing strategies
And anything else that you deem important to include within the marketing plan.
When you have all of these aspects outlined in one place (your marketing plan), you’ll have a much easier time tracking your progress.
Since tracking your progress will be more efficient, you’ll have a much easier time making changes in case you don’t see the progress you expected.
When it comes to start-ups and new businesses, marketing strategy is one of the most important aspects that decide the success of your business. Find out what a good marketing strategy is by clicking HERE.
The Different Types of Marketing Plans
When you first start out as a brand, there’s a chance that you may only have one marketing plan that deals with all aspects of your marketing.
However, once you start to branch out and scale your business, it can be efficient to have different marketing plans that deal with different aspects of your brand.
The different types of marketing plans you can have for your brand include:
- Annual or semi-annual marketing plans: These plans detail the different strategies you will use for your brand within a certain period of time. Naturally, these plans need to be updated after that time period has passed.
- Paid marketing plans: These plans highlight paid marketing strategies. Examples of these could be PPC, paid ads on social media, native advertising, and more.
- Social media marketing plans: These types of plans highlight the different social media platforms you will use to market your brand. It will also include the different strategies that will be utilized on the platforms of your choice.
- Content marketing plans: These plans detail the type of content you will need to create to effectively market your product or service. It also details strategies that dictate how that content will be distributed to your target market.
- New product launch marketing plans: As the name suggests, these plans detail all of the strategies that will be used to introduce a new product to your target market.
- New service launch marketing plans: These plans work fairly in the same way as new product launch marketing plans. The only difference is that these plans deal with services rather than products.
Depending on the scale of your company and what types of tactics you think will be most effective, you will use one, some, or maybe all of these plans.
How to Write a Marketing Strategy Plan (Step-by-Step Guide)
Just like with most things in marketing, you have to take everything step-by-step when you develop a marketing plan. It’s important because each finding from the previous step is utilized in the next.
Hence, it’s important to take notes and perform extensive research to ensure that the marketing plan you develop covers all needed aspects. Remember that a fully comprehensive marketing plan will make your brand prepared for any obstacles that may arise on your marketing journey.
Here are the steps you can take to develop an effective marketing plan for your brand:
Step 1: Identify Your Marketing Plan’s Vision
To start off, you must state your marketing plan’s vision. Writing this vision is similar to writing your brand’s vision. While it’s specific to your marketing department, it should still serve your brand’s overall vision as well.
For example, let’s assume your brand’s vision is “To pave the way for cutting-edge headphones through extensive research and development.”
Then, your marketing plan’s vision can be something like this:
“To attract an audience of audiophiles that want the best listening experience possible, educate them on what makes great headphones and convert them to your brand.”
While this is just a rough example, you get the idea: You can consult your brand’s vision to kind of get informed on what your marketing plan’s vision can be.
Please note that you can be specific when you write your marketing plan’s vision. However, you don’t need to be overly specific as you’ll have plenty of time and space to flesh your ideas out in the rest of the plan.
Step 2: Identify the Goals You Want Your Brand to Achieve
Once you’ve defined the marketing plan’s vision, the next part of your marketing plan that you will flesh out will be the goals.
You must list all of the goals that you want to achieve for your brand as well as the timeline for each goal.
Bear in mind that your marketing plan can have a lot of goals. However, it’s important to include every goal you deem important for your brand to “achieve success” over an extended period of time.
For example, let’s assume your marketing plan has the following goals:
- Reach a monthly revenue of $50,000 within the next 6 months
- Gain at least 50,000 followers on Instagram within the next 6 months
- Reach 10,000 hours of videos watched on your brand’s Youtube channel within the next 6 months
All of these metrics we have defined above are known as key performance indicators (KPIs). They are metrics that are important to your business and you need to monitor them constantly to get an estimate of how well your marketing efforts are working.
Furthermore, these metrics help you define different short-term goals you may define for different marketing strategies within the marketing plan.
They are also the metrics that your marketing department will report to you or their department heads to give you an estimate of the success of your brand’s efforts.
For example, let’s assume one KPI is your monthly revenue. As a part of your marketing plan, you define that you want to reach $50,000 of monthly revenue within the next 6 months.
Then, over the course of the next 6 months, your marketing team will monitor the monthly revenue to inspect if it’s steadily increasing towards that goal or not.
Achieving this goal will be highly dependent on how you implement your marketing strategy. It will also be highly dependent on the success of your marketing team’s efforts.
In other words, it can be difficult for the marketing department to predict its performance very accurately because there are so many factors that affect the department’s performance. Hence, these KPIs can be used to ensure everything stays on track.
Furthermore, if things don’t go the way you expected and you don’t see an increase in your monthly revenue within the first few months, then you can make some changes.
You can alter the marketing strategies that you have defined to reach that goal. Who knows? Maybe those changes can help steer your brand back in the right direction.
For example, if you were using primarily paid advertising on social media platforms to attract traffic to your online store, maybe you can change that up.
Instead of using paid advertising, you can switch to something more organic like live stream Q&As, collaborations, contests, or giveaways.
Lastly, you can do a mid-term review to see if you still have the same goal to achieve for your brand. Of course, that’s only if you don’t see any progress on the KPI so far.
Step 3: Conduct Competitor Research
When it comes to creating a marketing plan, half of the work is research. The main reason why many brands fail to market their product or service effectively is that they don’t spend enough time and effort on research.
Many of them skip it entirely and jump straight into marketing their product. Obviously, that’s not the way to go. If you don’t know what you’re up against or to who you want to market your product or service, you are sure to run into trouble.
When it comes to research, there are two main areas where you need to focus:
- Competitor analysis
- Audience research
We’ll talk about audience research in the next step but for now, let’s look at your competitors.
It’s important for you to research your competitors because it can give you some key insights into what type of tactics you can use. Not only that but it can also clue you into which marketing platforms would be most effective for your brand’s particular niche.
Naturally, your competitors will be in the same niche as your brand. Hence, many of the tactics that are effective for them will also be effective for you. You can gain inspiration from their strategies, improve upon them by giving them your own unique twist, and use them.
Not only can it help you identify useful tactics but it can also help you identify flaws within the marketing strategies of your competitors. You can identify these flaws and then exploit them in order to gain an edge over your competition.
For example, you may have a competitor that has a product with the exact same features as your product. However, you notice that they have priced their product fairly high.
You can capitalize on this by pricing your product slightly lower than what your competitor has priced it at. Naturally, this will help you secure a fair share of your target market.
Step 4: Identify Your Buyer Personas
Next up, it’s time for audience research. Audience research is something that can really make or break your brand depending on if you do it correctly or not.
Many people tend to rush through audience research and when they get into actually executing their marketing campaigns, they fall flat on their faces. This is because since they haven’t done the proper research, they are often marketing their brand to the wrong crowd.
To conduct audience research, it can be a good idea to define buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of individuals that would most likely be interested in the type of product or service that your brand has to offer.
You can flesh out your buyer personas as much as you want. In fact, the more time you spend fleshing them out, the better. This is because when you conduct marketing efforts that are more focused, it will be much more cost-efficient.
Not only that but you will also see a huge increase in conversion rates since you will be marketing your product or service to people that would most likely be interested in them.
To flesh out your buyer personas, you can assign different traits or characteristics to them such as:
- Marital status
- Geographical Location
- Education level
And much more.
For example, if you have a perfume that you want to target teenage girls, you would define the buyer persona as 13 – 18 years old and female.
You could also define different hobbies that they may have such as different types of sports that they may play in school such as soccer, hockey, baseball, etc.
Plus, we all know that teenage girls are keen on dating and meeting new people.
Hence, your marketing campaign can be designed as something that speaks to them. Let’s say you develop an ad that dictates how after an intense day of practice, the protagonist in the ad has to go on a date.
However, she feels that her sweat and body odor may put off the person she’s going on a date with.
Not to worry though. As your perfume is here to the rescue!
This is an example of how you can really study your target audience and find their pain points and unmet needs.
It can also help you develop marketing campaigns and ads such as these that can really resonate with your target audience.
When you make a consumer relate to your content and highlight problems that they face, it can really increase the chance of a conversion.
This is why it’s extremely important to define buyer personas and be really acquainted with the buying behaviors of your target market.
It’s also important to note that you can easily define multiple buyer personas for your brand. Perhaps your product is something that can be used by different types of people for different reasons.
In another case, you may have many different products or services that can be marketed to different types of individuals.
In both of these cases, you would define multiple buyer personas that can be responsive to your brand’s content.
Again, your marketing plan would define these personas and then, it would consist of different marketing strategies that each cater to those different personas.
Step 5: Identify the Tactics You Want Your Brand to Use
Next, you will define all of the tactics your brand will use to achieve its goals for the period of time you defined within your marketing plan.
Of course, some of these tactics can be used across different marketing strategies.
For example, your brand may have a social media strategy with a YouTube strategy attached to it as well. The important part is that you need to compartmentalize it in a way that is easily understandable for the entirety of your marketing team.
Remember that there are a ton of different marketing channels and content types to choose from. Hence, you need to take into account which ones will work best for the type of brand you have.
First of all, you must take your target audience into account when you choose the marketing channels that you will use to promote your product or service. These can be social media platforms, email marketing, blogging, print ads, billboards, and more.
The type of audience that you want to target will usually determine which marketing channels are best for your brand.
For example, if you have a product or service that appeals to middle-aged and elderly men, then traditional marketing methods would be more effective. Examples of these would be print ads and billboards.
On the other hand, if you have a product or service that primarily appeals to teenagers, then you would look towards social media platforms. Examples of these would be Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.
Apart from your target audience, another factor to bear in mind when you develop your content marketing strategy within the plan is the expertise of your team.
You’ll most likely have a small content creation team when you first start out with your brand. Hence, they may not be well-versed in multiple types of content. That’s why you have to play to their strengths.
If you have many individuals that are talented copywriters, you can consider starting a blog on your brand website. This can help bring organic traffic and introduce new people to your brand.
If you have people that are good with video content, then you can consider having an active Youtube channel. You can also post those videos onto multiple social media platforms and also conduct live streams.
Live streams can be a great way to convert potential customers. This is because when you first start to promote your product or service, there’ll be many people who’ll be on the fence about it. They may be interested but they may have doubts or questions about your brand.
During your live streams, you can address these doubts and concerns for these potential customers. If you do it often enough, you can potentially convert many customers who’ll also be loyal to your brand.
Since loyal customers are maintained through consistent interaction and care, these live streams can continue to be a great way to keep them around. When your customers know that their concerns are being addressed, they’ll always remain loyal to your brand.
Other factors you must consider when it comes to your brand’s content marketing strategy include:
- The type of content: We already discussed this at length above. Just make sure you clearly mention what type(s) of content will be created and what marketing channels they will be advertised on.
- How much content needs to be created: You can define the amount of content that needs to be created within a specific amount of time. This can be daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, based on the short-term goals you want to achieve.
- The KPIs you want to monitor: We’ve already talked at length about what KPIs are in the previous section. You can clearly mention here what KPIs need to be monitored and reported in order to track your brand’s progress.
- The marketing channels: This is fairly self-explanatory. These are the channels that you will use in order to distribute your content. These could be digital channels such as social media and/or traditional channels such as print ads.
- Paid advertising: The best way to gather an audience is to use a mix of organic and paid traffic generation methods. Any paid ads that you want to have should be noted down within your marketing plan.
Step 6: Define Your Marketing Budget
Many of the marketing channels that you will use when you first start out will be free to use. However, there are still many fees that you must account for such as salaries for your marketing team as well as any hidden fees that your platforms of choice may have.
In addition to that, you may also pay for paid advertising and sponsorships which would require a fair amount of money as well. Make sure that you have the budget planned out for all the expenses that may come your way.
You can consult the content marketing strategy that you developed in step 5 and then define your budget accordingly. It’s also a good idea to have some emergency cash allocated in case you need it on a rainy day.
How to Develop a Successful Marketing Strategy (Step-by-Step Guide)
Now that you have your marketing plan defined, it will be much easier for you to develop effective marketing strategies within it.
Remember that the marketing strategies you create will serve short-term goals that will eventually lead to the long-term goals you defined in your marketing plan.
Find out the components of a marketing strategy by following our guide HERE.
Here’s how you can create an effective marketing strategy:
Step 1: Review Buyer Personas
You will most likely have defined multiple buyer personas within your marketing plan.
Depending on what the marketing strategy you’re currently designing is for, take that particular buyer persona into account.
You can definitely take into account multiple buyer personas but as long as they fall within the same channel that will be used within this particular marketing strategy.
For example, if the current marketing strategy you want to define is for your Youtube channel, then it can definitely have multiple audience segments that you want to target.
This is because Youtube is a highly diverse platform that is utilized by all types of individuals around the globe.
One thing you do have to keep in mind, however, is the fact that creating content that resonates with multiple audience segments is much harder.
As a newer brand, we do recommend that you only focus on 1 to 2 audience segments within a single marketing strategy. That way, your marketing team won’t have too much trouble creating relatable and personalized content for them.
Step 2: Identify Goals and Objectives
Similar to your marketing plan, you must define objectives and goals for your marketing strategy as well. Again, these will be short-term goals that will eventually lead to the long-term goals that you defined within your marketing plan.
For example, let’s say that you defined in your marketing plan that you want to reach up to 500 subscribers to your email newsletter within 3 months.
Then, you can define within the marketing strategy that you want to have at least a 10% increase in the number of subscribers by the end of the month. This will help you keep on track with the goal you have defined within the marketing plan.
Step 3: Identify the Tools You Will Need
In most cases, your marketing strategy will tackle one of the goals that you’ve defined within your marketing plan.
Examples of these goals could be to boost brand awareness through social media, increase watch time on Youtube, increase revenue, etc.
Whatever the goal of the marketing strategy is, you have to identify the tools you will need to achieve that goal. Not only do you have to take into account the tools you will need to achieve it but also the tools required in order to monitor your progress.
These could be third-party content creation software, analytics tools, content generation tools, and more.
For example, if you want to start a blog, the best way to drive traffic to it would be to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) on it.
For this, you would need a tool that can generate relevant keywords that are being searched for by your target audience on search engines.
You would also need a website audit tool that helps to scan your website and identify any bad SEO practices that you could rectify.
An example of such a tool would be Ahrefs which has both of these features.
Another example would be if you want to boost brand awareness by conducting a social media marketing campaign on Twitter.
When it comes to Twitter, communicating your brand message properly can be tricky since you have a character limit. You can only write 280 characters within a single tweet.
As you can probably imagine, it can be difficult to get the point of your brand across in so few words. This is especially true if you want to include a link to your brand website or online store within the tweet as well.
To make this easier, you can enlist the help of a link shortener such as Pixelfy.
To shorten your link through Pixelfy, register an account for yourself and log into the website.
Step 1: After you log in, you’ll be greeted by the dashboard page.
From the dashboard page, you can check out analytics for any of the links that you shorten through Pixelfy. This can be extremely helpful to monitor specific metrics and KPIs related to your marketing campaigns.
You also have access to the fast shortener box located at the top of the dashboard page.
Step 2: To shorten the link to your brand website or online store, simply copy the URL and paste it into the fast shortener box.
After you paste it, you’ll automatically be redirected to the next page. If you are not redirected to the next page, you can click on the Shorten button to manually go to the next page.
Step 3: On the next page, you will receive the shortened URL that you can use within your tweets. Since it’s shortened, it will take up a lot fewer characters compared to the original URL that you had.
Step 4: Create and Review Your Content
Next up, you must create the content that will be used within the marketing campaign dictated by the marketing strategy.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the different individuals within your content creation team. You should assign roles according to what everybody’s good at and comfortable with.
Since you will have already conducted extensive audience research, you’ll have a lot of data regarding your target market.
Make sure that you consult those findings in order to understand what the behaviors and hobbies of your target customers are. This will help your team create content that resonates with them and intrigues them.
It’s also important to create a content creation plan that dictates what subjects will be tackled within the content and when they are scheduled to be published. This will help your team stay on schedule so that everything is published on a consistent basis.
Step 5: Execute Your Marketing Campaign
Once the content is created, the only thing left to do is to start publishing it onto the marketing channel that you chose.
Remember that you must always stick to a regular schedule. Consistency is key when you want to build an organic audience.
As for what the schedule should be, this should also be dictated by the habits of your target market.
Ask yourself: When do individuals from your targeted audience segment usually go on the marketing channel of your choice?
For example, in the case of teenagers, are typically in school during the day. Hence, it would be a much better idea to publish your content near the evening hours.
Take a look at our blog to find out everything there is to know about marketing strategies.
Wrapping Things Up…
That was an extensive look at what a marketing plan is as well as what a marketing strategy is.
Both of them are essential as they help you understand what your marketing goals are and how you can achieve those marketing goals in an efficient manner.
When you write a marketing plan, just ensure that you have your target market as well as your competitors in mind.
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out in the comments section below.