How to Write a Marketing Plan for Your Business (and Why Every Business Needs One to Succeed!)

Once upon a time, if you made a great product or offered a fantastic service, word would spread and your business would boom. Perhaps you’d even tip the scale with a nice big ad in the Yellow Pages or on TV. (Okay, Boomer.)

Not so today. With digital access to a world of offerings, there’s endless business competition.

Additionally, the ways to reach your target market have changed and grown exponentially.

The aforementioned free yellow phone book of local small-business offerings that arrived in the mail each year? It’s a vintage doorstop at best. Today, it’s all about the ever-evolving integrated marketing plan. And like most of us, marketing has gone primarily digital.

So, what might a smart, integrated marketing plan for today include? Think digital content marketing efforts, such as email marketing, social media marketing, content partnerships, paid backlinks, SEO optimization, Google ads, and more.

Yes, today’s marketing plans and marketing campaigns are hardly as simple as placing an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for new customers.

But on the very bright side (and we’re talking sunglasses bright!), today your marketing strategy has the potential for far greater reach and revenue generation because there are boundless ways to connect with your target audience—if you know how.

Thankfully, the roadmap to marketing success is not complex. In fact, it’s quite simple, and it centers around crafting a smart marketing plan.

What is a marketing plan exactly? Read on to find out everything you need to know to successfully craft and begin executing one.

What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a roadmap that outlines your planned marketing and advertising activities.

Marketing plans also address marketing strategy (the reasoning and approaches that support your marketing plans), budget (it costs how much for a Kardashian Instagram takeover!?), and timing (when it’s all going down).

They can be structured as a plan for the coming year, quarter, month, or even a specific launch or initiative.

Following are a few types of commonly used digital marketing plans:

Social Media Marketing

Marketing Plan: Social media apps on iphoneThis type of marketing plan highlights social media strategy. It includes online marketing campaigns on target channels like the top seven social media sites and beyond: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Reddit, and TikTok (at least until it’s banned).

It also features content themes and marketing efforts to engage those audiences. Why is social media marketing first on our list? Because about 3.6 billion people are on social media worldwide. That’s 46% of the global population! Though time-consuming, it’s also easy to implement. So if you have the marketing team, you have the required muscle!

Email Marketing

Got a robust email list? Then you have a captive customer base that’s already happy to hear from you. An email marketing plan highlights a calendar of email topics aimed at reaching your marketing goals. It also outlines any special offers and initiatives to further the engagement of your buyer persona (i.e., your core customer; more on this later).

Examples include paid social media programs, advertorial or native advertising, or pay-per-click promotions (PPCs) through ad networks like Google, Microsoft/Bing, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This type of marketing plan features a list of the advertising platforms of interest, type of content to market, and marketing budget.

Content Marketing

Want to drive traffic to your site by creating and promoting sticky content? That’s content marketing! A content marketing strategy should feature a schedule of planned content (featuring keywords to help you rank first in search engines) and a content promotion plan.

A Marketing Mix of All of the Above

Are you launching a new product? Need to up your ranking in search engines? Want to promote seasonal offerings or a special event? Only you know the best combination of marketing efforts to achieve your goals, so you may want to create an integrated marketing plan using some or all of the ideas above.

And there’s more.

As we mentioned, digital marketing generally promises the greatest reach to target audiences for your marketing budget, especially for small businesses. Still, there are other marketing channels, including traditional advertising, that you might want to include in your plan, depending on your business and target customers. A few examples include trade shows, print advertising, direct mail, radio, billboards, newspaper ads, and point-of-purchase marketing.

What to Include In Your Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan: Strategy goal infographic

Regardless of your marketing strategy and activities, a good marketing plan also includes the following elements:

Now you know the what. But why go through the effort? Keep reading!

Why Is a Marketing Plan Important?

Operating a business without a clear marketing plan is kind of like going to the grocery store hungry. Rather than buying the things you need for health and vitality, you may end up seduced by tasty-looking opportunities and spending your budget on items that don’t lead to scalable marketing tactics, marketing strategies, or marketing goals.

Equally important, writing a marketing plan makes you think through, scrutinize, and refine your marketing strategy and marketing goals so that all of your actions are more intentional and effective.

Consequently, to make it in this very competitive business climate, having a smart marketing plan is as important as having a clear business plan and mission statement.

Now you know what a marketing plan is and why it’s important. But how do you create one? Let’s go!

How to Write a Marketing Plan

Young woman drawing in a notebook

As evidenced by the marketing plan content requirements above, creating a comprehensive marketing plan is no easy task. Whether you’re part of a small business or a large corporation, there’s no escaping the heavy lifting that comes with outlining how and why your marketing objectives will bolster your business goals.

Start with a marketing plan outline, following the guidelines above. Then fill in the blanks with all the essential information. There’s no right or wrong length and level of detail to your plan. It entirely depends on what you’re proposing and how much you need to convey about your business and your planned marketing mix.

Now it’s time to make it pretty. (Don’t worry, this part’s easy!)

Design Your Marketing Plan Using a Free Template

Woman doing yoga

You’ve done your homework and formulated your plan. Now it’s time to strut your marketing stuff—with a sleek, polished presentation showcasing your marketing brilliance.

Your marketing plan should be as dazzling and eye-catching as your strategies to engage new customers, heighten brand awareness, and move closer to marketing world domination!

But that doesn’t mean you need to excel at design or block out the next week to brush up on your PowerPoint skills.

Instead, use a free marketing plan template! Adobe Spark offers customizable templates that help ensure your plan is captivating, on-brand, and gorgeous. They even have a library of stock photos you can use, a “chart maker” to craft charts or graphs, and functionality that allows for sharing and ongoing editing. Bonus: You can find a marketing plan example, too.

Write Your Marketing Plan Now

There you have it! You now know the essentials for how to write a marketing plan and why every business needs one to succeed. Now all you need to do is sit down and create it. (Need tips for helping a remote marketing team work better together? Find ‘em here.)

Once you have one behind you, you’ll find it becomes easier each time—except, perhaps, if you’re trying to regularly secure the entire Kardashian clan for social media takeovers.