Studies show that marketers who set goals are more likely to report success over those who don’t by a whopping 429%. (Yes, you read that right.)

But you can’t just set some goals and call it a day. You have to put in the work to reach them. You’ve probably heard the saying: “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”

A marketing goal without a plan is simply that.

A marketing plan describes who your customers are, how they gather information, and how you plan to target them and win them over.

It should also outline which marketing channels you plan to use in the process.

But what’s the point of taking on all of the hard work that goes into creating a marketing plan in the first place? Especially in 2021, you need a solid marketing plan to capitalize on the opportunities out there online for your business.

Why are marketing plans important?

The overall goal of a marketing plan is to:

    • Lay out an analysis of the current state of your company
    • Provide an overall summary of your marketing goals
    • Describe and define your target audience
    • Define any the strategies you will use to meet your goals
  • Set a marketing budget

They typically look something like this:

market plan outline

That being said, it is important to note that not every marketing plan is the same. They vary depending on the type of industry or organization they’re for and the purpose they serve.

For example, a marketing plan might outline a general overview of a brand’s entire marketing game plan, or it might focus on a smaller, specific marketing channel like social media.

The type of company that you are can also determine the kind of marketing plan you may have. A marketing plan for a nonprofit company will differ from a corporate marketing plan.

Marketing is extremely important for building up your brand’s name. Without it, potential customers won’t know that you or your products and services exist.

And if they don’t know that you exist, how can they buy from you? They can’t.

Just the revenue generated from social media advertising alone was 21 billion dollars in 2017, and it’s projected to keep growing.

potential of social media advertising

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That’s why you need to lay out a strategy for which channels to market on, who to market to, how you’re going to do it, and what you can spend to do it.

Your marketing plan outlines a marketing strategy in a document that can be clearly followed and referred back to.

That way, there’s no question about how your company plans to get its name out there. This document is usually used for a pre-set period (like for the year or the quarter).

This document should be ever-changing, laying out costs, goals, and steps to tackle marketing trends as they change.

The first step to building your marketing plan is to define your goals.

Define your goals

By defining clear goals and objectives, you can drive traffic and leads, generate sales and awareness for your brand, and better target your audience.

These goals lay out exactly what you need to do to create an actionable plan that will bring in the results you need.

When coming up with goals, use the SMART method. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

how to write SMART goals

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Examples of some SMART goals are:

    • Increase revenue by X% within the next year
    • Reach $X dollars in sales within the next six months
  • Boost profitability by X% by the end of the quarter

SMART goals allow you to lay out a predetermined goal and show trackable data supporting that you have delivered on that goal within a certain time period.

Once you know the goals of your marketing plan, you can begin to determine who your target personas are.

Figure out target personas

As your company grows, one message or marketing approach won’t work for everyone.

That’s why you have to customize your approach by uncovering buyer personas and targeting each one differently.

These personas are fictional descriptions of your target customers based on their behavior, motivations, age, concerns, demographic data, and more.

target personas

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This is important because a whopping 71% of companies that exceed revenue/lead goals say they have documented buyer personas.

buyer personas help exceed goals

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The first step to creating buyer personas is to create a list of who they might be. Once you’ve done this, identify buyer personas that have similar needs and then merge similar ones together.

Then, prioritize each persona based on factors such as the size of the persona group or the impact of the group’s decision to purchase.

You’ve also got to determine your unique selling proposition, which is commonly referred to as your USP.

Determine your unique selling proposition (USP)

Your company’s USP is what makes your brand and the products or services you sell stand out from the crowd.

It should disclose what you bring to the table within your niche that no one else does. Do you offer higher quality products than others? Better prices? Sophisticated, cutting-edge software?

If you don’t sell customers on a USP, you’ll have a difficult time winning them over against the competition.

A real-life example of a USP in action is pizza chain Papa John’s popular tagline: “Better ingredients. Better pizza.”

To come up with your own, try and create a tagline by combining what your brand does well along with what the consumer wants.

unique selling proposition

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The next step to building your marketing plan is to decide on a budget.

Develop your budget

Set aside a certain percentage of your company’s projected gross sales to use toward your annual marketing budget.

Determine your budget by comparing what the marketing tactics needed to reach your buyer personas will cost against your available budget.

You should be able to fit this in even the tiniest of budgets.

A good rule of thumb for new companies is to set aside 12 to 20% of gross revenue for marketing.

Established companies should set a budget of 6 to 12% of gross revenue for marketing.

marketing budget from gross revenue

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If you find that the costs of the marketing tactics you plan to tackle exceed your budget, adjust your tactics to fit within the parameters of what you can afford for now.

The boost in revenue gained from your marketing efforts may be enough to increase the budget when crafting your next marketing plan.

Be cautious against wasting portions of your marketing budget on unnecessary costs, too.

Once you’ve set your budget, create a pricing strategy that will best help you achieve your goals.

Create a pricing strategy

When you set prices, you should choose them with your marketing strategies and budget in mind.

The overall goal is to generate a profit. To define your pricing strategy, you can base prices on costs by calculating costs and simply adding your desired profit per unit sold.

You can also base it on the competition by deciding to charge a similar price as they are, or you can use the penetration strategy by setting a low price to acquire market share fast.

penetration pricing

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If you’re offering several products or services, you should also consider bundling them to give buyers a bigger bang for their buck.

Next, you’re ready to start writing your marketing plan.

Write your own marketing plan

Your marketing plan should serve as a reference guide that you can share with team members and shareholders alike.

By sharing the document, you’ll be able to receive transparent feedback from those involved with your company.

Don’t be afraid to alter it at any point if your goals or budget change.

According to HubSpot, every marketing plan should be structured as follows:

    • Business Summary: this can include your company name, marketing team, headquarter/office locations, company mission statement, and SWOT analysis
    • Business Initiatives: include information like company initiatives and marketing goals/metrics in this section
    • Target Market: disclose your industry name, buyer personas, and a competitive analysis
    • Market Strategy: information about your product, prices, promotion, etc. can be explained here
    • Budget: list the amount of the projected marketing budget
  • Marketing Channels: disclose which marketing channels you plan to use to achieve your goals

If you’re looking for some marketing plan examples, keep reading.

Two marketing plan template examples

Keep things simple and minimal, like Uber.

Uber product strategy

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Uber’s marketing plan is centered around the “four P’s of marketing,” which are:

    • Product
    • Price
    • Place (also known as distribution)
  • Promotion

In their marketing plan, Uber also presents their budget and monthly plan of action.

The minimalistic layout is in line with Uber’s simple branding design, making it easy to read, understand, and navigate.

If you want to make things even more straightforward, try to limit your marketing plan to one page, like this one-page marketing plan example for Starbucks:

Starbucks marketing plan example

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According to this one-page plan, designed by the Content Marketing Institute, you should include:

    • Information about your audience: list your target persona(s), customer journey, and value proposition
    • Your strategies: define your marketing goals, key company strategies to meet those goals, and your pricing and positioning plans
  • Details about activities: List the marketing channels you plan to use, tactics and activities that support your marketing goals, and the measures of success you will use to track the effectiveness of your plan

Once you have built your marketing plan and you and your team have begun to tackle it, start tracking your results so that you can measure the success of your plan.

Track your results

All of the work you put into your marketing plan will be for nothing if you don’t keep track of your results.

By doing so, you’ll be able to take your marketing plan from a formal document to a living, breathing piece of measurable data that can change as your business changes.

The way you go about tracking each component of your plan will depend on the specific marketing tactics that you chose to use.

For example, you can easily track online marketing efforts by using analytics software like Google Analytics/Google Data Studio to monitor paid online channels.

track online marketing efforts

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You can track other online efforts, like social media, by recording metrics like engagement or your follower count with a tool like Klipfolio:

social media analytics

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Any offline methods that you chose to use will need to be tracked manually.

The more accurate you can track your results, the better you will be able to adjust your marketing plan in the future.

For example: Not seeing the payoff you want in a certain area or with a certain buyer persona? Try to identify what the data you’ve collected might say about how to fix that.


Marketers who set goals are more successful than those who don’t. But setting a goal isn’t everything. You also have to develop a plan to meet that goal.

The answer? A marketing plan. It’s an actionable, outlined strategy that explains what the marketing goal of your team is and how you’re going to accomplish that goal.

This plan should be ever-changing, just like your business.

To get started building your marketing plan, you and your team should first define your goals.

  • Come up with SMART goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  • Then, determine your target personas. Prioritize them based on their size or purchasing impact.
  • Determine your unique selling proposition, or USP, so that you can stand out from competitors and showcase what you bring to the table.
  • This should be a simple tagline or phrase that tells prospective buyers who your brand is and why they should buy from you.
  • From here, develop your budget. If you’re a new company, this should 12 to 20% of your gross revenue. Established companies should plan to spend around six to 12% of overall gross revenue.
  • Create a pricing strategy that works best for your brand’s bottom line. Use the penetration strategy to gain market share quickly.
  • Once you’ve taken these steps, you’re ready to write your own marketing plan. To stand out, keep the design minimal or try to make it short, at just one page.
  • Track your results so that you can accurately adjust your marketing plan in the future.

For additional guidance building your marketing plan, try our Porter Service.