What Is A Marketing Plan? (Definition And How To Create One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 July 2022

Published 13 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations employ various marketing strategies for positioning their brand and achieving their business goals. A marketing plan helps businesses establish and meet marketing goals. If you are a marketing enthusiast, you may benefit from learning about marketing planning. In this article, we answer 'What is a marketing plan?' and examine the various steps involved in creating one.

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What Is A Marketing Plan?

The answer to the question, ‘What is a marketing plan?' is that it is a document that outlines a company's marketing activities for a specific time period, usually a year. It highlights marketing strategies and promotional and advertising activities that the company plans to execute during a specific period of time. A marketing plan typically entails:

  • Evaluating existing business conditions and marketing opportunities

  • Forecasting and planning

  • Choosing target markets

  • Identifying marketing objectives

  • Designing and implementing a marketing strategy

  • Allocating resources to accomplish marketing goals

A company can incorporate various steps into a marketing plan and can address contingencies by repositioning to its needs systematically. Depending on the business situation, some phases of a marketing plan may gain more importance than others. A company repositioning or rebranding, for example, involves more strategy and tactics to increase the visibility of the new brand. In comparison, a company in the early stages of development may concentrate on building a more comprehensive plan including preliminary market research.

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How To Create A Marketing Plan?

Marketing planning involves two main phases. The first phase involves evaluating the current situation to determine which areas deserve further attention. You evaluate past initiatives to verify their success, analyse competitor performance in your domain and set goals during this stage. The second stage involves developing and implementing effective marketing strategies. Follow these steps to create an effective marketing plan:

1. Examine the current business situation

The objective of marketing planning is to meet the company's business goals. To do so, it is important that you understand your organisational goals, the current business environment you operate in and the barriers that can prevent you from achieving your business goals. You can:

  • Examine the potential of various markets or audiences

  • Conduct some client research to learn how they make purchase decisions

  • Research the brand

Examine the weaknesses and strengths of the company. Consider how your products or services are different from those of the competitors when assessing the company's strengths. While identifying external opportunities and threats, make sure that you include any external threats that the company might face while acquiring market shares. Your marketing plan can outline how you intend to address them.

2. Understand your target clientele

To understand how your client chooses a new product or service provider, it is essential to understand how they think about and prioritise their needs. Understanding and defining your target audience is important in marketing. Your target audience is a specific set of people who might be interested in your products or services. Create a basic profile of your potential clients. When describing potential clients, it is best to incorporate demographics like age, gender, family composition, earnings, geographic location and lifestyle. You can identify what clients look for in products or service providers to learn how to deliver relevant information.

3. Position the brand

Successful positioning of a brand helps attract people's attention to the brand and shows its competitive advantage. You can start by identifying the brand's unique qualities. It is beneficial if the differentiators you choose are true, provable and relevant. Once you identify them, you can create messages for your audience. Keep in mind that different audiences may look for different features of the brand's offerings, so tailor your messages to appeal to all of your potential clients and customers.

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4. Define and refine your offer

As your client's needs change, you may want to modify your offerings and address their needs. Addressing change often requires an analysis of your current business situation, competition and clients. Ensure that your products or services cater to the requirements of your clients by making necessary adjustments. For example, a small family business may want to rent servers and other back-end resources before launching an e-commerce platform and expanding the scale of its operations.

5. Choose relevant marketing techniques

After you identify and understand your target audience and their needs, decide upon relevant marketing strategies to incorporate into your business model. To increase brand visibility, it is beneficial to employ both online and offline marketing strategies. You can also use different types of content at different stages of the sales funnel. For example, you can attract prospective clients through print media ads and lead them to a company website through paid social media ads.

6. Adapt your tools and skills to your techniques

If you want to add a new technique to your marketing plan, you may require new tools and skills. These tools can include a website, marketing automation systems, social media platforms and search engine optimisation strategies. You can either devote time to learning new skills or hire competent professionals to build and execute new marketing strategies.

7. Write your marketing plan in detail

Turn your strategy into a written plan that includes a schedule and a list of tangible actions to be taken. This strategy can assist you in monitoring your progress. Include a marketing calendar and a marketing budget in your strategy. The calendar displays the time frame in which you can carry out your strategy, which is usually a quarter or a year. It lays out the steps you can take and encourages you to commit to them.

The budget outlines the costs of the tools and resources you identify, use and consume during the process. You may also benefit from devoting five to 10 per cent of the overall budget to address emergencies and contingencies. A successful marketing plan comprises your value proposition and information about your target market, brand positioning, advertising strategies, distribution channels and the budget you allot for the plan.

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Types Of Marketing Planning Processes

Here are the common types of marketing planning processes:

Long-term marketing planning

Long-term marketing planning initiatives extend over the course of several years. It is typically the responsibility of top-level management officials. This marketing plan establishes future goals, strategies and a framework within which a company can develop short-term plans. Long-term marketing is beneficial for improving existing processes, determining what works and what does not, and optimising leads and conversions. The selection of a price policy, distribution channels and media advertising services are all examples of long-term marketing planning.

Short-term marketing planning

Short-term marketing planning, often known as operational or tactical marketing planning, typically lasts for less than a year. Short-term plans help in resolving recurring problems. These initiatives may be for promoting sales and launching new products, services and upcoming events within the next few months or a year. Short-term planning is the responsibility of middle-level management staff. Examples for short-term marketing initiatives include price promotions, discounts for certain customer groups and trade shows.

Benefits Of Marketing Planning

A marketing plan's goal is to determine how you can market your products or services to customers most effectively. Rather than assuming that your product is ideal for everyone, the plan concentrates on those people who are most likely to purchase it. Some advantages that marketing planning provides include:

Provides accountability

Marketing planning requires the business development and marketing teams to set objectives and evaluate their achievements in relation to these goals. Smart marketing objectives can help you improve the efficiency of a business operation. The management is typically responsible for allotting sufficient resources to enable the plan to succeed.

Fosters adaptability

Marketing planning encourages you to examine patterns in business decisions and determine why you took certain actions in the past. It may show you that using the same strategy repeatedly because it has worked before may not always be the best plan. It can also aid in the company's growth.

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Reduces risk

Marketing planning requires you to research your target audience, competitors, existing clientele, value proposition and market. When you conduct extensive research, you can evaluate your marketing strategy and business model before putting time and money into initiatives. This greatly reduces the risks involved.

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Provides a competitive advantage

An effective marketing plan can help you outperform your competitors and gain a competitive advantage. Your marketing strategy can help you differentiate your business from that of competitors. Reflecting on unique aspects of your operation can contribute to the reasons clients are likely to choose your services over those of another company.

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