How do you write a great marketing plan?

Knowing the how to write a great marketing plan has three distinct advantages. First, you get support for your recommendations. An excellent plan is convincing and easy to understand. A poor plan is confusing, and people find it difficult to understand it or to exectute it. They will start raising questions and even offering their own ideas. In most cases, it will be hard to get their support for the plan.

What is a marketing plan?

Marketing plan is a document that explains what the company wants to achieve in the market and what specific actions it is going to take to realize its objectives.

What are the steps in writing a great marketing plan?

A typical mistake many people make is producing a large situation assessment, where they include exhaustive information about the business, the market, and the competition. It usually results in additional questions from the decision makers and unnessesary confusion. They key point to keep in mind is that your marketing plan is not a research report. It is a list of recommendations.

Marketing plan components

There are three key components to any marketing plan:

  • objectives,
  • strategies
  • and tactics.

The most important element of the marketing plan is objectives. They determine the effectiveness of the plan as these are the things that the business strives to achieve.

Things you need to do to attain objectives are called strategies. Examples of strategies:

  1. opening a new location;
  2. using word-of-mouth marketing;
  3. cancelling a nonperforming product.

It is a good idea to have no more than 3 strategies in your marketing plan to ensure focus.

For a strategy to be implemented tactics are needed. Tactics are specific actions that will be taken to implement each individual strategy. For every strategy you might have three to four tactics.

All components of the marketing plan are linked to each other: objectives are supported by strategies, and strategies are supported by tactics.

If your marketing plan is structured in this way, it becomes fairly easy to summarize it on one page listing the objectives, strategies and tactics.

Things to keep in mind

The key purpose of the marketing plan is to gain support for your ideas. You never present your marketing plan. You present your plan and explain why decision makers should follow your recommendations.

Use data that is easy to understand and hard to challenge. In general, the simpler you can make the information, the better.

Finally, always deal with the conflicting data. Nothing damages your credibility more than an unanticipated piece of information that contradicts your recommendation. And few things can be as powerful as a proactive explanation from the presenter that addresses conflicting data. 

Finally, great marketing plans are living documents. When execution starts and new information becomes available, the plan needs to be updated and adjusted. Otherwise, very quickly it is going to lose its relevance.

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