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What Is in a Highly-Effective Marketing Plan?

A Best Practices Framework for Building Highly-Effective Marketing Plans

There are many elements included in a great marketing plan for 2022. Before reviewing everything that goes into creating highly effective marketing plans, let’s take a step back and talk about the definition of a marketing plan and what it means in 2022.

Defining Marketing Plans

In early 2020, Wikipedia offers the following definition of a marketing plan:

A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. A solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan so that goals may be achieved. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, it is of little use to a business without a sound strategic foundation. 

After reading that definition, maybe this is why marketing is of “little use to the business.” When done correctly, there is no “may be part of an overall business plan,” it is a large portion of the business plan. And you need to think and prepare that way. 

Companies that sell to consumers (B2C) usually view marketing as the most strategic function at the organization. For companies that sell to other businesses (B2B), marketing can be viewed as a support function for sales. In either case, the foundation for the marketing plan is the same: you need to identify the right buyer who needs your product, and you need to deliver a compelling message to inspire them to purchase (read our article, “9 Steps in the Marketing Planning Process“, for more information).

Elements of a Highly Effective Marketing Plan

What is included in a good marketing plan? Every comprehensive, highly effective marketing plan should include the following strategic marketing elements—in this order—to build off each other:

  1. Situational analysis (historical data)
  2. Market research and analysis
  3. Company goals
  4. Marketing goals (roll-up to company goals)
  5. Marketing strategies 
  6. Target audience (segmentation and need)
  7. Positioning and messaging
  8. Product and services direction and definition 
  9. Pricing and packaging
  10. Competitive analysis
  11. Sales channel strategy (distribution model, customer acquisition, and lifetime value)
  12. Sales support (messaging, training, tools)
  13. Partner/channel strategy
  14. Product and services launches
  15. Campaigns
  16. Marketing channels/vehicles (PR, trade shows, social, email, website, direct mail, etc.)
  17. Programs 
  18. Marketing plan timeline/calendar
  19. Marketing team structure/growth/responsibilities (org chart)
  20. Technology (software)
  21. Marketing budget allocation
  22. Testing (messages, ideas, markets)
  23. Metrics of achievement 
  24. Assumptions, dependencies, risks

Unless you are the head of marketing or marketing operations, you may not be responsible for all these plan elements. However, every person plays a part in the success of the marketing plan, so work with your team to carve out your role.

 

The Marketing Plan Framework

The following proposed Marketing Plan Framework (MPF) and template offer a definition for each plan element and examples of what to include in developing and carrying out a highly effective marketing plan:

 

Marketing Plan Element Definition Examples of what to Include in The Marketing Plan
1. Situation Analysis Learnings from the previous year and taking current inventory of your company’s status in the market. Look at historical data for performance and conduct a SWOT for a qualitative view of where you’re at.
  • SWOT analysis
  • Sales numbers
  • Lead gen numbers
  • Win/loss analysis
  • Marketing team skill set
2. Market Research & Analysis Gathering information about customer needs and preferences for analysis and decision-making. Your marketing plan should combine your situation analysis and market research for goal and strategy decision-making.
  • Analyst report data
  • Competitive analysis
  • Independent surveys
  • Economic conditions
  • Expansion opportunities
  • Technology trends
3. Company Goals Business drivers that marketing goals will support. Most common company goals that pertain to marketing goals are related to sales, customers, or products and services.
  • Revenue targets
  • Customer satisfaction
  • New products to market
  • Company perception
4. Marketing Goals Support the company goals. Create topline marketing goals, qualitative and quantitative goals, and team goals. All plans must include goals. See Goals Pyramid as a way to build a marketing goals hierarchy.
  • See Goal Pyramid for a comprehensive goals list
5. Marketing Strategies Marketing strategy is a forward-looking approach ad an overall game plan for any business. The purpose of the strategy is to achieve sustainable growth and competitive advantage. A marketing team can have different strategies for achieving different goals. In any highly effective marketing plan, you should build strategies to achieve each goal you set. Examples marketing strategies

  • Growth
  • Promotional
  • Expansion (new markets)
  • Market share
  • Competitive replacement
  • Land and expand
  • Wedge issue
  • Product/services leadership
  • Customer retention/loyalty
  • Content marketing
  • Thought leadership
  • Viral marketing
  • Partner
  • Attack marketing
  • Read & react (opportunistic)
6. Target Audience (including segmentation & need) Identify the ideal audience you want to message to stimulate a response or create an impression. In your marketing plan, you will want to include segmentation and personas. Include the needs of the audience.
  • Target audience definition
  • Segmentation (by geo, demographics, behavioral, and psychographics)
  • Personas
7. Position & Messaging Positioning focuses on your messaging platform. A positioning statement includes a target audience, the needs or wants of that target audience, your product and service definition, benefits of the offering, and differentiation from the competition. Supporting messages come from the positioning statement and should live in a messaging guide. The messaging guide provides consistency of messages across different communications to multiple audiences. Both the positioning statement and topline messages should be in your plan. Positioning statement

  • Target audience
  • Need
  • Product definition
  • Benefits
  • Differentiators

Messaging guide

  • Company messaging
  • Product messaging
  • Messaging by audience
  • Competitive messaging
  • Messaging by channel
8. Products & Services Direction and Definition For companies that have brand management or product management as part of the marketing function, a roadmap strategy will need to be included as part of the plan. It will be important to have a clear vision of what is coming to prepare for go-to-market launches. Product direction

  • Roadmap/innovation
  • Customer requests

Definition

  • Clear articulation of the product
  • value proposition
9. Pricing & Packaging The process of finding the optimal price the buyer is willing to pay for your products and services, taking profitability and the competition into account. Packaging creates product/service configurations based on the target audience’s needs. Both are essential elements of your marketing plan.
  • Pricing table
  • Packages
  • Profitability analysis
  • Competitive pricing
  • Value/ROI analysis
  • ROI analysis
  • Win/loss analysis
10. Competitive Analysis Competitive analysis is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. This evaluation provides both offensive and defensive strategic context to solidify differentiated messaging.
  • Full product/service analysis and comparison
  • Offensive messages
  • Defensive messages
  • Competitor 2×2 map
11. Sales Channel Strategy Marketing’s primary function is to drive sales to support the business, so outlining how the marketing strategy aligns with the sales strategy will be a critical element of creating a highly effective marketing plan.
  • Sales model: direct vs indirect sales channels
  • Sales team structure
  • Sales goals for the year
  • Lifetime customer value
12. Sales Support If the product you offer is complex or has a long evaluation cycle before purchase, such as an automobile or enterprise software, it is important to have a sales support strategy and tactical execution plan. This will include sales training and tools to help them close business. Training and sales tools:

  • Onboarding new salespeople
  • Sales skills training
  • Product & messaging training
  • Presentations, brochures, selling
  • scripts, pricing tools
13. Partner Channel Strategy Partner strategy is a critical element of any great marketing plan, Some companies sell directly to the buyer exclusively, but most have either a full indirect selling strategy or a mixture of both direct and indirect. For companies that sell indirectly exclusively, this is their sales strategy.
  • Partnering goals
  • Partner revenue targets
  • Partnering strategy
  • Partnering tactical plan
  • Partner program
  • Join marketing programs
14. Product & Services Launches Planning out product and service launches based on the roadmap will be a critical part of the roadmap will be a crucial part of any highly effective marketing plan. Product launches are one of the most important campaign types.
  • Key messages
  • Announcement schedule
  • Communication strategy
  • Market education
15. Campaigns Campaigns are large-scale marketing initiatives that are goals-based, have a specific target audience, promote a specific set of messages, use several communication channels, and can be measured. Campaigns are usually time-based. All campaigns should be included in the marketing plan. See the marketing campaign template. Examples of Campaign Types

  • Integrated
  • Thematic
  • Promotional
  • Product launch
  • Demand generation
  • Thou

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