You did it. The products/services you’ve been working on are ready to see the world.
All you and your team have to do is market it. How hard can it be?
Until you realize—or someone tells you—that you need a marketing plan.
Not only do you need a marketing plan, but you also need to make it look good.
Oh, and present it in an upcoming meeting.
But what even is a marketing plan?
In this article, you will learn what a marketing plan is, what you need to include when designing it, and how you can make it visually appealing to nail your next meeting.
A marketing plan is a document, usually a PDF file or a PowerPoint presentation, that details the process and objectives of the marketing for a certain product or service. Its content includes an executive summary, positioning, buyer persona, competitor analysis, detailed objectives, online and offline strategies, and a budget.
A marketing plan ensures everyone on the team has a clear vision of your goals and how you want to reach them. It also gives the higher-ups and other departments of your business a much better idea about how you plan on marketing your product or service, allowing for a more harmonious workflow.
Your customers, although they will never see it, will also benefit from it. A good marketing plan allows you to focus on distinguishing your product as clearly as possible from competitors, making it more memorable.
A business plan is a document containing the goals of a business and the means to achieve them. It includes information about the product/service, a financial plan, an analysis of the competitors, the target market, and more. Depending on the context it’s used in, it is usually a PDF file or a PowerPoint presentation.
The marketing plan is part of the business plan and is solely focused on the marketing of the product—the objectives, the means to achieve them, as well as the ways to measure them. This, too, is usually a PDF file or a PowerPoint presentation.
Think of the business plan as an opened straight umbrella with several folded umbrellas under it—one of these is the marketing plan.
Much like how the marketing plan is part of the business plan, the marketing strategies are part of the marketing plan. They include podcasts, Instagram giveaways, blogs, YouTube video series, and any other strategy you can come up with to get your business out there.
Even professional marketers happen to get confused about the two terms and need a minute to Google the difference. The easiest way to remember it is to picture the marketing plan as a suitcase filled with different colored shirts—all those shirts are the marketing strategies.
You don’t need to create a separate document for each marketing strategy. They all have a place in the marketing plan.
While the two are similar, they’re used in different contexts.
E. Jerome McCarthy first introduced the concept of the marketing mix in 1960 in his textbook titled “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.” He named product, price, place, and promotion as the elements of the marketing mix also known as the 4 Ps of marketing. You will often see these two terms used interchangeably.
Although the idea of a perfect marketing recipe had been around long before that, McCarthy was the first to develop a theory and put it on paper.
In 1981, Bernard H. Booms and Mary J. Bitner developed the 4 Ps into 7 Ps, adding people, process, and physical evidence into the mix.
A university professor teaching the basics of marketing to a class of freshmen will explain the marketing mix and how it came to be. The marketing team of a business will use a marketing plan to introduce the other apartments to their ideas on how to market a certain product.
In short, the marketing mix is the theory, while the marketing plan is the practice.
Now that we’ve seen what a marketing plan is and why you need one, it’s time to look at its content. We’ve already seen that it has an executive summary, positioning, buyer persona, competitor analysis, detailed objectives, online and offline strategies, as well as a budget—but let’s break them down a bit.
I will walk you through each element, tell you what it is, why you need it, and what you can do to make it as visually attractive as possible so you can nail your next meeting.
5.1. Executive summary + mission
The executive summary, often called the mission statement or simply the mission, defines your business and what it’s trying to accomplish.
The executive summary is usually two short paragraphs. It’s like the introduction to an essay or a blog article. Make sure it’s clear and concise but don’t stress too much about it. There are only three key questions you need to keep in mind here:
What are we? What are our values? What are we offering?
If your executive summary answers these questions, congratulations—you’re ready to move on to the next step.
How to nail it: Use contrasting colors when presenting your executive summary. For example, the first paragraph can be against a green background, while the second one can be put against a red one. This is a bold and eye-catching way to catch your audience’s attention right from the start.
5.2. Positioning statement + USP
It’s important to visualize the future of your business, but it’s equally important to look at the present, as well. The positioning statement refers to where your business falls into the market right now, while the USP refers to your unique selling point or unique selling proposition.
Having a clear view of your present will help you picture the future much more easily and realistically.
Your USP is your one-way ticket to ensuring you stand out from the competition.
Think about Starbucks. It’s no rocket science, it’s just a coffee shop. However, their vast selection of seasonal brews, Instagram-worthy decor, and misspelled names on their coffee cups are all part of the Starbucks identity.
When thinking about your positioning and USP, take a few moments to answer one simple question:
Where are we now in the market, and what makes us different from others?
How to nail it: Include interesting stock photos that illustrate standing out from the crowd. You can find a ton of these in Creatopy’s Shutterstock library.
5.3. Buyer persona
You have an amazing product/service and a totally awesome team—now it’s time to focus on the buyer persona. This is the profile of your ideal customer. It helps you get a clear picture of their lifestyle, needs, wishes, and aspirations. This allows you to steer your marketing strategy in the right direction.
So, when thinking about your buyer persona, keep this question in mind:
Who are we trying to speak to?
Remember, your buyer persona is not about a group of people—it’s about one person. Rather than talking to a whole crowd, always talk to one person from that crowd.
How to nail it: One cool way to present your buyer persona is by telling their story through a comic strip or a storyboard. It will allow you to unleash your creativity while ensuring you paint a clear image of your ideal customer. Think about what they do for a living, what they do in a day, and what kind of hobbies they have. You can even come up with quotes or phrases they would say on a daily basis.
5.4. Competitor analysis
When planning to market your product, it’s important to look at what your competitors are doing. This allows you to focus on what you can do to stand out. It can also help you gain inspiration for your own marketing strategies.
For example, if your competitor found an interesting way to increase engagement on their social media, study it and see what you can do to make that idea work for your business.
You don’t have to limit yourself to your industry. Inspiration can be found anywhere in any form. Maybe you’re selling handmade clothing, but the local bar made an interesting Instagram story you can draw ideas from.
So, make sure this section of your marketing plan answers this one simple question:
What are the others doing?
How to nail it: A SWOT analysis is a classic and effective way to study your competitors. Make it visually appealing by matching one particular color to each competitor you’ll be looking at.
5.5. Objective goals
So you want to be the leader of your industry. You want to be the innovator, the one who everyone tries to copy. You want your name to be mentioned whenever someone talks about your industry.
You’re going to need objective goals and good KPIs first.
Think about objective goals as milestones. You can’t sell 500 units of your product without selling ten first. You can’t reach one million subscribers without reaching five first.
It’s important to be specific about what you want to achieve in what amount of time. Use percentages and clear timelines.
For example, “I want to sell [x] amount of my product and make [y] profit by the [z] quarter of the year.”
Your KPIs, or key performance indicators, will help you keep track of your achievements, so make sure they are specific as well.
Always ask yourself this:
What steps do I need to take to reach this goal? How can I be sure I’m on the right track?
How to nail it: Reaching your objective goals is quite like finding a lost treasure. When presenting this section of your marketing plan, design it like a map that leads to said treasure. It can be as intricate as Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth—just make sure you avoid Mordor.
5.6. Content: Online strategies
You’ve finally reached the content section of your marketing plan, which is arguably the most exciting and creative part. You have tons of ways to attract your ideal customers, which leads to infinite chances to increase brand awareness and revenue.
When we hear online content, we usually think about YouTube videos, podcasts, blog articles, and TikToks, among other things.
Whichever type of online content you pick for your business, always ask yourself:
How can I reach my audience?
Once you’ve decided on the type of content, create a plan to advertise it. Think about what type of ads would work best for your content and what kind will your audience react to most. Will you focus on Instagram ads? Facebook carousel ads? Maybe delve into audio ads?
Don’t neglect social media, either. After all, it’s one of the best ways to reach your audience organically.
Think about which social media platforms work best for your business and decide how you will distribute your content on them. Are you going to make weekly Facebook posts about it? TikTok’s with bts footage, perhaps?
Remember, you don’t need to be on every social media platform in existence right away. If you think Twitter and Facebook are enough for the time being, by all means, settle with them. There’s no use creating an account for a third platform just for it to sit there empty.
Don’t stress about going viral. Just be consistent, engage with your audience, and have some fun along the way.
How to nail it: Make this part of your presentation visually appealing by matching the colors with the logos of the social media platforms your business will be using.
5.7. Content: Offline strategies
This part is self-explanatory. This is all the content marketing that isn’t happening online.
You might think you don’t really need offline content marketing, given how the internet has taken over our lives. But people still very much have offline lives.
People are still walking on the streets, casually window shopping. They still read magazines when they’re tired of staring at a screen. And they’re still looking for ways to socialize outside.
Take a moment to answer this:
If the internet didn’t exist, how would people hear about our product?
Print advertising is a wonderful way to kick off your offline marketing.
How to nail it: Design some posters, flyers, and brochures using the templates you can find on Creatopy and include them in your presentation. They will make it more visually appealing and will give everyone else a better idea of your vision.
I’m sure you know this already, but it bears repeating.
Everything needs a budget, and your marketing plan is no exception. Just like how your clients have to think about their budget before buying your product, you also need to keep your budget in mind when marketing it.
There is no way to avoid this section. Even if you somehow manage to skip it during your presentation, one of the first things you will be asked is the budget. So while you brainstorm new ideas for your marketing strategies, keep this question in mind:
How much money do we need to market our business?
This is another reason why it’s important to be as detailed as possible when planning your marketing strategies. The more details you have, the easier it is to set a realistic budget for your plans.
How to nail it: Pastel colors are your best friend when it comes to presenting your budget. They evoke optimism and have an uplifting effect, which is always welcome when talking about money.
You might be wondering what’s the point of all this? The truth of the matter is that:
Everyone benefits from a marketing plan.
With a neat marketing plan, you and your marketing team will have a much clearer picture of your product, how it will be marketed, and the results you should strive for.
If you need to present it to your higher-ups, they will also have a better understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, and they will be able to give you the best resources possible to make that happen.
And if you have a clear understanding of your products/services, so will your customers.
Designing a killer marketing plan is not the easiest thing to do. There are many aspects you need to consider and there will be a lot of people involved in the process. It also takes time which is already a sensitive concept for any business.
But the benefits are worth the effort. A well-defined marketing plan allows you to organize your ideas and your team’s tasks. It helps you create a deep understanding of your products/services and highlight their unique selling point. It lets you set realistic goals that you can achieve with concrete methods.
It also gives you the opportunity to be the star of your next meeting. Are you ready to take the stage?