What is a Marketing Plan and Why Do I Need One?

what is a marketing plan

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Why do I need a marketing plan?

Trying to market your business today isn’t easy. The “go with the flow” or the “throwing the dart and see where lands” technique, simply won’t cut it. To drive sales to not only survive but to thrive, you need a plan. But what is a marketing plan and why do I need one?

The why is easy.

Having a plan:

  • Formalizes ideas and keeps you focused. Having a clear path, a trail to follow will keep you focused on the tools, messaging, and channels needed to reach your goals.
  • Defines what makes your business unique. Why should a prospect buy your product over that of your competitors? You need to let them know what makes you stand out head and shoulders over the rest, so they spend their money with you.
  • Ensures your marketing is aligned with your business goals. Your marketing plan should support your overarching marketing strategy which also lines up with your business strategy, making sure that you will receive the biggest bang for your hard-earned buck.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a tactical document that outlines actionable steps you will take to support your marketing strategy for the coming year, quarter, or month. It is based on the need to reach more potential customers, retain existing customers, and increase sales. Marketing plans should always utilize automation, analyze engagement, and optimize based on analytic data.

Are you wondering if there is a difference between a marketing strategy vs marketing plan? Yes, there is. Think of your marketing strategy as the “why” behind your marketing efforts; it supports the business goals and company vision. On the other hand, your marketing plan is the execution plan that is the “what, when, where and how”; it’s a roadmap of steps to support the marketing strategy.

A typical marketing plan includes elements like:

  • Branding research: When developing your marketing strategy, you will define your company’s brand guidelines, including the messaging you want to provide to your target customers. The marketing channels that will provide the best reach and engagement with these customers are identified. Although this is developed when putting together your marketing strategy, it is an important tool in creating your marketing plan.
  • An overview of your marketing and advertising objectives: You need to identify your marketing campaign objectives. Keep in mind your high-level and long-term business goals that are part of your marketing strategy.
  • Lead generation and conversions: How you will find your customers and nurture the sale.
  • Measuring and monitoring your results/ROI: You need to identify your KPIs. How will you mark and measure your milestones? You need a way to be able to use them to improve performance.
  • Implementation tools: The automation you will use to schedule and deliver your communication.
  • Customer service and retention: The tools you will use to nurture and keep your customers once you get them.

The world has gone digital and so should you and your business marketing.

digital marketing plan template

What is a digital marketing plan?

The digital developments of the 1990’s and 2000’s changed the way brands and businesses use technology for marketing. People started replacing visits to brick and mortar shops with jumping on their digital devices to find and buy what they need. Along with those changes in purchasing, digital marketing campaigns have taken advantage of things like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to increase their traffic.

A digital marketing plan takes the marketing plan components one step further. It specifically targets the online channels.

It still contains the basics in the above. And a strategic digital marketing plan also outlines the implementation system that puts your plan into action.

The focus areas for digital marketing plans fall into 8 general categories:

Think of these focus areas, or categories, as the 8 digital marketing channels to choose from.

  1. SEM/PPC
  2. SEO
  3. SMM
  4. Content
  5. Email
  6. Landing Page
  7. Affiliate
  8. Mobile

Within these categories can be found specific digital components such as:

Your business is unique, but not alone.

You have plenty of competitors out there, just like you, fighting for the lion’s share of the market. It isn’t easy getting your prospects to find you. And, if they can’t find you, they won’t spend their money with you. A strong marketing plan, specifically a digital marketing plan, consisting of sound research, defined objectives, lead nurturing, customer retention, and successful implementation is what will drive your sales.

It’s much more effective than just ‘going with the flow’.  

what is a marketing plan

We can help you.

Download our FREE 1-page digital marketing template which includes a marketing plan example as well.

Need more support? We have a 12-month digital marketing strategy service custom-built for businesses just like yours. We can take all the guesswork OUT so you can bring more customers and sales IN.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase the product or service. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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