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How to build a simple yet effective marketing plan

Jul 26, 2021 | Marketing best practices, Tips for small businesses

Do you have a simple and streamlined marketing plan for your business? 

Do you have clear marketing goals you’re trying to achieve? 

Are you testing different marketing tactics without seeing great results? 

Do you feel that your marketing isn’t driving consistent growth and ROI? 

A well-defined marketing plan can truly help you grow your business in a strategic and efficient way. In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a simple yet effective marketing plan for your business. We’ll take you through each individual step and share an easy-to-use and simple template to get you started. If you don’t know where to start from in terms of your marketing planning, please carry on reading! 


What is a Marketing plan?

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing:

”Essentially, a marketing plan is a return to the basics. It’s all about finding out where you stand now, analysing where you want to be, and then establishing a route to get there. It is the touchstone for all marketing activity and, ultimately, the long-term mission of the business.”

Writing a simple yet effective marketing plan forces you to think strategically about the steps you’ll have to take to achieve your marketing objectives. Not only this, having a clear plan at hand will help you stay focused on the way. 

A typical marketing plan includes:

  • A brief overview of your marketing goals.
  • A description of your current marketing position/activity.
  • A description of your target market and your competitors.
  • An outline of the key tactics you’re looking to implement. 
  • A timeline of when your marketing tasks should be implemented and by whom.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) you’d like to measure. 

However, if you don’t have a marketing plan template to hand you can easily download ours here. This free and easy-to-use template will help you start to highlight and streamline the key information listed above.

So, how do you create a successful and simple marketing plan?

  1. Firstly, write a short executive summary – what are you (and the business) trying to achieve?
  2. Secondly, outline your marketing personas – what type of customers are you trying to attract? If you’re not sure where to start, then check out this handy article from Hubspot
  3. Run a quick marketing audit – where are you now? And where are your competitors?
  4. Define your goals and set measurable marketing objectives
  5. Set clear benchmarks and metrics
  6. Create an actionable, multi-channel marketing strategy (this is a big section!)
  7. Monitor, analyse, improve
  8. Finally, plan your budget

1. Write a short executive summary

A concise and clear summary is a great way to start your marketing plan and get people on board. This section should include things like: 

  • Your business and marketing objectives
  • Important info around your brand and its milestones
  • Your latest achievements and future plans

Most importantly, your executive summary shouldn’t be longer than 200 words. Keep it nice and short and straight to the point. 

2. Outline your marketing personas

Who are you trying to engage with? What type of customer would you like to attract to your website? 

Generally, businesses tend to overestimate their knowledge of their target audience. We’ve said this many times – peoples’ needs change over time! 

  • Are your marketing personas updated? 
  • Do you know what your ideal customers are looking for? 
  • Do you know what needs you can satisfy today?

For example, take a look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. Arrange focus groups and send out surveys to your customers to get insightful data around their current needs, behaviours and expectations.  

Take some time to identify recurring traits, habits and demographics. Use this data to create your marketing personas and build a simple marketing plan around their needs. 

3. Run a quick marketing audit

Where does your business sit in your market? What market share is available to you? Are there any new avenues and opportunities you can explore? Are there any threats or potential risks you need to address? 

Take some time to carry out a SWOT analysis of your business. What are your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Check out this useful step-by-step guide on how to do a SWOT analysis. 

In addition, competitor benchmarking should always be part of a marketing audit too. What are your competitors offering? How do they work? What’s their added value? How can you carve a niche in your market?

4. Define your goal(s) and set measurable marketing objectives

What are you trying to achieve? What are your ultimate marketing goals? For example, are you trying to drive more traffic to your website or to increase conversions? Is your aim to acquire new customers or retain your existing ones?

Think about your overall goal and write it down using as few words as possible. With this in mind, think about your marketing objectives. What is it that you need to achieve to say that your goal is met? 

Try to be as specific as you can be and try to avoid vague goals. 

For example, the following objectives not only specify the metric you’ll use to measure success, but they also set a timeline for when you’re looking to achieve these. SMART goals are the most common framework for effective goal setting. To find out more about how to create successful SMART goals, check out this neat article from MindTools.

  • Increase new sessions by 5% by September 2021
  • Get to 50k followers by Q1
  • Decrease bounce rates by X% by the end of the year
  • Create 1 new video per week, etc. 

5. Set clear benchmarks and metrics for your simple marketing plan

Outlining where your business stands right now is essential to track progress. Therefore, once you’ve identified your key metrics (e.g. new sessions, followers, bounce rates, etc.), create a spreadsheet to keep track of your improvements on a regular basis. 

Not only will it help to track your progress but, if analysed regularly, it will allow you to understand what marketing tactics worked and what didn’t (and how you stand against your competitors). 

6. Create a multi-channel marketing strategy

It’s now time to break down your marketing strategy into an actionable plan. The aim here is to enable anyone to understand what your team will be working on!

Therefore, identify the key tactics you’ll need to implement in order to achieve your marketing objectives. Once done, break these down into actionable steps and state who’ll implement them and by when. The more accurate the plan, the more likely it is that people will get it done – your tasks should be as close as possible to a mini-brief/work instructions. 

A timeline with clear deadlines is fundamental too as it gives a general overview of what needs to be done and by when. 

7. Monitor, analyse, improve

At the end of your simple yet effective marketing plan, it’s important to briefly describe how you’ll monitor and analyse performance. Additionally, you should always mention how often you’re planning to share results with your stakeholders. 

Most importantly, the guidelines need to be clear. What metrics will you be using? How often will you run your reports? Who’s in charge of checking these and making relevant notes? 

8. Plan your budget

Lastly, no matter how simple your marketing plan is, it should always include a section around budget. How many resources and tools will you need to implement your marketing plan? How many hours to get it all done? Return on effort is equally as important as ROI. 

Think about these elements carefully before submitting your marketing budget request.

Great, you now have the basics to create your own marketing plan! Need some insights on how to create an actionable marketing plan? We can support you and coach you through this process in our brand-new Marketing plan online workshop! Get started here:

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