Katrina Balmaceda

Content Strategist | With Content

There comes a time in every budding marketer or consultant’s life when he or she comes up with a marketing strategy, and goes, “Now what?” That person may have conceptualized a strategy based on specific goals and audience research, but has no idea how to go about putting it into action. If that sounds like you or a colleague, then you need a marketing plan.

Or if you already have one, you’ll need to present it to clients in a way that makes sense, gets to the point, and keeps them interested.

Throughout your career as a marketer, you’re likely to be creating more marketing reports than you can count. Perhaps you find yourself spending more time crunching data and plugging numbers into graphs than actually working.

Marketing reports don’t have to be as time consuming as they often are, which is why we tapped into the brilliance of Kevan Lee of Buffer in this interactive content experience to help you with them. Dive right in here, and learn some marketing reporting hacks from Kevan.

Why you need a marketing plan

Investopedia defines a marketing plan as “a business’ operational document for outreach and advertising to generate leads and reach its target market.” It forms a part of your business plan.

A marketing plan lists the steps you need to take to reach your marketing goals. All these actions are guided by your strategy.

In other words, a marketing plan is a roadmap showing the steps you need to take to get to that position.

To illustrate the difference, let’s think of setting fitness goals. Your strategy to achieve this goal might be to focus on a mix of strength and cardio training.

Sounds great – but what next?

To reach your goals, you must create a plan. This will define the actual exercises you’ll do, how often you’ll do them, and other nitty-gritty details. In the same way, you might decide to promote your service to your target audience using a combination of content and social marketing.

But what types of content will you create? What will the topics be, and what’s the SEO strategy behind these topics? What channels will you use, and what advertising or marketing funnel will you implement to convert audiences into customers?

There’s also the question of timelines, budgets, and resources needed, as well as how you will be measuring your marketing success.

Given that they’re so closely related, marketing plans and strategies are often presented together, and the terms tend to be used interchangeably.

One widely used approach to making a marketing plan is the SOSTAC planning framework developed by PR Smith.

The SOSTAC model includes the situation, objects, strategy, tactics, action, and control. Smith recommends adding 3 Ms at the end – manpower, minutes (time), and money (budget).

You’ll see these components in the marketing examples below. Some of these were created as hypothetical plans by researchers, while others are real-life plans from organizations.

Marketing plan examples

1. FedEx marketing plan

This presentation offers a marketing plan as a response to threats determined during the researchers’ SWOT analysis of FedEx.

Visually, one of the strengths of this plan is its use of the FedEx logo as a backdrop for the presentation. The visual repetition enhances brand awareness.

2. Lush marketing plan

This one’s presented like a magazine, and analyzes cosmetics retailer Lush’s market. Apart from market segmentation and marketing mix, it discusses the packaging and the retail experience – two important drivers of Lush’s brand image.

It also offers a value matrix that maps out the brand’s mission, vision, and values against their appeal to a consumer’s mind, heart, and spirit.

3. Coca-Cola marketing plan

This marketing plan is a stellar example by one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Released in 2011, the Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative video presented the company’s emerging content marketing strategy, along with how they planned to achieve their goals and evaluate their actions. The gist is to focus on storytelling and creating conversations about the brand.

Do watch the entire video – it’s worth your 18 minutes. Apart from learning about a major brand’s content marketing strategy, you’ll get a visual surprise at the end.

4. Uber marketing plan

This presentation dives into the 4 Ps of marketing – product, price, place (here called distribution), and promotion (specifically, marketing communications) – as they relate to Uber.

It also presents a monthly action plan, a budget, and controls. One example for controls is how to quickly respond to the failure of Uber kiosks, which the researchers propose to set up in high-traffic urban areas so that people without smartphones can still book a ride.

Notice how the presentation mimics the minimalist Uber branding aesthetics.

5. Naperville Park District strategic marketing plan

This is the most comprehensive marketing plan on the list, and spans four years. But as the organization notes in its conclusion, this plan is “a living document that will be updated as the District moves forward on implementing the goals as defined in the 5-year Strategic Plan.”

Their statement gives two important points about a marketing plan. One is that it can be adjusted as you implement and evaluate it. The other is that it should be based on a strategy that points towards a longer-term vision.

You can read the entire 79-page plan here.

6. Heavenly Pies marketing plan

In this hypothetical marketing plan for a pie business, the University of Tennessee cautions business owners against getting “so involved in details that they lose sight of their goals” when writing a marketing plan.

Their antidote? Keep paragraphs simple.

One way they achieve simplicity is by using bullet points and lists. You can see these in their introduction, analyses, and advertising plan.

They also present an easy-to-read budget on page six and a marketing plan checklist at the end.

7. Stericycle marketing plan

This plan comes from the Marketing-Based Management book by Roger Best. It’s split into three sections: the situation analysis, marketing strategy, and performance plan.

One of the strengths of this marketing plan is its extensive use of data as a foundation for its analyses and strategies. Data and processes are presented in diagrams so readers can digest them more easily.

How to make a marketing plan

Let’s walk through the steps for creating a marketing plan using this annual marketing plan presentation template.

1. Begin with a cover page that reflects your brand identity

It takes seven seconds to make a first impression. You can help your case by creating a cover page that accurately reflects your company’s visual strategy.

After all, if you’re a marketer or marketing consultant, you’re expected to master the brand you represent.

Tip: Make sure your logo is clearly situated in this template. You can modify the colors and typeface as well to better suit your brand.

2. Table of Contents

One oft-repeated advice in giving presentations is to “tell them what you will tell them”. In other words, let your audience know what to expect.

This advice works better for business and informative presentations, of course, than for other situations like comic speeches.

Tip: Keep this page clean and simple. It feeds the audience plenty of information about your report, so you don’t want to add distractions, like images or patterns.

3. Introduction

This is taken from the “Executive Summary” part of your marketing plan.

If your summary is as short as one paragraph, you’ll have to distil it further when when making a presentation.

This marketing plan template, for instance, offers space for an explanatory sentence or two, plus bullet points.

Tip: Remember, you’re also selling your marketing plan to your audience – be they the business owner, marketing manager, or colleagues. So, in the introduction, include an explanation of how the plan will benefit the business or complement other teams’ efforts.

4. SWOT Analysis

Several of the marketing plan examples above showed SWOT analyses on a grid, while others provided paragraphs on market, competitor, industry, audience, and product analyses.

Displaying a SWOT analysis on a grid guides the audience’s eyes as you present your marketing plan. If you’re not quite sure how to do one, read up on SWOT analysis tips and study some examples.

Tip: Get input from different departments when you identify and analyze a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

5. Mission & Goals

Your SWOT analysis gives you an overview of your business’ current situation, and now it’s time to define your strategic marketing mission and goals. These goals are the very reason this marketing plan exists, so make them specific and data-driven.

For example, don’t just say “increase market share” or “drive bookings”. Say “increase market share by XX% within XX months” or “drive XX # of bookings from XX channel monthly”.

Tie your marketing goals in with your business goals, too, and refer to your SWOT analysis to make sure you have all your bases covered. If you’re a restaurant business looking to increase your number of branches in the city within the next 12 months, identify marketing objectives to help achieve that.

Tip: Develop SMART goals – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-related.

6. Target Audience

This is the part where you describe your different audience segments. Include demographic information like age, place of residence, gender, civil status – depending on what’s relevant to your product or service.

Similarly, describe your audience’s beliefs, lifestyles, buying patterns, social media habits, desires, aspirations, career goals, and other psychographic information that may apply.

Tip: Give each target audience segment a persona by assigning a generic name and photo to represent them. This should be based on a generalization of their similar characteristics.

For example, one of your cafe’s target audiences might be sales agents, who tend to meet clients for coffee.

7. Pain Points

Every business needs to know what problems it solves. You’ll have uncovered this information during your audience research.

Marketers dig into the specifics of such problems to create messages that truly resonate with target audiences. This information shapes the development of products and services too, as well as their pricing and placement or distribution.

Your research shouldn’t just uncover pain points, though – it should find out whether sufficient market demand exists to justify offering a solution.

For instance, sales agents in your area might need a quiet place to meet with one another once a month. If demand is sufficient, you can decide to have a small meeting room for rent within your cafe.

Tip: Use varied channels for doing audience research. Share a survey online or in exchange for downloading a piece of content, like an e-book. Talk face-to-face with current or potential customers. Or ask your customer service team for input.

8. Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is core to a business’ marketing strategy. The four Ps correspond to product, price, place, and promotion.

To explore the link between the four Ps, let’s go back to the example of the cafe business. No amount of social media promotion or compelling copy will convert sales agents into loyal customers, if your cafe appears to target a niche market or is far from business districts.

Tip: Since all four Ps work together and affect one another, display them on a grid on a single page. That way, if you adjust one aspect, you can see what you need to modify for the other Ps.

9. Team

Remember PR Smith’s recommendation to add three Ms to his SOSTAC framework? This is the manpower part.

This part answers the questions: who will implement the plan? Do they have sufficient talent and experience to do so? How large is your team?

You’ll also need to explain whether or not you’ll work with freelancers and agencies.

Tip: Add your team members’ photos to make the presentation more visual and eye-catching. This will also allow you to give them credit, as they most likely helped create the marketing plan.

10. Measurement

Always have a plan for measuring your marketing plan’s success, because it will help you understand what’s working and what isn’t in your campaigns.

The data you get from your measurement tools will provide insight on how to iterate and improve your chances of achieving your goals. It will also help you determine the ROI from your campaigns.

Tip: Identify the tools you’ll use to measure your marketing campaigns’ success, as well as the metrics you’ll measure.

11. Conclusion

Provide a brief ending statement, which can echo your marketing plan summary. Don’t shy away from adding a motivational quote if appropriate.

And of course, thank your audience for taking the time to review your marketing plan.

Tip: Come full circle – use the same aesthetics on the last page as on the cover page.

Alternative marketing plan templates

Sometimes, you may need to present only a part of your marketing plan. We’ve got you covered with our marketing strategy and customer acquisition templates.

Marketing strategy template

This template presents your overarching strategy for driving customers down the acquisition funnel.

When you use this marketing strategy template, you begin with an overview of the funnel stages:

You then explain your strategy for acquiring customers in each step, from awareness all the way down to referral.

Customer acquisition funnel

This template is similar to the marketing strategy presentation above, except that it focuses on the channels you’ll use throughout the customer acquisition funnel.

It’s ideal to use this funnel template when explaining a digital marketing strategy and plan, as it emphasizes online channels and user experience.

Now you have the tools to make beautiful and effective marketing plan presentations. Try them out to create your own visually attractive marketing plans.