A Beginner’s Guide to Writing a Marketing Plan
Digging in and writing your first marketing plan can be exciting! Before you begin, it’s helpful to know what exactly a marketing plan is and what usually goes in one. A marketing plan is a detailed document that outlines your company’s marketing goals and objectives and describes your marketing efforts for a set time-frame, oftentimes annually. It is important to note that a marketing plan is not a marketing strategy but will include strategies for achieving your marketing goals. So, how do you write one?
What’s Your Mission?
To begin, it is helpful to first state your mission for the year. This mission is one that depicts what you, or the marketing department, want to achieve and is reflective of your company’s overarching mission statement.
Goals and KPIs
Once you have your mission, you’ll want to lay out your goals, or objectives, for the year. It is important to create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) in order to have goals that are clearly stated and measurable for tracking and reporting purposes. Creating specific goals and defining what will be measured eliminates room for miscommunication or confusion over what the target objective is. This can be done with your KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. A KPI answers the “What will be measured?” and “How will we determine if we were successful?” questions. It is an indicator for the progress you’ve made towards your outlined goals or objectives. You can learn more on writing KPI’s here.
If you haven’t created buyer personas yet, then creating and developing detailed buyer personas in next on the list for writing a marketing plan. A buyer persona is a detailed description of who your target audience is, and it should reflect typical customers for your business. Buyer personas include information such as demographics, communication preferences, and goals and challenges. You can make them as detailed as you like, but keep in mind that you want it to be a direct reflection of who your target customers are. HubSpot offers a tool to help you create a buyer persona here.
What’s your unique selling proposition?
Consider your unique selling proposition. What do you have to offer to your target customer to help solve their problem or pain point that your competitor doesn’t offer? Your unique selling proposition is what will set you apart from your competitors and should be used to guide your strategy in how to market against your competitors.
Conduct industry research on your competitors and target consumers. Identifying your competitors and researching to learn what challenges they may pose to your business is important when developing your marketing plan. It is also important to know about updates and latest news in your industry as well as how your target consumers’ preferences may be changing. For example, 10 years ago people did not shop or purchase products on Instagram, but they do now. A great way to guide your research is with a SWOT analysis. This will help you see your strengths and weaknesses and identify any threats from competitors and other factors as well as possible opportunities you can embrace. After conducting thorough research, you can begin to develop your marketing and content strategy.
The first step to creating a content strategy is to define how your content can help solve your target audience’s problem. Consider your buyer personas and the information from your research to begin to build out your strategy. A content strategy should include:
- The type of content you will create. (videos, blogs, infographics, etc.)
- What goals you’ll have for each type of content and how you will measure each types progress (KPIs).
- How often you will publish or post new content. This will depend on how much content you can create with the resources you have.
- What channels you will use to distribute your content.
Effective content marketing is never free. There are many free tools that can be utilized but there are always some expenses required to create and distribute your content. Define a budget for your marketing efforts.
Editorial Calendar and Workflow
Finally, you will want to create an editorial calendar to organize all content that will be created and campaigns that will be pushed during the year. It’s important to also set up a defined workflow to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities so that content is created and published on time. We know keeping everything organized and in one place can be challenging, so we have a content calendar template for you.