How to write a marketing plan everyone can follow

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

marketing planWe believe a good marketing plan helps make decisions to deploy the resources and provide a roadmap for everyone who works on the brand. You will learn how to write each component of the marketing plan, looking at brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. We provide marketing plan definitions and marketing plan examples to inspire you for how to write each component. Our marketing plan workshop allows marketers to try each concept on their brand. We provide hands-on coaching and feedback to challenge their plans. Below, I will show you part of our marketing plan process that we lay out in our Beloved Brands book.

We offer unique formats for a marketing-plan-on-a-page and long-range strategic roadmaps. And then, we show how to build marketing execution plans. We look at a marketing communications plan, innovation plan, sales plan, and experiential plan. Your marketing plan will help give a strategic direction to everyone in your organization.

The annual marketing plan

  • The analysis section lays out the summary from the deep-dive business review. Provide an overview of the top three points, which envelop what is driving your brand’s growth, what is inhibiting your brand’s growth, which threats could hurt your brand and what opportunities your brand faces.
  • The key issues and strategies section focuses on the top three issues getting in the way of achieving your vision, which you should put in question format. And the strategic solutions are the answers that match up to each of those questions. Set goals to measure your brand’s performance against each strategy.
  • The marketing execution section maps out the specific plans for each of the chosen execution areas that line up to most essential consumer touchpoints.

Marketing Plan template


Marketing Plan template

I first came up with this “plan-on a page” marketing plan template when I led a team with 15 brands. It helped me see the big picture quickly, rather than having to hunt through a big thick binder. Also, the sales team appreciated the ability to see the entire plan on one page quickly. Most salespeople also had 15 brands to manage with each of their customers. Everyone who works on the brand should receive the one-page marketing plan. And they should keep it close by to steer their day-to-day decisions.

Marketing Plan Definitions


The vision should answer the question, “Where could we be?” Put a stake in the ground that describes an ideal state for your future. It should be able to last for five to 10 years. The vision gives everyone clear direction. Write in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot.

Brand purpose:

The purpose has to answer the question, “Why does your brand exist?” It’s the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. The purpose is a powerful way to connect with employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul. 


The values you choose should answer, “What do you stand for?” Your values should guide you and shape the organization’s standards, beliefs, behaviors, expectations, and motivations. A brand must consistently deliver each value.


Your goals should answer, “What will you achieve?” The specific measures can include consumer behavioral changes, metrics of crucial programs, in-market performance targets, financial results, or milestones on the pathway to the vision. You can use these goals to set up a brand dashboard or scoreboard.

Situation analysis:

Use your deep-dive business review to answer, “Where are we?” Your analysis must summarize the drivers and inhibitors currently facing the brand, and the future threats and untapped opportunities.

Key issues:

The key issues answer the question, “Why are we here?” Look at what is getting in your way of achieving your brand vision. Ask the issues as questions, to set up the challenges to the strategies as the answer to each issue.


Your strategy decisions must answer, “How can we get there?” Your choices depend on market opportunities you see with consumers, competitors, or situations. Strategies must provide clear marching orders that define the strategic program you are investing in, the focused opportunity, the desired market impact and the payback in a performance result that benefits the branded business.  


The tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision while delivering the highest ROI and the highest ROE for your branded business.

Brand vision

A well-written brand vision should be the ultimate end-in-mind achievement, which answers, “Where could we be?” Think about significant accomplishments that would make you feel completely fulfilled. Put a stake in the ground to describe an ideal state for your future. Every smart brand plan must start with a brand vision statement. When I see brand teams who struggle, they usually lack a brand vision.

Some organizations get so fixated on achieving short-term goals; they chase every tactic in front of them just to make their numbers. Your vision should steer your entire marketing plan. Choose the language and phrases within your vision that will inspire, lead, and steer your team.

brand plan examples

Checklist for what makes a vision great:

  • Your vision should last 5-10 years. 
  • It should help you imagine the ideal picture of “where could we be.”
  • Describe your dream, describing what you see, feel, hear, think, say and wish for your brand.
  • It should be emotional to motivate all employees and partners to rally behind it.
  • It must be easy to understand, in plain words, which may already be a familiar phrase within the company. 
  • A great vision is a balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement).
  • Consider adding a financial (sales or profit) or share leadership position (#1) number.

Situation Analysis

Before you plan where to go next, you need to understand “Where are we?” A deep-dive business review should look take a 360-degree view to dig into the issues related to the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and the brand. In my Beloved Brands book, I go deeper into how to conduct a deep-dive business review. 

For the marketing plan, provide a summary of the factors driving the brand’s growth, the factors inhibiting the brand’s growth, the untapped opportunities, and the potential threats you see. I have provided a marketing plan example using Gray’s cookies.

Summarizing your analysis

  • The drivers are the factors of strength or inertia, which are currently accelerating your brand’s growth. These are brand assets, successful programs, favorable consumer, technology, or channel trends. Drivers also include new products, successful advertising, or performance in retail channels. marketing plan example
  • The inhibitors are the factors of weaknesses or friction that slow down your brand’s growth. These are the “Achilles heel” of the brand, which could include unfavorable consumer trends, changes in the way people shop, competitive pressures, or even gaps compared to your competitors. 
  • The opportunities are specific untapped areas in the market that could fuel future brand growth. They include unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, regulation changes, competitive openings, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. 
  • The threats are identifiable activities that could impact your brand’s growth in the future. These include significant competitive activity, competitive technology gains, changing consumer dynamics, unfavorable distribution changes, or future potential trade barriers, which would impact your brand’s growth. 

While you brainstorm a long list, narrow your focus to the top three points for each of the four areas. As you move from the analysis to the issues, ensure you find a way to continue or enhance the drivers, while you minimize or reverse the inhibitors. You also want to build specific plans to take advantage of the opportunities and reduce or eliminate the most severe threats.

Key issues

Lay out the key issues that answer, “Why are we here?” by taking the summary findings of the deep-dive analysis and drawing out the significant issues in the way of achieving your stated brand vision. How to write a smart Brand Plan Marketing Coach Consultant Workshops

A great way to find the issues is to brainstorm up to 30 things in the way of your vision. Then, narrow down your list to the top 3-5 significant themes you see. Take the themes and begin to write the top issues in a rhetorical, strategic question format to prompt a few different strategic options for how to solve each issue. Spend serious thinking time on these questions because the better the strategic question you ask, the better the strategic answer you will get.

Marketing Plan example of using the four strategic questions to focus the brand’s key issues

Another excellent methodology for finding key issues is to go back to the four strategic questions model I outlined in the strategic thinking chapters. This thinking ensures you take a 360-degree view of your brand. Looking at the example below, I have used the four strategic questions and come up with four specific questions that fit the Gray’s Cookies brand.

With various ways to brainstorm and find the issues I recommend for the annual marketing plan, focus on the top three key issues, which set up the top three strategies. A long-range brand strategic roadmap can typically handle up to five key issues, then five strategies.m

marketing plan example

Writing Strategic Objective Statements

You should start off by writing your strategic objective statement using the four components of the a + b + c + d model outlined in our Beloved Brands book, which is in Chapter 3 on strategic thinking. We go through four types of strategy, including your core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy and your brand situation.

a) The statement calls out the investment into a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. 

b) You should provide a focused opportunity, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact.  

c) You must have a specific desired market impact to outline the market stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers.

d) Finally, you need a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result on the brand, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

Here are marketing plan examples of strategic objective statements. You’ll see how we use the a + b + c +d approach for the various types of strategies.

marketing plan examples


Writing your strategy statements

The method I use creates very long strategic objective statement first, before writing a pithier version of the strategic statement. You will notice the wording feels quite chunky and far too long. Once you have three steadfast strategic objective statements, you can narrow them down to a headline. 

marketing plan examples

How to lay out each strategy

Your effort in writing these clunky statements will not go to waste. Once you have decided on your top three strategies, you can lay out a specific slide to explain each strategy within your presentation. 

  • Include the clunky strategic objective statement (told you it would not go to waste). 
  • The goals measure the ideal result of this strategy.
  • Then, list three tactical programs, where you will invest your resources. 
  • I also insert a “watch out statement” to show I am proactively addressing any issue I feel could derail my presentation.


marketing plan examples


Tactics and Execution

“What do we need to do to get there” matches up marketing execution activity to the brand strategy, looking at communicating the brand story, managing the consumer towards the purchase moment, launching new product innovation and delivering the brand experience. We use our Big Idea to drive each of these key areas of the brand. To read more, click on this link:

How to use a brand Idea to capture the consumer’s mind and heart

How to use a brand Idea to capture the consumer’s mind and heart.

Marketing Execution has to make your brand stronger. It has to create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand, it establishes your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning and it influences consumers to alter their behavior to think, feel or act, making the brand more powerfully connected, eventually leading to higher sales, share, and profit.

Start with the path to purchase that matches your brand’s marketing execution to where your consumer stands with your brand.

Marketing Execution Plan

Focus your marketing activities by prioritizing on return on investment and effort (ROI and ROE).

For each strategy, you want to find the “Big Easy”. Start by putting all your ideas on to post it notes. Then map each idea onto the grid.  Are they BIG versus SMALL impact on the business? And are they EASY versus DIFFICULT? The top ideas will be in the BIG EASY top right corner. The goal of this activity is to narrow your focus to the best 3 activities.

Turn your plan into projects

As part of the marketing plan process, your marketing plan should have:

  • Brand budget
  • Goals
  • Calendar of activity
  • Project work plans

A plan is not complete without project plans that include the project owner, project budget, goals, milestones, and hurdles

To find out more about our marketing training programs, click on this link:

Beloved Brands Marketing training program

You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.

Beloved Brands Book

I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

Beloved Brands has everything you need to run your brand. You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a marketing plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

  • How to think strategically
  • Write a brand positioning statement
  • Come up with a brand idea
  • Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  • Write an inspiring creative brief
  • Make decisions on marketing execution
  • Conduct a deep-dive business review
  • Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order:  

We are also on Apple Books, which you can click here to order:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a marketing plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. Above all, I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

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