Step-by-step guide for how to write a Marketing Plan



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Are you looking for the ultimate marketing plan checklist to unlock your business growth potential? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with key tactics that will propel your marketing efforts to new heights. If you have to write a Marketing Plan, you are in the right spot. We will keep it simple and easy to follow. In this article, we’ll explore many marketing plan examples and show you a proven marketing plan template. Learn how to write a marketing plan with this step-by-step guide. Includes marketing plan examples using our marketing plan template. 

Think of the marketing plan as a decision-making tool as you decide what makes it into the plan. Equally, it decides what you leave out. A marketing plan is crucial for allocating resources wisely and achieving high returns whether you want to think about return on investment or return on effort.

A marketing plan can also be a communications tool. It gets approval from your boss. It aligns those who will work on your brand for the next year. And, it sends signals to any partners of what you want to do. It aligns your sales team, your advertising agency, and hopefully your product development people.

To illustrate, click on our Marketing Plan ProcessImportantly, you download or share. 

Drawing from My Experience with Marketing Plans

As a former VP of Marketing, I have seen the impact that a smart marketing plan can make. Equally, I have also seen marketing plan presentations go off the rails. For many marketers, this is your big moment to interact with your senior management team. 

While I spent 20 years in marketing and loved every day, my current role is to teach marketers the essential marketing skills that will help them in their marketing career. 

You can purchase any marketing plan template that you see: Marketing Templates.

And, you can use our training to make your marketing teams smarter: Marketing Training.

Importance of having a marketing plan checklist

Having a well-structured marketing plan is essential for success, whether you are a seasoned marketer or just starting out. Essentially, the marketing plan acts as a roadmap, guiding your marketing efforts and ensuring that every action you take aligns with your business goals. Moreover, a marketing plan checklist serves as a handy tool that helps you stay organized, focused, and accountable.

First, a marketing plan checklist covers includes the vision, purpose, values, and goals. Next, the situation analysis enables you to identify potential gaps and opportunities, ensuring that you don’t miss out on any crucial steps in your marketing journey. Then, use the analytics to formulate the key issue questions, and the strategies as answers to those questions. From there, lay out the execution plans that look at communications, sales and retail, product innovation, and customer experience. Finally, include a sales forecast and marketing budget. Depending on the company, you can include a profit statement. 

Having a checklist also fosters collaboration and communication within your team. It provides a clear framework for everyone involved, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives. 

Importantly, a well-executed marketing plan, you can drive business growth, attract new customers, and ultimately increase your bottom line.

To illustrate, click on our Marketing Plan Checklist. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Mastering the Marketing Plan

The elements of a Marketing Plan

  1. Brand vision
  2. Purpose and values
  3. Goals.
  4. Situation analysis (SWOT) from the business review
  5. Key issues
  6. Brand strategy statements
  7. Marketing Communications plan
  8. Sales plan
  9. Innovation plan
  10. Sales forecast, and marketing budget

To illustrate, click on our Marketing Plan definitions above. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Strategic timeline for your brand

As you map out the various elements of your brand plan, use these timelines as a guide. The vision, purpose, and values should have a lasting power of 5-10 years.  

The key issues you face and the strategies you will invest in will have a 3-5 year time horizon. You can write detailed strategies for the upcoming year to ensure they are dealing with the situation you are facing now. 

The marketing execution should have a shorter window. The communications plans should map out the investment over the next year, while new product innovation can take a 12-36 view. For Go-to-Market execution through retailers, direct sales, or e-commerce, use a quarterly focus to ensure you take advantage of the live marketplace. The shorter window keeps you flexible on pricing, merchandising, and promotions.

In terms of analytics and financials, you must look at the long and short-term. I like to include a 5-10 year financial number as part of the vision. Dig in on a deep-dive business review at least once a year, and then use a condensed review as a monthly report that keeps the brand on track to delivering the plan.   

To illustrate, click on our Marketing Plan timelines. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Brand Vision

The importance of a Brand Vision

Undoubtedly, an intelligent brand vision serves as the ultimate achievement for your brand, answering, “Where could we be?” Notably, a clear vision sets your brand on a path to success. Brands struggling often lack a strong vision, leading to short-term thinking and little long-term planning. Our marketing plan template starts with the brand vision.

Characteristics of an effective Brand Vision

An impactful brand vision should:

  1. Reflect future ambitions and bring satisfaction.
  2. Secondly, inspire and motivate your team.
  3. Lastly, strike a balance between slightly intimidating and highly exciting.

Brand Vision examples

Reviewing examples of successful brand visions can help you structure your own statement. Let these examples inspire and guide you in crafting your unique brand vision.

To illustrate, click on our Brand Vision examples. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Connecting your Vision to your Marketing Plan

Once you’ve established your vision, use it as the foundation for your brand’s key issues. Identify the obstacles preventing you from achieving your vision and develop strategies to overcome them. Your marketing strategies should revolve around solving these problems.

Visualizing the Future of Your Brand

To be visionary, envision a better future for your brand. Paint a vivid picture of where your brand could be in five or ten years. This exercise guides you in creating a powerful brand vision that resonates with your team.

To illustrate, click on our Marketing vision exercise. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Building your purpose and values

Not every marketing plan will have a brand purpose. If you wish to dig in and learn more about how branding with purpose drives the power of brand, click on this link: Purpose 


Setting the goals in your Marketing Plan

Setting clear and measurable goals is crucial for your plan’s success. It demonstrates to your boss that you will measure what you do. Here are the four primary ways to set goals for your marketing plan.

1. Focusing on Strategic Outcomes

Emphasize the market impact and performance results of your marketing strategy, such as brand funnel, in-market impact, and performance results.

2. Tactical Execution Measures

Assess the effectiveness of specific marketing tactics, including advertising results, innovation freshness index, and in-store performance indicators.

3. Major Milestones

Establish goals for significant project completion dates or key market share, sales, or profit performance levels. These milestones track your brand’s progress and maintain focus.

4. Brand Reputation Goals

Set objectives related to your brand’s reputation, such as net promoter score, online review scores, consumer perception, and reputation among influencers or social media followers.

By setting strategic outcomes, tactical execution measures, significant milestones, and brand reputation goals, you can effectively monitor and adjust your marketing plan’s success. Our marketing plan template includes a dashboard for your goals.

Writing Brand Strategy

Start with a Business Review

Successful brand leaders make data-driven decisions by thoroughly analyzing marketing analytics. Importantly, you should conduct a deep-dive business review at least once a year to assess your brand’s performance. Examine five key areas: the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors, and the brand. To read more about the deep-dive business review: Business Review.

Deep-dive Business Review Process

Click on the deep-dive business review process to zoom in for a detailed view.

To illustrate, click on our Marketing Analytics process. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Identifying Key Issues

As I created the Strategic ThinkBox, I made it so that each of the four questions uses a forced choice to make decisions, where you must focus on only one possible answer for each question. 

  1. What is the core strength that will help your brand win?
  2. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  3. What is your current competitive position?
  4. What is the current business situation your brand faces?

To read more, click on our strategic thinking post

To illustrate, click on our Key Issues process. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Make sure you find the right level of the key issue

Keep asking the key question until it gets better. Tweak. Challenge. Debate. Refine. Perfect.

  • Too low: For example, how do we get consumers to use more coupons? In this example, the key issue is too specific and tactical. It needs to be more significant to set up a strategic solution. 
  • Too high: Another example would be how do we become the #1 brand? This key issue is too general and too broad of a question to lead to a pinpointed, strategic solution. It is more suited to a question on brand vision.
  • Just right: Finally, how do we drive usage among loyal consumers? With this example, the key issue does an excellent job of addressing an obstacle in the way of the vision. It is big enough to leave sufficient room to explore various strategic solutions. 

Once you nail the key issue question, move on to the planning stage, and build a brand strategy statement that answers the question. The better the key issue question, the better the strategy.

Identifying Key Issues for Your Marketing Plan (Video)

Firstly, please view our video identifying key brand issues for your marketing plan. Next, this video facilitates recognizing the pertinent questions. Finally, it assists in formulating strategic solutions to these issues.

Play Video about Strategic Key Issues Video

Developing a Brand Strategy Using the A + B + C + D Model

We have created an easy system for writing the brand strategy statements to use in your marketing plan. You need a strategy statement to cover the remaining four other strategic elements: A) program investment, B) focused accelerator, C) market impact, and D) performance result. 


A: Build capabilities to deliver the vision: 

  • The investment in capabilities to deliver the strategy whether you are building the brand promise, brand story, purchase moment, product innovation, and consumer experience. These crystal-clear marching orders to the team leave no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. In this example, the strategic capability is to “Communicate Gray’s new “sports transform lives” positioning.” 

B: Focused Accelerator: 

  • The breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact. In this example, the focused accelerator “involves our strong base of brand fans.” 

C: Market impact: 

  • Achieves a specific desired market impact with a stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers. In this example, the desired market impact is to “tighten their bond with Gray’s” 

Performance result: 

  • Drive a specific performance result linked to the market impact, making the brand more powerful or profitable. In this example, the result is to “drive traffic into stores.”

Turn your thinking into brand strategy statements

Our unique strategic model will force you to pick answers to build a strategy statement with marching orders for those who follow your plan. As you build your marketing plan, I recommend you use these four elements of smart strategy statements to ensure you structure and demonstrate your great thinking.

Writing your brand strategy statements

Using the cheat sheet below for brand strategy statements, start by investing in capabilities, choose the target and focused accelerator. For the market impact, will you attract, inform, close, service or delight consumers. What do you want them to do? For performance result, choose one of four ways to get more powerful or wealthier, by pushing penetration, frequency, pricing or enter new markets. 

To illustrate, click on our Brand Strategy Cheatsheet. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Final brand strategy statement

Build a new products pipeline (a) that meet the changing flavors needs of our loyal consumers (b) to delight and tighten their bond with Gray’s (c) to drive usage frequency and higher share (d).

Summarizing each Brand Strategy for presentation to Management

Once you have crafted your marketing strategies, create a slide for each strategy in your presentation:

  1. First, include the strategic objective statement.
  2. Then, list the goals to measure the desired result of this strategy.
  3. Next, outline three tactical programs where resources will be invested.
  4. Finally, insert a “watch out statement” to address potential issues that could derail the strategy.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively develop and present a comprehensive brand strategy that drives your marketing plan and sets your brand on a path to success.

To illustrate, click on our Brand Strategy page. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Take a look at the key elements in building your plan

To illustrate, click on the Brand Plan presentation above, and use the > to move the slides 

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Marketing Execution Plans

For each significant investment, create a separate execution plan to ensure everyone has specific instructions for their function, eliminating any room for misinterpretation. Each strategic investment should have an execution plan, with most plans covering marketing communication, innovation, and sales. A brand’s specific needs may also require execution plans for sampling, influencer, e-commerce, medical, consumer experience, competitive, or sales.

Your execution plans should combine strategic thinking and brand positioning:

  1. First, start each execution plan with your marketing strategy statement from one of your strategies.
  2. Then, in the next four sections, refer to your brand positioning work to lay out the target, brand idea, main benefit, and support points.
  3. Finally, tailor the final two sections to the type of execution.

Firstly, use the desired response to start the creative brief. Then, consider media options for investment. For innovation, identify an internal beacon. This beacon will inspire the team. Also, ascertain the project status. This should relate to new products, formats, or claims.

Moreover, create a sales plan. This should detail the differences between shoppers and users. It should also outline specific retail programs. Additionally, it should include execution tactics.

Importantly, maintain language consistency. Consistency ensures uniform execution. Lastly, let your creativity flow from these repeated words.

Brand Communication Plan

Essentially, the brand communications plan should answer seven questions that guide and inspire the creation of the brand story, establishing your brand positioning and motivating consumers. Our marketing plan template includes a Brand Communications Plan

Using the marketing plan template, answer the following questions:

  1. First, what do we need our advertising to do? (Marketing strategy statement)
  2. Next, who is our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)
  3. Third, what are we selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind)
  4. Fourth, why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit)
  5. Then ask, what is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence, or DNA for the brand)
  6. What do we want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer response)
  7. Finally, where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)

Lastly, consider this marketing plan example of an Brand Communications Plan for Gray’s Cookies:

To illustrate, click on our Brand Communications Plan. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Innovation Plan

Firstly, your brand idea should direct the product development team in managing innovation ideas at various stages:

  • Exploratory stage (beyond five years),
  • Pipeline ideas (two to five years), and
  • Go-to-market launch plans (within the next two years).

Secondly, utilize the marketing plan template to influence, manage, and direct your product development team, ensuring a focus on brand strategy.

Lastly, consider this marketing plan example of an Innovation Plan for Gray’s Cookies:

To illustrate, click on our Innovation Plan. Importantly, you can zoom in, download it, or share it. 

Marketing Plan examples

Examples of Marketing Plan slides we use in our template

Importantly, we provide marketing plan examples of execution slides you can use in your marketing plan. For instance, you will find PowerPoint slides you can use for advertising, social media, and search, event sampling. You can also find slides for new product launches, new product pipelines, competitive defence plans, merchandising and in-store sampling, customer marketing, and promotions. To view, click on any of the marketing plan example slides below.

Consumer Healthcare

Consumer Healthcare marketing plan example.

Quit Smoking

Pharma marketing plan example.

B2B Stage Lighting

Our B2B brand marketing plan example.

B2B Industrial tools

B2B industrial marketing plan example.

Are you not seeing high quality plans from your team?

Should you find yourself leading a marketing team and struggling to see high-quality plans, our marketing training is here to assist. Often, marketers attempt to juggle too many elements in their plan, resulting in none of their ideas receiving sufficient resources to make a significant impact.

Moreover, marketing plans that don’t make firm decisions distribute their limited resources across numerous tactics, leading to none of the ideas generating substantial results. Consequently, a lack of vision causes the plan to become aimless, creating confusion among those responsible for executing the brand’s strategies.

Fortunately, at Beloved Brands, we guide you in constructing your plan with elements such as brand vision, purpose, values, key issues, strategies, and execution plans.

Additionally, for those seeking further detailed guidance, I encourage you to explore my Beloved Brands book on the subject.

Therefore, if your objective is to receive better plans from your team, our Marketing Training will help.

With a wealth of experience working on prominent global brands, I was responsible for developing a marketing plan each year. Starting my journey as an assistant brand manager, I eventually worked my way up to the marketing director position. As a VP of Marketing, I meticulously reviewed 15 plans annually before their presentation to the President.

Subsequently, this inspired me to create a new marketing plan template, which I have continuously refined over time. Hence, if you believe your team could profit from improved planning capabilities, I urge you to visit the following link for more information: Beloved Brands Marketing Training.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Marketing Plan.

What is needed in a marketing plan?

First, every plan must have a vision that acts as the guiding line to chase. I like to have a main sales goal tied to that vision. Second, conduct a business review to focus on what’s driving growth and holding the brand back. 

Third, use our Strategic ThinkBox to come up with key issue questions that are facing the brand. Then, dig in and build out the strategies that answer the issues. 

Next, brainstorm tactics with your team. And build tactics, including brand communication, innovation, and sales or retail. 

Last but not least, create goals and measure performance. A main sales goal can be tied to the vision and can drive parts of the plan, but they can also be used at the end to ensure you measure the strategies and tactics. 

Why is a marketing plan important?

The main role of a plan is to gain the approval of your senior management team. Importantly, explain how you will use your resources to drive the growth of your brand. And the plan becomes the roadmap that everyone on your team will follow and help achieve your brand goals. An effective marketing plan will create the brand vision, purpose, key issues, strategies, and tactics.

What are common marketing plan mistakes?

First, the most common mistake I see in plans is when they present a messy story. That’s the reason you should have a good marketing plan template. It won’t go well if you are standing at the front of the room and the boss is confused.

Second, the other common mistake I see in marketing plans is trying to do too many things. Importantly, when you spread the limited resources across too many ideas, none of them will have enough resources to make a difference. You will always be disappointed in the results. 

Third, another mistake I see is when parts of the team do not agree with. The brand leader must work to involve the other teams to ensure the team is aligned. Ensure you involve sales, operations, R&D, and your ad agency. And include all those who deliver on behalf of the brand. 

Fourth, I have seen plan presentations get out of control. One year, a small brand had 127 slides. Crazy. You should have no more than 20 slides. 

What is in a marketing plan?

If you are looking for an ideal outline for a marketing plan template, include a vision, purpose, goals, SWOT analysis, key issues, strategy statements, marketing communications plan, sales plan, new products plan, forecast, and financials. Marketing Plan template.

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