Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Business
Every business needs a business plan that maps out the process of identifying the target market, attracting interest, gaining customers and retaining them for future sales. A solid marketing plan is an integral part of the overall business plan, as it maps out objectives and the plan for achieving them.
An effective marketing plan is detailed with concise steps that will accomplish a defined goal. The plan should identify and discuss the target market with information about direct competition in the industry. It should include information about marketing activity used in the past with the effectiveness of these activities. Then, the marketing plan consists of a set of realistic goals with defined objectives along with deadlines for meeting these objectives. The plan must also include budgetary guidelines for the marketing activities as well as a plan for measuring the effectiveness of the activities. It’s important to make the marketing plan easy to maintain and update as a company evolves, too.
Marketing Planning Process
The process of making a marketing plan involves market research to assess trends, profile target customers, identify potential competition, outline products or services, find vendors, calculate costs and brainstorm all positive and negative impacts that could affect the business. The business should create a mission statement that defines the company, its vision and its priorities. Next, the plan needs to focus on specific strategies and methods that will generate sales, including product descriptions, calls to action, promotion and advertising methods and budget, product or service pricing, and a plan to monitor how effective the marketing strategies are performing for the company.
Questions to Ask Yourself
To succeed in any industry, a business needs to set itself apart to attract customers and compete successfully with similar businesses. Questions to ponder include:
- Is this business model unique, and how is it unique? What need does the business meet?
- Who makes up the target market that will buy the service or product?
- What other companies currently exist that will compete for the target market? How can you prevail over this competition?
- What message will you communicate to potential buyers? How will potential buyers find out about your service or product?
- How will you deliver your service or product to your buyers?
Using a Marketing Plan Template
Some small business owners prefer to use a marketing plan template. Free marketing plan templates are available for download from the Internet. You can also use a marketing plan worksheet to help you brainstorm your ideas, goals and objectives. Once you have an outline of your marketing objectives, you can create an effective plan.
How Do I Write a Marketing Plan?
Make sure your marketing plan includes these points:
- Start with a description of the business, including mission statement and overall intent. Include goals, the organization of the business, the products or services provided with branding, and the target market.
- Outline results of market research, including identification of target market, customer demographics and profiles, market influences, economy, competition, customer satisfaction and identification of strengths and weaknesses the business may face.
- Set pricing based on business and manufacturing costs, break-even point, profit analysis, competitive pricing and the amount buyers are willing to pay.
- Include profiles of your target market, including demographics, their habits, qualities valued by customers, potential customers not being currently reached, ways to reach these customers and any changes customers might want.
- Analyze the competition based on talking to their customers, visiting their business and checking out their website. Find out about their products, branding, advertising and marketing. Pinpoint how your product or service differs.
- State goals that create a defined marketing direction. Plan objectives that outline specific actions that will achieve goals. Be as specific and realistic as possible, and describe how you will measure attainment of objectives and goals.
- Make a plan to put objectives in action to attain goals. For example, if your goal is to increase product reorders by 25 percent in the next year, make an objective to contact clients by phone or email within one month of sales, offering a return-order discount.
- Define your company’s distribution method such as direct sales, wholesale, print mail, telemarketing, advertising, networking, Internet marketing or a direct sales force.
- Create a marketing budget, such as a specific percentage of revenue or a particular portion of your annual budget. Every product or service needs a budget. Determine how many products or services you will need to sell to make a profit.
- Analyze the success of marketing efforts to determine what’s working and what’s not working. How many sales occurred? Are buyers happy? How many sales calls were necessary to make sales?
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The sales and marketing section of your business plan is especially crucial because it determines how you’ll plan on generating profit and describes how you intend to create exposure to best sell your product. It’s in this area of your business plan that you’ll hone the key elements of your marketing strategy. The actual implementation of your sales and marketing initiatives actually occurs before you launch, when you’ve set your go-to-market date so strategize the components of your sales and marketing plan early on.
Here’s a quick guide on what your key sales and marketing considerations should be:
This section should contain the following elements and should be no more than four pages.
Unique Value Proposition
- Sales/Distribution Plan
Your unique value proposition is the market need you’re planning to solve. Think of it as your secret ingredient – your “special sauce.” This may be a combination of factors including customer service, technology, a twist on a product or service, etc. Create the case for why your product deserves to have a sustainable business built around it.
Determine your pricing scheme. First, check what your competition is charging. This should give you an indication of what customers are willing to spend. Then, determine how you can add value. Until you get your product out there, it’s hard to know for sure how much your added benefit is worth in the customer’s mind. The keyword here is “reasonable.” You can charge any price you want to, but for every product or service, there’s a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay.
Remember, even if you’re trying to be the lowest-cost provider, give a higher perceived value to your ideal customer to stand apart from the competition. Competitors can slash their prices to meet or beat yours, so be very careful if you decide to compete on cost.
Sales & Distribution Plan
This section describes how you intend to get your product to customers and how you’ll measure the effectiveness of those methods. For example, once you figure out where you’ll be selling your product – online, at a retail outlet, door-to-door – determine the type of sales team you’ll need and how you’ll compensate them.
In terms of distribution, think about how you’ll actually get the product or service into the hands of the customer. Ultimately, you’ll want to sell your product or service in as many ways that make sense for your company: online, at a retail outlet, via house parties or mail order, or through other companies. Initially, however, focus on selling through just one of these channels so you can build your business before comfortably extending to others.
You’re going to need customers to buy your product. How do you plan to get them? There are many free or low-cost strategies such as referrals, word-of-mouth, public relations, and marketing partners to help cross-promote or sell your product, so I would avoid any expensive print, TV, or radio advertising campaigns at these early stages.
Create your strategy for attracting customers. Before you start actually executing your marketing strategy, however, think about “branding.” This is the look and feel of your business, what customers experience when interacting with it, from the fonts, colors, and text of the website and your business cards to the overall image you portray in the product itself. This branding will be reflected in the execution of your marketing strategy.
Describe how you want customers to experience your product or service. Take a look at products or companies that you really like, and think about why you like them. What makes you feel good about them? Do these characteristics permeate all aspects of the product, from website to packaging to letterhead?
After you document the marketing plan activities, calculate the costs that you expect to incur. For example, if referrals are part of the strategy, then calculate how much you’re willing to pay a referral partner for each new customer they bring your way. Will it be $1, $20, $50, or more? Let’s say, for example, you expect a referral partner to refer 100 clients to you, and each of those referred clients spends $10, giving you a total of $1,000. You’ve agreed to pay this partner $1 for each referral, so you’ll spend $100 on referrals for your marketing strategy. In this example, your cost of acquisition – the cost you pay for each new customer – is $1. You’ll need to know this number, especially when you draft your financial plan.
Business Plan Template for a Startup Business To increase your odds of a successful business startup, download this step-by-step business plan template you can use to plan for your new business.
Every Business Deserves Planning Don’t make the common mistake of dismissing the value of planning. Every well-run business needs to manage strategy, metrics and essential business numbers.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
Business Plan Section 6: Sales and Marketing
Learn about the points to address in the sales and marketing section of your business plan, plus key aspects for a successful sales strategy.
Remember all that research and hard work you put into the Market Analysis section of your business plan? You learned all about your company, your customers, and your competition. This is where it will all pay off: sales and marketing!
In this section of the plan, you’re actually going to spell out how you’ll market your idea, along with the specifics of how you’ll get business. Sales and marketing are what will grow your business and help you achieve success.
As always, keep your audience in mind. If your business plan is meant for your eyes only, or as an internal document for your staff, you won’t have to be as detailed or specific as you should if it’s intended for a lender or potential investors. In the latter case, you’ll want to demonstrate a very well-planned strategy that will give them confidence in your proposal and make them more likely to want to fund your business.
Sales and marketing strategies will vary by industry, and your strategy will be individually tailored to your company, but there are general guidelines that cover most businesses. Because your marketing plan will lead to sales, let’s start there.
4 Things Your Marketing Plan Must Cover
Many marketing textbooks refer to the “four Ps” of marketing, which is an easy way to remember what’s involved in a solid plan.
Explain in detail the product(s) or service(s) you’re offering, particularly how they are different from or better than what’s already available. What benefits do they provide to your potential customers? What ways is your product or service unique? What makes doing business with you preferable to dealing with someone else? All of these things will help make up your marketing message.
Talk about how you’ll portray the company and what kind of image you’ll present, especially how it will help connect you to your potential customers. Include a picture of your logo and anything that might carry your image, such as vans, trucks, or uniforms. Show screenshots of your website, photos of your store, pictures of your packaging, and anything else that conveys your company’s brand.
Once you’ve gotten the customers in the door (or online), you have to deliver on what you’ve sold them. Marketing isn’t just about promising, it’s also following through and delivering what you said you would.
You may find it helpful to outline exactly how a transaction with your business would take place. Also touch on return policies and customer service. You may not immediately think of these as “marketing” issues, but think back to the last time you had difficulty with a company and told five friends you’d never do business with them again, or you saw someone complain about a company on Facebook or Twitter. Cover your bases before you get caught short in a situation you hadn’t planned for.
It’s important to talk about where you’ll be located and how you’ll get your products and services to your customers. If you’re planning an online business, will you also have a brick and mortar store? What percentage of sales do you project will come from each?
If your business involves manufacturing or distribution of a product, discuss shipping and labeling requirements, and how you’ll meet them. What are your delivery terms and costs? Are you using distributors, and will you charge separately for shipping or build that into the product price?
How you decide to price your product or service is key to how much you’ll sell and how much profit you can make. Again, the Market Analysis work you did will come in very handy in helping you to price your product competitively while still turning a worthwhile profit.
By now, you should have a solid understanding of what your expenses will be, so you know how much you need to make to break even. Of course, if you have startup expenses (and who doesn’t?), you will need to factor those in, as well, understanding that your profit margin will grow when they’re paid off.
Discuss how you’ve arrived at the prices you have, where they fit in with what the competition is doing, and what kind of volume you’ll need to do to be profitable.
You can have the best idea in the world, but if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. So, how are you going to reach your target audience and turn them into customers? Will you advertise? Which media? How often? And how will you split up the budget?
Keep in mind that some forms of traditional and digital advertising cost money, such as buying radio or print ads, or advertising through Google. Some, such as social media or public relations can be handled in-house by a staff member (or outsourced for a fee). And others can be quite variable in cost, such as printing brochures, flyers, catalogs, etc.
How much business do you think you’ll get from each campaign? Will you give coupons, discounts, or offer other incentives to get people to try you out?
Describe how you’ll know whether or not your marketing strategy is effective, such as how many coupons are redeemed or how much of an increase in web or store traffic you expect. You’ll need to project what kind of a return on your advertising investment you anticipate to figure out how much you should be spending.
The Fifth P: People
Some marketing experts think a fifth “P” should be added to the four we’ve already discussed: people. We touched on it under customer service, but a big part of marketing is the level of service you’re able to offer to your customers, and your people are the ones responsible for that.
Your restaurant might serve the best food in town, but your servers can have an even greater impact on the dining experience. You can discuss it here or in the next section, sales, but do make sure to talk about the people who will deal with your customers and handle your customer service, what kind of training they’ll get, and how you’ll measure their effectiveness.
Now that you have your marketing plan together, you need to close the sale and make it pay off. Marketing will help you get customers in the door, to your website, or on the phone, but the best marketing in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t make the sale. That brings us to the next step of the plan, your sales strategy.
What to include in your sales plan:
How much product will you sell or how many contracts will you close over the first month, six months, and year? Be specific, understanding what your cash flow needs to be to keep the lights on and your employees paid. Keep the numbers realistic, however, even though you may want to impress potential funders.
How will you make the sale, and who will do it? Are you selling a product directly to users through a website? Will you bring your merchandise to retailers for them to sell? Are you doing the selling yourself or will you have a sales force? If you have salespeople, will they be paid a straight salary or commission? If you have a service business, where will you get your leads, and how will you follow up? Perhaps you’ll offer an incentive program to current customers for referrals. Describe the sales effort in your plan.
If you offer different product lines or services, you may need a separate strategy for each. Similarly, if you’re selling to different segments of the market, you shouldn’t rely on the same approach to sell everyone. Selling at a craft fair is quite different than setting up a website or offering your product through ebay.com or etsy.com.
Detail whichever approaches you’ve decided on and spell out how you’ll proceed, including any sales quotas you may have established.
Get specific about the numbers you’re looking to achieve over a specific time period. Not only will investors want to see that, it’s an important way for you to know if you’re meeting your targets so you can make any necessary adjustments along the way.
Once you’ve established yourself, how will you continue to expand? This covers both your internal growth as a company, such as how you’ll increase your staff, and how you’ll grow beyond your current boundaries, such as buying another business or setting up franchises, if that’s applicable. Will you grow by offering a wider range of products and services? Perhaps you’ll expand by offering your current goods to a wider audience.
Perhaps more than any other section of your business plan, the Sales and Marketing section will act as your playbook for the actual running of your company , so think it through very carefully and use it!
Next Article: Business Plan Section 7 – Financial Information
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- Marketing and Sales Strategy
- 11 July, 2022
10 Steps to Create a Complete Sales and Marketing Business Plan [Templates included]
Jump to the end of the post to get access to our free sales and marketing business plan templates.
Turning an idea into a functional business requires laser-sharp focus. You must take care of development, marketing, sales, customer success, and whatnot.
While most entrepreneurs start with some form of a plan, they often forget about it soon after.
Blame it on changing dynamics, trial and error to find a product-market fit, or blatant ignorance. But overlooking the planning process is a sure shot reason for failure — as the common saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
An essential part of this document is the sales and marketing segment. The sales and marketing plan outlines everything you need to do to promote your products and generate revenue for your business.
Why do you need a sales and marketing plan?
Having a revolutionary product that solves a genuine problem is great. But it won’t mean anything if people don’t know about you.
A sales and marketing plan helps you get discovered, structure your activities, and move forward with your growth goals.
It’s more or less like a roadmap about what you should do to make things work in your favor.
Your sales and marketing plan will help you:
- Identify the bridge between where you are today and where you want to reach your business goals.
- Get much-needed clarity and avoid conflicts and confusion in case of any disruptions.
- Gain and document insights about your target audience, industry, trends, costs, etc.
- Justify your business model in front of investors and lenders in case you need to raise funds.
- Stay focused on a north star metric, improvise growth tactics and achieve harmony between various growth activities.
- Promote sales and marketing alignment.
Your sales and marketing plan would also help you avoid distractions and save time and money lost.
And you know how easy it is to lose direction and get distracted when starting or running a startup. Documenting everything as a plan will help avoid confusion and add clarity to your everyday affairs and long-term mission.
However, different companies need different plans based on the stage of operations and their unique growth goals.
A clear marketing and sales plan promotes alignment between marketing and sales departments at every stage . This reduces resource waste and creates fewer “blame-game ” occasions in your meetups.
What to include in the marketing & sales plan?
Planning is a subjective activity.
You’d receive several different answers if you read, talk to, and consult multiple experts on what to include in your marketing and sales plan.
So, how should you decide which elements to include in your marketing/sales plan?
Let’s take a step back and understand the “why” of planning.
You need a plan so you don’t get confused and can keep walking towards your goal.
Your plan should:
- Serve as a roadmap for everything related to sales and marketing for the first few months if you’re just starting.
- Outline and articulate the core strategies you’ll experiment with, the desired outcome, and the KPIs to measure performance.
- Set realistic KPIs, outcomes, and objectives based on market understanding, competition, funding requirements, and your target audience’s pain points.
Marketing plan for your startup: The what and why
In an ideal world, every penny you spend in marketing should enhance your visibility, take you closer to your audience, and increase your conversion rates.
But in reality, it takes a lot of effort, time, and investment to make it happen.
A marketing plan helps you navigate through the tricky maze called marketing without getting lost in the process.
Basically, you build a marketing plan to gain enlightenment about how you’ll promote and stay relevant to your audience.
You do it beforehand so that when things get tricky, you have a directional beacon to guide you.
Creating any plan should start with an understanding of the purpose. The same applies to marketing, too. Try to find the reason behind marketing your product – why are you working towards your goal.
Knowing your why would help you gain clarity – an essential element for the success of any activity on the planet. Before you begin, you should try to find answers to the following questions:
- Why are you making the marketing plan?
- What do you want to accomplish with the marketing?
- What will be the value proposition?
- What are the goals that we want to achieve?
These answers will allow you to think better and prepare for strategizing your plan with a better perspective.
Also, while at it, remember that your marketing plan is not a rigid document etched in stone. Instead, it’s a result of an iterative process that depends on five fundamental aspects:
1. Product: What are you marketing?
The product section should explain what you are selling exactly.
- What do you sell?
- How is your offering different from your competitors?
- What are the benefits your potential customers would derive from your offerings?
- What is your core USP?
Answering these questions would help you craft a great positioning statement and marketing message for your marketing campaigns.
2. Place: Where are you available?
This section should outline where you will sell or market your products. How will you get customers to reach out to buy your product or service?
Though this will depend on the nature of business — online or offline, manufacturing or services, answers to the following questions would help you gain clarity:
- Where will you be available for your customers?
- Which distribution channels would you use to be more accessible to customers?
- What percentage of sales/conversions do you expect from different distribution/marketing channels?
3. Price: How much will you charge?
This is an essential part of your planning process. Your pricing decisions would decide how you will generate revenue for your startup .
Your pricing decision should be based on market analysis, competition, value offering, buying behavior, etc.
- What will be the pricing model you’ll adopt to generate revenue?
- What is the most favorable price point that your customers are ready to pay for your offering?
- Will you make any profit/loss at this price point?
- How soon can you break even based on your pricing strategy?
4. Promotion: How will you promote your offering?
You can have the best product, but no one would care if you’re not promoting it.
Moreover, one of the primary reasons to create a marketing plan is to help you promote your offering.
- Who is your target audience?
- How will your reach your target audience?
- What strategies will you adopt to convert your audience into customers?
- Which channels of promotions will you use to promote your offerings?
- How much will you spend on promotions and marketing?
- What will be your team structure for the next quarter, year, and long term?
- How will you track the marketing effectiveness?
5. People: Who will do the marketing?
While most marketing plans you see out there would cover the traditional 4Ps of marketing, often the fifth P, people, is ignored.
And you know there’s no growth or promotion without your team – your people.
This aspect should help you understand your current capabilities and the resources needed in your team. Think about how you will find them, their responsibilities, and where they stand in the big picture.
- Who will do the marketing for you?
- What do you look for in a human resource?
- At what point do you start expanding the team?
- Who are you going to hire first?
- How do you plan to hire for marketing?
- What will be the core responsibilities and KPIs for your team?
- How will you set KPIs/OKRs and analyze your team’s performance?
Sales plan for your startup: The what and the why
Your sales plan would help you generate revenues from your marketing efforts by completing the journey from generating leads to turning them into customers.
A sales plan defines your sales goals, the strategies you’d bet on, your desired results, your challenges, the solutions you have for them, and the structure (people, budget, process, and tools) you need.
Your sales plan would cover everything you need to register sales and generate revenue for your business.
A sales plan is created to:
- Provide a strategic direction to your sales team
- Define the core objectives and goals in terms of sales
- Outline roles and responsibilities
- Analyze and measure your wins in terms of sales.
These reasons help you succeed more than experimental businesses that beat around the bush while trying to make things work in a world where everyone’s selling something. To ensure your sales plan is effective, it should include:
1. Sales goals — What do you want to achieve?
Like any other activity in the world, your sales planning process should also revolve around the end goals for sales
Saying that you want more customers is a generic goal that doesn’t have any tangible metrics attached. Moreover, saying that you wish for more sales is too broad a goal that would involve outlining several action steps.
So, it’s always better to have a SMART goal and break it down into tangible, measurable, and KPI-driven objectives. You can say that you want to:
- Nurture 10% more MQLs into SQLs, and ultimately, customers.
- Reduce your churn rates by 5% before the end of Q1.
- Expand your sales team with 3 people to nurture and convert leads faster — reduce time to conversion by 5 days.
- Increase the customer lifetime value through upsells or cross-sells by $200.
- Expand your sales activities into new territories or regions.
- Optimize your pricing strategy to improve your conversion rates by 8% for new accounts.
2. Tactics — The process and activities
This segment will include the specific tactics, processes, and activities you’ll use to generate revenue for your business .
A solid understanding of your target audience, goals, and capabilities would help you discover exciting and profitable tactics for your industry.
Try to pick and choose the tactics in line with your ideal customer profile. You can conduct a survey and get insights from your marketing team to align your sales efforts accordingly.
An aligned sales and marketing team will help you accelerate sales enablement and strike gold with more leads, higher conversions, and better results.
Interested in exploring new sales tactics? Read this blog on popular sales strategies and techniques for your business.
3. Timelines — The time you’ll need to make things happen
A plan without a timeline is just a wish. You must link your goals, tactics, and sales strategies with realistic deadlines. This will ensure that everyone’s motivated to work towards your goals.
Keep all the stakeholders in the loop by developing a realistic growth goal and attaching a practical timeline to it.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to assign one person who’ll be responsible for ensuring compliance.
This tactic is known differently in business circles.
Some call it a key Point of Contact (POC) for an activity; others call this person a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI).
Another popular approach includes assigning OKR (Objective and Key Results) to an individual in a team who owns up the responsibility of making this happen.
Whatever you may do, make sure you are realistic, practical, and sensible in creating achievable deadlines for your sales teams.
Failure to do so would lead to dissatisfaction among sales team members, ultimately harming your bottom line.
4. KPIs — the metrics you’ll track to determine success
KPIs will help you understand if your sales tactics align with your revenue generation goals. These metrics help enhance sales teams’ performance, optimize the sales funnels, and improve conversion rate.
If you want a solid sales plan, you need to tie everyone (and everything) to a tangible sales metric.
You also need to ensure proper sales and marketing alignment so that all your marketing spends get attributed to some kind of improvement in KPIs.
Here are some questions and corresponding KPIs you can think of adding to your sales plan:
If you track these KPIs well, you’ll understand the challenges better, predict future problems, and get better at generating revenues from your sales activities.
Moreover, the answers you gather and the KPIs would help you keep an eye on the overall efficiency of the sales process and build a strong sales team.
Apart from these standard inclusions to your sales plan, you can also add the following information:
- Team structure: How big your sales team should be, and what will be the responsibility (job role and KPIs) of each member of the team?
- Resources/tools required : What tools and resources do you need to execute the sales tactics and strategies you’ve planned?
- Current market trends: How is the present market regarding customer interest in your product, competition landscape, and overall sentiment in your industry?
Rethinking the traditional plan for digital businesses, service companies, and SaaS startups
The traditional ways of creating a sales and marketing plan are geared more toward the product economy.
Today, most businesses don’t even have a physical “product”.
Distribution and conversion cycles are not so simple, too.
The sales and marketing ecosystem has transitioned from a single-sales mindset to a culture of lead nurturing , upsells/cross-sells, and experiences to enhance the customer’s lifetime value.
Even users don’t look at companies, products, and solutions like they used to anymore.
Don’t you think the old ways should be reimagined?
In his book, Subscribed, Tien Tzuo mentions how the world economy is transitioning to a digital era powered by subscription-based startups and digital businesses.
Naturally, with changing consumer mindset, the traditional business planning models (including sales and marketing plans) should change, too.
There has been a hot debate about reimagining marketing and sales operations for the future — digital businesses, SaaS products, and the subscription economy.
PADRE is a promising framework with all the elements of a traditional business plan, reimagined for the modern digital economy.
The PADRE framework keeps the customer at the heart of everything and divides all activities (including sales and marketing) into eight subsets:
- Position: How will you create awareness, turn it into demand for your product and build a pipeline of leads?
- Acquire: What is your ICPs buyer’s journey? How will you address their pain points and turn them into customers?
- Deploy : How will you onboard , service, and delight your customers as efficiently as possible so they can use your product, service, or SaaS quickly?
- Run: How will you ensure that your customers get what they expect (and deserve) from your product or service?
- Expand: How will you grow your company through retention, growth, and customer advocacy?
- Product: How will you evolve your product, service, or offering and manage everything?
- People: How will you recruit, onboard, train, and retain the best talent to serve your customers?
- Money: Where and how will you fund and fulfill your need for running and growing your business most efficiently?
If you look at the PADRE model carefully, it has almost all the elements discussed above for sales and marketing plans, just in a different way. This differentiation makes more sense for a dynamic digital business than the traditional sales and marketing business plan.
You can take ideas from the PADRE model to create your version of a dynamic business plan based on your unique business idea.
10 steps to create a solid sales and marketing plan
Regardless of your approach to creating a business plan, you will have to gather data, make some important decisions, and collate everything together.
Remember, your sales and marketing plan is a living document that should be revisited repeatedly for optimization.
Here are the steps you can take to create an actionable plan based on the insights shared above:
Step 1: Gather data based on company insights and external trends
“Always measure the depth of the pool you’re diving in!”
Before you start planning your sales and marketing observing and documenting macro-level industry trends is a must. It will give you an understanding and insight into what to expect in the future.
You can use industry insight to strengthen your assumptions, understand the market, add clarity to your sales and marketing mix, and refine your plan.
Always look for industry insights around sales and marketing trends — what worked in the past, how things are changing, and what future trends will drive growth. While industry trends are not a full-proof solution, it gives you a direction to provide a concrete shape to your plans.
Use industry trends to add “meat” to your hypothesis, and see if you can get data about:
- Consumer behavior and psychology that drives sales. Use the Facebook Ads manager audience tool to find your audience’s topics of interest and behavior trends.
- Psychographic analysis of your target audience.
- Marketing effectiveness of different channels. You can use platforms like Similarweb to peak into the traffic sources of your competitors and get an estimated idea of the volume.
- Sales trends of lateral and complimenting businesses.
- Competitor analysis, including their past financial performance and effectiveness in generating revenue.
Step 2: Create your ideal customer profile (ICP)
As a business owner, you must know everything about your target audience.
Without a deep understanding of your ICP, you could end up like a door-to-door salesman trying to sell but end up annoying everyone.
This information helps you take the necessary steps to add context and relevance to your marketing and sales plan.
You should break up your ideal customer persona (ICP) into several sections covering all aspects of your persona’s — the demographic profile, what they think, believe, and trust in, their needs, motivations, drives, and psychographic profile.
Sample questions for building an Ideal Customer Profile
Knowing your audience allows you to talk the way they want to be talked to. Also, you get to understand what makes them buy, their problems and pain points, and where they spend most of their time. All this is crucial for creating an effective marketing strategy.
You can even use this knowledge to segment your audience personas and personalize your marketing campaigns — a powerful tactic to market your brand in 2022.
Step 3: Assess your current situation
Once you’ve gathered data and foresight, start the self-introspection process.
Ask yourself where you stand in your startup journey.
✓ How is your business performing right now?
✓ Are you performing according to your revenue estimates and KPIs?
✓ Do your business and revenue generation efforts align with market and industry trends? Do they need to align?
✓ Are you marketing and selling where your customers are looking for options?
✓ What are your strengths and weaknesses?
✓ What challenges are you facing in getting your business to the next level?
✓ Is there any better way of doing things than you do now?
All these questions will give you ideas to start the actual planning process. Moreover, you’d understand if whatever you did was even worth it.
Step 4: Define metric-driven objectives and goals
Have you ever traveled without a destination?
Well, maybe you have. But that’s not how you run a business. You need to have an exact destination in mind — where you’re headed to.
That’s why having an objective and goal is essential for making a sales and marketing plan. Tangible and realistic goal-setting should be the #1 priority of anyone trying to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Your goals will will allow you to track if you’re making a real impact on your business. Plus, having a metric-driven goal gives you an understanding of what you need to do for success.
Your goals and objectives should be tied to your business vision and mission.
Often, we see there’s a misalignment between sales and marketing objectives. That leads to confusion and, thus, poor performance. Hence setting a SMART goal is critical for ensuring clarity.
SMART objectives for your sales and marketing plans should be:
- Specific: The goal is clearly defined, and everyone within your team understands the goal and its importance.
- Measurable: The goal/objective should be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) and visibly measurable.
- Achievable: Being realistic is an important factor in setting an attainable goal. Look at your team’s ability, budget, and current situation to ensure the goal is within your limits. Setting the bar too high will only lead to disappointment and wasted time and effort.
- Relevant: Your objectives should be aligned with your business vision and mission. If your marketing and sales aren’t aligned to your bigger picture, it will lead to losses (and potential conflicts).
- Time-bound: Any objective you define must have a clear timeline, which means there should be a start and end date. Without that, your goal is just a wish.
Step 5: Determine metrics for success (KPIs)
You know you need to measure your goals and objectives in real-time.
That would ensure everything’s on track and help you red flag any deviations from your desired path.
But setting a measurable KPI for any business is a tricky business in itself. Especially when there’s a lot to plan in sales and marketing, and every business is different.
KPI or key performance indicators should be planned based on industry best practices, prevailing marketing trends, and taking stakeholders in confidence.
You can align standard industry KPIs with your business or marketing/sales goals to create your version of KPIs that will objectify your success figures.
Standard Goals and KPIs you should track
Always ensure that each KPI you track links to the bigger picture — where and how it contributes to your business’s mission and mission. This will add relevance to your sales and marketing plans giving you more accurate insights for the future periods.
Step 6: Build a forecasting model
Forecasting is an activity that predicts what your sales and marketing efforts will lead to on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
Creating a sales or marketing forecast involves taking the opinions of industry leaders, financial consultants, CPAs, marketers, sales managers, and your team members. It also will involve studying and analyzing the insights you gathered in step one.
A forecast will help you make better hiring decisions, budget for your expansion in a better way, and linearly predict your revenues. You can also add dynamic variables to the forecasts to analyze how your KPIs would perform under real-life situations.
Creating a forecasting and budgeting model for your sales and marketing team is highly essential to keep things in check. However, it would be best if you didn’t fall into the lure of creating forecasts for more extended periods as things are changing quite rapidly, especially after COVID-19.
Better to create a forecast for a quarter, review it based on actual expenses and performance, and keep iterating. You can also take advantage of popular forecasting tools for more accurate models.
Step 7: Identify gaps within your assumptions
By this step, you’d have a clear idea about your capabilities, the goals you want to achieve, the industry trends and the forecasts for the future.
This will give you an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of your sales and marketing activities in terms of your revenue growth.
You can use this information to plug in gaps because of your assumptions and biases, analyze what’s required and the challenges you’d face to make things happen.
Identifying gaps between your existing situation and your goals based on forecasts would help you make informed decisions.
You can choose to hire more people in sales and marketing, increase your budget, try new marketing tactics, or even start an entirely different lead generation and nurturing channel to achieve your goals.
Step 8: Create a team structure and involve stakeholders.
The most important part of the planning process is to understand your capabilities. If you’ve assessed your current scenario correctly, you’ll have a clear picture of who’s responsible for growth, marketing, sales, etc.
And if you’re just starting, this is a great time to start planning a structure for your marketing and sales team, starting with:
- How many people will be needed for each team?
- Who will be responsible for specific KPIs?
- What will be the responsibilities of each member of the team?
- How will teams communicate with each other and ensure alignment between efforts?
- How will the performance be measured?
- What are the challenges marketing and sales teams face in your company (or industry)?
- How will expansion needs be identified?
Remember, if you’re just starting to build a team and have existing team members, take them in confidence and involve every stakeholder before creating a structure.
The more aligned and closely knit your sales and marketing, the faster you achieve your growth goals.
- Build a Strong B2B Marketing Organization Structure for Modern Teams
- Sales Operations Responsibilities: Roles, duties, and obstacles
- Revenue Operations Roles: Who do you need to build a RevOp team?
Step 9: Outline action items
By this step, you’re almost done with the planning. You just need to answer two more questions:
- What do you need to do to achieve your goals?
- How will you do what you need to do?
This means outlining action steps, developing marketing and sales tactics, and finalizing the cogs required to run your marketing/sales engine.
You can start by putting together a rough draft of all the insights you’ve gathered, the available resources, the budget, best industry practices, trends, and growth projections. This will give you foresight into what can work in your favour.
Build a list of action steps that you need to take to move in the direction of your goals.
Step 10: Identify and implement tools and systems
Okay! This is the last step of the planning process. After this, you will be left with the exact steps you need to take daily to achieve your KPIs.
But don’t take this step lightly. Think of this as the building blocks of a bridge that would take you from “here” to “there”.
You’ll need to make a list of tools, systems, and solutions you’d need to make things happen.
For example, if you’ve concluded that you need to set up a lead nurture campaign , you need a tool or platform that makes that happen.
You’ll need to evaluate the available options and pick a tool that aligns with your goals and budget.
While picking up any tool, make sure that it should:
- Save time, money, or effort for your marketing and sales team members.
- Have prominent success stories and case studies that closely relate to your goals, tactics, and life stage.
- Is reliable and doesn’t use any under-the-hood tactics to make things happen.
- Has an active developer and customer success team.
- Is supported by a thriving public community of happy users.
Make sure that whatever tech stack you’re finalizing has a solid mechanism to track success and your KPIs.
This will help you ascertain success quicker. Also, communicate with all the stakeholders about the tools and success metrics.
Ready-to-use sales and marketing plan templates
To make things easy for you, we have prepared comprehensive templates for both your sales and marketing plans. To download the template click on the links below and duplicate the document. Then, fill in the blanks.
Download the Marketing Plan Template
Download the Sales Plan Template
Your sales and marketing plan is a living document. Keep revisiting!
If you’ve come this far with your planning, you should have a functional plan for supercharging your marketing and sales operations in the coming weeks and months..
But remember, sales and marketing planning isn’t a one-time activity. Keep optimizing your plans with fresh insights to stay on track with changing dynamics. And don’t forget to track the right metrics and KPIs.
A marketing automation platform like Encharge can help you to execute your marketing and sales plans. Don’t believe us. Check the success stories to see how others businesses are amping up their marketing and sales game now.
Meet your new marketing automation platform
“encharge helped us visually redesign our onboarding flow resulting in a 10% increase in our trial activation rate .", chief revenue officer vs. chief financial officer – what’s the difference.
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- Building Your Business
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Marketing & Sales Section in Your Home Business Plan
How To Write the Marketing Section of Your Business Plan
- Why You Need a Business Plan
- What To Include in the Marketing & Sales Section
- The 5 P's of Marketing
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Before starting your home business, it's important to outline all the details in a business plan. Creating the plan not only forces you take a good look at all aspects of your business, but it also becomes the roadmap for your success.
One of the most important sections of a business plan is the Marketing and Sales Strategies section, which outlines your plan for reaching and selling to your target market . While you want to have a wonderful product or provide stellar service, it's all for nothing if you don't have customers or clients.
Your marketing plan is the key to effectively and affordably finding your buyers, and is crucial for potential investors and lenders.
- A marketing plan is an essential part of a business plan.
- Business plans and marketing plans are important even if you're not seeking funding.
- A marketing plan can be built around the 5 P's: product, price, place, promotion, and people.
- You should set up metrics to measure how your marketing plan is working.
Why You Need a Business Plan for a Home Business
There is some debate regarding the need for home business owners to have a formal business plan, especially if you're not asking for startup funding. However, a business plan isn't only about appealing to banks and investors. The truth is, every business, regardless of size, needs a business plan . A business plan helps you:
Make smart decisions : A business plan helps you focus your ideas and forces you to spell out strategies for everything from human resources, to technology, to marketing.
Identify potential weaknesses : As you go through the work of creating a business plan, you may spot pitfalls in your ideas. It's also a good idea to share the plan with experts who can give you advice and tell you what they think won't work.
Convince people to give you money : If you do need startup funding, investors and lenders will definitely want to see a detailed business plan so that they can assess how likely you are to be successful with your business.
Communicate your ideas with other stakeholders : You can share your plan with people you want to recruit to work with you, suppliers you need to ask for credit, and potential clients.
What To Include in the Marketing & Sales Section
The basics of the marketing and sales section have to do with knowing your market and competition, and designing your product messaging, pricing, and other marketing strategies to maximize sales. It involves the 5 P's of marketing , as well as figuring out how you'll measure your marketing mix 's success.
The 5 P's of Marketing
The 5 P's started out as 4 P's, a construct developed by E. Jerome McCarthy more than 50 years ago. The 4 P's include basic elements of marketing, which are product, price, place, and promotion. In later years, people or personnel was added by some marketers to become the fifth P.
Describe the product or service offered to the customer by your home business, including the physical attributes of your products or services, what they do, how they differ from your competitors', and what benefits they provide to your potential customers.
Outline pricing strategies that will help you reach your target profit margin . How you will price your product or service so that the price remains competitive while still allowing you to make a good profit ?
When calculating price, make sure you take into consideration both fixed expenses (those that don't change) and variable expenses (costs that aren't set), as well as your time and expertise, to insure you're charging enough to make a profit. Also discuss if your price will be lower or higher than your competition, and how you can justify the difference (i.e. what do buyers get by paying more for your product?).
Indicate where your business will sell its products or services, and how it will get those products or services to consumers. For example, will you sell online ? Will you consign your products into local stores?
When you know what outlets your product and services will be available in, indicate how much you expect to sell in each location. For example, will 65% of your sales be done online and 35% through face-to-face appointments?
Also include any delivery terms and costs, and how those expenses will be covered (e.g., added to the sale of the item). Indicate if there are any shipping or labeling requirements that need to be considered and how you will meet those requirements. Finally, outline the transaction process and your return policies.
What methods of promotion will you use to communicate the features and benefits of your products or services to your target customers? Will you advertise? If so, where? What percentage of advertising will be handled by each advertising option? How much business do you anticipate each form of advertising will result in? How much is this all going to cost?
Also indicate if you plan to offer coupons or other incentives to get customers in the door.
Decide on the people who will the provide sales and service that will be used in marketing your products or services to the customer. Who are the people or sales team that will be selling or providing customer service, and what kind of training will they receive? Do you plan to offer any incentives to your customer service representatives and how do you plan to measure customer satisfaction?
Essentially, the 5 P's of marketing forms the basis of your marketing plan. If you want to make your marketing plan a standalone document, you'll also want to include the information you prepared in the Market Analysis section for your business plan.
Some marketers consider the 4 P's or 5 P's to be too focused on the producer and have instead adopted the 4 C's, which look at marketing from the customer's point of view. So, "place" becomes "convenience," "price" becomes "cost to the user," "promotion" becomes "communication," and "product" becomes "customer needs and wants."
Evaluating Marketing Effectiveness
As you make your marketing decisions, consider how you'll know what strategies are working and those that aren't. There's no sense in wasting time or money on promotional tactics that don't work.
If you use social media to promote your business, you'll want to measure changes in your social media analytics. Consider using A/B testing techniques to make sure you're using marketing messages or materials that customers respond to best.
Whatever form of marketing you use, find a way to quantify results so you can know whether it's worth your time and money to continue to use it.
What is a marketing plan in a business plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic document outlining the steps you intend to take to achieve your marketing objectives. It helps you define your product or service, identify customers and competitors, think about how you'll attract customers, and how you'll react to marketplace changes. It's an important component of a business plan, which also includes strategies for other parts of the business.
How can I promote my home-based business?
You'll want to start with some free or low-cost ways to get the word out about your business. Some to consider: setting up a blog, using social media (either to post information on your personal or business page, or to buy ads), pitching media outlets that are a good fit for your business, and offering deals through sites like Goupon that can help you attract new customers fast.
Small Business Development Center, Duquesne University. " Do You Really Need a Business Plan? "
University of Maryland Extension. " Marketing Mix ."
University of Florida, IFAS Extension. " Eight Steps To Developing a Simple Marketing Plan ."
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What to include in the sales and marketing section
Optional sales and marketing information to include.
How to Write a Sales and Marketing Plan
You’ve addressed what you’re selling and why in the products and services section. You now have an understanding of the market and an ideal customer in mind thanks to your market analysis. Now, you need to explain how you will actually reach and sell to them.
The marketing and sales section of your business plan dives into how you’re going to accomplish your goals. You’ll be answering questions like:
- Based on your audience, how will you position your product or service in the current market?
- What marketing channels, messaging, and sales tactics will you implement?
- What’s your business model and how will your business operate day-to-day?
By the end of this section, you should have an outline of what growth looks like, what milestones you intend to hit, and how you’ll measure success. Basically, you’re backing up the opportunity you’ve identified with a solid go-to-market plan.
The sections you should include act as a useful framework for exploring and defining your marketing and sales tactics.
Create a positioning statement
How does your business differ? What do you do that others don’t? If you’re unsure, work through a handful of strategic exercises to create a simple but convincing positioning statement.
Outline your marketing strategy
A marketing plan brings together strategic goals with tangible marketing activities designed to reach and engage your target market—ultimately convincing them to purchase your product.
Craft your sales plan
A good sales strategy provides actionable steps to reach your goals. Estimate how much you intend to sell and outline a process that anyone else in your business can execute.
The basics of a marketing and sales plan are fairly straightforward. However, it’s also the perfect place to flesh out any details that you think will make your outreach efforts successful.
Create a unique value proposition
What makes your business unique? How does the solution you provide stand out? This is your chance to point to what you believe potential customers will find more valuable about your business over the competition.
Don't forget digital marketing
While we don’t recommend creating separate traditional and digital marketing plans, it may be wise to explore and address them separately within your plan.
Build your promotional plan
How will you convince your customers to buy your products or services? While actual ads and promotions may be months away, it’s best to think through and even mock up designs now.
Conduct a SWOT analysis
With this simple analysis, you’ll better understand your strengths and weaknesses, along with the opportunities and threats you should account for.
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What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]
Published: July 27, 2023
For a while now, you‘ve been spearheading your organization’s content marketing efforts. Your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.
Now, your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan, but you‘ve never done something like that before. You don’t even know where to start.
Fortunately, we‘ve curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete plan that’s rooted in data and produces results. But first, we'll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans include strategies that serve their respective businesses.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategy over a given period. Marketing plans can include different marketing strategies for various marketing teams across the company, all working toward the same business goals.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organized manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns.
Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign‘s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. You’ll also discover what works and what doesn't. Thus, measuring the success of your strategy.
Featured Resource: Free Marketing Plan Template
Looking to develop a marketing plan for your business? Click here to download HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template to get started .
To learn more about how to create your marketing plan, keep reading or jump to the section you’re looking for:
How to Write a Marketing Plan
Types of marketing plans, marketing plan examples, marketing plan faqs, sample marketing plan.
If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. But a marketing plan is an important part of your business plan.
Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan
A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics.
A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your business grows.
A marketing plan is an important subset of a business plan that shows how marketing strategies and objectives can support overall business goals.
Keep in mind that there's a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular goal or mission. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they'll use to execute that mission and track its success.
For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.
A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It’s the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.
For example, your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. This calls for the marketing department to develop a marketing plan that'll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.
The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject. All this serves to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.
To summarize, the business's marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups for that product. The business will execute that plan with three marketing strategies : a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.
Of course, the business might consider these three things one giant marketing strategy, each with its specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, every marketing plan goes through a particular set of steps in its creation.
Learn what they are below.
- State your business's mission.
- Determine the KPIs for this mission.
- Identify your buyer personas.
- Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
- Clearly define your plan's omissions.
- Define your marketing budget.
- Identify your competition.
- Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
1. State your business's mission.
Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business‘s main mission statement. Be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you’ll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.
Need help building your mission statement? Download this guide for examples and templates and write the ideal mission statement.
2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.
Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission‘s progress. To do so, you’ll need to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) . KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.
Let's take our example of a marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track website visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.
These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4.
3. Identify your buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a description of who you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. Each buyer persona should directly reflect your business's current and potential customers. So, all business leaders must agree on your buyer personas.
Create your buyer personas with this free guide and set of buyer persona templates.
4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
Here‘s where you’ll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there is a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, you must choose wisely and explain how you'll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.
A content strategy should stipulate:
- Which types of content you'll create. These can include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
- How much of it you'll create. You can describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on your workflow and the short-term goals you set for your content.
- The goals (and KPIs) you'll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
- The channels on which you'll distribute this content. Popular channels at your disposal include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.
Free Marketing Plan Template
Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
- Pre-Sectioned Template
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- Example Prompts
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You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Build out your marketing plan with this free template.
Fill out this form to access the template., 5. clearly define your plan's omissions..
A marketing plan explains the marketing team’s focus. It also explains what the marketing team will not focus on.
If there are other aspects of your business that you aren‘t serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn't on the hook for something, you need to make it known.
6. Define your marketing budget.
Your content strategy might use many free channels and platforms, but there are several hidden expenses a marketing team needs to account for.
Whether it's freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.
You can establish your marketing budget with this kit of 8 free marketing budget templates .
7. Identify your competition.
Part of marketing is knowing whom you're marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one.
Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.
Easily track and analyze your competitors with t his collection of ten free competitive analysis templates .
8. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it‘s time to explain who’s doing what. You don‘t have to delve too deeply into your employees’ day-to-day projects, but it should be known which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.
Now that you know why you need to build an effective marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. That’s why there are many helpful resources that can support your first steps. We’ll share some of the best guides and templates that can help you build effective results-driven plans for your marketing strategies.
Ready to make your own marketing plan? Get started using this free template.
Depending on the company you work with, you might want to create various marketing plans. We compiled different samples to suit your needs:
1. Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans
These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you'll take on in a certain period.
Forbes published a marketing plan template that has amassed almost 4 million views. To help you sculpt a marketing roadmap with true vision, their template will teach you how to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:
- Executive Summary
- Target Customers
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Pricing & Positioning Strategy
- Distribution Plan
- Your Offers
- Marketing Materials
- Promotions Strategy
- Online Marketing Strategy
- Conversion Strategy
- Joint Ventures & Partnerships
- Referral Strategy
- Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
- Retention Strategy
- Financial Projections
If you're truly lost on where to start with a marketing plan, this guide can help you define your target audience, figure out how to reach them, and ensure that audience becomes loyal customers.
2. Social Media Marketing Plan
This type of plan highlights the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media. A specific subtype is a paid marketing plan, which highlights paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.
Shane Snow's Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team is a great example of a social media marketing plan
A successful book launch is a prime example of data-driven content and social marketing. Using data to optimize your social strategy spreads more awareness for your book, gets more people to subscribe to your content, converts more subscribers into buyers, and encourages more buyers to recommend your book to their friends.
When Shane Snow started promoting his new book, "Dream Team," he knew he had to leverage a data-driven content strategy framework. So, he chose his favorite one: the content strategy waterfall. The content strategy waterfall is defined by Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach. To get a better idea of what this means, take a look at the diagram below:
Snow wrote a blog post about how the waterfall‘s content strategy helped him launch his new book successfully. After reading it, you can use his tactics to inform your own marketing plan. More specifically, you’ll learn how he:
- Applied his business objectives to decide which marketing metrics to track.
- Used his ultimate business goal of earning $200,000 in sales or 10,000 purchases to estimate the conversion rate of each stage of his funnel.
- Created buyer personas to figure out which channels his audience would prefer to consume his content.
- Used his average post view on each of his marketing channels to estimate how much content he had to create and how often he had to post on social media.
- Calculated how much earned and paid media could cut down the amount of content he had to create and post.
- Designed his process and workflow, built his team, and assigned members to tasks.
- Analyzed content performance metrics to refine his overall content strategy.
You can use Snow's marketing plan to cultivate a better content strategy plan, know your audience better, and think creatively about content promotion and distribution.
3. Content Marketing Plan
This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you'll use content to promote your business or product.
HubSpot's Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy is a strong example of a content marketing plan:
At HubSpot, we‘ve built our marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees. Along the way, we’ve learned countless lessons that shaped our current content marketing strategy. So, we decided to illustrate our insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a successful content marketing strategy, regardless of their team's size.
In this comprehensive guide for modern marketers, you'll learn:
- What exactly content marketing is.
- Why your business needs a content marketing strategy.
- Who should lead your content marketing efforts?
- How to structure your content marketing team based on your company's size.
- How to hire the right people for each role on your team.
- What marketing tools and technology you'll need to succeed.
- What type of content your team should create, and which employees should be responsible for creating them.
- The importance of distributing your content through search engines, social media, email, and paid ads.
- And finally, the recommended metrics each of your teams should measure and report to optimize your content marketing program.
4. New Product Launch Marketing Plan
This will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you‘ll implement to promote a new product. And if you’re searching for an example, look no further than Chief Outsiders' Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product :
When you're looking for a marketing plan for a new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a great place to start. Marketing plans for a new product will be more specific because they target one product versus its entire marketing strategy.
After reading this plan, you'll learn how to:
- Validate a product
- Write strategic objectives
- Identify your market
- Compile a competitive landscape
- Create a value proposition for a new product
- Consider sales and service in your marketing plan
5. Growth Marketing Plan
Growth marketing plans use experimentation and data to drive results, like we see in Venture Harbour’s Growth Marketing Plan Template :
Venture Harbour's growth marketing plan is a data-driven and experiment-led alternative to the more traditional marketing plan. Their template has five steps intended for refinement with every test-measure-learn cycle. The five steps are:
This is a great option if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns.
- Visit Oxnard
- Safe Haven Family Shelter
- Wright County Economic Development
- The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
- Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Visit Billings
1. Visit Oxnard
This marketing plan by Visit Oxnard, a convention and visitors bureau, is packed with all the information one needs in a marketing plan: target markets, key performance indicators, selling points, personas, marketing tactics by channel, and much more.
It also articulates the organization’s strategic plans for the upcoming fiscal year, especially as it grapples with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Lastly, it has impeccable visual appeal, with color-coded sections and strong branding elements.
Why This Marketing Plan Works
- States clear and actionable goals for the coming year
- Includes data and other research that shows how their team made their decisions
- Outlines how the team will measure the success of their plan
2. Safe Haven Family Shelter
This marketing plan by a nonprofit organization is an excellent example to follow if your plan will be presented to internal stakeholders at all levels of your organization. It includes SMART marketing goals , deadlines, action steps, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages , and metrics.
The plan is detailed, yet scannable. By the end of it, one can walk away with a strong understanding of the organization’s strategic direction for its upcoming marketing efforts.
- Confirms ongoing marketing strategies and objectives while introducing new initiatives
- Uses colors, fonts, and formatting to emphasize key parts of the plan
- Closes with long-term goals, key themes, and other overarching topics to set the stage for the future
3. Wright County Economic Development
Wright County Economic Development’s plan drew our attention because of its simplicity, making it good inspiration for those who’d like to outline their plan in broad strokes without frills or filler.
It includes key information such as marketing partners, goals, initiatives, and costs. The sections are easy to scan and contain plenty of information for those who’d like to dig into the details. Most important, it includes a detailed breakdown of projected costs per marketing initiative — which is critical information to include for upper-level managers and other stakeholders.
- Begins with a quick paragraph stating why the recommended changes are important
- Uses clear graphics and bullet points to emphasize key points
- Includes specific budget data to support decision-making
4. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
This marketing plan presentation by a cultural council is a great example of how to effectively use data in your plan, address audiences who are new to the industry, and offer extensive detail into specific marketing strategies.
For instance, an entire slide is dedicated to the county’s cultural tourism trends, and at the beginning of the presentation, the organization explains what an arts and culture agency is in the first place.
That’s a critical piece of information to include for those who might not know. If you’re addressing audiences outside your industry, consider defining terms at the beginning, like this organization did.
- Uses quality design and images to support the goals and priorities in the text
- Separate pages for each big idea or new strategy
- Includes sections for awards and accomplishments to show how the marketing plan supports wider business goals
- Defines strategies and tactics for each channel for easy skimming
5. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Cabarrus County’s convention and visitors bureau takes a slightly different approach with its marketing plan, formatting it like a magazine for stakeholders to flip through. It offers information on the county’s target audience, channels, goals, KPIs, and public relations strategies and initiatives.
We especially love that the plan includes contact information for the bureau’s staff members, so that it’s easy for stakeholders to contact the appropriate person for a specific query.
- Uses infographics to expand on specific concepts, like how visitors benefit a community
- Highlights the team members responsible for each initiative with a photo to emphasize accountability and community
- Closes with an event calendar for transparency into key dates for events
6. Visit Billings
Visit Billing’s comprehensive marketing plan is like Cabarrus County’s in that it follows a magazine format. With sections for each planned strategy, it offers a wealth of information and depth for internal stakeholders and potential investors.
We especially love its content strategy section, where it details the organization’s prior efforts and current objectives for each content platform.
At the end, it includes strategic goals and budgets — a good move to imitate if your primary audience would not need this information highlighted at the forefront.
- Includes a section on the buyer journey, which offers clarity on the reasoning for marketing plan decisions
- Design includes call-outs for special topics that could impact the marketing audience, such as safety concerns or "staycations"
- Clear headings make it easy to scan this comprehensive report and make note of sections a reader may want to return to for more detail
What is a typical marketing plan?
Most marketing plans are documents that outline the following aspects of a business's marketing:
- Target audience
Each marketing plan should include one or more goals, the path your team will take to meet those goals, and how you plan to measure success.
For example, say a tech startup is launching a new mobile app. Its marketing plan would usually include:
- Target audience or buyer personas for the app
- Outline of how app features meet audience needs
- Competitive analysis
- Goals for conversion funnel and user acquisition
- Marketing strategies and tactics for user acquisition
Featured resource : Free Marketing Plan Template
What should a good marketing plan include?
A good marketing plan will create a clear roadmap for your unique marketing team. This means that the best marketing plan for your business will be distinct to your team and business needs.
That said, most marketing plans will include sections for one or more of the following:
- Clear analysis of the target market
- A detailed description of the product or service
- Strategic marketing mix details (such as product, price, place, promotion)
- Measurable goals with defined timelines
This can help you build the best marketing plan for your business.
A good marketing plan should also include a product or service's unique value proposition, a comprehensive marketing strategy including online and offline channels, and a defined budget.
Featured resource : Value Proposition Templates
What are the most important parts of a marketing plan?
When you‘re planning a road trip, you need a map to help define your route, step-by-step directions, and an estimate of the time it will take to get to your destination. It’s literally how you get there that matters.
Like a road map, a marketing plan is only useful if it helps you get to where you want to go. So, no one part is more than the other.
That said, you can use the list below to make sure that you've added or at least considered each of the following in your marketing plan:
- Marketing goals
- Executive summary
- Target market analysis
- Marketing strategies
What questions should I ask when making a marketing plan?
Questions are a useful tool for when you‘re stuck or want to make sure you’ve included important details.
Try using one or more of these questions as a starting point when you create your marketing plan:
- Who is my target audience?
- What are their needs, motivations, and pain points?
- How does our product or service solve their problems?
- How will I reach and engage them?
- Who are my competitors? Are they direct or indirect competitors?
- What are the unique selling points of my product or service?
- What marketing channels are best for the brand?
- What is our budget and timeline?
- How will I measure the success of marketing efforts?
How much does a marketing plan cost?
Creating a marketing plan is mostly free. But the cost of executing a marketing plan will depend on your specific plan.
Marketing plan costs vary by business, industry, and plan scope. Whether your team handles marketing in-house or hires external consultants can also make a difference. Total costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. This is why most marketing plans will include a budget.
Featured resource : Free Marketing Budget Templates
What is a marketing plan template?
A marketing plan template is a pre-designed structure or framework that helps you outline your marketing plan.
It offers a starting point that you can customize for your specific business needs and goals. For example, our template includes easy-to-edit sections for:
- Business summary
- Business initiatives
- Target market
- Market strategy
- Marketing channels
- Marketing technology
Let’s create a sample plan together, step by step.
Follow along with HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template .
1. Create an overview or primary objective.
Our business mission is to provide [service, product, solution] to help [audience] reach their [financial, educational, business related] goals without compromising their [your audience’s valuable asset: free time, mental health, budget, etc.]. We want to improve our social media presence while nurturing our relationships with collaborators and clients.
For example, if you wanted to focus on social media growth, your KPIs might look like this.
We want to achieve a minimum of [followers] with an engagement rate of [X] on [social media platform].
The goal is to achieve an increase of [Y] on recurring clients and new meaningful connections outside the platform by the end of the year.
Use the following categories to create a target audience for your campaign.
- Pain points:
- Social media platforms that they use:
- Streaming platforms that they prefer:
For more useful strategies, consider creating a buyer persona in our Make My Persona tool .
Our content pillars will be: [X, Y, Z].
Content pillars should be based on topics your audience needs to know. If your ideal clients are female entrepreneurs, then your content pillars can be: marketing, being a woman in business, remote working, and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.
Then, determine your omissions.
This marketing plan won’t be focusing on the following areas of improvement: [A, B, C].
5. Define your marketing budget.
Our marketing strategy will use a total of [Y] monthly. This will include anything from freelance collaborations to advertising.
6. Identify your competitors.
Use the following questions to clearly indicate who your competitors are:
- Which platforms do they use the most?
- How does their branding differentiate?
- How do they talk to their audiences?
- What valuable assets do customers talk about? And if they are receiving any negative feedback, what is it about?
7. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.
Create responsible parties for each portion of the plan.
Marketing will manage the content plan, implementation, and community interaction to reach the KPIs.
- Social media manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Content strategist: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Community manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
Sales will follow the line of the marketing work while creating and implementing an outreach strategy.
- Sales strategists: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
- Sales executives: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
Customer Service will nurture clients’ relationships to ensure that they have what they want. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].
Project Managers will track the progress and team communication during the project. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].
Get started on your marketing plan.
These marketing plans serve as initial resources to get your content marketing plan started. But, to truly deliver what your audience wants and needs, you'll likely need to test some different ideas out, measure their success, and then refine your goals as you go.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure t o learn more about how we use AI.
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How to present your sales and marketing strategy in your business plan?
The marketing and sales section forms the cornerstone of any business plan. It details your approach to reach and sell to your target audience. Whilst some entrepreneurs believe that this section should predominantly be about advertising, it covers a lot more than that.
Without adequate knowledge of the information required, writing this section can be challenging. This guide covers that aspect and also talks about the overall objective of this section and how long it should be amongst other things.
After reading our guide, you’ll be well on your way to drafting a comprehensive strategy section that can help you secure financing from lenders and investors.
Ready? Let’s get started!
In this guide:
- What is the objective of the marketing and sales strategy of your business plan?
What information should I include in the marketing and sales strategy section of my business plan?
- How long should the marketing and sales strategy of your business plan be?
- Example of a marketing and sales strategy section in a business plan
What tools can you use to write your business plan?
What is the objective of the marketing and sales strategy section in your business plan.
The sales and marketing section follows both the market analysis and the pricing subsections. Its main objective is to communicate to readers that you have a well-defined go-to-market strategy that will help you reach and sell to your target customers.
A compelling sales and marketing section can help you convey how you plan to capture your target market’s attention and generate sales as well as build competence with investors and lenders.
When writing this section, you need to show that you plan on using effective distribution and communication channels.
- Distribution channels are what you use to sell your goods or services. Online or physical stores, or door-to-door sales, for example.
- Communication channels are what you use to promote your brand to target customers. This can include ads or flyers for example.
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We have discussed that your business plan's marketing and sales section should be well-structured and presentable.
When writing this section, all businesses should provide a rationale for their distribution and communication channels by elaborating on the following factors:
Here, you need to talk about why you think your chosen channels will help you reach your target market.
- Younger audiences might be more receptive to messaging and marketing initiative on social media, while other demographics might prefer traditional media like TV or radio.
- Selling through national retailers might give you immediate scale - though being at a lower margin than through a network of owned stores
The best channels for your business will depend on the type of products or services you sell and the tarket customer segments you identified in your market analysis.
Cost and margin
In this section, you need to emphasize why the channels you have chosen will be cost-effective and share details pertaining to the budget allocation.
For example, cold calling small businesses might be a cheaper way of selling your services than using advertising.
To address this factor, you need to provide details about how and why your chosen channels will help you gain a competitive advantage.
A competitive advantage refers to a unique attribute, quality, or strategy that allows your business to outperform its competitors and achieve superior performance in its industry or market. It's what sets your company apart and gives it a strong position in the marketplace.
For example, a hybrid network of owned and franchised stores might enable you to quickly achieve national coverage and greater brand recognition than your competitors.
Here, you need to provide details about who (from your sales and marketing team) will be responsible for actioning these channels and a timeline pertaining to key goals and objectives for each.
Key performance indicators (KPIs)
Lastly, you also need to provide details about the KPIs you will use to measure the effectiveness of the distribution and communication channels.
For distribution channels, this could include:
- Gross profit margin
- Return on investment
For communication channels, this could include:
- Brand recognition
- Number of website or in-store visitors
It’s important to understand that the factors stated above (reach, cost, competition, implementation and KPIs) may be applicable to all industries. However, the details used for each factor must be tailored to the industry and customer profiles targeted by your own business.
With that understanding, let’s look at what information should be included in this section for different industries.
Agricultural businesses usually sell either to farmers (equipment, services, etc.), to consumers (food) and retailers (food, raw materials, equipment, etc.), or to food manufacturers.
With that in mind, your marketing plan should ideally provide details about how you plan to communicate in order to reach these customers. For example, you might decide to invest in a couple bilboards with directions to your farm if you sale directly to consumers.
As for the sales strategy, you need to discuss your approach to distribution and inventory management (especially for fresh produce). For example, selling to food manufacturers might give you a greater scale at the cost of a lower margin and a dependency on a small number of customers.
Construction businesses usually sell either to households or other construction businesses and builders (subcontractors).
Your marketing strategy might include actions such as highlighting past projects to showcase customer satisfaction on your website and brochures, to attend industry events to promote your know-how, or to invest in a branded fleet of vehicles.
When providing details about your sales strategy, you need to explain how you'll bid on projects, provide estimates, and effectively manage client expectations.
The hospitality industry is one that’s heavily based on customer demand around your location(s) and meeting patrons' expectations to generate positive word of mouth.
Your marketing plan might revolve around using local advertising and food bloggers to increase awareness, and a loyalty program to increase repeat visits.
Your sales strategy might be centered around: leveraging online booking platforms to fill the restaurant outside of peak hours, marketplaces to drive takeaway sales, and staff training to promote higher margin items on your menu.
For manufacturers, your marketing and sales section will depend on whether you plan to manufacture your own products or produce them for other brands. It’s important to understand that both these are entirely different target customers with varying requirements.
If you plan on manufacturing for other brands, you need to showcase your manufacturing capabilities, quality standards, and ability to fulfill orders. You can also provide details about your production process and ability to meet tight deadlines.
If you plan to manufacture your own products, you must detail how you plan to attract competent distributors or set up your own distribution network. To do this, you can provide details about the uniqueness of your product and how it adds value to the end customer.
The sales and marketing plans of retailers will most likely revolve around customer acquisition, repeat purchases, and enhancing the shopping experience. You could provide details about visual merchandising, store layout, online presence, and loyalty programs.
You could also mention store locations, pricing strategies, and promotions.
The way services are marketed and sold vary greatly depending on the type of service, the type of customers (businesses vs. consumers), the contract duration and the price point (which will influence the length of the sales cycle).
The sales and marketing plan of a hairdresser might be close to the one put in place by a retailer or other types of high street businesses.
Inversely the sales and marketing plan of a high end business consulting firm might include lead generation efforts through content marketing, networking, cold calling, and targeted advertising.
How long should the sales and marketing plan of your business plan be?
The ideal length for the sales and marketing plan depends upon several factors, such as the reader's familiarity with the industry you operate in and the size of your business.
The sales and marketing section of a grocery shop may not require much information as foot trafic around the location will be the primary lever.
However, a business-to-business (B2B) company that provides software for human resources might be more complex and require further details.
In general, one or two paragraphs per action planned or lever mobilised is enough, though a complex industry or larger business may require to communicate more information. However, you can use visuals and graphics to help reduce the length and make complex concepts easier to understand.
Don't start from scratch!
With dozens of business plan templates available, get a clear idea of what a complete business plan looks like
Example of a sales and marketing section in a business plan
Below is an example of how the sales and marketing section of your business plan might look like.
This example was taken from one of our business plan templates .
In this part, we will review three solutions for writing a professional business plan:
- Using Word and Excel
- Hiring a consultant to write your business plan
- Utilizing an online business plan software
Create your business plan using Word and Excel
Creating a business plan using Word and Excel is old fashion, error prone, and (very) time consuming.
First of all, using Excel to create your financial forecast is only feasible if you have a degree in accounting and experience in financial modelling, because lenders are unlikely to trust the accuracy of your financial forecast otherwise.
Secondly, using Word means starting from scratch and formatting the document yourself once written - a process that is quite tedious. There are also no instructions or examples to guide you through each section making the overall process much longer than it needs to be.
Thirdly, for a business plan to be really useful it needs to be tracked against the company's actual financial performance and regularly updated which is a very manual process if you are using Excel.
Hire a consultant to write your business plan
This is a good option if you have the budget for it - from experience you need to budget at least £1.5k ($2.0k) for a complete business plan, more if you need to make changes after the initial version (which happens frequently after the initial meetings with lenders).
Consultants are experienced in writing business plans and most of them adept at creating financial forecasts without errors. Furthermore, hiring a consultant can save you time and allow you to focus on the day-to-day operations of your business.
Use an online business plan software for your business plan
Another alternative is to use online business plan software .
There are several advantages to using specialized software:
- You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
- You can be inspired by already written business plan templates
- You can easily make your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
- You get a professional document, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank
- The software will enable you to easily track your actual financial performance against your forecast and update your forecast as time goes by
If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try our software for free by signing up here .
Also on The Business Plan Shop
- How to do a market analysis for a business plan
- 7 tips for writing an effective business plan
Do you know anyone struggling to craft the marketing and sales part of their business plan? Share this article and help them out.
Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd
Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.
Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.
Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.
Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.
Published on 14 Feb 2023 , last update on 05 Sep 2023 , as per our editorial standards .
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