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What is a Marketing Plan?

Your business is off the ground, the lights are on, but how can you ensure that customers will walk in the door? There are many different advertising and marketing strategies one can utilize to attract business, whether it be social media, television and radio ads, billboards, and so on. But without a clear vision and goal, your marketing aspirations are almost certainly destined to die on the vine. In order to properly assess your success and correct missteps along the way, you need a marketing plan. 

A clear and focused marketing plan is designed to foster and maintain customer loyalty and engagement, as well as capturing – and increasing – market share in your targeted audience. This is done by planning, implementing, and tracking marketing initiatives over a certain period of time. A marketing plan can organize these initiatives, create utilizable campaigns and the channels they will include, designate specific tasks to marketing staff, outline expected budgets, and project long-term goals of success. 

What Should be Included
in a Marketing Plan?

Understanding the function of a marketing plan is all well and good, but how do you actually create one? And what kind of information should be included? Different businesses may have different specific short-term and long-term goals when it comes to marketing, but nearly all marketing plans follow the same general framework. Let’s go over the basic focus points you should include: 


Follow Your Company's Mission

Your marketing efforts are the story of your brand. Its tone and direction should be consistent with your company’s mission across all channels. It is important that your marketing plan’s level of success be tied to how effectively it achieves your mission, first and foremost. The marketing plan should inherently include your value proposition – the benefits of your product or service, how it can help solve your target customer’s problem, and why they should buy it from you and not a competitor in your field. A good marketing plan is based around your business’ mission and the value it extends to potential customers.


Analyze and Create KPIs

To understand and gauge whether your marketing plan is successful, you will need to establish your KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic of a particular demographic or from a particular area, you can track website and social media visits to determine if your plan is moving the dial in that direction.

One popular rule of thumb in relation to your marketing KPIs is the SMART system: verifying that chosen marketing goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Creating KPIs with these metrics in mind and checking their progress on a consistent basis allows you to determine whether short term goals are being met and communicate regular progress updates to your clients.


Understand Your Buyer Persona 

You can’t fully grasp how to effectively market towards your customer until you have a firm idea of who your customer is. Creating a buyer persona is an important step in narrowing down your typical customer, as well as learning how to target potential customers that you may not be reaching. A buyer persona generally consists of approximated information in regards to their age, gender, location, career, family, and needs. Learning about your buyer’s needs and wants can help you understand how your offered products or services can solve their problem. 


Plan Your Content Strategies

You know what you want, how to measure success, and what customer you are targeting. Now is the time to lay out the plan. What type of content have you decided will best appeal to John and Jane Q. Customer – blogs, social media posts, YouTube videos, newsletters? Today’s marketing initiatives are more diverse than ever and there are countless avenues via which you might potentially reach your next client. The trick is choosing the most powerful tool at your disposal that will appeal to your buyer. 

Your content strategy should include: 

The specific type of content you will create (blogs, social media posts, videos, newsletters, eBooks, etc.

• How much of it you will create and at what intervals it will be published

• What channels you will utilize to distribute the content (social media, your company website, television, radio, etc.)

• The KPIs you have positioned for the content and the short-term/long term target goals

• Paid advertising that will accompany and amplify the posted content


Describe What Your Marketing Plan Does NOT Cover

Almost as important as laying out what your marketing plan intends to achieve is clarifying what your plan will not include. It is unlikely that everything your marketing team is potentially capable of doing will be utilized in every marketing campaign. If your marketing plan includes posting content on Facebook and Twitter, but not LinkedIn or Instagram, be sure that is clearly noted and that your KPIs take that into account. Specifying expectations can prevent wasting unnecessary time mistargeting your audience with strategies that are impractical for the marketing goals that you’ve created. 


Decide on a Budget

No marketing team has unlimited resources and marketing strategy expenditures add up, whether through payroll, ad spend, marketing software… the list goes on. Some of these expenses are obvious and expected but others, like attending networking events or outsourcing costs, can sometimes fly under the radar. It is crucial that you properly tabulate total costs when calculating the budget you are willing to allot for marketing efforts. Understanding the total outlay involved – including time and resources – will help you confirm whether your marketing plan has realistic and achievable goals.


Know Thy Enemy

No matter how niche or specialized your offerings may be, there are competitors itching to nab your slice of the market share pie. Many businesses do not set aside the bandwidth to study their industry rivals and what their comparative advantages or disadvantages are but spending the time to do so could be crucial to a successful campaign strategy. Understanding and predicting how the competition might respond to your marketing initiatives can keep you ahead of the curve and ready to pivot your own strategies to match. 


Delegate Responsibilities

Now that the plan has been defined, it is important that you clearly specify which team members will be handling which portion of the overall project. Every task, subtask, project, and KPI should be monitored and managed to ensure that each cog in the machine is working smoothly towards completion. A vague marketing plan that creates confusion over who is supposed to be doing what is a recipe for disaster.

Let's Create a Marketing Plan

A successful marketing plan should be comprehensive and thorough, but also easy to navigate and written in plain, straightforward language that anyone involved in the plan should be able to understand. Building a plan from the ground up can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but there are many helpful – and often free – resources you can utilize to put your marketing vision on paper. Here are some handy guides to get you started.

Every company should have a clear mission – the one thing it is meant to achieve above all other considerations. It’s the WHY in “Why was this company founded?” And, if you recall, it is step #1 in the section above. A marketing plan cannot truly get off the ground without a mission or overarching purpose behind it and it must be laid out plainly, so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the company’s direction. 

If you’ve just never happened to put your company mission in writing, or if you feel like it’s time to pivot or adjust company messaging, Hot Dog Marketing’s Company Mission template gives you all the insight you need in crafting your mission statement in a powerful and effective way. Mapping out what your company does, who it serves, and how it changes things for the better is a good first step in creating a dynamic and authoritative company mission. 


If you have a clear vision for success and wish to avoid the clutter of 17 different subcategories of subgroups of tasks that all need to intricately align to make it work, the No Bullsh!t Marketing Plan is perfect for you. This plan outlays the basic goals of what most companies are looking for in terms of measuring success: more sales, more customers, repeat customers, and a strong and original brand that attracts prospective employees who view your business as a great career choice.

The No Bullsh!t plan teaches you how to use SWOT Marketing to assess and achieve your goals by understanding your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Once these are determined, you can then decide which type of strategy can best help you meet your desired objectives, whether it be social media strategy, website strategy, public relations strategy, email strategy, SEO, or events. Matching carefully considered tactics with the benchmarks you wish to achieve is a no-muss, no-fuss, and powerful game plan towards realizing your company mission.


Marketing analytics is full of jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations that can seem like nonsensical gibberish to the layperson. Whether you’re a marketing whiz or new to this side of the business, understanding how tangible success is tracked is a valuable and necessary tool to have in your skill set.

This handy guide breaks down several common marketing metrics – including ROI, LVT, CAC and more – not only explaining what they are and how they are calculated, but why they are important to both marketers and operators. These metrics lend valuable insight into the viability and effectiveness of marketing spend, allowing you to tweak your strategies in response and maximize the power of your marketing dollar.


Once the marketing plan – or your pie crust – is complete, it’s in need of some useful, topical, and delicious filling. That’s where your content comes in. It might be direct advertising, words of advice, notable industry trends, or any number of other styles or sources, but you need to be able to reach your customer with content that speaks to their needs & wants that your company can provide. With that said, how can you possibly know the optimal type of content and the optimal means of delivery to get that content to the right customer?

Our Content Planning Matrix can help you narrow this down, in a handy-dandy and easy-to-read grid layout. Keeping in mind all the different ways that information can be conveyed digitally (social media, ads, blogs, videos, emails, websites, and so on), the planning matrix allows you to decide what type of content you want to focus on the most and how it can best be conveyed to your audience: 

Awareness (I want customers to become aware of my brand) 
Informational (I want my content to represent my company as an authoritative and teaching voice in its industry) 
Consideration (I want my customers to know why my company is the best choice)
Decision (I want my content to be tailored towards customers who have chosen to utilize my products or services)
Advocacy (I want my content to be focused on my company’s success stories, referrals, and testimonials) 

How Do You Put Your Plan into Action?

It is one thing to formulate an ambitious and focus-driven marketing plan, it is another thing to coax it into bearing fruit. Most marketing plans have many moving parts that depend on each other to be engaged and implemented in a particular way for the whole process to proceed efficiently. This generally requires a team of marketing personnel to ensure success for all but the most basic and bare-bones marketing plans.

As with all teams, different marketing professionals have different areas of strength. Often the person in charge of visualizing the ‘big picture’ when it comes to strategy is not the strongest choice when it comes to actual content creation. And the person in charge of writing 5-star blogs and social media posts may not be the ideal candidate for leading overall marketing direction. When it comes to businesses who are feeling a stagnation of growth – or are looking to break through to the next level – partnering with a diverse and expert marketing agency that specializes in marketing growth brands can be the positive course correction your company needs.

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