Sample Marketing Plan – 6 Steps For Creating a Marketing Plan

Sometimes finding a sample marketing plan to use as a guide for writing yours can be a challenge. The problem is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan that you can specifically use for your business without some kind of modification.

In this article I will outline the 6 necessary elements you need in your marketing plan and some applications that will help illustrate each element. The six things you must include: an evaluation of your marketplace, the profile of your ideal customer, what you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing, the big picture view of media tools, an accountability structure that will aid in implementation, and strong financial proof that your plan will work.

Evaluate your marketplace

No matter what format you use the concept of evaluating your market is always the first step. In this part of the plan you research your top 5-10 competitors and come up with a list of strengths and weaknesses for each. You do the same exercise on your own company. This will help you create a clear picture of how you are different from everyone else.

It is on this foundation that your marketing efforts should be built. In the car rental business Hertz has always been the number one company. This made Avis come up a slogan that could help set it apart… “We’re #2 but we try harder.” This helped position Avis as a company that would work harder for you by giving you that extra level of service.

Profile of your ideal customer

The worst thing you can say about your product or service is that, “everyone has a need for it.” Segmenting your market and defining a specific profile of your best customers will help build your marketing plan in strong and healthy ways. The benefit of clearly defining your target market will not only make your job of creating and choosing marketing materials easier, but it will also save you money because you can focus your efforts on a very specific market segment.

What do you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing?

You can’t measure the success of your plan unless you have clearly defined benchmarks for comparison. Every marketing effort needs goals. They can be long-term or short-term but need to be measurable. Also, part of your plan should include evaluation points to gauge progress of your efforts.

Getting the big picture view of media tools

Before choosing what media tools you are going to use in your campaign it is essential to evaluate each tool based on the information you gathered in the first three sections of your plan. Can you effectively deliver the message of how you are unique through a particular tool? Does the tool clearly reach the ideal target market? Can it help you achieve your goals without making you go broke.

If you have done the appropriate research these questions are typically easy to answer. It is only when you decide on your desired media tool first before evaluating it’s attributes on a big picture level that you can get yourself into trouble.

Creating an accountability structure that will aid in implementation

All of the best laid plans are for nothing if you don’t have a proper implementation system. In most sample marketing plans you can see how a typical marketing calendar is laid out. It really doesn’t have to be that difficult or pretty. You simply need a week-by-week list of the specific marketing activities you want to accomplish in order to complete your overall plan. This involves taking each marketing strategy and tactically dividing it into weekly chunks. The marketing calendar should also contain the evaluation points we discussed before to help measure the progress of your goals.

Having strong financial proof that your plan will work

The final element of any plan should include a budget that gives strong financial proof that your plan will work. This is accomplished by projecting sales as a result of your marketing efforts, accurately costing out the various pieces of your marketing mix and then doing an ROI analysis (Return On Investment). Your ROI analysis should clearly show that your marketing efforts will produce a return. If your company has a long sales cycle then sometimes this will involve simply a break-even on the marketing costs up-front with the promise of larger future sales.

These six necessary elements should be included in any sample marketing plan format you are evaluating: an evaluation of your marketplace, the profile of your ideal customer, what you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing, the big picture view of media tools, an accountability structure that will aid in implementation, and strong financial proof that your plan will work.