9 Step Strategic Marketing Plan Outline

If you don’t have a formal marketing team, if you have someone in charge of marketing that doesn’t have a formal education in marketing, or just want a refresher this post  walks you through the key steps to help you formulate a good marketing plan rooted in strategy.

Here are my key steps for successful strategic planning:

Step 1. Situational Analysis – review and document what’s happening inside and outside your organization.
1. SWOT analysis with key team members
2. Key Competitor activities (social media, product launches, messaging, positioning, sales/marketing strategies
3. Market trend research
4. Qualitative/quantitative feedback from clients (How are we doing? What can we do better? What are we missing?)
5. Identify internal trends. Review the numbers, identify opportunities/weaknesses
6. Review overall business plan
7. Brand Vision/Goals – I suggest developing a brand brief /guidelines if you haven’t already (this comes before your marketing plan).

Step 2. Target Audience Development – who are they, what do they need/want from you? What is their path to purchase? Size? Develop personas. Map their journey.

Step 3. Goals, Objectives & Strategy Development – based on opportunities identified in Step 1 & 2, develop an overview of:
1. Marketing Plan Goals
2. Marketing Plan Objectives
3. Marketing Strategies with rationale (write in the form of a strategy statement, checkout this good explanation of a strategy statement.)

Step 4. Tactical Plan Development – When looking at each key strategy statement, what will you need to do to make it happen? Website, videos, white papers, Social Media, etc?? Will there be processes that need to be developed? Training? Software that needs to be implemented?

Step 5. Budget Development – what’s it going to take to get this plan done? What resources do you need? Will you be working with a top-down or bottom-up budget?

Step 6. Marketing Scorecard – how do you know if you are winning if you don’t track your efforts? What does a WIN look like for your plan. I suggest tracking at least monthly if not weekly.

Step 7. Internal Review/alignment – I suggest collaboratively developing this plan with input from all stakeholders (anyone that is going to be responsible for any part of this plan). Upon completion, review the final plan and gain approval from leadership and all stakeholders to ensure alignment.

Step 8. Marketing Calendar Development – I personally keep three calendars:
1. An annual calendar overview of all marketing activities/campaigns/events.
2. Editorial calendar for all social, blog, video, articles, white papers, press releases, etc.
3. Trade show calendar

Step 9. Internal Communication/Rollout – all team members should get a download of the marketing plan. I personally like to communicate the following way:
1. Roll-out an overview of the marketing plan focusing on goals/objectives and key marketing initiatives.
2. Share the marketing calendar on a quarterly basis to keep everyone on the same page.
3. Provide monthly updates on what’s coming and outcomes of previous efforts – celebrate the wins!

I prefer to do annual plans with quarterly reviews and updates to the plan as needed. I don’t worry about it being perfect, I get moving. ‘Try. Learn. Grow.’ is my mantra!! One of my favorite business sayings “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week” – George S Patton.

Keep your tactics rooted in strategy and you will win at the marketing game!

How and when do you do your strategic planning? Do you suggest adding any other items/steps to this list?

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