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A marketing plan is a strategy that articulates key information for a business to attract and retain customers, such as who the company’s target customers are, how to reach them, its unique selling proposition and pricing.
While there are various types of marketing plans, at the minimum a plan should include:
- Situation analysis: This is a snapshot of a company’s situation. It should describe the company; its products and services; the unique selling proposition and strengths; the market and competitors; and the company’s weaknesses, opportunities and possible threats.
- Target audience: A descriptive profile of who the prospective customer is in terms of demographics and/or lifestyle.
- Marketing goals: Measurable goals used to achieve using the marketing plan. For instance, a marketing goal could be: 50,000 visitors, 20 email sign ups and 10 e-book downloads within the next six months from our inbound marketing strategy to reach $100,000 in revenue that is generated from this tactic.
- Marketing communications strategies: This section is the most fleshed out part of marketing plan and includes detailed plans of the marketing avenues and tactics over the course of (at minimum) a year’s sales cycle. A few examples include permission-based email, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events, among others.
- Marketing budget: The costs for marketing may come from borrowed or self-financed funds or sales, however a set amount must be set aside to cover the costs of marketing strategy. This section should include a detailed breakdown of how and where these funds will be spent.
For new companies that have been in business for one to five years, the article “How to Determine the Perfect Marketing Budget for Your Company” suggests using 12 to 20 percent of the gross or projected revenue on marketing, and companies less than a year old should get some financial runway before spending marketing dollars.