What is a 'Marketing Plan'?

A marketing plan is a business's operational document for outreach and advertising to generate leads and reach its target market. A marketing plan pulls together all the campaigns that will be undertaken over a period with additional information on how they will be measured and monitored. The marketing plan interacts with other business operations in several ways, including:

  • Providing market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries.

  • Tailoring the main messages to different demographics and geographic areas.

  • Selecting the platforms for promoting the product or services - digital, radio, internet, trade magazines and the mix of those platforms for each campaign.

  • Setting up the success metrics and the results reporting timelines.

A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy.

BREAKING DOWN 'Marketing Plan'

Marketing plans and strategies are often used interchangeably. This is because a marketing plan should not exist without the overarching strategy as a framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document particularly in smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. However, the plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. The marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

Creating a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan considers the value proposition of a business and sets out the schedule for a period. Market research is often the basis for the identification of the target audience and the channels to be used, for example, radio, social media, online ads, and regional TV advertising spots.  The marketing plan includes the rationale for decisions and describes the overall marketing strategy. The plan should focus on the creation, timing and placement of specific campaigns and how the outcomes will be measured.

Executing a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results. If digital ads are performing better than expected, for example, the campaign budget within a campaign can be adjusted to fund the higher performing platform or the company can initiate a new budget. The challenge for marketing leaders is to ensure that every platform has sufficient time to show results. Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration. In the traditional marketing mix model, a marketing plan would fall under the category of "promotion," which is one of the four Ps, a term coined by Neil Borden to describe the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and place.

 
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