How to Write a Marketing Plan


The Marketing Plan is a key component of a successful Business Plan and it should continue to grow in importance as the company grows. The primary difference between a Marketing Plan and a Business Plan is that the Marketing Plan focuses on expanding a specific product or service within the structure of an organization.

A good marketing plan will help your business to do the following:

  • Identify your target market.
  • Understand your industry and the competition.
  • Establish your pricing and product positioning.
  • Establish an effective marketing concept.
  • Identify the most viable, cost-effective means of marketing your product.

Here are the major elements of a marketing plan:

Executive Summary: The Executive Summary should be a brief summary of the entire marketing plan and include the highlights of each section to be included in your marketing plan. It should also include your Business's Mission (or Vision) Statement.

Start with your Mission Statement and use this as a foundation for the rest of marketing plan. Next, work on the rest of the plan, skipping the remainder of this section until the rest of the marketing plan is complete. Your Mission Statement should be a simple paragraph describing your company's values as well as what your company does and who it is. After the rest of the marketing plan is complete, come back and finish the Executive Summary.

Product Description: The product description is the detailed description of the products and/or services that you intend to market. Anywhere in length from a few paragraphs to a few pages, use this as an opportunity to communicate your ideas regarding exactly what your product is and how your customers will use it.

Market Analysis: The Market Analysis is drawn from in-house or third party Marketing Research and includes:

  • A description of the target market
  • Distribution channels with any applicable laws or regulations
  • The unique positioning of the company and its products versus the competition

You need to discuss the history of sales within the market, current market conditions and future trends of the market environment in relation to your product. Include demographic, legal, social, political, economic, and technological considerations.

Competitive Analysis: The Competitive Analysis is where you identify your competitors, both the obvious and not so obvious, and determine their marketing strategies along with their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you assess your advantages and identify opportunities to position your product as unique in your target market. List each competitor and then identify the following:

  • Their past strategies
  • Their current strategies
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Potential opportunities in marketing against them

Goals and Objectives: Goals and Objectives provide a direction by outlining company goals, marketing and financial objectives and allow you to focus your resources on a clear, measurable target. Your goals and objectives should be a detailed reflection of your mission statement, spelling out exactly what you intend to accomplish. Goals should include both short and long term goals and focus on the following areas:

  • Market Share
  • Personnel
  • Product Development
  • Financial

View your short-term goals as the building blocks of your long-term goals. It may help to think about your long-term goals first, then break down the necessary steps to achieving those goals and use those individual steps as your short-term goals.

Financial goals and Objectives are of particular importance in this section because they are not addressed anywhere else in your marketing plan and can be the foundation for measuring long-term success. Financial goal setting should include:

  • Gross sales
  • Cost-of-goods
  • Gross margin
  • Net income
  • Return on investment
  • Return on income

Marketing Strategy: The marketing strategy is the culmination of all previous sections of your marketing plan and includes a marketing strategy summary and an action plan. The company's marketing strategy statement is made up of:

  • Target market description
  • Competitive market analysis
  • Companies position
  • Products vs.. the competition
  • Price vs.. the competition
  • Marketing budget (including Marketing Research)

It is also important to define the product life cycle that you are entering into and any influences that it may have on your marketing efforts, as well as your position within the market. Will you be a niche player, first or late to market or a challenger to an established market leader?

After establishing your marketing strategy, it is time to develop the action plan that you will use to put your marketing plan to work. The action plan should be the logical outcome of short- and long-term company goals and your marketing strategy. It addresses the marketing events for the next year and includes the marketing tools you'll use to reach your target market. Include:

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Sales strategies

Make sure to quantify each of the above forms of marketing tools to include specific programs, costs associated with them, and how often you plan to use them. When quantifying the above marketing mix that you will use, be sure to use the term that works best for your business whether it is monthly, quarterly or yearly.