How to Build a Marketing Plan Outline With a Free Template

Your team is ready to start planning next year’s marketing efforts.

And after a few hours of brainstorming, you end up with a massive list of ideas. Great ideas you know will help drive real business results.

So, what’s the problem? Choosing which ones to actually execute, and plan them all for maximum efficiency.

Where do you even start?

By developing a marketing plan outline.

Mission statements, budgets, audience analysis, and more all have a home in your marketing plan. And by reading this post, you’ll be able to develop a well-rounded strategy that will set you up for success.

Create Your Marketing Plan Quickly With This Template

Before you dig into this post, download your marketing plan outline template. It’ll help you create a thorough plan in less time than it’d take to craft everything from scratch. Then, follow along with this post to complete each section.

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Step 1: Build A Table Of Contents

The first step in creating any marketing plan outline is making a table of contents. A table of contents allows your team to quickly view and find whatever information they may be looking for in the plan.

So what goes into your table of contents?

Your table of contents should include any overarching project, data or statement that relates back to your overall goals as a marketing team.

For example, this is what a potential table of contents would look like:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Mission Statement
  3. Goals
  4. Standards Of Performance
  5. SWOT Analysis
  6. Competitive Analysis
  7. Audience Persona
  8. Projects Breakdown (Monthly)
  9. Distribution and Promotion Strategy
  10. Measurement

You can also have Microsoft Word format your TOC automatically by going to References:

Selecting Table of Contents:

Then your table of contents will auto populate:

Step 2: Create A Mission Statement

The next step in your marketing plan process is creating a mission statement.

But what is a mission statement exactly? According to Content Marketing Institute, your mission statement should answer the question:

Why do we exist?

The mission statement in your marketing plan should encompass what your team hopes to achieve in the next year. It should also answer the question:

“What are all of our projects that we have planned throughout the year going to help us achieve? What are they going to have an impact on?”

So what does a potential mission statement look like? For example, let’s pretend that you needed to create a mission statement for a local bookshop. It could look something like:

Breonna’s Books plans to increase revenue from digital sales by 75%, utilizing a comprehensive mix of paid and organic inbound marketing strategies.

What does this statement relay?

  • What is the goal: Increase revenue from digital sales.
  • How are you going to reach the goal? By executing well-planned paid and organic marketing strategies.
  • What is the desired outcome?: A 75% increase in revenue.

So how can you create your own mission statement? Your statement should be no longer than 3 or 4 sentences and answer:

  • What the overall goal of your marketing plan is.
  • How your different projects are going to help you reach that goal.
  • What the outcome of your goal will provide to the company.

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Step 3: Choose Your Channels

One of the last steps in your marketing plan involves selecting your distribution channels.

Your channel selection is going to determine where you are sharing your content. For example, social media messages would be shared across your different social media channels. Blog posts would be published on one hosting site, and emails would go through a different publishing platform.

A potential list of channels might look like this:

  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
  • Email
  • Website / Blog
  • Video (YouTube)
  • PPC
  • Display Advertising

Select Your Distribution Channels

Step 4: Determine Your Goals

Goals play a major part in the development of your marketing plan. Why? Because without goals your projects and efforts have nothing to be judged against to see if they were successful or not.

But how do you create your goals? It starts with your funnel.

Your marketing funnel is the driving force that moves your customers from awareness to purchase. Standard funnels look something like:

Marketing Funnel Illustration

Your goals should be mapped out based on the path through your marketing funnel. Some example goals could be:

Awareness

  • Increase number of email subscribers by x%.
  • Increase social media channel followers by x%.

Consideration:

  • Increase number of leads generated by x%.

Purchase:

  • Increase sales by x%.

Loyalty:

  • Increase reward program signups by x%.

Advocacy:

  • Offer discount of yearly book subscription if customers have others sign up.
  • Free monthly book to influencers who join the social media advocacy program.

Each goal is centered around guiding your customers through the funnel and increasing their channel of converting.

Now each goal is going to need to have metric attached to it to track progress. For example, if you attached metrics to your awareness goals, some options might include:

  • Number of opt-in form completions for gated content upgrades.
  • Your total social media audience growth, broken down by channel.

As you develop each goal, enter them into your marketing plan outline:

Step 5: Run A SWOT Analysis

Your next step involves running a SWOT analysis on your company. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These are then broken into two categories, internal vs. external details.

Conducting a SWOT analysis can be done by having a single member of your team (or a group) in two simple steps. Identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that will have an impact on how your company grows.

Step One: Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Strengths and weakness are internally focused factors that revolve around resources like land, brand equity and knowledge. They are also impacted by core competencies, management, HR,  operations management, marketing and organizational culture among other things.

Strengths and weaknesses often go hand in hand, making them difficult to tell apart. So how can your team tell them apart?

By defining them as specifically as possible, which means you need to dig into your internal documents and processes.

Go through your internal processes by pulling out marketing reports, company surveys on culture and other internal documents to see where things like your marketing strategy, organizational culture, and operations management are excelling or failing.

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Step Two: Find Your External Opportunities And Weaknesses

Opportunities and threats are external forces like competitors (both known and emerging), market changes and a PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal) analysis. All of these factors can have a positive or negative affect on how your company is viewed outside its internal structure.

In order to find these items your SWOT analyzer you’re going to need to conduct external research by:

  • Researching your competitors’ websites, social channels and other publications to observe what types of strategies they are using and what seems to be connecting with their audience.
  • Staying up to date on current events in politics, economics, and environmental issues by subscribing to newspapers or news outlets.
  • Looking for industry publications to keep track of the latest trends and ideas that are affecting your industry.

As you absorb what’s going on outside your company walls you can begin to see gaps emerging that either your company can fill.

For example, if your industry is known for poor customer service in general, your company has the opportunity to fill that gap. However, if your competitor has a different customer service strategy that is really winning over the audience you are both fighting for, it becomes a threat.

Step Three: Prioritize And Record Your SWOT Factors

So now you have a lot of data. You listed out a bunch of different factors that play a role in the success of your company. Now what?

Cut out the opinions and stick to facts. According to an academic analysis done by David Pickton and Shelia Wright, opinions are a major cause for weakened SWOT analysis. The best thing your team can do is cut out what you think is going on and back up your analysis with factors both internally and externally.

Once you’ve sorted fact from opinion, break down your list and pick three to five items from your list for each category. This keeps your SWOT analysis from being too short to actually gather data from or too long and completely overwhelming your team.

As you begin to choose your items, you can record them in your outline:

Step 6: Complete A Competitor Analysis

The next step in your marketing plan will be to run a competitor analysis. A competitor analysis is a process in which a company identifies top competitors in order to help inspire their own content and stay ahead of trends in order to entice their target audience.

To conduct a full competitor analysis:

  1. Research current and potential competitors.
  2. Choose top five competitors from list.
  3. Observe their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Observe what strategies your competitors are using.
  5. Observe what tactics are connecting to their audience. What do they like to see?
  6. How can you move some of those tactics that your competitors are using into your own strategy?

As you find your competitors you can record their channels, strategy and tactics in your marketing plan template.

Step 7: Develop Your Audience Persona

Your audience persona is the description of your target audience or the customers that your company wants to purchase your product.

Why is figuring out your audience persona so important to your marketing plan? Without knowing who you’re trying to target your messages land in a sea of others with no direction on where to go.

Your persona should define:

Create An Audience Persona

To define those traits you need to ask:

  • Where in the world are they located?
  • What do they do for a job? What position are they in?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • How old are they?
  • Goals or Challenges?
  • Values and fears?
  • What can our company or product do to help solve their problems?

Step 8: Break Down And Break Up Your Projects

This next step is going to help sort out all of the projects that your team had brainstormed earlier. Each month will contain a certain number of projects that need to be organized based on:

  • Priority of the project
  • If the project needs to be completed during a certain part of the year

Depending on the size of your team, the amount of work you can accomplish will change. You need to factor in how much time your team has per month and how long it will take each team member to complete their portion of a project.

Now that you know (roughly) how much time your team needs to complete those marketing projects you can begin the necessary task of bringing those projects to life.

Once you have your projects listed, put them into your marketing plan:

Step 9: Promotion Strategy

So you have the channels you’re going to publish your content on.

However, a one-size-fits-all promotion strategy won’t cut it for every piece of content you publish.

So what does your team need to do in order to create a solid promotion schedule?

With these resources, you can map out a promotion strategy that works for you.

Step 10: Plan Your Budget

The second to last step in your marketing plan is creating a budget. Your budget in another key point in the success of your marketing plan. The first thing your team needs to know how many projects your team is going to complete throughout the year. Make your list of projects and determine their priority order.

After coordinating your projects, you can begin to break down those projects to find out how long your team needs to complete each portion of their project. Then depending on how much money your team member’s time is worth, that is how much your project will cost.

After you’ve determined your budget for each project area, enter it into your outline:

Step 11: Measure Your Success

Remember the goals that you set earlier in your planning process. It’s now time to measure those metrics again to see if the projects and efforts of your team had the intended effect.

First, you need to gather the data on the metrics that you set for your goals earlier. Some popular tools that your team can use to measure your performance include:

There are many more that could be added to this list, but these tools are a good place for your team to start.

Once you have your tools selected you can decide how often you want to gather and record your data. These will fall into weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly reports that will need to be updated and shared with upper management.

Step 12: Write Your Executive Summary

The very last step that you need to do to finish out your marketing plan is to craft your executive summary. This section summarizes all of the other sections that are part of your marketing plan.

Why is this type of summary important?

An executive summary is an important part of your marketing plan as not everyone on your team will have time to read through your entire marketing plan. For those who need a quick summary (or refresher) on what your team is doing and why, this short summary will help them find the information they’re looking for.

But what goes into crafting this type of statement? According to Chron, an executive summary should include:

  • All the different products and services your team offers.
  • How long your company has been running.
  • An introduction to your marketing team.
  • The structure of your marketing team.
  • Any additional team members that your marketing team works with either instead the company or freelancers.
  • The mission statement of the business.
  • Your main marketing objectives and tactics.

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