Marketing plan

The marketing plan collates the information and decisions from previous steps in the brand development process. It creates an action plan of key activities on the brand over the next 6 to 18 months. It is a process to set specific activity goals, prioritise activities and engage the teams who will “do” your marketing activity. 

Marketing plan

How this guide raises your game.

  1. Learn the key questions which govern the contents of your marketing plan.
  2. Learn the different tools and templates like 4Ps, 7Ps and Game plans you can use to create your marketing plan.
  3. Read our top 3 tips to create a successful marketing plan.

The previous steps of the brand development process are all about planning and preparation.

The market research you carry out, the segmentation, targeting and positioning work and the creation of your brand identity help set you up for marketing success.

These steps ensure you have good knowledge about the needs of your customers and have considered where and how to position your brand in the minds of those customers. 

But, none of these activities on their own will drive sales. They are all about preparation, not activity.

Marketing mix

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Play the ‘game’ of marketing

Think of them as the ‘training’ and ‘warm-up’ steps necessary before you go ‘play the game’ of marketing. And by play the game of marketing, we mean where you create activities that consumers actually experience.

Consumers do not experience your segmentation, targeting and positioning or your brand identity manual for example. But they do experience the advertising or the website or the packaging that comes from those processes. 

This transition from thinking, planning and preparing to doing, acting and selling has two key steps.

Firstly, where you synthesise those previous information, thoughts and knowledge together into an action plan. This marketing plan sets out your key goals and actions for the next 6 to 18 months. 

And secondly, where you put these plans into action through brand activation.

The Marketing Plan introduction

In as simple terms as we can make it, think about your marketing plan as essentially the brand to-do list for the next 6 to 18 months.

Your marketing plan captures all the key pieces of information you need to brief agencies.

It helps you to work collaboratively with key teams and functions in the business. It defines the goals for the brand, and the key activities that the brand will do.

The Marketing plan sets the timeline and the budget. It defines who is responsible and how to measure and track performance against the goals.

In short, one of the most impactful ways you can increase your chances of success in marketing is to create a strong marketing plan. 

A strong marketing plan raises your game. It means you have a planned and thought-out approach to achieve your marketing goals over the next 6 to 18 months.

Without a marketing plan, brands will have no clear and consistent approach to win over their target audience. They will react in an ad hoc way to events. They will be followers rather than market leaders. 

So, where do you start your marketing plan?

Well, the first step is to recognise the need to have a marketing plan. 

But then, how and where you start depends on context. Both your context as a business leader and that of your brand.

There is no guaranteed process or format for marketing planning that will work in every business and every brand.  

What you decide to include in your marketing plan will depend on a number of factors. Your own knowledge and working style. Your brand’s category and competitive position. And also the audience for the plan, both within your business and your agencies. 

Nonetheless, there are some common items that you will find in most if not all marketing plans. So let’s start with a review the typical contents of a marketing plan. We’ll then move on to how to write the plan, and how and when to use the plan.

Marketing plan contents

You should base your marketing plan around the answers to three key questions.

  1. Where is your business now?
  2. Where does your business want to be in 6 to 18 months time?
  3. How are you going to get there?

Where is your business now?

Even if this is the first marketing plan for your business, or you have a previous marketing plans that needs an update, a good place to start is to define where your business is now. Where does you plan start from?

This step is often called a situation analysis, an external analysis or a marketing audit.

It requires you to succinctly capture the status of your brand and business. You need to carry out an analysis of the current circumstances of your business. You need to synthesise this analysis into key priorities that will inform the rest of the marketing plan.

SWOT analysis - key questions for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

As there is potentially an infinite amount of choice about what could be in your marketing audit, it’s useful to have a template to help you put structure in to your thinking and process.

SWOT analysis

In many businesses, a tool called SWOT (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) is used to help organise this process. It’s a well-known tool that also benefits from being relatively succinct. It forces you to pick only the most important factors to include since it in most cases can only fit on a single page in your plan.

Strengths and weaknesses

The SW of SWOT are Strengths and Weaknesses. This is where you carry out an internal assessment of how your business stands relative to competitors. 

Strengths

Think about strengths as advantages that you have over your competitors.

Let’s say for example that your target audience associate your brand with a key driver of choice in the category ahead of your competitors. That’s a strength.

Strengths can also be found if you have a unique ingredient, design or way to deliver a service. 

Strengths also exist where you are particularly popular with a geographical area or a specific consumer segment.  Or it may be that you have a particularly strong relationship with a trade customer. 

Your strengths could also be relative to a particular marketing activity such as your packaging,  website or an association with a particular relevant partner or event. 

Weaknesses

Weaknesses unsurprisingly tend to be similar types of variables. But they are where a competitor has a distinct advantage over you. 

Your aim should be to identify between 3 and 6 elements which are most impactful on your chances to deliver your business goal. 

The strengths and weaknesses should relate to the needs of the target audience. Or they should impact on your ability to perform marketing activities.

The aim of this SWOT analysis is to identity strengths which you can push even harder to grow your business more. And to identify weaknesses which you can put in action plans to mitigate or lessen.

Opportunities and threats

Opportunities and threats are where you carry out an external assessment of factors compared to the internal view of strengths and weaknesses. You should look for external factors that raise or reduce your chances to deliver your business goal.

You might find opportunities for example when you spot an unmet need or a market trend that you can meet before your competitors are able to do so.

Maybe there is a new fashion trend in your industry? Or a new technique to deliver a service that you know consumers will value?

Opportunities might also arise from lessons you have learned about previous marketing activity.

Maybe a particular advertising message or communication channel has higher impact with certain parts of the target audience?

You can also look for opportunities in geography and with trade customers. Is there a particular district or region you could expand your activities into? Or is there a particular retailer you have a strong relationship with?

Threats unsurprisingly tend to be similar variables but with the opposite impact. Factors that could hinder your ability to achieve your business goals.

Perhaps you have become aware of a planned competitor activity? Or maybe a retailer threatens to change their priorities in a way that will give you less presence in-store. 

A common threat is also wider macro events like changes in laws and regulations. These may restrict your ability to carry out some activities which previously had been successful.

Case study : Use a SWOT to synthesise data to make recommendations 

Though not the only tool to carry out such an analysis, it is one of the most commonly used tools. We usually recommend you should aim to include a SWOT analysis somewhere in your marketing plan. 

The key challenge we’ve seen when brands use a SWOT is that it can often end up as a list of observations rather than actions. The SWOT needs to be actionable.

For every entry which goes in to the SWOT, you should challenge “So What?”. 

SWOT example completed

Only include it if there is an action or change that needs to take place. This is a process to synthesise and link together different pieces of information so that they tell a story of “this is what we should do about it”.

If you look at our hypothetical example here, this is a brand with a typical mix of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

But where you should focus in this SWOT are the 4 key take-outs. 

Take-out 1 : Digital marketing

In this case, we have a marketing activity / channel (digital marketing) which data shows drives consideration of our brand when we use it (a strength). But we also know that competitors have been slow to carry out digital marketing (an opportunity). So when you put these two facts together, digital marketing becomes a key activity to pursue in this marketing plan. 

Take-out 2 : Loyalty program

Here, we identified that the brand has an issue with loyalty (weakness). When competitors go on promotion, some of our consumers switch away from us. But we also know that our loyalty program has yet to have a high sign-up (opportunity). So, we can put these two facts together to recommend a plan to beef up the loyalty program. We want to encourage consumers to NOT switch when competitors go on price promotion. 

Take-out 3 :  Launch new products

In this case, there is a more straightforward opportunity. To launch new products that meet new purchase occasions. 

This may be products that are already in development or which require investment to develop and launch in the next 6 to 18 months.

Take-out 4 : Regional strategy

Finally, for this brand we identified that the brand was strong in 2 regions, but in 2 other regions it had a significantly smaller salesforce on the ground.

So, a recommendation for more investment in the two weaker regions became part of the marketing plan. The plan would recommend the activity and business case. This would  include targets to justify the investment to expand in these areas. 

Your ability to carry out this audit will very much depend on your knowledge of the market. Any market research such as qualitative, quantitative  or secondary research can be invaluable to help you to complete a SWOT.

Where possible you should use objective facts. Be as honest and customer-focussed as possible.

It may also be the SWOT identifies some gaps in your knowledge. That’s perfectly normal. These gaps  become research questions that you can drop into the market research process.

The SWOT analysis is a page that you come back and re-assess and update as new information comes in or circumstances change in the market. 

At a minimum, you should update and review your SWOT should be reviewed at least every 12 months. 

But as you write subsequent parts of the marketing plan, you may find that you come back and adjust it until it fits properly. It needs to tells the story that connects your marketing audit to the decisions that you make in your marketing plan.  

Where does your business want to be in 6 to 18 months time?

Traditionally, business would write marketing and brand plans on an annual basis. This annual basis was often tied to the financial year calendar of the business.

The business plan for the financial year ahead would set financial targets and identify investment requirements. It would define expectations and priorities for the year ahead across the business.

A formal business and marketing planning cycle like this is better than no plan at all. But, there are a number of challenges with this fixed annual routine.

Man holding a lit lighbulb to symbolise the enlightenment that three-brains brings to marketing

Flexibility in the marketing plan matters

Firstly, consumers and categories do not necessarily operate on 12 month cycles. Which means your plan needs to be flexible enough to adapt to events that may not happen on a 12 months cycle.

While some events might be predictable when they happen, what happens during those events can be much more unpredictable. 

Let’s say your own a gifting related brand for example. Toys, jewellery, premium chocolates, champagne or flowers as some examples.

You can predict times of year when demand is likely to be high. So, key gifting times like Christmas, Valentines Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day are fixed events.

But what happens in the market at each of these times is much less predictable. Which toys will sell the most next Christmas? Which styles of jewellery or flavours of chocolate will be most popular next Valentines Day?

And what about all the ‘new’ events which have started to enter the culture? What about Amazon’s Black Friday sales? Or 11/11 Singles Day?

If your business has products which have long lead times to source or if you look to bring innovative new products or services to market, these can take more or less time than 12 months.  But if your plan locks in 12 months as the definitive time, then what happens 13 months from now?

The ‘rolling’ marketing plan

So, marketing plans have evolved into more of a ‘rolling’ document rather than a ‘fixed’ document. One that only goes into depth on short-term initiatives and takes more of a flexible approach to longer-term initiatives. 

Events over the shorter-term are more predictable than events that are further away in time. So, you are more likely to learn about competitor moves 3 months before they happen than 18 months before they happen for example. 

So, while you may still have an in-depth annual marketing plan, it’s now more common to have a rolling activity plan to focus on the next 3-6 months. Longer time frames such as months 6 – 12 and 12 – 18 will be written at a higher level and with less depth. By the time those dates arrive, new circumstances will have arisen. These will impact how those activities are done.

This ‘rolling’ plan is then checked and amended at regular intervals. Typically, once a quarter. The activities are reviewed and adjustments made so that the brand stays responsive to latest changes in the market. We’ll cover this performance measurement and review in the skill guide on brand activation.

How will your brand get there?

The other main challenge with traditional marketing plans is the level of detail and work required to complete them.

Marketing plans are unsurprisingly, usually written by marketing teams. It takes time to pull together all the information and knowledge and create a story behind the plan. There’s also a time delay while those plans other functions in the business vet and review the plans. 

The finance team checks the financial projects to make sure sales, cost and profitability targets are met.

 

Factory worker

The operations and supply chain team work out if all the materials or equipment is in place to meet the projected demand.

If your business aims to grow over the next year, you may need more staff to meet the demand. This means you work with your HR team to build out your people plan.

Your sales team will want to include the plans and activities of key retailers. They want to make sure your brand plans sync with the retailer’s calendar of activities. 

Of course, it’s important to make sure your marketing plan ‘connects’ with the rest of the business. The marketing plan does not operate in isolation. All the necessary teams, resources and skills need to be in place to deliver the plan.

But, it can be a real challenge to have a plan that does this and also meets other important criteria. Because you need to make the marketing plans simple enough for everyone to understand. You need to make it flexible enough to react to market changes. And the plans has to still be clear enough to give direction and ensure consistency.

We’ve seen typical annual marketing plans on brands go anywhere from around 30 pages to over 200 pages on bigger and more complicated brands. You don’t need to go to this extreme.

Our biggest recommendation on the contents of the marketing plan would be to aim for the heart of your marketing plan to focus on three core sections.

You should challenge yourself to get these sections as “tight” as possible. The less words you need to articulate these sections, the clearer the understanding will be of anyone who will have a role in implementing the plan.

These three sections are as follows.

  1. Customer experience / strategy

  2. Marketing mix and GAME plan

  3. Activity Calendar

Customer experience / strategy

Your marketing plan needs to cover who your target audience is. It needs to state what change in attitude or behaviour you want to drive with that audience over the next 6 to 18 months.

This section will include a succinct summary of key market research you have and your work on customer experience. These help you define who the customer is, what their needs are, and the key jobs to be done by your brand to meet those needs.

Customer experience

In this section, you would include customer personas and journey maps to bring the consumer to life. You would include the key journey touchpoint to focus on in the marketing plan. Check out our skill guide on customer experience for more detail on how to produce these tools. 

Strategy and tactics

This section will contain the key strategies on how you will deliver the benefit to the consumer. It’s important to understand the difference between strategies and tactics since both are included in the marketing plan.

Strategy tends to take a longer-term and focus on how you will do things to achieve your goal. Tactics are more focussed on what you will do in the short to medium term.

So strategies tend to set direction and be more holistic. While tactics are more specific actions that move you towards your goals. 

So for example, if price is a big issue in your market, your strategy might be to keep costs low so that you can keep prices competitive. But, what you need to do to keep your costs down are tactics. Maybe you decide to source goods from alternative suppliers overseas? Or negotiate better deals with suppliers? Or buy materials in bulk to benefit from efficiencies of scale? All these are tactics to support a low cost strategy. 

Alternatively, maybe your strategy is to focus on a particularly lucrative and specific niche in the market. Maybe there’s a segment who are willing to pay for exclusive and unique one-off designs of your product?

The tactics that then sit under that strategy would look very different from a price-driven strategy.

Maybe you need to hire more designers? Charge a much higher price per item? And limit the number of such designs you release each year to make them more exclusive?

These would be examples of tactics to meet an exclusive or niche strategy.

Activation – Marketing mix and GAME plans 

From the ‘jobs to be done’ for your consumers, you should now be able to start to plan the ways your business can satisfy those needs for your target audience. What is it that you will do meet those needs? These are the activities that you will carry out. 

There are many ways to organise these tasks. We will go over two of the most common ones here. 

Firstly, you can use a planning template like the marketing mix model. 

Marketing mix 4Ps and 7Ps example variables

There are many alternative versions of the marketing mix model, but they are commonly arranged as a group of words beginning with “P” or “C”.

The marketing mix

The four “P”s are probably the most well known. Product, Price, Promotion and Place. This model dates back to 1960 when it was proposed by Professor E Jerome McCarthy in his book Basic Marketing : A Managerial Approach. 

While there have been many additions and variations on this model, it still forms the core of most marketing mix models today.

Most modern marketers have probably come across them through the works of Philip Kotler. He popularised the 4Ps in the 1980s and 1990s classic marketing bool, Marketing Management.

We’ve rarely heard Kotler’s work actually quoted in any marketing work in recent years. But flicking back through our own battered copy, the processes and scope still hold mostly true. In particular, for product-led businesses, the four Ps can be a useful checklist of what actions they can do to meet the needs of their target audience with their brand.

Product

In the product section, you consider many factors of the product that you sell. What can you can do to make it more likely for consumers to buy your product? Here are just some example questions that you should  consider when you build out the product section of your marketing plan. 

  • Are their changes to the quality or features of the product you can build in? 
  • What are the style characteristics of the product? How should you adjust the look, sound, feel, taste or smell of the product? 
  • Have you reviewed the brand name to make sure it appeals to the target audience?
  • What about the range that you offer? Or what if you make your product available in different sizes?
  • Have you reviewed any warranties or guarantees that you offer with your product? 
  • Have you considered when and how much of a product to make available? 

 

Price 

Price can have a huge impact on the perception of your brand. It can impact the likelihood your target audience choose your brand over competitors. You should as part of your marketing plan have decided on key pricing elements such as :-

  • Regular or list price – the price you will sell to customers when not on sale.
  • Discounts – what types of sales promotion discounts and in what circumstances will you offer discounts? e.g. discounts for bulk orders or quicker payments.
  • Payment periods – do your customer pay in advance, do they pay up front or can they defer payment? 
  • What about subscription and repeat orders? 
  • How will your price points compare to competitors? 
  • Are there additional benefits you can offer which increase the perception of value without necessarily raising price? e.g. free delivery, free servicing, extended warranties. 

 

Promotion

We outline many of the potential communication options in our skill guide on that topic. But your marketing plan should outline the headlines of the choices you will make to communicate to your target audience e.g.

  • What advertising campaigns will you do, if at all? What messages do you need to land, and what media channels will you use?
  • If you have a sales force, how will you deploy and what will their key priorities be?
  • Do you plan to run any sales promotions or offers? This can be pricing related but may also include exclusive offers or bundled products. A communication plan (and budget) will usually be needed to support such activities. 
  • What are your plans for more on-going communication activities beyond advertising campaigns? Do you plan to carry out Public Relations, digital marketing, social media, CRM or direct marketing throughout the year to meet your brand objectives? 

 

Place

The final part of the 4Ps is then related to “where’ the product will be sold.

  • Do you sell through retailers or do you sell direct to consumers? Or both?
  • Does your product only sell in stores or are you also selling online
  • If you sell through retailers, how will your plans tie into their plans for the year?
  • Have you considered  areas like warehousing and transport as part of your plan? How will your products physically get into the hands of consumers?

The 4Ps can be extended to 7Ps if your business also includes a service element in the mix. These additional 3Ps are people, process and physical location :-

People

If your staff interact with your customers, then your team is part of your marketing mix too. How will you set your team up to best manage these interactions? Your people plan from a marketing mix point of view can cover key HR areas like recruitment, culture, training and your reward programme. 

The success of service-led businesses like hospitality, health and beauty and travel for example can be make or break based on their people plan. 

Process

Beyond the people who will deliver the interaction with customers, your will likely need a process that those teams follow to ensure a consistent experience for your target audience.

So that restaurant diners are welcomed in a consistent way. Or, so that payments go through your finance and IT systems correctly. There are many ways to optimise the process, some of which we cover in our skill guide on customer experience

Physical Location

The final P of the Service-led 7Ps is then the physical location.

What is the environment in which the customer interaction takes place? Is it the ambiance of the venue? What colours are used? How well lit is it? How is it laid out to make it the best experience for the customer and so on.

But physical location can also extend to online. What is the layout and experience of your website, app or e-commerce store?

In this case the ‘location’ is the screen of the device your target audience uses, but the same principles apply. 

How do you use the 4Ps / 7 Ps?

The list of Ps above essentially act as a checklist.

They act as a series of prompts or questions about your target audience and your brand. These prompts should generate ideas of the key strategies and tactics you need to create.

However, which specific factors you decide are important for your business will depend on your market research and your brand identity.

You do not have to use ALL of the Ps or the variables within them. In fact the decision to choose to discard or ignore certain variables can be as beneficial to your business as choosing which ones to use.

Your aim is to pick and choose only the ones which will have the most impact. Which variables will drive you to achieve your marketing goal? If a particular variable is not relevant or doesn’t make sense, then discard it. 

We’ve also seen some businesses try to come up with their own model where the 4Ps or 7Ps don’t suit their specific business needs.

So for example, you can look online for where some businesses use a 4C model around Consumer-Cost-Convenience-Communication or Commodity-Cost-Channel-Communication for example.

But this doesn’t change the underlying principle. Such models are just a convenient and logical way to organise the different parts of knowledge you have gathered into a cohesive plan and story that can be used to share with people what the priorities and choices for the business are over the next 6 to 18 months.

Let’s go through a quick example. 

Case study : Sydney Pizza Shop example

Let’s imagine we are a pizza company based in Bondi Beach. We’ve used this example when we worked through our segmentation, targeting and positioning process. 

In this example, we might make the following choices about out 7Ps which set out the key initiatives we will carry out for the business. 

Product

Market research might have shown us that certain new flavour toppings are increasing in popularity. And that our competitors offer an XXL size that we currently don’t.

So two activities we will carry out in the next year will be to source these new flavour toppings and add an XXL size.

Pizza shop 7Ps Marketing Mix example

Price

Here, we might decide that our price will always be at a % variance (more or less) to a particular competitor. We might set our delivery price mix. And work out how profitable a volume discount could be when a customer spends a particular amount.

Promotion

Here, based on market research and previous experience, we might identify two or three key channels to support out existing customer based (paid search and display advertising). But decide that a more traditional leaflet drop is needed if we want to expand into a new suburb.

Place

Through our target market attractiveness work, we might have identified that a neighbouring suburb looks attractive. We would then work out how we can extend our delivery reach to that area.

People / Process / Physical Location

Based on our 4Ps, we might look at areas like training, customer feedback, website and delivery process, payment terms and store layout. These would be areas we can improve to help us deliver our  marketing goals.

The important point isn’t so much which activities we choose. Because the specific activities you choose depend on how you have completed the previous steps of the brand development process.

No, the important point is that you start to identify 2 to 3 key activities across each element of the marketing mix, which help you define what brand activation you need.

What you will often find is that some activities will connect across multiple areas of the marketing mix.

So, your XXL pizza size for example might also impact on people (since the staff might need training on how to cook and deliver larger sizes) and price (since you will need to work out how to price this new size against your existing range and competitor products).

What you should aim to come out with from the marketing mix are between five and nine big initiatives and activities to focus on. These activities then feed into the GAME plan format.

GAME plan

GAME plan is an acronym for Goal – Activity – Measure – Evaluation.

Rather than group all of your activities to have an aggregated view of all your marketing activities, the GAME plan format allows you to drill down on more specific activities. So you would typically create one of these per “big” initiative that your business will focus on,

Your Goal should tie back in to the overall brand goal you set earlier in the brand development process. But it will be more specific to the activity.

 

Game plan examples - marketing plan

We will get x number of consumers to buy from our e-commerce store or we will increase trial of product A from x to y are more specific goals you would set out in a GAME plan. 

Your activities then are the grouped key initiatives that will deliver that goal. Here, you pick out from our overall marketing mix and group those activities around specific goals.

So in this example, you can see the goal is to drive the market share of Brand X.

The key activities in this example focus mainly on “Product” and “Promotion”. These include new marketing campaigns and new product launches.

In this case, other areas of the marketing mix like “Price” and “Place” might drop down into the details of the plan.

Your GAME plan then also covers the measures that you will set to determine whether your activity has been successful. These measures can include sales growth and brand health, The evaluation part of the GAME plan then identifies HOW the measures will be identified, reported and reviewed. 

 

Game plan Brand X example.001

We cover the area of performance management in our section on brand activation.

The Activity Calendar 

The final essential component of your marketing plan then is your activity calendar. Now that you have identified the key activities to carry out, you need to switch to more of a project management style. 

Each broad activity should then be broken down into the key sub-activities required to deliver the overall activity. Each of these sub-steps needs to be mapped out for when it needs to take place on a planning calendar. This gives you an overview of what needs to happen each week. You use this to visualise and track performance.  

Management review tool

This calendar then serves as a management review tool where you can easily identify which projects are on or off track. You can see where there are critical dependencies or clashes in priority. It allows you to start to allocate responsibilities and accountabilities out to the teams who need to deliver the various activities. 

It can often be helpful within the calendar to assign budgets to specific activities, since monitoring of spends and cash flow becomes part of the on-going management process. This activity calendar can and should be shared with your finance team as it helps give them foresight of future spend and brings transparency to reporting and marketing investment measurement. 

This regular review of the activity calendar, we will cover in more detail in our skill guide on brand activation. 

Key lessons to create a successful marketing plan

The creation of the marketing plan is an important part of making sure that your brand activation has the highest chance of success.

However, it can also be time-consuming and complex in many circumstances, so to close this skill guide on the marketing plan off, here are our top three recommendations based on our experience. 

Post it on wall with light bulb illustration to highlight creative problem solving

Aim for simplicity and clarity

When you gather and map out all the inputs to the marketing plan, you can end up with an overwhelming amount of information, The key thing to remember is that the marketing plan is there as an actionable document to be used, not a summary of everything that’s happened in the past.

You should aim to be fairly ruthless in the choices of what goes in to your final marketing plan and keep your plan as simple, clear and “tight” as you can make it.

If that means a lot of work doesn’t make it into the final plan, learn to deal with it. That’s all part of the process.

You can always stick all this work in an appendix or an information summary that can be accessed when needed, but you need to be able to keep these separate from the specific actions that your map out in the plan.

Involve people – it’s as much a process as a document

You should also bear in mind that the marketing plan will require support, time and focus from other parts of your business and any outside parties like your marketing agency who will need to deliver it.

Think about the other teams of people you need to involve in the process. 

You should aim to include these teams early in the process of gathering information, and in the process of deciding on the priorities,

Three brains working together

Nobody likes to be handed someone else’s plan to go deliver, you’ll have much better buy-in and likely much higher quality ideas when you can involve other people in the development of the marketing plan.

Keep it flexible rather than fixed 

One of the most challenging aspects of the marketing plan, is that it is incredibly time sensitive.

You will write your plan based on the best knowledge you have at the time, but that plan can be subject to change if new knowledge comes in or circumstances change such as a major competitor activity or an action by a key retailer for example. 

So our final recommendation is you need to be prepared for the plan to be relatively flexible.

It can be a challenge when you invest time in the plan to pull together different information and link together the needs of different functions in the business to not get defensive of that work.

Woman doing yoga to demonstrate flexibility

We’ve seen many brand managers stubbornly defend and protect brand plans, that fail to recognise and respond to changes in the market-place.

So don’t get too fixed and keep an open mind to be able to adapt as circumstances change.

It’s important to have this simplicity, involvement and flexibility in place as in the next stage you move to brand activation.

Three-brains and brand strategy

Need help to build your brand strategy? Confused by the amount of information and the many claims of agencies who say they can solve all your problems? Before you’ve even told them what the problems are?

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