What to Include When Writing a Marketing Plan by Bobette Kyle

For those new to marketing plans, the thought of writing a marketing plan from start to finish may feel daunting. It need not. The level of detail you choose to include will depend on your resources and situation. If you have extremely limited manpower or other resources, you may be constrained to a “broad brush,” basic marketing plan approach. If your plan must support your claims to others in the company, more back-up detail in your marketing plan may be appropriate.

Writing a Basic Marketing Plan

Include a summary at the beginning. Like any business report, your plan write up should begin with a summary. The traditional executive summary is one option.

I prefer to include – either in addition to or instead of the executive summary – a one-page table. The table makes everyday use of your plan easier. In one glance you can be reminded of your marketing challenges, objectives, strategies, and tactics as well as budgets and deadlines. Also, as your plan evolves throughout the year, the table makes it easier to modify the plan.

Other features of a basic plan include the following:

  • Explain your reasoning. Make some reference to why you chose the specific objective(s) and strategies in your marketing plan. This will make it easier to justify the plan to others (if necessary). It will also help you make smarter, strategic decisions.
  • Identify your target customers. By doing so, you will be better able to develop effective advertising messages.
  • Write one or more positioning statements. In the statement(s), specify the customer needs you are fulfilling, benefits your products/services offer, and features that deliver those benefits.
  • Explain key issues and opportunities when you write a marketing plan. These can best be identified through industry and/or competitive analyses.
  • Include preliminary budgets and timelines for your action plans / programs.

Write an Advanced Marketing Plan – Expanded Content

By including detailed analysis and arguments to substantiate your plan, you can write an expanded marketing plan:

  • Describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your business faces (SWOT analysis).
  • Explain the business environment. What are your competitors’ strategies? What potential substitutes are available?
  • Include the trends in your industry and how they affect both online and offline activity. Show growth projections.
  • Detail the financial aspects when you write the marketing plan. Include break even analysis for your products or company as well as for the tactics included in your plan. Discuss assumptions made when completing your financial analysis. Show how implementation of your plan will be profitable to your business.
  • Include a calendar of events that shows milestones in the coming weeks or months.

You can be as detailed or top-line as needed when you write a marketing plan. In any case remember that your marketing plan is always a work in progress. It may be current, but it is never “done.”