Skip to main content

How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan


With so little written on this topic (at least according to Google Blog Search), one could easily conclude that marketing professionals must be born with knowledge of how to write a strategic marketing plan embedded in their genetic code. If you didn't enter the world with this capability hard-coded into your DNA, you may find the following helpful.

The first step in developing a strategic marketing plan is to identify your target markets. Include both current customers (can we sell them more of what they are already buying, products and services in addition to what they are already buying, or a more premium version of our products/services?) and new prospects. For new prospective buyers, develop a separate plan for each micromarket (e.g. hospitals, insurance companies and community banks, all of which buy very differently).

Next, ask the question: what do these prospects need in order to buy from me? (NOT "what do I need to sell to them?"). Divide this into three sections—strategies, tactics and tools.

Begin the plan with a high-level state of the market overview, business objectives, and marketing and PR objectives to support those business goals. These needn't be dense prose, just bullet points. The market overview should include observations and assumptions about key points such as market penetration, the competitive landscape, and buyer motivations. Getting the business objectives right is critical, as these will be logically supported by the marketing and PR objectives; for example, your marketing objectives will be much different if they are supporting a new-to-the-world product launch as opposed to a goal of increasing market share for a mature product line.

Marketing & PR Strategies

These are high-level statements of how prospects will be reached, such as "Increase awareness and build credibility through PR." Broad elements to include here are:


  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Online Marketing
  • Direct Appeal
  • Branding
  • Events
  • Co-op and Channel Marketing
  • Etc.

Marketing & PR Tactics

Tactics specify how the identified marketing and strategies will be implemented, and how the tools that will be identified in the next session will be used to support the stated marketing and PR objectives. This is really the "meat" of the plan, the action items. Tactics may include:


  • Trade shows
  • Conferences
  • Company-sponsored events
  • Print advertising
  • Analyst relations
  • Media outreach
  • Blogger outreach
  • Blogging
  • Webcasts
  • Podcasts
  • Banner ads
  • White paper syndication
  • Search engine marketing
  • Newsletter advertising
  • Newsletter promotion
  • Press releases
  • Website redesign
  • SEO
  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing
  • Outdoor
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Social media
  • Lead nurturing programs
  • Seminars
  • Analyst relations
  • Co-op marketing programs

Marketing & PR Tools

The third key section of the plan details the tools needed to implement the tactics that support the strategy. These may include:


  • Banner ads
  • Print ad artwork
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Press releases
  • Bylined articles
  • Sales collateral such as product/service sheets and brochures
  • Presentations
  • Tradeshow giveaways
  • Direct mail materials
  • Online press kit (fact sheet, executive bios, photo gallery)
  • Redesigned website
  • Email template and content
  • Video
  • Email ads (HTML and text)
  • Search ads
  • Greeting cards
  • Case studies
  • Blog
  • Executive biographies
  • Photos (key people, products, software screen shots)
  • Diagrams
  • Competitive matrix
  • Media, analyst and blog lists
  • Lists of key organizations and tradeshows
  • Web content
  • Channel marketing materials
  • Product demos
  • Pricing guide
  • ROI tool
  • Surveys
  • Call scripts
  • Microsites
  • Newsletter
  • Wikis
  • Etc.

That ought to get you started if you don't already have a marketing degree! A few other resources you may want to check out are Mike Kujawski's blog (focused on public sector / non-profit marketing, but strategically-focused); Strategic Marketing: Eliminate the Bottom Half from RealBlogging; How to Write a Marketing Plan from the BucknerMeredith blog; and Louis Debrun's post on How to Create a Marketing Plan That Delivers Results.

Finally, here's an excellent book on the topic:

*****

technorati tags:

del.icio.us tags:

icerocket tags:


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com



Comments

Mike Kujawski said…
Thanks for the mention Tom! We sure do need more marketing "strategy" focused blogs out there.
mlm leads said…
Here's my idea: 9 steps in writing a strategic plan...
1. Set your marketing goals
2. Conduct a marketing audit
3. Conduct market research
4. Analyze the research
5. Identify a target audience
6. Determine a budget
7. Develop marketing strategies
8. Develop an implementation schedule
9. Create an evaluation process

A good marketing plan outlines realistic marketing goals, strategies and actions based on sound information and research about your practice and your community
Tom Pick said…
Helpful outline, thanks for sharing this.

All Time Greats

Twitter Twaddle, Part 1: What Twitter Is and Why It's Cool

Most Web 2.0 sites fall into one of a few increasingly well-defined categories, such as social bookmarking (Digg, del.icio.us, Searchles), social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) or file sharing (YouTube, Flickr, podOmatic ). Twitter, however, stands alone. (Okay, there's also Pownce, but Twitter is better.) Self-described as simply a real-time short messaging service and often referred to a microblogging platform , to those new to it, Twitter resembles nothing so much as a giant cocktail party where everyone talks at once and hopes others listen. You can tell who's important by how many "followers" that person has, though that's no guarantee anyone is really paying attention. People (or rather, Tweeple in the Twitter lexicon ) can come and go without really being noticed, just like at a real (very, very large) gathering. Twitter can be difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with it. Jennifer Laycock writes that Twitter is like Post-It notes ; lots of them a

Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)

When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial. It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads. Email newsletter advertisements Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick . The average CT

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 6

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increase blog traffic How To Make My Blog Marko Saric what not to do in social media Interactive Insights Group Robin Broitman social media gaffes Target Motrin Starbucks Whole Foods FedEx del.icio.us tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increa

Google and the Parable of the Turkey

In The Black Swan , Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the life of the turkey: for 100 days, the turkey is sheltered, fed and cared for by the farmer. The turkey grows to trust the farmer completely, even perhaps developing a fondness for the farmer (and of course the feed). Then, on the 101st day (with Thanksgiving quickly approaching), the relationship between the turkey and the farmer changes abruptly and permanently. The rationale behind the farmer's apparent benevolence become clear in a final flash before the turkey takes the necessary step preceding de-feathering, vacuum-packing, freezing and shipping off to the market. Taleb's lesson for us from this: don't be a turkey. More succinctly, don't assume that the future will resemble the past, or, in the words of mutual fund prospectuses , "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Also, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Of course, that doesn't take into account the pe

How to Use SEO: Leverage SEO To Be Found Online and Boost Your Online Marketing

All businesses that want to attract customers online, no matter the business size or age, have few options other than Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  SEO In The Box™ by Results Driven Marketing®, LLC There are roughly 1.8 billion websites online, and basic SEO allows Google to find and index or catalog your webpages.  After that, Google serves you up to searchers in the organic section.  The question remains: where they list your site, on page one or page 22 or further back? SEO controls your positioning. Do you want to be found online or not? If your business is online or you want your product or service to be found online, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must, and knowing how to use SEO to leverage the power of the internet is vital. Arguably, an effective SEO strategy gets you on the organic results section of the search engine results pages (SERP). Organic traffic is highly valuable and requires high-quality SEO. But even businesses that use l

Google Search Console and Domain Properties? What what?

According to Search Engine Land, Google Search Console is experimenting with domain properties. What's that mean? As Google looks to migrate more features from the old Google Search Console to the new one, Google is rethinking how properties should be organized. To learn more, read their enlightening article .

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the re

Salesforce.com's "No Software" Mantra: More Effective Than They Know

From its beginnings, Salesforce.com has emphasized its online delivery model with its "No Software" positioning, even snagging 1-800-NO SOFTWARE as its toll-free line. While the application service provider (ASP) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in general has never lived up to its initial hype, among consumers or business users, Salesforce.com has enjoyed impressive success with it. While the company's success with sales and marketing users is hardly news at this point, I was surprised in doing some research recently at how successful the No Software campaign has been among another group: enterprise software developers. Salesforce.com has apparently succeeded at making "software" a nasty word for many of these firms, almost like a racial slur or a misogynistic anachronism not to be uttered in polite company. For example, Synopsys , a developer of electronic design automation software, doesn't produce software at all according to either its home page