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What goes in a marketing plan?

Marketing strategy is really not that complicated. It’s about making plans – and being flexible enough to change those plans as circumstances and the market dictates.

Planning is everything because it focuses your mind on what you want to achieve and why. There’s no more agonising over every small decision because the important decisions have already been made. And once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, you can then move onto the practical business of how you actually achieve it – through the ever-growing range of marketing channels at your disposal.

Only by making plans and setting objectives can you measure your marketing effectiveness, and answer the most important question of all: Were you actually successful?

Marketing plans don’t need to be dozens of pages long. The important thing is to get the right structure and focus for your marketing efforts, using the following broad structure:

Introduction and broad objectives

A brief executive summary of why your organisation exists and what you want to achieve – referencing your mission statement.

Marketing overiew

Where is your business in relation to each of the 7Ps?

The market landscape

An overview of the market you operate in through a marketing audit, and your standing within it along with assumptions on how you think the market will perform and change in the future.

SWOT analysis

(strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). This takes the form of a simple graph or square divided into four quarters. You make a list for each category and address each one in turn, perhaps scoring it out of 10.

Specific objectives

Based on all the above what are the marketing objectives? To increase retention of donors by 5%? To recruit 200 new volunteers? To get on national television?

Brand strategy

Never forget that a brand is really nothing more than the way you choose to communicate who you are, what you do and what you offer. This includes how you differentiate yourself against competitors; your verbal and visual identity; your personality as an organisation, and what you ‘feel like’ to do business with. How are you actually perceived by the market?

Promotional strategy

What marketing services and tools are you going to use to achieve your objectives? Assess the promotional mix and allocate your time and budget accordingly. Advertising? Web? PR? Celebrity endorsement? Fliers? A mixture of everything? Find out more about the promotional mix on The Chartered Institute of Marketing website.

Actions, deadlines and budgets

Who will be responsible for which activities, when and with what budgets? This normally takes the form of a spreadsheet.


Do it yourself?

So how do you write a marketing plan and what needs to go in it? We’ve made it easy for you thanks to our friends at the Chartered Institute of Marketing with a DIY marketing plan – complete with worked examples.