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Marketing plan: what it is and how to make one step by step

Today all companies and businesses, no matter how small, need to develop a good marketing plan to be successful. The reason is very simple: avoid taking aimless steps without clear objectives. Therefore, you must have a roadmap that serves as a reference when planning all marketing actions and strategies.

A well-prepared and structured marketing plan is the basis for any marketing department, but also for the entire company in general and its business plan, since the campaigns we carry out and the purpose of each of them have an impact on everyone. the other aspects.

Each company is a world and, therefore, needs a specific marketing plan tailored to suit your needs. And, although there may be as many marketing plans as there are companies on the market, there are some sections that are common. That is why in this post we want to show you how to make a marketing plan and what steps to follow to develop it, with images of examples of a marketing plan.


What is a marketing plan?

The marketing plan is a document in text or presentation format where all the market studies carried out by the company are collected, the marketing objectives to be achieved, the strategies to be implemented and the planning to carry it out.

A marketing plan is, therefore, the guide that guides the company when determining the steps to follow at each moment. In this document, with a developed investigation, the deployment of its economic viability, the delimitation of short and long-term objectives and the timing of actions to be carried out, etc. ; the business will know how best to engage potential customers and what KPIs to measure.

This document is usually valid for one year. New year, new life, or so they say.

Therefore, it is convenient to review it annually and renew it to develop new objectives, re-study the market, evaluate the competition, our public, what we have achieved and propose a new action plan to adapt to a new reality.

Although it is a lot of work, it is important to check that everything we have implemented has worked, as well as to evaluate the current situation and the position of the company in the market.


Why is it important to develop a marketing plan?

Marketing is characterized by measuring everything that happens in the company and around it to create a better customer experience, improving products and/or services, and optimizing the ways in which the company connects with its customers or potential customers. .

For this, it is essential to start from a deep investigation, so that the marketing strategies developed by the company are correctly directed and planned.

As we mentioned, the purpose of a marketing plan for a product or service is not only to develop a roadmap for the entire company, but also to develop a justification for the actions to be carried out and explain how to achieve the objectives set.

In this way, we will be able to continue growing and build the foundations so that the flow of clients increases progressively.

In other words, a marketing plan is important for several reasons:

  • To know our market share and obtain a more exhaustive vision of the sector.
  • It allows you to get to know your competitors better and, above all, the pain points of your buyer persona or ideal client .
  • It allows defining a communication strategy, proposing actions focused on the company's objectives and ensuring that they are consistent with each other.
  • Plan your actions over a year (or the established time) so that you know what budget and what resources to allocate to each of them.
  • Avoid unpleasant surprises that hinder the fulfillment of business objectives.
  • You will be able to carry out periodic evaluations to check the ROI and make decisions for improvement.

Objectives in a marketing plan

Before going into the different phases that your marketing plan must go through, it is essential that you set some goals for yourself at a professional level, both short and long term.

It is very important that these goals of the marketing plan are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and defined in time. Otherwise, you will only generate frustration in your team. An example of goal formulation could be: increase visits to the company's website by 25% in 12 months.

Write down each and every one of your objectives in the marketing plan and add a deadline or deadline to each of them to start organizing your marketing actions.

Basic structure of a marketing plan

Any marketing plan must contain the following structure so that all its corresponding sections can be properly developed:

  • Analytical marketing: initial research of both the company itself and the market and the competition.
  • Strategic marketing : definition of the strategy that we are going to follow with our business plan.
  • Operational marketing : actions that we are going to develop to carry out our strategy, as well as its economic viability. At this point the 4 P's of the marketing mix are addressed : product, price, distribution and communication.

How to develop a marketing plan: all its phases step by step

Below I detail the parts that every marketing plan must develop to complete this structure.


PART 1. Analytical marketing step by step

The points that we develop in this section are among the most important, since they give you an objective view of the situation of your business in the market compared to your competitors and with respect to the current socioeconomic situation . This will be very useful for you to know how you can differentiate yourself from them and develop a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities).

Very briefly, to complete this section of the marketing plan, it is recommended that you carry out a study of, at least, the following factors of your company:

  • Main characteristics of your business.
  • Political, social and economic situation of the sector to which your company belongs.
  • Characteristics of your target audience.
  • Positive and negative characteristics of your competition.

Below we break down the analytical marketing sections of a complete marketing plan:

1. The internal analysis of a marketing plan

Define your business in detail. In the development of these points, it is necessary to analyze all the aspects of the internal structure that may affect the planning and development of the company's plan. They are the following:

  • History of the company and its products.
  • Characteristics of the property structure.
  • Mission and strategic intent.
  • Organization and internal organization chart.
  • Productive capacity: In this aspect, it is necessary to determine if the company is capable of meeting the demand that is generated, since, otherwise, the possibility of increasing the productive capacity or outsourcing it must be foreseen.
  • Financial capacity: carry out a study and analysis of the financial balance of the company and its operating accounts. To launch a product, economic resources will be needed and it will be necessary to know if the company has them.
  • Capacity and commercial structure.
  • Markets and target audiences.
  • Distribution channels used.

Furthermore, it is interesting to detail whether the company has R&D capacity or general pricing policies. All these points will help us to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the company so that, later on, we can prepare the SWOT matrix.


2. Socioeconomic and legal analysis

It is about studying the macro environment that affects the company or that may affect the launch of the proposed product or service. It is essential to include these two points in this section:

  • Reference legal regulations (both nationally and internationally).
  • Analysis of the main socioeconomic factors that affect the product: general economic situation, social and cultural situation in general, and general political situation.

This will help us to know what is the situation from which the company is starting (economic crisis, local, regional, state or European financial situation, etc.) and by what regulations it must be governed.

3. Consumer analysis

As its name suggests, in this section we must be clear about who our consumers are and analyze them .

This is one of the most important key points when carrying out our marketing plan.

  • demographic analysis.
  • Global volume and potential.
  • Buying roles.
  • Existence of consumption brakes or their accelerators.

To have a clearer idea, establish who the buyer person of your business is, that is, the ideal profile that we are targeting.

4. Analysis of the competition

We also need to know our competitors, and to do so, we must analyze them one by one. For this, it is convenient to develop a structure of aspects that we will analyze in each company and draw up a map of competitors in which we distinguish different types of competitors depending on which ones can have the most impact on us or who are most similar to our products/services. For example: direct/indirect competition, organic/PPC competitors or online/offline competitors.


First, do a quick analysis by checking how your top competitors are performing in the SERPs and on social media , as well as how their websites are doing.

Second, choose the competitors you most want to dig into to evaluate more details at this point. Among the aspects that we must analyze, we highlight: define who its owners are, business philosophy, estimate annual sales figures and market shares, observe what its organization is like, the positioning of its products, marketing strategies it uses, distribution channels, organization commercial etc.

Thus, the following points are also relevant:

  • In what sector or sectors does it operate?
  • Who are your consumers? How do you get them?
  • What is its geographical location?
  • What general pricing policies do you have?
  • What goals do you have and what marketing strategies do you use?
  • The promotional, advertising and merchandising campaigns carried out.
  • Your customer service levels and your loyalty campaigns.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of each competitor.

5. Market study

To carry out the market study we will need to analyze the evolution of market sales in the last five years. Therefore, it will be necessary to have business figures from the main companies in the sector and their market shares, something to which we do not always have access.

This will help us to calculate market shares by product category, carry out a study of sales based on the geographical area and establish the seasonality of sales.

At the same time, to prepare a good market study we can develop the following:

  • Strategic analysis of the market.
  • Porter's five forces analysis.
  • Analysis of strategic groups, that is, making maps of groups by identifying strategic dimensions.
  • Analysis of rivalry between strategic groups.

6. Commercial study on the product

This section tries to study the company's product at a generic level to specify its notoriety, attributes and life cycles. In this way, we will talk about substitute products, about what their complements are or the levels of the product range.

7. Commercial study on prices

As in the previous section, it is about analyzing the prices of the generic product. In it we will see:

  • Product price levels.
  • Sales quotas by price band.
  • Price elasticity of demand.
  • Levels of price perception by the consumer.
  • Summary of most important aspects.


8. Commercial study on the purchase process

Understanding how the purchase process currently works for a generic product in the company is of vital importance when determining factors such as the existence of purchase brakes or their accelerators, annual rate of purchases per customer, frequency of purchase, volume of customers , degree of loyalty, captive purchase, etc.

From the first contact of a client to the final conversion and services per sale, the purchase process that a client goes through can give you many clues about your business.

9. Analysis of distribution channels

On the other hand, to evaluate the current state of the distribution channels, all the possible channels will have to be studied one by one, with all that this entails. Therefore, in this section there are also various factors to take into account, such as the type of geographical distribution and the respective market share or the level of geographical penetration of the channels.

10. SWOT Summary

The SWOT matrix, also known as SWOT, can be presented as follows:


PART 2. Strategic marketing step by step

Once all the initial analysis has been done, we can continue with the section on the strategic marketing plan . This strategic plan is the part of the document that helps us to gain alignment before thinking about the execution of the actions.

1. Marketing Strategy

This section can vary greatly depending on the type of business you have in hand and what your short-term and long-term business and marketing goals are.

In order to define the marketing strategies that you will implement, you must take into account the objectives that you have set for yourself and ask yourself how you can achieve them .

To start, define what your biggest competitive advantage is and what strategic growth option you want to choose (for example, differentiation, market penetration, product launch, etc. ).

2. Segmentation in a marketing plan

How to segment the target audience chosen for your marketing plan?

As with competitive analysis, there are many ways to segment your audience. You can do it based on a demographic, quantitative, psychographic identification or the needs to be covered. It all depends on the point of focus, the sector you are targeting and the business objectives set.

At the end of the day, segmenting implies identifying the different profiles of consumer groups, so that we can target each of them with different marketing strategies. At the same time, it would also be necessary to understand the behavior of each of these profiles.

From our point of view, the ideal is to define your buyer persona or ideal client , in order to focus your action plan on that consumer profile for whom you satisfy a latent need with your product or service. It is possible that you not only have one buyer person, but several, but it is important to try to focus your actions on impacting one of them (the one with the most volume, the one that is most profitable...).


3. Positioning

What is your positioning strategy?

You must proceed to a conversion of the competitive advantage in the current position of the market in which you find yourself. The diagram that we attach below can give you a clue on how to do it.

In general, you should:

  • Go to the initial definition of the product or service.
  • Identify the significant differences with respect to the competition.
  • Identify attributes and positioning.

PART 3. Operational marketing step by step

Thirdly, the bulk of the marketing plan should focus on the sections that we break down below.

To organize the strategies and the sections that we are going to list, it is common to start by resorting to the 4P of the marketing mix : product, price, distribution (point of sale) and communication (promotion). However, to carry out a marketing plan, it takes even more than that, so we include the following points:

1. Product Policy

How is the generic product of the brand physically? It explains what your production and supply systems are like, identifies whether you need complementary products or services, and describes the choice of packaging and packaging systems. Likewise, it will be necessary to talk about the elaboration of the level of costs.

If it is a service, you have to specifically define what you offer.

2. Pricing Policy

What to include regarding prices?

  • Use the price as a positioning tool.
  • Perform tests and price simulations.
  • Set retail price levels.
  • Structure of margins against cost.
  • Margin forecast for different distribution channels, promotions and discounts.

The price is an important factor of positioning in the market with respect to the competition, and this should be the main factor from which you stipulate this retail price, but it is also very important to make sure that with that price you are covering all your costs and you have a margin.

3. Distribution Policy

Explain in the distribution policy of your marketing plan the reasons for choosing the distribution channels and the strategy used for it. It is necessary to establish a weighted assessment of what the product (or the company) needs or expects from the distribution channels compared to what they offer.

In turn, it determines the levels, location and costs of the stocks, as well as the supply systems of the channels.

4. Sales policy and commercial organization

In this section you can address:

  • Detailed setting of sales objectives in the short and medium term.
  • Determine the necessary sales structure. Necessary size, profile and functions of the components, etc.
  • Creation of the sales argument.
  • Sales support elements (POS, offers, promotions, etc. ).
  • Calculation of the cost of sales.

5. Communication policy

In this section we will set the basic communication objectives, on the one hand, and the global communication strategy, on the other.

In it we will divide the different proposals and marketing actions to be developed in the following points.


Prepare the Copy Strategy and its Reason Why to capture the strategic planning that the company must follow. In it, the benefit promised by the brand must be very clear, since it will constitute the main basis for arguing the reasons for purchase and the presentation of the characteristics of the product. In this way you can provide basic advertising and creative continuity for the brand in the long term.

  • Definition of communication channels and actions: propose those actions that we are going to carry out to make our product or service known in the offline world (if it is a launch), or to promote or retain an existing product or service. Organization of events, advertising in traditional media... ask yourself what kind of actions can fit you to reach your goals.
  • Sponsorship and sponsorship: where we will carry out an evaluation of the possibilities, needs and costs.
  • Sales promotion: what types of promotions are possible taking into account everything analyzed? Make a forecast of their respective campaigns and the cost they would entail.
  • Merchandising: study what the planned merchandising elements and actions are and what results you expect to obtain in return.

It is increasingly important to have an online presence, so it is also essential to be clear about the strategies and marketing action plan that we will carry out in this section. The main points to assess in a digital marketing plan are:

  • Web marketing: working a website as a cover letter.
  • SEO and SEM strategies: carry out methodologies that allow us to boost our business, such as inbound marketing, account-based marketing , organic or paid positioning...
  • Social Media and mobile strategies: work on our presence on social networks, carry out specific actions on them...

All the actions developed in this communication section must have their forecast in the corresponding time.


6. Start-up schedule

Organize all the actions proposed throughout this marketing plan and plan them to know how long it would take to carry them out, from the moment of designing the plan to the date of completion. In this way, you will know how to structure all the campaigns and carry out a safe start-up with an agenda in front of you.

7. Economic plan

At this point, it is the moment of truth. The economic plan of a marketing plan demonstrates the feasibility of drawing up said plan through the breakdown of:

  • Overall marketing budget.
  • Financial needs.
  • Predictable and reasoned operating account of the product (3 or 5 years).

Review of the work done for the marketing plan

Finally, it is important to review the marketing action plan that you have developed and what its results are as you execute it.

To do this, you must carry out a Marketing Audit , that is, create systems for monitoring and controlling results, as well as a Contingency Plan . In this second you will be able to analyze the foreseeable contingencies and their affectation in terms of results.

Thanks to this, you will be able to take stock of the situation and check if you have defined realistic objectives. If necessary, you will have to rethink your marketing strategies.

This point of your marketing plan should be reviewed regularly so as not to deviate from your goals and not make critical mistakes. Remember it!

It is also vital to review the accounting to see what income and what expenses you are having, if the progression is positive and if the business is really profitable.

The more information you have, the more control you have over your marketing actions and the better your goals will be . Do you dare to try it? Tell me about your experience in the comments section!

Top mistakes to avoid when creating a marketing plan

Finally, when developing a marketing plan, taking into account everything we have mentioned, there are a series of common mistakes that we must avoid.


1. Not doing market research

The first section of analytical marketing may be the heaviest, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Specifically, doing market research is a fairly complex action due to the number of variables with which you have to work.

For people who do not know us, the perception of the product or brand is different from what current consumers already have, and this is different depending on the geographical point in which they are. In other words, you cannot carry out the same market studies in China as in South America: the cultures that come into contact with your brand are totally different.

When doing a market study , it is necessary to take into account that your brand and your communication are irreversible. Building all this framework requires many years of work, so it must be done with perspective. It is also advisable to save some budget for studies and research . This will allow you to work with surveys, talk to employees and, most importantly, understand each and every one of your movements in the geographical points where you want to move.

2. Ineffective communication strategies within the team

Oddly enough, there are still companies that do not communicate their goals properly. Something that cannot be denied is that we live in a highly connected world and, therefore, the most effective solution is the use of tools designed to promote clear and effective communication.

While there are a plethora of cloud-based tools (such as Trello or ClickMeeting) that are designed to make sure you don't miss any important messages within the team, deciding which one is best suited to your organizational needs and preferences isn't an issue. simple.

3. Not quantifying goals

As we have already mentioned in the second section, writing the objectives in general terms is one of the most common mistakes, and we can say that it is almost unforgivable. In any marketing plan it is essential to have quantifiable and qualifiable objectives , but all with a minimum of measure , since success is only reflected by achieving measurable terms or figures. And everything that qualifies must be taken into account through satisfaction surveys, reputation reports, etc.

Terms such as 'market share', 'improving customer satisfaction' or 'expanding abroad', even if they go one way or another, do not specify specific objectives. Remember that this is what the acronym SMART is for, to define the characteristics that the objectives must have .

4. Keep "dog" products

They are part of the BCG matrix . Dog products are the products where growth is zero and market share is low. They are usually products that are in the last stage of life and it is rarely advisable to maintain them. If the company is filled with dog products, it may cost more than profit . Identify them and plan your withdrawal!

5. Not acting consistently

It is the first thing to take into account when drawing up a plan, knowing your limits, your opportunities, advantages and risks. The coherence must be between the product, the marketing plan and the consumer of said product. In marketing, coherence would come as an answer to several questions that the company must ask itself regarding communication and business performance .

  • Who is my buyer?
  • Where is it located?
  • What demands do you have?
  • Would you opt for something else?

6. Not choosing a person responsible for implementing the plan

Without a leader who is responsible for the plan , having a document is useless. The person responsible for the implementation of the plan may serve as a guide and follow-up of the marketing plan .

It is a mistake to fall into thinking that a marketing plan is something easy and that it can be done alone. It doesn't: you need accountability and marketing experts who can make the plan and review the results.

7. Do not take false steps

It is advisable not to always follow the impulses . Yes, it is true that on many occasions we want to act, and perhaps haste is not the best ally. Remember that we are talking about a plan and not immediate actions.

For example, in a business crisis situation or when someone impulsively decides that something must be done. This is also where the figure of the person in charge comes in , who has to guide the guidelines and the steps to follow for a correct development of the marketing plan . It is important to follow a line of action to be able to position yourself before the desired public. Remember that if it is called 'marketing plan' it is for a reason.

Take note of all these mistakes and always keep in mind that it is a process that needs qualities such as patience and that it depends on how you move your chips. These types of errors can occur in large, medium and small companies.

The strategy you develop when implementing the plan will be decisive and, although you can rectify it, it is recommended to locate the errors so that the company does not fall precipitously.


And so far all the essential information that I think you should know when developing your marketing plan. Tell me about your experience in the comments section!

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