Introduction to marketing planning
Marketing planning is the process of defining activities that will support business goals and establishing a timeline for when that work will be completed. The conversation should be rooted in your marketing strategy — this represents the “why” and keeps the team focused on ideas that will be most impactful. You can think of the output of the planning exercise as defining the "when and what" of the work the marketing team will do to acquire, grow, and keep customers. This is your marketing plan.
Why is marketing planning important?
Marketing planning guides the team towards achieving meaningful results that support specific marketing initiatives as well as the overall company objectives. It also informs and aligns the company so that all customer-facing teams are in sync. You can ensure that activities are aligned with the broader goals by linking programs and campaigns to the marketing strategy.
When does marketing planning happen?
Planning cadence varies by company. Many marketing teams will set the programs and campaigns to focus on over an upcoming six-month period or even annually. Others may do their planning quarterly at time intervals that line up with the organization's business cycles. What matters is that you begin the process early enough so there is ample time to tackle every aspect of planning.
What are the different types of marketing plans?
Marketing plans are useful for communicating dates and deliverables to the team because they coordinate everyone around one timeline of work. You can create different types of marketing plans to reflect the type of work you are doing. You can also share a high-level view of the marketing plan with executives and other stakeholders to convey progress against the company goals. Many teams use marketing plan templates to create a repeatable planning process.
Marketing launch plan
A marketing launch plan captures how you will bring a new product or customer experience to market. Also called a go-to-market plan, it guides every aspect of a launch, from messaging and channels to due dates for each cross-functional activity.
Digital marketing plan
A digital marketing plan lays out paid marketing activities and online channels that will help you reach and communicate with your target audience. It includes components such as advertising, search engine optimization, email, and social media.
Social media marketing plan
A social media plan identifies how you will interact with your target audience on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This plan can include a mix of paid advertising (such as sponsored content) as well as follower engagement tactics.
Content marketing plan
A content plan describes how you will regularly publish material that is relevant and provides real value to your audience. Blog posts, whitepapers, and other types of content can help you find potential buyers and convert them to paying customers.
Start building your own marketing plan
The suggestions in this section of the marketing guide will give you a solid framework for undertaking every component of marketing planning — from deciding what types of plans you need to building and presenting them. Whether you are launching a product or planning a new program or campaign, you need to have a deep understanding of these topics. This will allow you to create strategic marketing plans that make a real impact and deliver on the overall business goals.