This complete guide covers how to create a marketing plan step-by-step. Follow these steps to run marketing campaigns that do more for your business. 

47% of small business owners run their marketing entirely on their own. This involves wearing many different hats and dividing your time between marketing and other business tasks.

So, how do you know your marketing plan is as effective as possible?

If you tackle something as important as marketing, you must have a rock-solid marketing plan. 

Before posting on social media or uploading content to your website, make sure that all of these efforts align with your marketing plan. This will help you achieve results that grow your business instead of spending hours working on marketing tactics that don’t deliver. 

To help you maximize your marketing success, this guide covers all the steps and tactics you need to follow to create a successful marketing plan.

  1. What is a Marketing Plan?
  2. Why You Need a Marketing Plan
  3. How to Create a Marketing Plan

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan outlines the framework for all of your business’s marketing efforts. This includes the entire roadmap your business will use to execute its marketing strategy and achieve its marketing goals. 

A marketing plan is a high-level outline that can encompass various marketing tactics. 

The purpose of this plan is to keep your business organized and keep your marketing efforts targeted. It also ensures you use the right marketing strategies and channels efficiently to reach the right people.  

A marketing plan is different from a marketing strategy – this guide explains this:


Why You Need a Marketing Plan

If your business is going to attract the right customers, then it needs a solid marketing plan. 

Your marketing plan gives you a direction to follow when creating marketing materials. Without this, any social media channel your business touches or any type of marketing email you send out will be done without direction. 

Not only is this messy, but it will probably result in wasted time and effort. This probably also means wasted money. 

Good marketing plans will help you achieve a more positive ROI with every marketing strategy you implement. This is because you’ll be marketing more efficiently to help you achieve clear goals. 

Your marketing plan should also include plenty of research into your market and customers. This means all of your marketing efforts become more effective – because they’re strategically geared toward the right people. 

There’s a lot that goes into a good marketing plan. Most importantly, you need to understand the entire customer journey and address each step a customer takes with your business. If you plan this out properly, you’ll be able to make sure all of the marketing efforts you put in actually have an impact.

So, short answer: A marketing plan helps you grow your business more effectively with less wasted time, effort, or money. 

How to Create a Marketing Plan

Marketing strategy and processes will differ from business to business and industry to industry. However, any good marketing plan needs to cover a few basic essentials. 

Here are some steps and processes for creating a marketing plan.

1. Define Your Target Audience

Defining your target audience is crucial when it comes to creating a successful marketing plan. 

Knowing your ideal customer allows you to tailor your messaging, product offerings, and marketing efforts to best resonate with them. This increases your chances of attracting and retaining customers and achieving your business goals.

You can use a few strategies to define your target audience. First, research your market and competition to identify gaps and opportunities. 

You can use tools like Google Analytics, social media analytics, and customer surveys to gather data on your potential customers’ demographics, interests, behavior patterns, and pain points. This will give you insights into who they are, what motivates them, and how you can address their needs.

Another strategy is creating buyer personas. These personas should be based on real data and should include information like age, gender, occupation, interests, goals, challenges, and objections. 

Creating personas can help you empathize with your customers, understand their perspectives, and create targeted messaging that resonates with them.

Once you have defined your target audience, you can then tailor your marketing efforts to speak directly to them. This could include creating content that addresses their pain points, using targeted advertising to reach them on the right platforms, and personalizing your messaging to reflect their interests and needs.

How to Use Pain Points to Find Your Target Audience

Creating target audience pain points is the most important thing to get right when establishing buyer personas. 

Let’s say you own a massage studio. If you want to attract more clients, which target audience persona do you think will be more useful?

1. Sandy is a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom with two children. Her household income is approximately $150k/year, and she lives in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs. 

2. Sandy is tired from running around after her two kids all day and needs a break. Her back also hurts from carrying around her youngest daughter.

Yup, it’s number 2. 

With this information, you can create marketing messages that speak to Sandy’s pain points and inspire her to make a massage booking. 

Focus less on your customer’s demographic data and more on their pain points. As a business selling a product or service, their pain points are really valuable to you.

So, to help you develop better customer personas, here are five questions to ask: 

  • What are prospects stressed about?
  • Where are they looking for solutions?
  • What solutions are they trying, and what are their shortcomings?
  • How do prospects describe success?
  • What are they nervous about?

2. Establish Goals

Establishing goals is critical in creating a marketing plan. Without clear goals, you’ll struggle to determine your marketing efforts’ direction or measure their effectiveness. 

Setting goals allows you to define what you want to achieve and how you will measure success, guiding your marketing plan and maximizing your ROI.

When establishing goals for your marketing plan, it’s essential to make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

One strategy to help you establish goals is to conduct a SWOT analysis, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis helps you identify internal and external factors that could impact your business and marketing efforts. 

Another strategy is to use the SMART goal framework to establish your marketing objectives. This means setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, such as increasing website traffic by 30% in the next quarter, generating 50 new leads per month, or achieving a 20% conversion rate on email campaigns.

3. Choose the Right Marketing Channels

You can’t reach your customers if you don’t know where they are. Choosing the right marketing channels is critical to creating a successful marketing plan. 

Selecting the wrong channels can waste resources and time, while choosing the right ones can lead to higher ROI and better customer engagement. 

One strategy to help you choose the right marketing channels is thoroughly researching your target audience. Identify where your ideal customers spend their time online, what platforms they use, and how they prefer to consume information. 

Another strategy is to consider your marketing goals and objectives. 

Different channels can serve different purposes, and choosing the ones that align with your goals is important. 

For example, if your objective is to increase brand awareness, you may want to consider social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. If your goal is to generate leads, you may want to focus on email marketing or paid search advertising.

It’s also essential to regularly track and measure your chosen channels’ effectiveness. These insights will help you understand which channels to invest more in and which to scale back on.

4. Set KPIs and Performance Metrics

KPIs and performance metrics provide a way to measure the success of your marketing efforts. This ensures you’re on track to achieve your business goals.

KPIs are measurable goals that indicate how well a company is achieving its main objectives.

In marketing, KPIs can include metrics like website traffic, leads generated, conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and customer retention rates.

Performance metrics are measurements used to track and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. These metrics can help you identify which marketing channels drive the most engagement and conversions and which may need to be adjusted or discontinued.

Your KPIs should be directly tied to your business goals. This will help you ensure that your marketing efforts focus on achieving outcomes that contribute to your overall business success.

5. Define Your Marketing Budget

Defining your marketing budget helps you allocate resources effectively to maximize the ROI for your marketing efforts.

Without a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend on marketing, you may end up overspending or underspending. 

To define your marketing budget, you need to consider a couple of different factors. This includes your business goals, target audience, marketing channels, and the overall financial situation of your company. 

Of course, you should determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on marketing without negatively impacting other areas of your business.

Once you have created a marketing budget that aligns with your business goals and allows you to allocate your resources effectively, you should also regularly review your marketing budget. 

6. Understand the Competition

If you want your marketing plan to make an impact, you need to know what your competitors are doing. This will help you market your business in a way that better reaches your target audience.

Understanding your competition helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, develop a unique value proposition, and differentiate your business. 

By analyzing your competitors’ strategies, you can also identify new market opportunities and stay ahead of industry trends. 

Here are some strategies that can help you to understand your competition:

  • Conduct a competitive analysis: A competitive analysis involves gathering information about your competitors, such as their products, pricing, distribution channels, and marketing strategies. This can help you identify their strengths and weaknesses and determine how to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
  • Identify your key competitors: You should identify your main competitors and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. This can help you to identify the areas where you can differentiate yourself and provide more value to your customers.
  • Research your competitors’ marketing strategies: You should research your competitors’ marketing strategies to understand how they are reaching their target audience, what channels they are using, and what messages they are communicating. This can help you to identify new marketing opportunities and develop more effective marketing strategies.
  • Monitor industry trends: By monitoring industry trends, you can stay ahead of the competition and identify new opportunities for growth. This can involve reading industry publications, attending conferences and trade shows, and networking with other professionals in your industry.
  • Analyze customer feedback: Analyzing customer feedback can provide valuable insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This can involve reading customer reviews, conducting surveys, and analyzing social media conversations.

Understanding your competition is an ongoing process, and you should regularly monitor and adjust your marketing strategies based on changes in your industry and marketplace.

7. Know What Marketing Tools You’ll Use

You can’t run a successful digital marketing strategy without the right tools.  

Marketing tools help you execute your marketing strategies. This could involve building a website, sending marketing emails, creating videos, optimizing your customer journey, and more. The right marketing tools also provide insights into your audience and marketing efforts. 

While many different tools are available for implementing a comprehensive marketing plan, you need to make sure you have the right tools to cover your specific marketing journey. This is where having an all-in-one marketing platform is so useful. 

With a platform like Propel IQ, you get a complete selection of integrated marketing tools to help you complete the marketing circle. This means you have everything, from a website builder to a CRM, email marketing software, and everything else, all ready to create powerful marketing campaigns. 

8. Put Your Marketing Plan Together

You’ve worked to create your marketing plan. Now it’s time to put this plan together. 

Present your marketing plan in an easy-to-understand format that clearly outlines what you will do and how you will do it. This gives your business direction and ensures you know what you’re aiming to achieve with each marketing effort you put in. 

You can use various marketing plan templates and frameworks to do this. Of course, ensure you include all of the information you have taken from the steps above in this marketing plan presentation. 


Creating a marketing plan really just comes down to asking yourself the right questions and establishing a clear strategy to target. Once you have these elements in place, all of your marketing efforts will help you achieve actual results that grow your business. 

Without this, you’ll be shooting in the dark. This could mean wasted time, effort, and money.

If you want to discuss creating and setting up a  marketing strategy with one of our marketing experts, then feel free to schedule a time

We’ve also added some of our most valuable guides below to help you establish the next steps to rolling out your different marketing strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 8 steps of a marketing plan?

The eight marketing plan steps are:

  1. Define your target audience
  2. Establish marketing goals
  3. Choose the right marketing channels
  4. Set KPIs and performance metrics
  5. Define your marketing budget
  6. Understand the competition
  7. Know what marketing tools you’ll use
  8. Present your marketing strategy

What makes a good marketing plan?

A good marketing plan understands the right target audience, has clear goals, and focuses on your customer’s entire journey. It shouldn’t only be focused on customer acquisition, but it should also cover customer retention.

What are the 4 keys of a marketing plan?

While there’s a lot that goes into a marketing plan, there are four key elements you should consider. These are:

  • Price
  • Product
  • Place 
  • Promotion

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