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10 Components You Need In Your Marketing Plan

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10 Components You Need In Your Marketing Plan

As a strategic document, a marketing plan outlines an organization's marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics. It is important for a marketer to launch campaigns and achieve business goals. Let’s explore the marketing plan and key components that must be included.

What is a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a comprehensive and strategic document that outlines a business’s marketing objectives, strategies and tactics over a specified period. It is a roadmap for the marketing team, guiding their efforts to promote products or services and achieve specific business goals.

A marketing plan provides direction, goal alignment, resource allocation, target audiences, guidance for decision-making and provides resource and budget allocation. It plays a central role in aligning marketing efforts with business objectives.

Components of a Marketing Plan

Executive Summary

The executive summary provides a comprehensive overview of the entire marketing plan. It condenses the key points to capture leadership's attention and serves as the hook to encourage further exploration into the plan's details. This is generally completed as the final element of the marketing plan but is first in the final plan presentation.

Situation Analysis

A marketer needs to know what the situation of the business, product or service is before they can promote it. The situation analysis includes background research into the brand, competitive research, industry insights and a look at current promotions.

The situation analysis will examine all aspects of the company so you can understand the capabilities within the market and become a leader in your industry. It also gives insight into whether previous efforts have worked and insight into different decisions that have been made.

Another component of the situation analysis is a SWOT Analysis. The SWOT is the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  • Strengths: Internal attributes that enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives. Ask yourself, what things does the company do well? What internal resources do we have that create value? What tangible assets do we own? What unique qualities set us apart from our competitors?
  • Weaknesses: Internal limitations that hinder an organization’s performance or potential. Ask yourself, where do we have fewer resources than our competitors? What things do our competitors do better than us? What operational processes do we need to improve?
  • Opportunities: External possibilities that can lead to an organization’s growth or advantage. Ask yourself, what market opportunities are present? What trends can we take advantage of? What’s the best way to leverage our strengths?
  • Threats: External challenges that could negatively impact an organization. Ask yourself, what macro-environmental factors may negatively affect our business? How do our weaknesses expose us to threats? What is our competition doing that could harm our business?

Target Audience Identification

You’ll define at least two audiences you want to target for this marketing plan. This can be a new audience for your brand, or focus on reaching more people like your current audiences. You cannot reach all people. Your audience must be targeted and you’ll want to define both demographic and psychographic characteristics.

Some common characteristics to define include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Marital or family status
  • Gender
  • Ethnic background
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Personality
  • Lifestyle
  • Behavior
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interests and hobbies

You’ll also often see the target audiences built out further into personas. Knowing these specifics helps with building out strategies, tactics, messaging and creative briefs.

Branding

With the marketing goal and target audiences in mind, you’ll build research the brand perception and plan the brand personality and positioning needed to resonate with the target audiences. It’s important to have a strong, consistent brand message.

Examples of a brand voice:

  • Passionate: A legacy as a fiercely loyal, spirited community
  • Innovative: Cutting-edge and relevant, focused on staying ahead
  • Caring: Selfless and dedicated to the community, supporting each other and those in need

Marketing Goal and IMC Campaign Objectives

You can’t make a plan without outlining the goal of the marketing plan and a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objective. Your marketing goal will generally support the company’s business goals or the specific product or service goal.

An example of a marketing goal:

By positioning Under Armour as a high-quality brand for top-performing athletes, leading the way in innovative new products, public confidence and awareness will grow and increase sales in both its primary and secondary target audiences.

Common goals include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Increasing sales
  • Increase profit
  • Develop brand loyalty
  • Target a new audience
  • Launch new products or services
  • Expanding into a new market

Your campaign objectives will be supportive of that goal. You’ll generally have a few objectives to reach one goal. Here is an example of SMART objectives aligned with the goal above:

  • To increase news flow from the company by 25% during the calendar year.
  • To increase sales by 15% from the secondary target audience March-December.
  • Grow public approval by 20% by June.
  • Increase brand visibility of Under Armour Products by 30% over 8 months.

Integrated Communications Strategy Statement

With the audience in mind, use a venn diagram to outline rational and emotional factors your audience would want to use your product or service. Use these factors to brainstorm a strategy statement that will be the focus of the campaign.

Creative Brief

A creative brief is a document that provides a clear and concise overview of a creative project, typically used in marketing, advertising, and design industries. It serves as a roadmap for creative teams, guiding them in developing solutions that meet the client's objectives.

You’ll want to note your Integrated Communications Strategy Statement, the goal, the audience, what the audience thinks currently, what persuasive idea we want to convey, what we want them to think, why they should believe us and the creative and media guidelines.

Media Plan

Here you’ll outline the SMART media objectives and strategies. You’ll then break out the strategies into different media sources and note the strategies, tactics, rationale and budget for those media sources. Objectives, strategies and tactics often get confused, so we’ll explore each with examples.

Objectives

An objective is a broad, overarching goal or outcome that marketing aims to achieve. It typically focuses on long-term results and should provide direction and purpose. An example:

Target 25 percent of the media budget to reach mid-career professionals in the marketing space without a master's degree a minimum of six times between February through July.

Strategies

A strategy is a high-level plan or approach designed to achieve a specific objective. Strategies outline the overall approach or method for achieving goals and address the how for reaching objectives. An example:

Leverage a paid social media campaign to increase visits to the website’s academic pages with inquiry forms.

Tactics

Tactics are specific actions, techniques or methods used to implement a strategy sn achieve objectives. They are more detailed and focused than strategies and involve the execution of specific tasks or activities. An example:

Purchase continuous frequency Google Ads for search and display to drive traffic to the website to specific pages with inquiry forms and contact forms for the recruiter.

Key Differences

  • Objectives answer the question "What do we want to achieve?" They are the desired outcomes.
  • Strategies answer the question "How will we achieve our objectives?" They are the overall plans or approaches.
  • Tactics answer the question "What specific actions will we take to implement our strategy?" They are the detailed actions or methods.

Putting it Together

  • Objective: Increase market share by 10% within the next year.
  • Strategy: Expand distribution channels to reach new customer segments.
  • Tactics:
    • Launch a targeted online advertising campaign.
    • Partner with retailers to offer exclusive promotions.
    • Attend industry trade shows to showcase products.

Timing Flowchart and Campaign Budget

You’ll take the different tactics and plot out a calendar for timing, as well as budget allocation per month or week, depending on the length of the campaign.

Breaking up the tactics into a flowchart will give you a macro game plan for bringing your marketing strategy to life. A marketing plan’s timeline offers a roadmap for meeting your marketing goal.

The budget allocation will support integrated communication activities, including staffing, technology, and external partnerships. You’ll want to keep a column of the budget for actual spending to stay on track.

Creative Executions

Here you’ll want to put together examples of ads for this campaign. You’ll want to make sure you cover your planned tactics and provide examples for the different platforms you plan to use.

Evaluation Plan

You will need to be able to know if the plan is successful or if you need to pivot. A marketing strategy is not set in stone. By evaluating your efforts, you can make adjustments to the plan to see what is resonating with your audience. Use your media plan and plot out how you can evaluate each step for performance evaluations.


Each of these components plays a crucial role in creating a comprehensive and effective marketing plan tailored to the specific needs and goals of the organization. Are you ready to take your marketing expertise to the next level? Check out WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications Online Graduate Program.

With our program, you will gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's dynamic marketing environment. Our capstone class offers students an immersive, hands-on learning experience that distinguishes our program. You'll be able to work closely with industry professionals and apply your learning to real-world marketing challenges and create a marketing plan for a real-world client as a student.

Plus, the WVU IMC degree can be customized so that you get exactly the education you’re looking for. Choose from more than 25 electives or specialize in one of our areas of emphasis. Learn what’s happening in our industry now and what’s coming next from faculty who are literally practicing what they preach every day.


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Meet the Author



Stefanie Moore

Stefanie Moore
Marketing Manager

Stefanie is a marketing manager in the Marketing Communications Online Programs through the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. She is an alumna of WVU's M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and has been working in marketing for over 6 years after beginning her career in the newspaper business. She's a marathon runner and she recently ran a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.


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Marketing Communications Today is a collection of resources for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Learn industry insights through the Marketing Communications Today blog, podcast, as well as Integrate Online.

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