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A marketing plan is your roadmap to how you’ll promote your organization and its products and services. Without it, it’ll be very difficult to know where you’re headed or how you’ll get there.

The problem is that no two marketing plans look alike (at least they shouldn’t). Even your closest competitor has different assets, goals, and value propositions that call for a different road map. It’s hard to know where to get started.

This guide will help. You’ll learn the common elements of a marketing plan, see marketing plan examples for inspiration, and get marketing plan templates to jumpstart your work. Scroll through, pick the parts of each that best suit your business, and get planning!

Contents

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What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a document that lays out the big-picture strategies and tactics that a business will use to promote its products and services. It is a playbook that guides everyone involved in marketing. The plan includes action items for organizing, executing, and reviewing the organization’s marketing strategy.

A marketing plan should be goal-oriented and consumer-focused. With the goal in mind, you’ll be better able to set steps to achieve it. And with the audience known and in view, your actions will more likely deliver the desired results.

Several segments will make up your marketing plan (which we’ll share next), but overall, a good marketing plan should cover:

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What belongs in your marketing plan?

Each marketing plan will be unique, but some foundational elements form the structure of a great marketing plan. Use them as the framework, then adjust them to match your goals and opportunities.

Executive summary

An executive summary is a high-level overview of your marketing plan. It will include information about your industry, current state, and opportunities. It will also give basic details about your organization, leadership, and location.

Marketing plan examples - executive summary screenshot.

This section of your marketing plan should be brief but contain enough information to convince the reader that the rest of the plan is worth reading.

Marketing objectives

The marketing objectives portion of your marketing plan is where you’ll explain your goals and the metrics you’ll use to measure them.

Given the nature of this information, this section will be part storytelling and part analytics. Make sure to include both.

SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a brainstorming technique for identifying the influences that will make or break your marketing plan’s success.

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Marketing plan examples - SWOT analysis graph

The SWOT analysis lets you and your team visualize your current marketing situation and potential future state.

Market research

This is where you’ll dig deep into your industry, competitors, product positioning, and target audience.

Competitive analysis is an important part of the market research section. Use this competitive analysis template to make it easier and more functional.

Marketing plan examples - competitor analysis sheet.

Marketing strategy

The marketing strategy section of your marketing plan will describe how you’ll achieve your marketing goals (and ideally beat your competitors!).

Your strategy will probably include things like:

Budget

This section will include your total marketing budget plus a breakdown of where that money will be spent.

Include direct spending like bidding on search ads, the cost of your internal and external workforce, and any tools you’ll need to get the job done.

Marketing plan examples - graphic showing marketing costs.

12 marketing plan examples

Hopefully, you’ve found a useful template to start building your marketing plan. Now, let’s get some inspiration from some completed plans created by experienced marketing pros.

California Travel & Tourism Commission’s five-year plan

The California Travel & Tourism Commission marketing plan is a whopping 132 pages long. You may not read every page, but note the visual aspects used throughout the document.

Marketing plan examples - Visit California 5-year plan.

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Graphs, photos, and diagrams make it easier for people to digest a lot of information quickly.

University of Illinois’ recruitment plan

This marketing plan outlines the University of Illinois’ student recruitment strategies. It showcases the messaging, channels, and types of marketing the school used to entice students to choose its educational programs.

Look for the “Object; Tactic; Success Metrics” sections (like the one on page 18) that show how to organize each strategy in your plan logically.

San Diego and Imperial County College’s three-year plan

When you build a long-term marketing plan, it helps to give a brief overview of what to expect throughout the duration of the plan. That’s what this marketing plan from the San Diego and Imperial County Community College Association does really well.

Marketing plan examples - community college plan .

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When you’re in the weeds of planning, it’s easy to forget that the people reading your plan don’t have the same context you do. A big-picture overview like this will help.

IvyPanda’s marketing plan for Sony

This marketing plan, developed by IvyPanda, shows a hypothetical strategy to promote Sony’s music system. It’s a quick read that will give you a good idea of how to write copy for marketing plans.

The document also showcases the six Ps of marketing:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • People
  • Process

Coca-Cola’s video marketing plan example

Not every marketing plan needs to be a static, written document. Here’s a perfect example: a video that literally illustrates a plan to expand Coca-Cola’s interactive content marketing.

Marketing plan examples - screenshot of coca cola marketing plan.

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This type of marketing plan takes more time and resources to produce. But if you need to get an audience of stakeholders to believe in your vision, it’s a strong option.

Lush’s flipbook marketing plan

Here’s another creative marketing plan example for the cosmetics brand Lush. The creators used a flipbook to make the plan more interactive for the reader.

Marketing plan examples - Lush flipbook plan.

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This is an easy way to turn a long, potentially tedious document into a fun-to-read paper. It’s also a great option to keep extended plans well-organized.

Safe Haven’s goal; objective; action plan

Speaking of well-organized, this Safe Haven Family Shelter marketing plan is built around a “goal, objective, action” framework. That makes it super easy to tie each marketing tactic to an outcome.

Use this type of marketing plan to quickly organize and convey the steps you’ll take to promote your service or product over a given period.

Wisconsin Public Library’s marketing guide and template

Here’s a robust marketing template from the Wisconsin Public Library that includes extensive explanations and information about each section. While it was developed specifically to promote libraries, it’s filled with actionable tips for any marketing team.

Scroll to the bottom of the template for a long list of extra resources. There are links to help you create smart goals, conduct customer surveys, research demographics, and much more.

The Creative Cafe’s educational marketing plan

This marketing plan for a fictional business called The Creative Cafe was created to teach business school students how to write marketing plans. The plan is primarily text-based (meaning it’s a long read), but it’s worth the time to see how a branding strategy or executive summary should be written.

Star Software’s B2B marketing plan

Here’s another marketing plan designed for educational purposes. This one is for the fictional Star Software Inc., which sells products to other businesses (aka a B2B company). What’s great about this example is that it includes sidebars to add more context to each section.

Marketing plan examples - Star Software plan

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Uber’s presentation-style marketing plan

This student-created marketing plan uses a visual, bullet-point presentation to explore the marketing planning process in depth. Its source is the ride-sharing app Uber, which breaks down the brands’ competitors, opportunities, and market placement.

Marketing plan examples - Uber marketing plan.

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Small Business Administration’s marketing plan example

The Small Business Administration (SBA) put together this simple marketing plan for its audience of new and growing brands. It’s only a few pages long but shows you how to break down your target market and budget well.

13 marketing plan templates

Like we said, there are endless variations of marketing plans. So while it’s difficult to give you a single template that covers 100% of every situation, we can show you several that work for different situations. That way, you can pick parts from multiple templates that work for you.

Massachusetts Small Business Development Center’s simple template

We started with this marketing plan template from the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center for two reasons. First, it’s designed for small businesses that haven’t built a marketing plan before. Second, its Q&A style makes it easy to fill in, even if you don’t have a master’s in business.

Marketing plan examples - Umass plan template.

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This template also has a nice and simple action plan at the end, so you’ll have a to-do list once you’re done filling it out.

Business.com’s template

The Business.com template is a little more comprehensive than MSBDC’s. It has a SWOT analysis, customer persona checklist, and several other sheets to help you organize lots of information.

Marketing plan examples - business.com template.

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You’ll need to cut and paste, but if you want a complete marketing plan template, this is a decent place to start.

Evernote’s template

Evernote is a note-taking and task-management application. It built a pretty handy marketing plan template that uses multiple sections of organized rows and columns. The three-month calendar is a nice touch to keep you on task.

Marketing plan examples - Evernote template

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You need an Evernote subscription ($$) to use the template as is. If you don’t want to shell out the monthly fee, just create your own version in your favorite spreadsheet app using the template as a guide.

AddThis’ template

AddThis was a social bookmarking app that was shuttered after Oracle bought the brand. Luckily, the internet forgets nothing, and you can still use the marketing plan template AddThis created. The standout feature of this template is the pricing strategy section.

Marketing plan examples - Adthis pricing template.

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Pricing is an important marketing factor since it affects how you position and promote your products. Documenting how your prices influence your marketing decisions is useful in creating a plan.

Smartsheet’s marketing plan template

This Smartsheet marketing plan template is a comprehensive, fill-in-the-blank worksheet that covers just about every conceivable aspect of a marketing plan. The form has no prompts, so it’s a clean palette for an experienced marketing team to work from.

Marketing plan examples - smartsheet's template.

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HubSpot’s marketing plan generator

HubSpot’s marketing plan generator is almost the complete opposite of Smartsheet’s. Instead of a blank page, you’re guided through a series of questions and prompts, resulting in a new marketing plan for your business.

Marketing plan examples - HubSpot plan generator

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LocaliQ’s small business marketing plan guide and template

Small businesses face unique marketing challenges compared to much larger organizations. The LocaliQ small business marketing plan guide considers those differentiators.

The guide breaks down each plan section to help you understand how they work. Then, it gives you an editable worksheet to keep everything organized.

Marketing plan examples - LocaliQ plan template.

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QuickMBA’s marketing plan outline

If you just want to see the structure of a marketing plan so you can create one on your own, the QuickMBA marketing plan outline is for you.

Marketing plan examples - quickmba plan outline.

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The outline has no frills, prompts, or software. It simply lists what goes into a marketing plan and where it belongs.

Nancy and Kivi’s non-profit marketing plan template

Like small businesses, non-profits work within a different set of rules than other organizations. This non-profit marketing plan template is designed to help those teams.

You have to register with Scribd to get the downloadable version. But you can see the basic template without signing up.

Marketing plan examples - nonprofit plan template.

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Bizammo’s one-page marketing plan template

Need a quick overview of your marketing plan to show senior leadership? This one-page template from Bizamo will do the trick.

Marketing plan examples - Bizzamo template.

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Monday.com’s marketing plan template

If you already use Monday.com as your project and task management application, this marketing plan worksheet will be very handy. It lets you set priorities for each strategy, attach a budget to it, and track the progress of each team member.

Marketing plan examples - Monday.com template.

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Woodsboro Bank’s marketing plan template

Even though the Woodsboro Bank marketing plan template was created by a financial institution (presumably for its business customers), it’s surprisingly versatile. It includes eleven sections ranging from market research to a competitor analysis. Each section is broken down into logical subsections, which include prompts to help you fill them in.

Marketing plan examples - woodsboro bank template.

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Asana’s marketing project plan template

Asana’s software is geared to help teams collaborate, so its marketing plan template is made to do the same. You can assign roles and tasks in the template, keep up with progress, and share assets.

Marketing plan examples - Asana template.

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You need an Asana account to use this template, so if you’re not a customer, you may want to try a different one from our list.

Use these marketing templates and examples to boost your ROI

Marketing should always be goal-based; for most brands, that means increasing the return you get from your marketing investments. The marketing examples and templates we’ve gathered here vastly differ in their scopes and formats. But they can all be used to improve your ROI, especially if you start with that goal in mind.

A successful marketing plan requires efficient execution of its strategies. Contact us, and we’ll show you how we can help you be more successful with paid ads, business listing management, SEO, and more!

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