Marketing efforts often need to meet multiple different business priorities. These include recruiting top talent, selling more products or services, building trust with consumers, and positioning the company a certain way, for instance. Keeping track of progress toward these goals is made far easier with the development of a strategic marketing plan.
Creating a strategic marketing plan may seem like just another exercise. But, by spending time to develop this plan at the start of the year, companies can be disciplined, focused, and intentional about setting marketing campaigns to meet their business goals.
Why do you need a strategic marketing plan? These documents, and the planning and strategy exercises required to create them, help your team align on measurable results for the rest of the year. A strategic marketing plan guides all stakeholders—including employees— to work toward a common outcome; whether it’s boosting engagement, increasing customer retention, or increasing sales.
Here are some of the key things you need to know to build a strategic marketing plan fast and start the year off on the right foot.
What is a strategic marketing plan?
A strategic marketing plan sets forth the company’s marketing strategy over a given period. This includes the business goal and all the steps, resources, and timelines needed to organize and execute the plan. A marketing plan often includes details down to each campaign’s mission, target audience, budget, tactics, and key performance metrics.
A strategic marketing plan is different from a marketing strategy, though there is some overlap. A marketing plan tends to cover one major business goal: recruiting new employees, releasing a new product, or increasing sales, for example. Within that marketing plan, there will be different marketing strategies outlining how the company will meet that goal. This could be by releasing a YouTube series, launching an employee advocacy program, or investing in earned media.
It’s a small distinction, but understanding how a strategic marketing plan differs from a marketing strategy can make the brainstorming process faster and easier. As you race to put together your plan for 2024, here are some steps and key components to consider.
Types of strategic marketing plans
Here are a few different types of strategic marketing plans that can be useful for internal goal-setting and resource allocation:
Time-based strategic marketing plans
A time-based marketing plan is a strategic approach that revolves around specific timeframes, like quarters or years. It takes into account the season, holidays, and the current condition of the business to tailor marketing strategies accordingly. These plans recognize that consumer behavior and market trends are subject to temporal fluctuations. They involve analyzing the time of year’s impact on consumer preferences and assessing the company’s financial health and market position. The goal is to identify and implement the most effective strategies for that particular time, which might involve adjusting advertising campaigns, launching new products, or offering seasonally-relevant promotions. In essence, time-based marketing plans ensure that a company’s marketing efforts are synchronized with the calendar and current business conditions for optimized results.
Social media marketing plan
A comprehensive social media marketing plan is a strategic framework that places a strong emphasis on the formulation of advertising strategies that are specifically designed for various social media platforms. It goes beyond mere content distribution and delves into the intricate details of how to effectively engage and connect with the diverse user bases present on these platforms. This involves careful consideration of the unique characteristics and preferences of users on each platform, as well as tailoring content and messages to resonate with their expectations and interests. Such a plan encompasses various facets of social media marketing, including content creation, posting schedules, audience targeting, ad campaigns, and the use of engagement metrics to refine and optimize the approach over time. Ultimately, a well-executed social media marketing plan not only builds brand visibility and trust but also fosters meaningful relationships with the online community, contributing to the overall success of the marketing efforts.
Employer branding plan
An employer branding plan is a strategic framework that centers on cultivating a positive and compelling image of an organization as an employer. It involves creating and implementing various initiatives, such as employee engagement programs, talent acquisition strategies, internal communication campaigns, and showcasing the organization’s culture and values.
In the past, recruiting and marketing were two business functions that seemed completely unrelated to one another. However, the approach to selling a product to customers and your company culture to potential candidates is very similar. Recruiters and hiring managers can benefit from creating a strategic marketing plan that focuses on building your employer brand.
Product launch marketing plan
Finally, your marketing team may be particularly focused on launching a new product or service. This activity could require its own strategic marketing plan that identifies a specific target market, identifies the channels that will be used for the promotion, sets a budget, and outlines deadlines.
These are just a few different types of strategic marketing plans that could be used throughout your different teams. Keep in mind that while there may be many strategies being executed at the same time, they should all align with your core plan.
How to create a marketing plan
A strategic marketing plan is meant to be a roadmap, but a few detours may be necessary as the year unfolds. Plan for your marketing plan to help organize your efforts and focus your spending, but anticipate that there may be unexpected events that will force you to change course. Your plan should be flexible with checkpoints throughout the year to make sure your campaigns are working.
Key components of a strategic marketing plan
Small Business Chron recommends including the following components or sections in your strategic marketing plan.
- Current status and business goal: State where your company is going into 2023. Review the strengths and weaknesses of last year’s marketing initiatives and determine what worked and where you could adjust for better results. Set forth your goal for the next year. This goal should be specific but not restrictive.
- Target market: In this section, identify which customer groups you will reach with your marketing plan. It helps to develop multiple customer personas so you can link each marketing campaign to a specific persona. “Having a highly targeted marketing message that addresses each specific group’s particular needs is more effective than a strategy of trying to be all things to all people,” wrote Chron.
- Strategies and campaigns: How will you convert your marketing goal into action? Talk about the marketing messaging, channels, and creative assets you will need to create campaigns that reach your target market and help reach your business goals.
- Timeline: Rather than setting a firm deadline, map out the calendar year to help make sure none of your campaigns and strategies overlap.
- Stakeholders: Identify who needs to play a role in bringing this marketing plan to life. This could include your customer service team, a creative marketing agency, your product team, your sales team, and your legal and financial counsel.
- Budget and resources: Estimate how much you will need to carry out your marketing activities throughout the year. What other resources will you need?
Again, keep these components both high-level and comprehensive. It’s important to unite everyone behind a common goal and to keep your plan agile so you can respond to new opportunities as they may arise.
Steps to creating a strategic marketing plan
As you start to put together your strategic marketing plan, these steps can help bring the document to life.
1. Perform a SWOT analysis
A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis can help you assess where your company stands in relation to the rest of the market. It shows you where you may have a competitive advantage, and where you may need to adjust your marketing message.
2. Create (or update) your customer personas
Part of getting your marketing plan right is understanding who you will be speaking to. Update your customer personas at the start of the year with any new information you may have learned from the previous year’s marketing efforts. If there are new consumer trends that may have caused your customer’s tastes to change, incorporate those expectations into your strategic marketing plan.
3. Identify your best-performing channels
Contrary to widespread belief, random posts and stories shared on social media are not enough to help you reach your marketing goals. Instead, we recommend creating social media communication strategies to capture, engage, and convert prospects through well-timed content.
4. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects
Brands spend thousands of dollars on influencer campaigns with inevitably low ROI. Or, they waste their marketing budget trying to break through the noise on the latest social app. In reality, your best advocates are probably sitting right next to you: your employees.
Apart from being your company’s most valuable assets, your employees can also be your most reliable brand advocates. After all, no other group knows your company the way your workers do. Consider adding an employee advocacy campaign that provides employees with ample training, guidelines, and messaging to engage current and potential clients.
5. Measure everything
Key performance indicators are critical to a strategic marketing plan. How else will you know what worked? Include a section that measures results, with KPIs such as organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. You may even include which pages you want to drive traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or specific campaign landing pages.
How can Clearview Social help?
Clearview Social is a simple platform that helps your team share your content on their social media platforms, with easy prompts, email reminders, and one-click activation. And, it’s a key tool to help bring your strategic marketing plan to life.
No matter what your business goal is, it’s likely your company needs to be sharing constantly on social media. But rather than throwing content into the void, activate your team to share your company news on their networks. Content shared by employees gets 8x more engagement than posts shared on your company pages. That’s a much better ROI for your efforts.
And, with Clearview Social, you get robust analytics about your posts and the engagement they receive. You won’t even need to use another app or site to measure your success. Request a free demo and learn more about how Clearview Social works today.