Why You Need a Marketing Plan (Plus, a Free Template)

The cornerstone of a marketer’s job isn’t coming up with the best tagline, designing the best landing page, or crafting the best tweet — it’s planning.

As marketers, the best thing we can do for our divisions and our organizations is plan.

What is a “Marketing Plan”?

Marketing Plans are the blueprint from which you will build your approaches and set clear measures for success. Developing a marketing plan allows your division and organization to reset, define, align, clarify, unearth unanswered questions, and maintain a consistent approach that is rooted in thought, research, and analysis.

  • What are your team’s marketing goals?

  • What are you held accountable for?

  • What is the brand position of the organization?

  • What does the market look like, and who are your competitors?

  • Who are your audiences? What are they like?

  • What products or offerings (or in higher education, programs and degrees) are you focused on promoting — and what is the demand for those products?

  • What channels are used to bring your products to your audiences? And what does success look like?

Marketing plans should be developed for the overall brand, but individual plans should be created for business lines, as well as for smaller projects (such as events and short-term offers).

Sample Marketing Plan Template

In this marketing plan template, you’ll define measurable and deadline-driven objectives and from there, your strategy — which is the “how” you will achieve those objectives. Tactics (the fun stuff) come last, where you’ll pick the channels through which you will execute the strategy and reach your customers. Then finally, specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for each that you can easily identify and report on regularly.

When should you write your marketing plan? This exercise often comes at a time of a strategic reset (new leadership, new mission, new vision, new offerings), but these should be written (or at least updated) on a regular basis — at least annually. Typically, plans should be created or dusted off at least right before the start of the new fiscal year.

And, most importantly, this format allows these answers to be documented, thus distributed to the wider team and revisited at any time to confirm alignment.

Use Our Free Marketing Plan Template

We’ve pulled together a free marketing plan template that you can use independently or with your team (the latter is our preference!). This template is for any industry vertical, and is not exclusive to digital marketing, but rather your holistic marketing approach.