10th March 2015

Eight steps to the perfect marketing plan

Wooden steps on a yellow background with an up arrow

When it comes to planning, we’re all guilty of trying to avoid it as much as possible. Let’s face it, planning takes up a lot of time, can be difficult and well… it can be pretty boring. However, when it comes to marketing (of any type), planning is essential. But what really is marketing planning? We are going to break it down for you so that you can see it’s not as gruelling as you think.

Marketing planning is when you decide your objectives and formulate plans to achieve them. Without it, you run the risk of losing focus and putting your energy into a strategy that won’t get the results you want. Proper planning can also help identify any potential problems or uncover opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

The three main types of plan:

  • Strategic plan – typically for a 3-5 year period
  • Tactical plan – typically for the year ahead
  • Contingency plan – an alternative plan if assumptions prove to be false

Once all of the above has been established, it is time to move on to the next stage – the main eight steps of your marketing plan. Don’t stop reading now, this is the interesting bit.

These eight stages make up your marketing plan. Each stage is part of the process that must be completed in order for the plan to be in any way successful. Make sure you don’t go skipping ahead!

Eight stages of a marketing plan

Let’s look at them a little closer…

Corporate objectives

This is a top-level strategic direction. Ask yourself: “What business are we in – or should we be in?”

Marketing Audit

A detailed internal and external audit examining the markets, competition, business and economic environment in which your organisation operates.


A distillation of the findings of the internal and external audits, which draws attention to the critical factors facing your company. The best way to structure this is by writing bullet points under the these titles – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Marketing Objectives

These are what you want to achieve from your marketing plan. Typically, your objectives will be one of the following:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Grow market share
  • Reposition the brand

Marketing Strategies

This step in the plan outlines how you are going to achieve the marketing objectives. You need to look at how you could realistically meet the objective that you’ve set for yourself.

Marketing programmes/tactics

This focuses on the seven P’s:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • Physical Evidence
  • Process
  • People


Of course, budget is a big consideration. When deciding what budget to set, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much is my marketing spend going to cost?
  • How am I going to justify this spend to senior management?
  • How will I evaluate the effectiveness of this spend?
  • Will it achieve my objectives?

Control and evaluation

This is the stage where you will monitor your objectives. These could be financial targets, market share, and customer satisfaction. Evaluate and work out whether there are any objectives being missed or if there are any strategies that aren’t working. This will enable you to adjust and improve your plan.

Follow these simple steps and you will have an effective marketing plan in no time! See, it’s not as terrible as you thought. Be a good scout and start planning your marketing today.

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