Creating a marketing plan is important for any serious company that wants to stay in business for a longer period of time. While some business owners and managers prefer using free marketing plans, you could still try to create such a plan yourself. Here are free marketing plan templates and how to use them in 2020.
Free Marketing Plan Templates
While it is easy to find a free template for a marketing plan online, it is not always easy to understand which is a good template and which is not so much. This is why here is a list of the best free marketing plan templates found online for you to use:
- Marketing Plan Template – Of all the free marketing plan templates available online, the one offered by Kansas State University is probably the most comprehensive one.
- One-Page Content Marketing Plan – For those looking for a content marketing plan that isn’t too long, Uncommonly Social has created a free template that is only a page long!
- Nonprofit Marketing Plan – Not many free marketing plan templates are made for nonprofit organizations which is why this template from Nancy and Kivi is a rare gem.
- Digital Marketing Plan Example – Smart Insights has decided to go even further and created a template that is specifically focused on digital marketing.
- One-Page Marketing Plan – Another great one-page plan from BisAmmo to check out for everyone who wants a shorter document but don’t necessarily want to focus only on content marketing.
How Do I Write My Own Marketing Plan?
Though you might want to try using one of the free marketing plans linked above, you could still create your own marketing plan which might even be a better solution for those who want to have more customization. You could potentially hire a writer from a writing service to write it for you, but creating everything from scratch will help you develop your writing skills. Here is how you can create a marketing plan:
#1 Build Your Table of Contents
Your first step is to build your table of contents. Like some other sections in your marketing plan, a table of contents is not entirely necessary, but it can be extremely helpful for lengthy plans that aren’t created in the form of a presentation but rather come in the form of a text document or PDF. A good table of contents will help you and your audience more easily navigate the marketing plan to access different sections and pieces of information within it.
As the table of contents covers your entire plan, by creating it, you will already get a general idea about what your plan should include. You will first want to have a section with a brief summary of where you touch upon the key points of your marketing plan. Then, you will need a section with your mission statement and the goals you set. Another section should have your content standards and the main message you want to communicate to your target audience. Of course, the section right after that would need to detail what your target audience is. Another section will need to include your pricing strategy and expected budget, then another one with your marketing tactics, and lastly, perhaps some visuals (but not mandatory).
#2 Compile A Brief Summary of Your Plan
After your table of contents is ready (if you decide to have one), you will need to work on a brief summary of your marketing plan. Because you can’t know for sure all the details of your plan until you actually make it, it might be better to write the summary already after you’re finished with all the other sections. This will ensure that you are not missing out on any major points covered in your marketing plan.
Nevertheless, you can still start with a brief summary and then simply adjust it once your marketing plan is ready. The things you will want to cover in your summary include the types of customers you will be targeting (who will buy your products or services), the products or services you will be offering, what makes your marketing special, how your company stands out of the crowd, what problems you will solve for your audience, and how you will solve them (the solutions you will offer).
#3 Craft a Mission Statement and Set Achievable Goals
Crafting a mission statement will help you show your audience what is the most important thing for your business. You will need to have a separate section dedicated to your mission statement as well as the goals you have set for your company. To craft your mission statement, think about the industry you operate in and the products you sell. Ask yourself about what kind of processes are involved within your business such as marketing and selling. Take into account such factors as your target audience, who you partner with, and the kinds of values you bring to the table.
Once your mission statement is ready, try to set achievable goals for your endeavor. To make the process easier, divide them into financial goals and non-financial goals. For instance, you might want to consider how many sales you need to make to meet one of your financial goals, but you should also think about how many social media followers you want your business account to have by a certain date.
#4 Set Standards for Your Content and Decide How Your Company Is Special
Having standards for your content is essential if you want to consistently create good content that attracts enough views, reads, and so on. But, of course, it can be challenging to set specific standards when you are only starting out, so you will have to experiment a little first. Then, you will need to father your statistics data and analyze it.
Take into account the metrics of your top-performing content and the topics you cover that seem to be more interesting to your audience than others. Ask yourself whether you use enough research and statistics for your content. After you have set your content standards, think about what makes your company remarkable, what values you bring for your audience, and what your company strengths are.
#5 Find Your Target Market and Build Your Customer Personas
The section about your target audience and customer personas is perhaps the most important section in your plan because it shows that you know who you will be selling your products or services to and that there is a real demand for your offers. Specify all the aspects of your target audience including:
- Their personality traits (e.g. you are selling Rubik’s cubes, so your audience will have an inquisitive mind and an eagerness to learn; you are selling toys, so your audience will consist of children in a certain age range as well as their parents who will decide whether or not they will buy your toys).
- Their values and beliefs (e.g. you are selling something connected to religion, so your audience could consist of Christians or Buddhists).
- Their family life (e.g. you are selling something specifically for single people; you are selling something for couples to use on Valentine’s Day).
- Their job and income (e.g. you are offering services that could be used by your clients as a way to outsource part of their tasks).
- Their location (e.g. you do not operate worldwide and would like to sell your products in a particular region, area, city, town, state, etc.)
- Their education (e.g. you are offering online courses to increase qualifications).
- Their pain points and fears (e.g. you are selling books on how to become a more confident person; you are selling culinary books that help your customers become experts by starting at the beginner level).
- Their interests and personal needs (e.g. you are selling knitting materials).
#6 Distribute Your Budget and Plan Your Pricing Strategy
Another very important section of your marketing plan will need to accurately distribute your budget and plan your pricing strategy. To do this, look at your competitors and check how big their budgets are and what they spend them on as well as how much they ask for what they offer. Then, try to meet your customer expectations by matching the prices of your products or services to the value you offer in return. Think about which parts of your business will need more investment and which ones less.
You should also consider any additional expenses you might have. It is better to name a slightly bigger budget than later unexpectedly surprise your investors by more expenses than they anticipated. In other words, be reasonable when it comes to finances because it is not an easy topic to discuss.
#7 Explain the Marketing Tactics You Will Use
The last mandatory section in your marketing plan should include the marketing tactics you are planning to use. These will determine your marketing strategy both online and offline. Though there are many factors that contribute to how good your marketing will be, you already need to have at least a general idea of what you will be doing to promote your products or services and advertise your brand.
Your marketing tactics can be divided into offline and online ones and then broken down into smaller segments. For example, you might want to use influencer marketing as a part of your digital marketing campaign. Don’t go into too many details when describing how you will use influencer marketing, because you will probably discuss your marketing strategy later on. Just give an overview of what you are planning to do as well as how much money you will need to do it (this is especially important when presenting your plan to investors).
#8 Add Visuals to Support Your Plan
Last but not least, think about adding some visuals to support your plan. As noted earlier, this section is not mandatory, but it can significantly increase the impact your marketing plan will have on whoever you are presenting it to. Besides, this is especially critical for situations when you created your marketing plan to then show it to potential investors or partners. Your primary goal is to impress them, and nothing can do it better than good visuals.
The most common types of visual representations used for marketing plans are infographics, illustrations, graphs, or pie charts, tables, and so on. However, if you have the budget, you could even create a separate video that would summarize your entire plan or present your project in a new light. In other words, a video is usually created to impress, but regular imagery is used to illustrate your points. Think about your priorities and then make a choice.
How Can I Use Marketing Plan Templates Effectively?
Using free marketing plan templates is as easy as using any other templates you have ever used, but there is one catch: the formats differ. It’s true that some template creators offer free marketing plan templates in the form of PDF files while others prefer DOC and some even offer them as a PowerPoint presentation.
Depending on your own needs and requirements, you will need to decide which of the formats is more suitable for you in your situation, but all the formats are quite effective in conveying what you want to communicate to the person you will be giving the marketing plan to (e.g. investors, your boss, your team).
Most of the time, all you will have to do is download one of the free marketing plan template you found and then simply fill it out with your information. If you have a company logo, you could also add it to the document to make it have a more official look, but marketing plans can be used both as an unofficial guide and as an official plan of action.
All in all, creating a comprehensive marketing plan for your company is a fairly easy task once you figure out the basics and start applying your knowledge in practice. Follow the tips in this article to create your own marketing plan or use one of the free marketing plan templates.