How to create buzzworthy marketing plan templates

By Kesha Thillainayagam

Just a few decades ago, Nike was a Greek goddess who personified victory. Apple was the fruit you polished and gave your teacher. And subways were simply underground transit systems. Today, well-planned marketing campaigns have replaced a goddess with shoes, fruit with computers, and trains with sandwiches. 

The lesson is clear: marketing matters. You can have a great product or service, but without an engaged, informed group of customers, you're only going to be selling it to your family and friends.

The idea of coming up with a marketing plan can seem daunting, but it shouldn't! Step back and think about why and to whom you're marketing your product or service. Ask yourself (and someone who's really good at taking notes), these questions:

What's the point of this thing we're offering?

Why should anyone care about it?

Who should care about it?

What does our target audience need?

How are we going to meet those needs?

Once you've answered these questions, you'll have a foundation on which to build your plan.

Benefits of a marketing plan template

A well thought-out plan outlines where you want to be and how you expect to get there, just like a roadmap.

You can use marketing plan templates in Confluence to help your teams build a strategy based on this simple structure:

  • Background and objective
  • Goals
  • Competitive analysis
  • Target market
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis
  • Messaging and positioning
  • Programs and timeline
  • Budget
  • Risks

Great marketing projects begin and end with Confluence

Great marketing projects begin and end with Confluence

Step 1

Know what you're getting into

Context matters. That's why you should begin the marketing plan with a peek inside your organization. This background information can include:

  • The market opportunity you're pursuing and why
  • Your progress, including key milestones
  • Problems you've faced and overcome
  • Short-term growth plans
Lightbulb illustration

If you are expecting some resistance to your plan, it helps to be more data-driven in your approach. Include data points and numbers about where you're at today, and let them inform where you need to go next.

By providing this brief history, you show all stakeholders the arc of your company's progress, and give a clear outline of what its next steps should be.

Step 2

Set your goals

If you want to be the next Apple or Nike, this is the time to declare it. What is the objective of this plan? What are your goals? Set the long-term vision for your brand or product. Outline the incremental improvements that will add up to get you to your big goal.

Some people just care about increasing metrics, but if you don't know what those metrics are then you're going to fail.

“Some people just care about increasing metrics, but if you don't know what those metrics are then you're going to fail.”

Founder of Calendar and popular marketing influencer John Rampton stresses that setting clear, measurable goals is integral to a marketing plan's success. “Some people just care about increasing metrics, but if you don't know what those metrics are then you're going to fail,” he says. Rampton suggests being specific about what you want - whether it's a bigger Twitter following or increases sign-ups - and setting exact numerical goals so you can accurately track your progress.

Step 3

Analyze competitive research and insights

Provide an analysis of what your top competitors do and don't do well. Be honest. Be clear. Be detailed. Then, describe what you offer, putting it in the context of the rest of the marketplace.

This competitive analysis is critical: It's at the heart of why you have a marketing strategy. So dive into what makes your competitors tick and what makes you tock. Honestly examine how you measure up and acknowledge where you fall short. An accurate analysis will help define important opportunities for you and your team.

Clipboard list illustration

For help putting together your competitive analysis, check out this step-by-step guide and Confluence template.

Competitive analysis template
Step 4

Define your target audience

You don't want to waste marketing dollars chasing customers that don't fit your niche, but you can't customize messages to specific groups unless you identify who those groups are.

Think of who you need to communicate with in order to accomplish your objectives. Use a persona template to build out key members of your target audience and get a good understanding of why they are the right people to pursue. 

Persona template

Write down everything you know about your ideal customers. And don't stop with gender and age. Add in details about their interests and buying habits, their hopes and fears, what makes them good potential customers, and why they aren't your customers already. 

Step 5

Bring in the SWOT team

Take a proverbial good, hard look at each of these areas and how they could have an impact on your marketing plan and on your company's overall progress: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats diagram
Step 6

Control the narrative with messaging and positioning

Rand Fishkin, founder of the marketing software SparkToro and Moz, said that he focuses on building a strong narrative for his product.

I try to tell a story that has emotional resonance and that matches up to the product's purpose and the audience's desires and goals.

“I try to tell a story that has emotional resonance and that matches up to the product's purpose and the audience's desires and goals.”

In order to form that story, Fishkin researches the pain points that customers may be facing so he can empathize with them and start to see the world through their eyes. Follow his lead and list customer pain points in your marketing plan along with goals and strategies around how you will address them. Phrase them so that you can easily measure your results against them.

Work with your team to list strategies, messages, and tactics that will help you reach each goal. Then set target dates for accomplishing each one. Assign owners responsibilities for key tasks and steps. Finally, create a timeline to give a visual representation of what needs to happen, and when. 

Step 7

Crunch those numbers

The final step before the implementation of a marketing plan can be the most challenging: setting the budget. To do so, start with how much money you have for marketing and promotion. Then begin to assign numbers to the action items in your plan.

As this budget process unfolds, you'll find it's a powerful reality check. You'll end up debating the value of many of the tasks you want to do, and deciding where the money will come from to do them well. This is a time for some healthy discussion, maybe some gritting of teeth, and a touch of angst. But it's the smart thing to do before you launch the plan, not several months into it.

Tradeoff sliders illustration

Try the trade-off sliders technique if your team can't agree on how to optimize your budget.

Step 8

Perform a risk analysis

Take one last look at the risks. What are the greatest challenges to success? How could your plan go awry? Atlassian teams often run a “pre-mortem” exercise to help anticipate problems while there's still time to avoid them. 

While completely avoiding conflict would be ideal, Rampton suggests that marketers be ready to encounter and embrace failure as they execute their plans. If you face bumps in the road, he noted, learn from them or use them as opportunities to adjust your goals. Your marketing plan should be fluid, not something that's set in stone.

Step 9

Execute your marketing plan!

After you've taken that one last deep breath, go for it. Launch the plan and watch it work. Who knows? Your brand could be the next household name. Just don't make it Nike, Apple, or Subway. Those names are taken.

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