Without marketing, most businesses would fail. But many small businesses don’t take the time to create comprehensive marketing plan.
What often ends up happening is these businesses will try different marketing tactics ad hoc, with only minor to moderate success. Or they’ll score a big win by chance but find themselves unable to properly scale their tactics, goals and strategies.
There are plenty of online marketing tools that gives businesses an edge today. But that’s where a marketing plan is so useful. Learning how to write a marketing plan forces you to think through the important steps that lead to an effective marketing strategy. A plan will also help keep you focused on your high-level goals.
Not to mention, if you’re trying to inspire confidence in your investors, CEO, or new team members, a solid marketing plan shows that your marketing strategies are backed up by research.
The goal of a marketing plan is to:
- Provide an analysis of your business’s current situation
- Introduce and describe your target audience
- Offer an overview of your marketing goals
- Outline any marketing communication strategies you will be using
- Set your marketing budget
The scope of your marketing plan varies depending on its purpose or the type of organization it’s for. For example, you could create a plan that provides an overview of a company’s entire marketing strategy, or simply focus on a specific channel like SEO, social media marketing, influencer marketing or event marketing.
Your approach also changes when you create a corporate marketing plan versus a nonprofit marketing plan, or a public-sector marketing plan. Here’s a marketing plan example, to give you an idea of the type of content you could include.
In any case, your marketing plan should be focused and well organized. That’s where an effective marketing plan design comes into play.
Start with a marketing plan template
While a marketing plan doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty, an impressive design certainly helps if you want your plan to be more convincing.
Presentation is especially important if you’re presenting your marketing plan to investors, or if you need to convince your boss to approve your requested budget.
That’s where a marketing plan template can help. If you don’t have a designer available, or even if you want a framework to base your own design on, a template gives you a solid foundation to work with.
Start creating your marketing plan with a template and then customize the design to fit your information and to incorporate your own branding.
Here are seven marketing plan templates to get your started, along with some report design best practices you should follow when creating your plan.
1. Identify, describe and illustrate your target audience
Knowing your target audience is one of the most fundamental steps that every marketing team should take before making any marketing decisions. So by the time you begin writing your marketing plan, you should have your target audience identified.
In your marketing plan, you should dedicate a section to introducing your target audience.
To help keep your target audience top-of-mind when planning and executing on your marketing strategies, it can be helpful to visualize your audience personas. Faux images of your personas, illustrations and icons are all great ways to put a face to your personas’ “names”.
For example, take this page from a marketing plan:
A photo of “Cassandra Vane”, their “head of marketing” persona, is provided to make the character seem more real. You can incorporate photos seamlessly into your page design by using image frames.
Icons are also used to visualize the different components that make up this persona (their identifies, their demographic information, their goals and their unique challenges).
Take a look at how this page is used in this marketing plan example:
2. Visualize important process flows and strategy road maps
To effectively outline new strategies, processes and timelines, it can be very helpful to visualize the flows.
You could opt for a classic flow chart, or a more creative infographic. Whatever type of visual you choose to create, the goal should be to make the information easier for people to follow.
The first step is to organize your flow into distinct steps. Remember to clearly label each step and to use visual cues like lines or arrows to indicate the direction in which the flow should be read.
It can also be helpful to visualize each step using different shapes, or attaching an icon to each step.
For example, this page visualizes an email campaign flow:
Icons represent each email as an individual block, to make it easier for readers to visualize the process. Concise descriptions gives readers context to understand the flow chart.
Take a look at how information flows visually throughout this promotional marketing plan template thanks to strategically placed visual cues:
3. Emphasize important statistics, metrics and numbers in your marketing plan
To make your plan both more convincing, and easier to scan, you should create a hierarchy of information in your page design.
For example, you can use charts and pictograms to visualize important stats or metrics. Or you could write important numbers in a bright colored font so they stand out from the rest of the text.
This is an opportunity to get creative with your page design. For example, look at how speech bubble pictograms are used in this page to show key statistics:
In that same marketing plan, important content-related data is emphasized using brightly colored shapes, illustrative icons and big fonts:
4. Use your main marketing goal to guide your design
One of the main goals a your marketing plan is to identify your high-level marketing goals. Your marketing plan design should be driven by this goal–in your page layouts and in the design elements you use.
You can do this by picking a design motif that reflects your goal and using that throughout your marketing plan. This could be a particular shape or item (for example, using images of plants in an SEO plan to represent growth) or a color scheme that reflects the mood of your mission.
For example, this social media marketing plan identifies their goal as being the go-to source of inspiration and information for runners:
Take a look at how they use chat bubble icons and a bright, bold color scheme to give their marketing plan a friendly and energetic design:
5. Vary your page designs to make your marketing plan engaging
Putting in the extra bit of effort to use visuals will not only make your marketing plan more engaging, it will also make it easier for readers to retain information.
That’s why while you could use the same page layout throughout your whole plan, it’s a good idea to vary your page design. Mixing up your design will prevent your plan from being too predictable. Plus, you will have more flexibility to visualize information creatively.
For example, this SEO plan template simply inverts the color scheme on each page. While the overall color scheme for the whole plan is cohesive, each individual page is varied:
6. Visualize your top channels using charts, icons and pictograms
It’s important for your team to understand what your highest performing channels. That way, you can identify areas you may want to funnel more resources into.
A simple but effective way to analyze your channels is to visualize them. You can do this using charts, pictograms and infographics.
For example, a pie chart can put into perspective where the bulk of your traffic is coming from:
A stacked bar would also work well to visualize this information.
You can also use icons to emphasize and differentiate between channels, like in this marketing plan slide:
Take a look at how charts, icons and color coding make it easy to scan this marketing agenda presentation for information about specific channels:
7. Use borders or color blocks to organize your pages into sections
Generally, it’s good practice to stick to one topic per page. This will help keep your marketing plan more organized and make it easier for readers to scan for information.
That being said, you may want to put more than one topic on the same page, like if both topics are directly related. In that case, you can organize the page into sections using borders or blocks of background color.
For example, look at how this page is clearly divided into two sections, thanks to the use of a color block background:
Blocks of color are also used to make the sections headers stand out. Take a look at the different pages in this promotional plan template:
A few more marketing plan design best practices:
Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when start designing your marketing plan.
Keep your design elements like fonts, icons and colors consistent
While it’s good to switch up the layout of your pages to keep your marketing plan engaging, it’s important to keep your design consistent. That means:
- Using the same font styles for your headers, body text, and accent text (generally, try to stick to only using 2-3 different font styles in one report)
- Using the same color scheme throughout your plan, and using the same colors for specific types of information (ex. blue for “social media goals” and green for “SEO goals”)
- Using the same style of icons throughout your report, like flat icons, line art icons, or illustrated icons
Download your marketing plan as a PDF
It’s important that your team is on the same page. Sharing your marketing plan via Google Docs or a file sharing service can be unreliable. In most cases, it’s easier to simply download your marketing plan as a PDF and share it with your team that way.
You can download your marketing plan in high quality PDF or interactive PDF format with Venngage.
Include a table of contents to make it easy to find specific information
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Even if you’re putting together your marketing plan as a presentation, a simple table of contents at the beginning will give your audience an idea of what they can expect.
Now that you have the basics for designing your own marketing plan, it’s time to get started: