The right marketing plan will keep your business moving in the right direction and help you generate more leads and sales.However, many marketing plans require a dozen or even two dozen different sections. If you want to get started quickly, or create an outline that you can build on later, try this quick-start strategic marketing plan template. This template and example will give you the information you need to start connecting with your customers, while giving you room to make improvements later on. Make a copy of this Google Doc template to fill out your own strategic marketing plan and follow along.
The Quick-Start Strategic Marketing Plan Template
Your quick-start strategic marketing plan template is designed to create a workable marketing plan fast. This way, you can build on your strategy as you learn and acquire data, instead of putting hours in up front, only to make changes later anyway. This can be helpful for both new and established businesses, including online and brick-and-mortar.
To fill in this template, we’ll use a fictional landscaping business, Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping. You’ll find this example and the template in this Google Doc. Make a copy to edit your own as you go through this post.
Goals and Outline
Your goals will shape the entirety of your strategic marketing plan. If you have a solid understanding of what you want your marketing efforts to accomplish, you’ll be able to build the best possible plan to get there.
Take some time to get specific. A goal like “get new customers” is good to start with, but keep digging. How many new customers? What is your timeline? Will you use traditional marketing strategies, digital marketing, or both?
Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping’s strategic marketing goal is to increase new year-long-contract customers by 10% this quarter (Launching beginning of January, ending at the end of March), taking the current year-long-contract customer base of 100 to 110. The strategic marketing plan will be mainly digital, leveraging a strong social media following, increasing digital advertising, and expanding our current content.
Strategic Marketing Goals Template
Creating your goals and outline can seem daunting at first. Use this strategic marketing plan template to get started. Remember, you can always go back and change this later.
My Business’s strategic marketing goal is (measurable, specific goal in set time period). We will use mainly (traditional / digital) means, including (advertisements, billboards, posters, mailings, trade shows / digital advertisements, social media, SEO, email, influencer marketing, content marketing etc.).
Like your goals and outline, completing a buyer persona is another important research and planning step. A buyer persona is a fictional profile of your target market. Without a good understanding of your target market, you’ll be casting a broad net, and you’re likely to lose valuable time and money putting out advertisements or creating content for consumers who aren’t interested.
You don’t need to know everything about your customers, but answering a few key questions will help you capture their attention more effectively. When creating your buyer persona, think of things that your customers tend to have in common. Collecting these traits in a profile will help you reach out to potential customers and create messaging that resonates with them.
Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping caters to customers who are eco-conscious. This customer is a homeowner, usually a professional, with a household income between $75,000 and $150,000. They are between 30 and 45 years old. Sustainability and the health of the environment is a priority to them. Though they enjoy a neat and attractive lawn and garden, they are not comfortable with harsh chemicals or unnatural fertilizers close to their home. There never seems to be enough time to take care of their lawn and garden though, so they are looking for some help. The customer is online often, both for work and entertainment, uses one or two social media platforms at least weekly, gets their news online, and is actively checking email. They belong to or contribute to one or two eco-friendly, local, or eco-political groups, such as a neighborhood clean-up group, camping groups, the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, etc.
Buyer Persona Template
As you create your buyer persona, try to avoid making assumptions without data. If you have a CRM system, use it to derive insights. If not, try to think of your top ten favorite customers, and list some things that they have in common. Or, if you’re starting a new business, consider your beta testers, try interviewing a few likely customers, send out a survey, or talk to a similar business owner who is not a competitor. The more reliable your data and assumptions, the better your marketing plan will be. Then, try filling in this part of the strategic marketing plan template.
My business’s ideal customer seeks (the primary reason this customer uses your business over competitors). This customer is (relevant demographic information, such as age, income, job title, industry, lifestyle, location). They struggle with (a problem that your business solves for them). Their media consumption includes, (online/print/TV, social media, newspapers, magazines, radio). They belong to (relevant personal or professional groups).
The sales funnel can be divided into as few as three stages—awareness, consideration, decision—or as many as seven stages. A good understanding of how your customers decide to make a purchase will help you create the right marketing materials and position them properly.
Some products, like low-cost consumer goods, have a relatively short decision-making process. Consumers don’t need to know much or do much research to decide to buy. In that case, informational messaging to overcome objections will be less important than simply showing the product to the customer multiple times. Conversely, more expensive, B2B products generally have a longer decision-making process. Informational content, strong selling points, personal attention, and a more detailed sales process will be more important for these products. Detailing your unique sales process will help you create the right strategic marketing plan.
Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping seeks new customers signing up for a year-long commitment with landscaping services. Our target market primarily conducts research online, and through word-of-mouth with family and friends. The decision-making process our customers go through can be divided into the following ;
Awareness: Customers search for lawn care services, including sustainable and non-sustainable services, and DIY techniques.
Consideration: Customers decide that they would prefer a landscaping service instead of doing it themselves, but aren’t sure which one.
Decision: Appealing to sustainability, time-savings and a local, independent business approach, Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping makes the sale.
Customer Retention: With a contract established, customers generally stay on unless something goes wrong. We check back in regularly to ensure customers are happy.
Sales Funnel Template
As you outline your sales funnel, consider how your customer would learn about your company, and decide to buy. Are they actively searching for a solution, or do they discover your business in passing? Once they learn about your business, how do they decide whether or not to buy from you? What sways them? Do they need to continually see your product or do they need to be convinced through information? Use the information you compiled in your buyer persona to inform this section of the strategic marketing plan template.
At this stage, focus on the customer, including what they are probably thinking and what they are probably looking for. What you will do with this information will come later. Remember; your sales funnel might contain more steps than the example. However, including less than three steps risks simplifying this important section too much.
My business seeks (length or type of commitment). Our target market (actively researches or passively learns about the business) primarily through (online search, word-of-mouth, trade shows, social media ads, online display ads, radio ads, influencer marketing, etc.). The decision-making process leading up to a purchase looks like this:
(Stage 1: How does your customer first become aware of your business? Are they actively searching for a solution to a problem, or do they not yet realize something is missing?)
(Stage 2: Once the customer is aware of your business, how do they proceed? Do they seek more information, or do they need additional passive reminders?)
(Stage 3: What does the next conversion look like? Do they become a lead, or do they make a purchase?)
(Stage 4: If your customer is a lead, what comes next? What makes them a marketing-qualified lead? Or a sales-qualified lead?)
(Consider the stages where your customer changes their behavior or thought process in relation to your brand. Have you included each unique stage?)
Promotion and Distribution
Now that you have an outline for what your customers are looking for and how best to present it, it’s time to come up with the specifics. What will you present to customers and how will you present it? At this stage of the strategic marketing plan template, we’ll consider what you’ll create, as well as how you’ll distribute it, and what you’ll need to make it successful.
Happy Tree Sustainable Landscaping’s strategic marketing plan focuses on digital marketing to connect with research-oriented contract customers. Our marketing plan uses information-based strategies including the following:
Awareness: Google search ads, content marketing, and social media ads to connect and reconnect with customers.
Consideration: Informational blog posts, webpages and downloadable content explaining how sustainable landscaping works and its benefits to the individual and the surrounding ecosystem. When a customer downloads information or joins a mailing list, they become a lead. If not, we use retargeting ads to stay at the top of their mind and invite them to come back.
Decision: When a lead schedules a free lawn assessment, we provide them with specific information on service tiers, pricing, eco-friendly products we use, and more. We check back in weekly for four weeks about setting up a contract.
Retention: We check in regularly with our customers to ensure their needs are met, including talking with them in-person and providing surveys.
Promotion and Distribution Template
Go back through the information you compiled about your sales funnel, buyer persona and goals to outline your promotion and distribution strategy. Consider what type of media your target market consumes, so you’re likely to get in touch with them. To create messages that resonate with your audience, consider what problems or concerns your customer has, and what they’re wondering about at each stage.
My business’s strategic marketing plan uses (main type of marketing method) to reach the buyer persona. The marketing plan addresses (customer concern or need) by:
(Stage 1: What methods and content will you use to reach your target market?)
(Stage 2: How will you generate a relationship with this potential customer?)
(Stage 3: What will you use to nurture this relationship and overcome objections or educate the customer about your business?)
(Stage 4: How will you close the sale?)
(Has every key step in the buyer’s journey been addressed?)
You now have an outline for a strategic marketing plan based on your customers’ preferences and needs. In case you missed it, make a copy of this Google Doc to easily fill in this template and use the example for reference. You may have made changes to the first steps as you progressed through the others. That’s okay. This strategic marketing plan template is just a starting point, and it’ll need some customization and changes to fit your business.
As you put your plan into action, monitor your progress. The most data that you have, the better understanding you’ll have about the effectiveness of your plan. If something isn’t working, try to figure out why, and change your plan accordingly. This information will help each of your marketing campaigns become more effective.