How to create a marketing plan for your business

For business owners, the beginning of a new year is a great time for reflection and planning. Generally, this involves poring over bank records, revisiting your business plan and dreaming up new goals. However, one often forgotten but equally important task is updating your marketing plan—or creating one in the first place! Below, we show you how to create a marketing plan from scratch.

In a time where most industries are oversaturated with marketing mediums to choose from, a lack of direction has the potential to do damage to your efforts. You can have the most impressive product or service in the market, but if nobody knows about it, nobody is going to buy it.

However, it’s not enough to simply jump on every social media platform or start an email list and cross your fingers. Your marketing efforts should be strategic, measurable and targeted to a specific demographic.

Creating a strong marketing plan allows you to determine where you’re going to invest your time and money to ensure your marketing efforts go as far as possible.

Read on for our step-by-step guide to creating a marketing plan for your business.

01. Find a template

Content Marketing template from Venngage

An elegant marketing plan template like this example from Venngage is an excellent starting point for a luxury product.

The good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch or splash thousands on a professional to create a marketing plan for you. There are plenty of free templates out there that can be easily customized with your own branding, goals, and strategy.

When choosing a structure and layout for your marketing plan, opt for one that fits the overall feel of your business. From there, you can customize it with your brand colors fonts and logos.

For a warm and inviting marketing plan template suitable for a cafe or other small hospitality business, check out the Brown and Blue Marketing Plan Presentation template in Canva.

Creating a marketing plan for a business in the financial services or technology industries? Check out our modern and minimalistic Black Urban Photo Marketing Report Presentation template.

02. Customize with your own branding

Mockup Marketing pesentation by Cecilia Righini via Behance

The fun, bright and quirky aesthetic of this mock marketing presentation for clothing and gift company JOY perfectly compliments the brand’s values. By Cecilia Righini via Behance.

Once you have chosen your template as a starting point for your marketing plan, it’s time to customize it with your own branding. This is an important step, as your marketing plan is a resource that will be used by various stakeholders, from contractors and employees to potential investors.

When building a strong brand, part of this equation is keeping brand consistency with everything you create—even if it is only used for internal purposes.

One easy way to customize your marketing plan is by adding your brand logo. However, it’s important to remember that your visual brand is far more than just your logo. It’s also about the colors, fonts, icons, and imagery you use. All of these things can be easily personalized in Canva.

The Dark Blue and Green Lines Marketing Plan Presentation template in Canva is versatile enough to be customized for many different types of businesses. You can simply click on the background, text, and lines to change to your own brand colors and font.

03. Nail your vision

mission-statement-template

In this example, the creator has distilled their brand vision into one clear, concise sentence. They have drawn attention to it by including a bright, red speech bubble that stands out against the blue background, before elaborating more on their mission in the paragraph below. Image from Venngage.

Including a slide about your brand’s vision early in your marketing plan helps set the goals for your marketing team. While this is sometimes called a mission statement, executive summary or simply ‘brand vision’, the aim is always the same: To clearly communicate the impact you want your product or service to have on the world.

The Teal and Brown Desserts Marketing Plan Presentation template nails the brand mission down into one powerful statement. You can compliment your brand vision statement with imagery when you use the Green and White Minimalist Marketing Proposal Presentation in Canva.

Compliment your brand vision statement with imagery, with the Green and White Minimalist Marketing Proposal Presentation in Canva.

04. Identify your target market

target-audience-template venngage

This marketing plan uses a simple but effective layout to present an audience persona on one of their target demographics. Via Venngage

Also known as market segmentation or buyer’s personas, the most important part of any marketing plan is honing in on your target market. As the saying goes, “If you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to nobody.” Getting crystal clear on your target demographic allows you to refine your marketing messages and ensure that they’re landing with the right people.

To identify your target market, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What age and gender are your target customers?
  • What is their marital status?
  • What areas do they live in?
  • What do they do for work? What income bracket to they fall into?
  • What are their values and challenges?

Use images from Canva’s stock library to put a human face to your target demographic with the Blue and Orange Bar Marketing Presentation template in Canva.

Graphs and charts are a powerful way to visually represent your market segmentation. All of Canva’s infographics can be easily customized with your marketing statistics, by double-clicking the image and adding in your own values. Try this Serendipity Rocky Coastline Wide Presentation template in Canva.

05. Analyze your competitors

Design from Agnieszka Chebdowska via Behance

A simple, SWOT analysis table can be used to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Design from Agnieszka Chebdowska via Behance.

Unless your business idea is something crazy—like pajamas with sensors that automatically pause your Netflix show if you fall asleep—chances are, there is another business doing the same thing as you.

While it’s important to not get too caught up with what your rivals are doing on a day-to-day basis, your marketing plan is one occasion where you want to pay attention to your competitors.

All good marketing plans include a competitor analysis section, where you identify the strengths and weaknesses in the competition's offerings. Then, you can determine how you are going to do this differently and better. This is called your unique selling proposition and it’s the cornerstone of a solid marketing strategy.

You can communicate this through a simple statement, as seen in the Aquamarine Software Marketing Plan Presentation template in Canva. Or create your own SWOT Analysis mind map with this bright and bold Canva template.

06. Identify your marketing goals and create your action plan

A&W marketing plan

This marketing plan for US fast food chain A&W uses a creative infographic to map out their goals and strategy. By Eelhum Shehab via Behance.

Once you have achieved razor-sharp clarity on your vision, target audience and competitors, you can define your goals and develop a strong action plan. Your goals are what you want the purpose of your marketing efforts to be.

Traditionally, marketing funnels are split into seven categories: Brand awareness, consideration, preference, purchase, loyalty, and advocacy. Each of your marketing objectives should focus on one of these stages in the customer journey. It’s crucial to ensure these goals are as measurable, specific, and time-based as possible.

Next, it’s time to determine how you are going to achieve each of these goals. It is called a marketing plan, after all!

Will you focus on search engine marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing (ie. blogs and newsletters), or more traditional avenues like posters or flyers?

There are a plethora of different marketing avenues and it’s crucial to determine which one is suitable for your target demographic and goals.

Break your marketing plan into smaller 30, 60, and 90-day blocks with this Canva template. Or use a handy timeline graphic to map out your strategy with the Orange Pizza Marketing Restaurant Food Presentation.

07. Measure the results

Destination Ontario marketing plan

In this marketing plan for Destination Ontario, the creator has included a simple, color-coded table that can be easily updated to demonstrate how well targets were met. By Kelia Matthews via Behance.

A marketing plan shouldn’t be something you create once and forget about. It should be revisited regularly and updated. Many businesses choose to work in quarterly (every four months) marketing cycles, so they can revisit your objectives and measure how well they achieved them.

This will allow you to identify which marketing activities gave the best return on investment. This information makes it easy to see at a glance what worked and what didn’t and adjust your strategy for the next quarter accordingly.

You can use pie graphs and other icons to quantify the impact your marketing efforts have had on your business like in the Marketing Goals Presentation. Meanwhile, Orange Monochrome Cityscape Online Marketing Presentation uses boxes, numbers and bold, contrasting colors to demonstrate their results.