Marketing is more than posting to your blog and social media channels. While those are important pieces of any marketing plan, they should be driven by a larger strategy. That’s where your marketing plan comes in. 

Think of your marketing plan as your one source of truth. It gets everyone on the same page and guides all marketing efforts for the year. 

Whether you’re a business owner who wears multiple hats or a marketing director with a dedicated team, you need a clear vision for 2020. Luckily, creating one is easier than you think. It’s not too late. You can get started right now. Use the following six questions to guide you as you create your marketing plan. 

Download our free marketing plan template and fill it out as you answer the below questions.

Why does your business matter?

Before you plan how you’ll meet your objectives, make sure your employees and customers understand why you exist in the first place. Convincing someone to care about your products or services is much easier once you’ve given them an emotional reason to pay attention. That’s why this first section of your marketing plan will include your mission statement.

Here are example mission statements for two hypothetical HVAC businesses:

HVAC business 1: “We provide heating and air conditioning to thousands of households.”

HVAC business 2: “We believe that every Texan should feel comfortable at home.”

If I’m an average Texan, the business of heating and air conditioning doesn’t matter much to me. What I do care about is being comfortable at home. And Texas. 

How will you prioritize your marketing initiatives? 

Your marketing initiatives should directly impact your overall business objectives. If your business has a goal to increase sales by 40% in 2020, this section of your plan will outline the marketing initiatives that will contribute to that goal. 

Make sure each initiative is tied to specific, measurable goals. For example, one of your marketing initiatives might be to optimize your website. But how will you know that you’ve succeeded in optimizing your website once you’ve completed the project? To measure success, you might use the metric of generating 200 leads from the website each month. 

What markets will you focus on? 

Your marketing approach may differ depending on the market you’re targeting. If you’re a real estate agent, do you focus on residential or commercial? Let’s say your residential—is there an opportunity to move into commercial as well? If so, how do these two different types of clients differ? 

This section of your marketing plan will describe your market, analyze your competition, and paint a picture of your buyer personas. Creating buyer personas can help you think through the best way to approach each specific market.

How will you approach those markets? 

Based on the information you gathered about your market, competition, and personas, this section of your marketing plan will identify ways you can provide unique value to your customers. What pain points do they have that aren’t being solved? Where will your customers find your product or service? How will you communicate your value to them? 

What marketing channels will you focus on? 

The key to marketing is meeting prospects where they’re at in the buyer’s journey. If a potential buyer is just beginning their research, they probably need a more educational piece of content. If they’ve already had a call with one of your salespeople, they’re probably looking for reassurance that you are better than your competitors. 

This section will help you identify your marketing channels. Different marketing channels help you reach different types of buyers at various stages in the journey. What social networks will you focus on most? How will you measure the success of those networks? What other channels will you target? 

How can you improve customer communications?

Modern consumers have changed. For them, time isn’t money—it’s everything. That’s why 90% of consumers would like the option to text a business. Seeing as only 50% of businesses provide that option, you have an opportunity to stand out. This section of the marketing plan template will help you take advantage of key touchpoints in the customer journey by adopting the convenience of text messaging. 

How will you allocate your budget? 

In the end, you’re constrained by money just like everyone else. The upside is that this constraint can motivate you to use your resources smarter and more efficiently. This section of your marketing plan will list out your marketing expenses and their estimated costs. While it is good to list out expenses in your marketing plan, you should also create a more robust budget in Excel or Google Sheets. 

When it’s all said and done, the most important thing you can do this year in terms of marketing is tell a consistent story to your specific target persona. If you try to say everything to everyone, you’ll end up saying nothing at all.

If you haven’t already, download our marketing plan template.