What is a marketing plan? The short answer; it is a written document that details the actions needed to achieve the marketing objectives for your business. Your marketing plan should be part of your business plan but is a document in its own right.

A marketing plan typically covers from 1 to 5 years although when just starting out, a plan covering one year is generally adequate. This plan should be referred to and updated regularly.

For a business to be successful, it needs to be able to sell enough of its product or service to generate adequate cash flow and profit to be sustainable. To do this the business needs to know who their customers are, how best to promote to them and then convince them to buy. A good marketing plan will detail each of these steps.

What should be in a marketing plan?

Typically a marketing plan will include a description of the products or service you’re planning to sell along with the price strategies you plan to implement.

Your marketing plan should include a detailed description of your potential customers covering such things as:

Who they are
How many there are
Where they can be found
Their spending power
If they already buy what you are offering
What they read
What they listened to and watched
How they make their buying decisions

It should also contain a detailed description of the market you will be in and include such things as:

What the demand for your product or service is
Where is that demand
How mature is the market
Who your competitors will be
How they market
What current pricing is
Trends within the market
What opportunities and threats there are

Your market research will provide the information required to answer the above questions. For more information see what market research and market research methodology is.

Business marketing strategies

Along with the description of your potential customers and market your marketing plan will include the business marketing strategies you plan to use to promote your product or service to your customers. This may include such things as:

Mail drops
Direct mail
Yellow pages
Public relations
Trade shows
Online marketing
Database marketing

The budget

A marketing plan also details the proposed cost of any marketing you are planning. Separate the prices for each marketing strategy you will be using. Once your marketing budget has been finalized, it is then added to the budget you create as part of your small business plan.

Test and measure

Finally, your marketing plan should include how you propose to test the return on investment of any marketing you carry out. Without knowing this you may well be spending money and getting no return from it.


What is a marketing plan? It is the blueprint for how you intend to promote your business to your prospective customers, who they are and how much you expect it to cost.

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