How To Write A Strategic Marketing Plan

Photo Credit: Ken Teegardin on Flickr

In a previous article I’ve discussed the go to market strategy and its importance for the business.

It’s now time to focus on the document that provides an overview of the strategic initiatives to be implemented in a particular year and the projected outcome: the marketing plan.

The yearly marketing plan supports the overall strategy, and should be developed after the long and medium term goals have been identified.

The document should reflects the short term changes in the competitive landscape and take into account immediate opportunities and threats that didn’t exist at the time the medium term strategy was developed.

A plan that does not align with the long term business objectives is a waste of time and valuable resources.

Strategic Marketing Plan Outline


This introductory section lists the Marketing goals for a particular year, such as: increases in sales and profits, attracting more customers, generating repeat purchase, increasing awareness and trial, generating more brand loyalty, and establishing emotional connections with the brand.

A realistic marketing plan lists a maximum two to three objectives.

Summary of Recommendations

These paragraphs provide the strategies and tactics to be employed in order to accomplish the yearly goals. This section will offer the members of the management team who are not willing to take the time and read the entire document with the opportunity to understand what it is about.

Current Market Conditions

This chapter provides a description of the market the brand/company competes in.

It details the current market trends and highlights the changes in user segmentation and profiles. An important section should be dedicated to competition, and how the changes in the competitive landscape affect the company.

Details on new mergers and acquisitions, product launches, new distribution channels or a new competitor entering the market will be included here.

SWOT Analysis

This section provides the reader with a realistic overview of the company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are greatly influenced by external factors beyond the company control

. An effective analysis takes a close look at the performance of all departments including Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales, Finance, IT, and Administration.


Yearly objectives are accomplished through effective strategies that should reinforce the company’s competitive advantage.

The plan then details how the company’s competitive advantage is implemented through product, packaging, distribution and promotion strategies.


These are the concrete initiatives (projects) to be completed during the year in support of the strategies above.

Many marketers (and advertising agencies) make the error of starting with a list of tactics, without thinking of the strategy they support.

See my article Go To Market Strategy: Understanding Marketing Objectives, Strategy and Tactics for details on how to distinguish between strategies and tactics.

Sales Forecast

Marketers are usually required to incorporate some kind of sales projections in the yearly marketing plan. The most common forecast breaks down the sales by brand, product category and distribution channel.

Every sales prediction (growth or decline) has to be justified by the strategies and tactics you recommended in the chapters above.


If this is your first marketing plan for a particular company or brand make sure you ask about the level of detail expected by management.


This will be one of the highly debatable chapter of the marketing plan so make sure you back your numbers by solid arguments.

There are many ways to build the marketing budget, and it all depends on the individual business.

Some companies allocate a percentage of sales (usually between 1%-10%) to Marketing initiatives. The percentage depends on the size of the company, competition, industry, how important marketing is to an organization.

Another methods starts with a list of initiatives to be implemented that are then budgeted.

Other companies will simply match what the competitors are spending, while others will apply the “whatever I can afford after all the other expenditures” strategy. If you are working for a company that using the last method maybe it’s time consider a career move.

Tracking and Control

No Marketing plan will be complete without detailing how success will be measured. It is important for you, as a marketer, to keep track of what works and what doesn’t, and how much you have allocated to each initiative.

It’s good practice to set very quantifiable goals and budgets for each project, and review the performance metrics at least twice per year.

Supporting Research (Qualitative and Quantitative)

If your recommendations are based on primary/secondary research make sure you include the supporting data as a appendix to the Marketing plan. This should help you sell your plan to the top management.

Some final words about the strategic marketing plan format. Some managers prefer a one to two page plan that is easy to read. Others demand a well-documented plan that includes detailed explanations for any action. Before you proceed with developing it, make sure you have a good idea of the format required.


  1. Michael says:

    Hi Dipesh,

    Feel free to send me an e-mail through my blog’s Contact form and let me know how I can help.

  2. H, this is Dipesh from India and in India its very much difficult to do marketing but I hope will get some guidance from you as self already getting business after putting extra efforts but things which I planned wouldn’t run accordingly.

    Please if you can guide me.


  3. Hi Manu,

    Thank you for your nice words about my blog. First, I would like to congratulate you for your decision to start your own business!
    Marketing your restaurant, like any other business, starts with a good plan. Before you explore your communication options, you have to ensure you have a good product (people actually enjoying the food and atmosphere), and a unique value proposition, and a pricing strategy that reflects the image you want to project. Once you have those elements established, you work on a simple message that you will use to promote your business.
    In terms of communication, social media is indeed the most cost effective option,but not your only one. I am not a social media expert, so I can’t give you advice on how to best leverage it. The only social media tool I use is HootSuite, which has some nice reporting options.
    If you would like more personalized advice, feel free to contact me by e-mail at

  4. mANU SANKAR DAS says:


    I am new to this website and found the articles quite informative and useful. I completed my post graduate diploma in brand management and I have decided to venture out into the realm of entrepreneurship by starting a new restaurant in my hometown. Its always been a dream, so when I got the opportunity I just happened to grab it with both hands. I am in the initial stages of marketing my restaurant and trying to build a brand. My marketing budgets are much lesser compared to competition and hence I have decided to focus on digital and social media to help me reach out to my target audience. Can you help me out by suggesting a few good analytical softwares like google analytics, which I could use to track traffic and help me take decisions in terms of my marketing spends. I wish to base my decisions on data rather than instincts. I do not have a clear marketing budget to play with and will have to resort to random allocation for the time being, even though its not the most suitable one. If you have any other suggestions/references in terms of marketing a restaurant , kindly share them with me.
    PS. I really enjoy reading the posts here.

  5. Hi Vikash, I am glad you found the article useful. Unfortunately I don’t have any Powerpoint slides available. Basically each plan has to be customized for each individual company. I would ask the company you’re dealing with what they expect to see in the marketing plan and build your presentation around their requirements.

  6. I have gone through this website and i really found it very interesting. Thank you so much. i am in process of making Strategic Marketing Plan of one comapny. Do we have some powerpoint slide samples. It would be very help ful for me.

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you for your comment Bhushan. I will detail ech section of the plan in future posts. I invite you to subscribe to this blog by e-mail to ensure you receive them.

  8. Good to read this aticle on strategic marketing plan.But would like to have deeper insights on the bullets points mentioned in the article.


  1. […] How To Write A Strategic Marketing Plan. The marketing plan is the yearly to do list, based on the medium and long term strategic objectives. This article is a summary of what needs to be included in the document. […]

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