Marketing Plan Outline

Marketing Plan Outline

The key people can provide realistic input on what’s achievable and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have on any potential, as-yet-unrealized marketing opportunities, adding another dimension to your plan.Marketing plan spells out what your business is about–what you do and don’t do, and what your ultimate goals are.

INTRODUCTION:  Marketing Plan

The Guideline and Template Content Starts on the Following Page

What This Is

Outline for a marketing plan document to be written for a stand-alone marketing effort for an existing product or service, or as part of a project to introduce a new product or service to market.


Why It’s Useful

A well-executed marketing program or product/service launch is composed of a number of interrelated activities that must be planned for well in advance. In addition, much as a product or service must be designed with the end customer’s needs and perspectives in mind, the marketing activities to promote that product/service must be “designed” with the target customer in mind. This plan outline highlights the activities and components needed for an effective marketing campaign.


How to Use It

1)     Use the following outline—modified for your situation—to draft a marketing plan well before the marketing needs to occur.

2)     Review the first draft with various functional groups that will be involved in executing the program.

3)     If this plan is being developed as part of the project to create and introduce a new product or service, work with the project manager of that overall effort to sync the marketing activities with related development activities, to be sure the marketing group will get the information it needs on time.

4)     Update the detail in the plan as it gets closer to time to actually carry out the marketing activities.

5)     Begin to use the monitoring information developed for section 9 as implementation of the marketing efforts get underway.


Marketing Plan Outline

 1.  Executive Summary

The Executive Summary highlights the main objectives of the marketing effort, key aspects such as budget required, and how success of the marketing campaign(s) will be measured.

2.  Business Overview

This section may be repeated and expanded from the project’s “Business Case” document or Marketing Requirements Document – wherever the team originally documented the business reasons for creating this product or service, the market and competitive situation etc.

This section should contain background on

–       the market

–       description of the product or service being introduced

–       pricing,

–       distribution assumptions

–       competitors

NOTE: IT departments can describe their business in these terms by describing the customer/user base, services required by them customers, and environmental factors affecting operation. And what other external services, available technology, etc. are actually competing for the IT departments business.

 3.  Target Markets and Product/Service Positioning

This information can come from the original business case or marketing requirements document for this product/service. It should answer:

  • What groups comprise the market for this product or service? Why have they been chosen?
  • Are there identifiable segments of the market that may need different marketing/promotional approaches? What are those segments and how are they similar and different?
  • To what degree will you be marketing to existing customers who know the company vs. new customers?
  • Are there versions of this product or service that are specialized or customizable to various groups and will need to be marketed differently?

This section should identify the target markets, and also discuss how the product/service will be positioned with those markets. (How does this offering differ from that of our competitors? Why should they buy ours? What are our compelling benefits?) This positioning will be key to the details of each marketing strategy and the information developed to support the various promotional efforts.

 Marketing Plan Outline

 4.  Goals of the Marketing Program

What does the company need this marketing effort to achieve? Express this in whatever terms make sense for your product and service.

Externally, is the goal to sell a certain number of units per period (month, quarter, year) starting on date X? Is it to crack a particular new target segment of customers, one you’ve not had an offering for before?

If your service is internal, is your goal to serve a certain number of departments with your IT applications? Or to increase that user base by a certain number of departments?

5.  Marketing Strategies

Outline strategies and programs to reach the above goals.

Market Penetration strategies: If this product/service is being introduced for the first time, what is the strategy for getting noticed, gaining a foothold, and establishing an initial customer base?

Market development strategies: If this product/service was introduced previously, and the goal of this marketing program is to grow the customer base, what is the strategy for getting the attention of new target segments, or landing new customers within an existing segment?

Marketing strategies often include approaches such as:

  • Use of PR such as mentions in newspapers and publications
  • Conference and trade show exposure
  • Print marketing
  • Direct mail marketing
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Offering free seminars to raise awareness and generate leads
  • Approaching web sites with free articles to publish
  • Offering discounted upgrades to get existing customers to buy the new offering

The marketing plan outlines which strategies will be used for this marketing effort and why.

If you are going after multiple target market segments, make sure the plan is clear about which strategies are aimed at which segments.

Marketing Plan Outline

 6.  Implementation Tactics

This section details the activities needed to accomplish the strategies listed above. If your marketing effort is fairly small or single-pronged (one strategy), this document can include a fair amount of task detail. For larger efforts, this document will summarize the implementation efforts and key milestones, then may refer to a detailed action item list or schedule file that is kept separately.

At a minimum,

– Create a graphic timeline (such as a high-level Gantt chart) showing all the marketing “projects”— the implementation tactics—to give a good overview of the entire program.

– For each marketing “project” needed to accomplish the strategies, plan the key due dates, and who is responsible. For example:

Strategy 1:  Conference/Trade show attendance to get presence in new market segment

        1a. Attend Trade Show X in May 04 to announce our entry into new market Y.

        1b. Attend Conference Z in July 04 to present paper with client.



Person Responsible

Completion Date

Trade show booth commitments made



Booth design approved



Custom booth completed



All needed collateral pieces identified



All collateral designed and reviewed



Develop sales training materials



Pilot sales training course



Revise and finalize sales training materials



Train all personnel attending the trade show



Booth and materials shipped to Show 1






Modify based on results at show 1



Etc. – tasks for show 2

Marketing Plan Outline

7.  Budget

How much will the activities defined above cost? Break the costs down by each marketing strategy and implementation effort (trade shows, print advertising, etc.)

8.  Communication Plan

This aspect of the plan focuses on how Marketing will explain the benefits of the product to customers. Sales staff and customers are the primary beneficiaries of this deliverable, but the materials are also valuable to others interested in the company and its products, such as investors, vendors, and potential employees.

This section calls out what kinds of information and teaching forums will be used. Items in this list will be needed for some or all of the tactical implementation plans called out in section 6.

Internal information provided as sales tools to the sales force:

  • Sales guides
  • Data sheets
  • Scripted presentations
  • Educational seminars

External communication items such as

  • Press releases
  • Product announcements.
  • Client case studies

9.    Monitoring and Evaluating Results

Success Metrics

How will the marketing team judge whether the marketing efforts are yielding the desired results? Establish goals such as number of leads to get from the first trade show above. The team can also think through next steps if the initial efforts don’t yield desired results. For instance, if the first trade show doesn’t yield the desired number of good sales leads, how will the team be able to judge what might not have worked, so the program can be tweaked before the next show?

Progress Reports

How will Marketing report progress and results to executives and others who need to know? Define frequency of status reporting, what information will be reported, etc.

In general, this reporting should show results for each marketing effort, linked back to overall goals of the marketing program. See the example on the following page

Marketing Plan Outline

9.    Monitoring and Evaluating Results (continued)

Example excerpts from a Marketing Plan Progress Report

Target segmentStrategy Tactic Success metric:Results to date
New customers in industry XTrade shows and conferences to raise awareness of our entry to this marketTrade show X

Conference Y

200 qualified leads from booth

10 leads from talk

At least 150 are well qualified

Only 5 customer leads, but one opinion leader who is interested in our offering and could get us more exposure


Summary of Marketing Results to-date vs. Overall Goals:

e.g., “So far we have achieved our penetration target for segment X, having gained the 10 new customers we wanted for this quarter.

“However, we are experiencing difficulty achieving overall sales growth targets, because the leads generated from our marketing programs for segment Y have been less than what we targeted.”

Marketing Plan Outline