A marketing plan is generally created for two main purposes and its purpose determines what its contents should be.
- The first purpose for a marketing plan is to communicate to someone that you’ve given thought to the marketing strategies you’re going to be employing and understand the market you’re going to be participating it. Let’s call this the Business School Marketing Plan.
- The second purpose of a marketing plan is to guide executing your marketing activities. It includes both elements of strategy as well as tactics. Let’s call this the Marketing Action Plan.
Some might make a distinction between the two purposes above and call one a strategic marketing plan and the second a tactical marketing plan. This is true but only on the surface level. You’ll understand why by exploring what the elements of each plan are so let’s explore them.
Elements of a High Level Marketing Plan
A high level marketing plan is the format that is traditionally taught in MBA schools and marketing classes of business programs across universities. The typical elements they contain are:
- Executive Overview
- Situational Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Action Program
- Financial Forecast
The problem with these plans, like most business plans is that they are usually based on hundreds of assumptions that may or may not be true.
Now let’s explore an alternative approach.
Elements of a Marketing Action Plan (MAP)
A Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is a pragmatic approach to marketing planning and execution. It promotes actionable planning over high-level thinking. The great news is that once your plans are in action, you can start to get feedback and start making better high-level, strategic decisions based on proving or disproving your assumptions. The flow of a MAP is as follows:
- Strategies per Objective
- Specific actionable steps for each strategy
- Ingredients needed per strategy
- Costs involved with each strategy
- Strategies per Objective
- Monitoring systems for tracking, analyzing and adjusting based on results.
You might notice that there are similarities between the elements of a traditional marketing plan and a marketing action plan. They both contain objectives, strategies, financial information and an action plan. The difference between the two is that each part of a MAP is helping define, execute and monitor the results of your actions.
For example, a Strategy in a a traditional marketing plan might contain “Internet Marketing” a strategy, with 10-20 pages of direction on how the organization plans to use it to attain it’s marketing objectives.
A MAP marketing plan will instead break down the Internet Marketing strategy into a more manageable, actionable state and instead become 5-10 separate strategies that address various parts of internet marketing such as email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, display advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. Each strategy would contain less general information and more specific steps needed to get real results.