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What Should I Include in a Marketing Plan?

Updated: Apr 11

A new year means a fresh start and if marketing your small business hasn't been top priority, you'll want to start 2024 off with a marketing plan that will help guide you in your marketing efforts and evaluate what is and isn't working.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a roadmap that outlines your business's marketing strategy for a specific period, typically a year. It's a living document that guides your marketing efforts and helps you achieve your overall business goals.

What to include?

Executive summary

Think of this as your elevator pitch for the marketing plan. Briefly (1-2 paragraphs) explain:

  • Who you are: Briefly introduce your business and its brand.

  • Who you're targeting: Describe your ideal customer(s).

  • What you want to achieve: State your primary marketing goals (e.g., increased brand awareness, lead generation, sales growth).

  • How you'll get there: Briefly mention your key marketing strategies.

Situational analysis

Honesty is key! This section requires a critical look at your current position:

  • Internal Analysis: Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Evaluate your marketing capabilities, resources, and brand strength.

  • External Analysis: Research your target market, including demographics, needs, and online behavior. Analyze your competitors' key marketing strategies and industry trends.

Marketing goals and objectives

Don't just wish for "more sales." Set SMART goals:

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve (e.g., 20% increase in website traffic, 50 qualified leads per month).

  • Measurable: Choose metrics to track progress (e.g., website analytics, lead conversion rates).

  • Achievable: Set ambitious but realistic goals based on your resources and market dynamics.

  • Relevant: Ensure your goals align with your overall business objectives.

  • Time-bound: Establish deadlines for achieving each goal.

Marketing strategies

Outline your overall approach based on your goals and target audience:

  • Channel Selection: Identify the marketing channels you'll use (e.g., social media, content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising).

  • Strategic Pillars: Define key themes or approaches within each channel (e.g., building brand awareness on social media, educating leads through content marketing).

Marketing tactics

Get specific! Describe the practical actions you'll take:

  • Content Creation: Define types of content to create (e.g., blog posts, infographics, videos).

  • Social Media Engagement: Specify types of posts and engagement strategies.

  • Paid Advertising: Outline targeting parameters and campaign objectives.

  • Website Optimization: Detail improvements to enhance user experience and conversions.


Allocate resources strategically:

  • Estimate costs: Consider costs for content creation, advertising, tools, and personnel.

  • Prioritize spending: Allocate more to channels with higher potential return on investment.

  • Be flexible: Allow room for adjustments based on performance and market changes.


Create a realistic timeframe for each activity:

  • Phase out tasks: Break down the plan into manageable stages with deadlines.

  • Consider dependencies: Align deadlines for dependent tasks (e.g., content creation before launch).

  • Build in buffer time: Account for unforeseen delays and adjustments.

Measurement and evaluation

Regularly track and analyze results to make informed decisions:

  • Define KPIs: Determine key performance indicators for each goal and channel.

  • Track data: Monitor metrics using analytics tools and reports.

  • Evaluate performance: Analyze data to understand what's working and what's not.

  • Adapt and adjust: Make data-driven changes to optimize your marketing efforts.

Though the specific elements of your marketing plan may vary depending on the size and complexity of your business, the elements listed above are a good starting point for creating a comprehensive and effective marketing plan.

Start Your Marketing Plan with Our Helpful Worksheets!

Emerald's Marketing Plan Worksheets

A photo of a team working on a marketing plan on a laptop with the words "let the experts create your marketing plan so you can focus on your core business functions. Then there is a button that says, "get a marketing plan"


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