How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan

Before setting out to write a strategic marketing plan, it is important to understand the purpose of the document. In a nutshell, a strategic marketing plan allows marketers to review long- and short-term objectives, it provides insight into the financial position of a company in relation to marketing objectives and activities, it brings awareness to competitors’ products, claims, and marketing tactics, and it provides directives for execution and implementation of the plan. A strategic marketing plan can be changed at any point if/when it is deemed necessary. It is important to note a solid plan cannot be written overnight, because the process requires many weeks in the research and development stage. The following outline provides marketers with a template for writing a strategic marketing plan. Included with the outline are explanations for each step of the plan.

Strategic Marketing Plan Outline and Explanations of Activities

I. Cover Page

II. Table of Contents

III. Executive Summary

The executive summary provides an overview of the entire strategic marketing plan. It should highlight the main points of the plan which will allow a decision maker who does not have time to read the entire document to decided whether to say “yes” or “no” to the project. Since this is a summarization of the entire strategic marketing plan, it should be written last.

IV. Current Marketing Situation

Evaluation of the current marketing situation should include a brief history of the organization, its mission and values, an introduction of the new product, and a brief narrative explaining how the new product aligns with the company’s mission and values.

V. Market Description

The market description defines who the target market(s) are, why that that/those market(s) were chosen, and how/why the new product will appeal to those consumers.

VI. Product Review
a. Product Description
b. Functionality and Benefits
c. Packaging and Price Point
d. Place and Promotion

The product review should include an expanded explanation of the product of why the product is worth purchasing, a fully developed product description, and the features of the product. It should also discuss packaging, price point, and where/how the product will be promoted.

VII. Competitive Review
a. Company #1
b. Company #2
c. Substitutes and Competitor Claims
d. Responses to Competitor Claims

A complete competitive review reveals who the top 2-3 competitors are, substitute products they offer, claims they may have against the new product, and appropriate responses to those claims.

VIII. Channels and Logistics Reviews
a. Distribution Dynamics
b. Working with Channel Members
1) Digital Channel Members
2) Traditional Channel Members
c. Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Logistics
d. Other Associated Factors

Thorough channels and logistics reviews discuss distribution channel dynamics (the most efficient manner to get the product to the customers), working with channel members (Who is the organization working with? How is the organization working with those channel members?), where the product will be manufactured and warehoused, and how the products are distributed to intermediaries and consumers.

IX. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Treats
a. Strengths
b. Weaknesses
c. Opportunities
d. Threats

A strategic marketing plan is not complete without a SWOT analysis. The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to discuss internal factors—the strengths and weaknesses of the product concept, along with external factors—the opportunities and threats related to designing, marketing, and brining the product to the marketplace. How do the organization’s strengths offset threats from outside of the organization? How will those strengths help the company maximize opportunities? And so on…

X. Objectives and Issues
a. Pre-release Objectives
1) Product Differentiation
2) Product Positioning (Include Positioning Statement)
3) Promotion

b. First-year Objectives
1) Objective #1
2) Objective #2
c. Second-year Objectives
1) Objective #1
2) Objective #2
d. Issues

Marketing objectives are most effectively presented in SMART format. SMART goals are (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)chievable, (R)elevant, and (T)ime-based. This section should define any pre-release objectives, first-year objectives, second-year objectives, and any issues that could arise during that time. There should be a least 1 to 2 SMART goals for each objective.

XI. Marketing Strategy
a. Anticipated Growth
b. Past Performance
c. Brand Strategy
d. Managing Brand Equity

The marketing strategy discusses the main marketing objective, anticipated growth for the new product, past performance of the company and it products, brand strategy, and how to manage brand equity.

XII. Action Programs
a. Primary Objective for Promotional Approach
b. Promotional Plan Execution
c. IMC Budget
1) (Example IMC Activity) Monthly full-page ads in PC Magazine @ $11,526 for each addition. Ads run each month for 12 months. Total Cost: $138,312.
2) IMC Activity
3) IMC Activity
4) IMC Activity
5) IMC Activity

d. Elaboration of IMC Activities

Action Programs should be based on Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) principles. This section outlines the primary objective for the promotional approach, how the plan will be executed, the IMC promotion budget, and further elaboration of the IMC activities covered in the IMC budget.

XIII. Budgets

The budgets section covers the first-year retail sales goal amount, the number of units that need to be sold, and at what price the units will be sold to meet the objective. It also provides when the organization will break even. It also includes the break-even calculation:

Estimated first-year costs ÷ (wholesale price per unit-variable cost per unit)

XIV. Controls
a. Implementation
b. Evaluation
c. Control

Effective implementation, evaluation, and control (IEC) requires marketers to consider how each of these actions work in conjunction with the other, along with what will happen should something go wrong.

XV. Refences

If the marketer has used outside resources that have been cited in the strategic marketing plan, they must also include a reference page.

Click the link below to view an example of a strategic marketing plan.


2 replies on “How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan”

Hi would you be willing to do a presentation for our audience on we are searching for a few people to talk about what a marketing plan is, why it is important and how to make one. If interested please contact me at so we can discuss the details.

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HI, first of all, thank you for reading my post. Second, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Somehow, I missed your comment. I know it has been a while since you posted, but if you are still interested, please let me know. Thank you. ~Jennifer S.

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