8 Marketing Plan Components for Long‑Term Success
Created by Jackie Lalley
You know you need to create a marketing plan, but what does that really mean?
For your organization, it means planning for success by setting marketing goals and plotting the steps that will achieve them. For you, it means having a clear direction for your day‑to‑day marketing work—and knowing how to recognize the concrete signs that you’ve succeeded.
Sounds good, right? Let’s find out how to craft a truly effective marketing plan.
What are the major components of a successful marketing plan?
1. Sales Goals
Including your current sales goals will put your marketing activities in the context of the ultimate measure of success: sales.
Successful marketing means delivering leads that turn into sales, and you won’t know how many or what kinds of leads you need to generate without some kinds of sales goals.
Pro tip: Don’t pull sales goals out of thin air. Instead, gather them from the people in your organization who generate the sales and the leaders charged with development.
2. Marketing Goals
Based on your sales goals, what kind of marketing benchmarks do you need to achieve? Marketing goals are often framed in terms of website traffic, number of leads, social follows and shares, and email clicks.
Pro tip: Marketing goals should always be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time‑bound. (This goes for your sales goals too!)
3. Content Strategy to Meet Your Goals
When you create a detailed marketing plan, your focus should be on the cornerstone of great marketing: content. Through content marketing, you’ll be creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Your content marketing strategy guides you in creating and serving up the content that will move your organization from point A (where your sales are now) to point B (where you want your sales to be).
Identify Your Buyer Personas
Do you know who you’re trying to sell to? Start with creating buyer personas. You want to regularly produce content that's relevant to your ideal customer. What are their challenges? What are their goals? Where do they get their information?
Plan Your Content
Gather your team and brainstorm content topics based on your personas and how you're looking to benefit them: What are their pain points? What information do they need the most? What challenges are they facing?
Use SEO research to reinforce what topics you can get the most leverage out of, and be as original as you can with your content. Don’t underestimate your expertise and its value to your prospects.
Craft a set of social media activities and content pieces that drive your ideal customers to your website. Give them the information they crave with blogs and downloadable content to attract them via organic traffic. Have the conversion paths in place to convert them to leads.
If your site doesn't already have a blog, it's time to launch one using the topics you've gathered from your team. The more compelling content you have, the more visitors will be drawn to your site. A 100‑page website will beat a 10‑page website 99% of the time. And a 500‑page website is even better, especially when it includes a constant flow of fresh content.
Whatever your content and social media strategies are, make sure they are tailored to your brand’s identity. Also, make sure your overall strategy and endgame are clear to everyone involved in executing the plan.
Pro tip: Remember, you don't have to go it alone in terms of writing and editing. You can and should engage your staff, donors, and volunteers in the process of generating content. You can also get help from professional writers or a professional content marketing agency.
4. Benchmarks for Success
How will you measure your success in reaching your goals? You’ll want to keep track of what’s successfully attracting site visitors and converting those visitors into sales leads.
When you think of a successful organization, revenue is probably what comes to mind first. Include metrics that track progress toward sales goals. But also consider your customer base, which is the key to long‑term growth and success:
- Is your number of customers growing?
- Is your social media follower count growing?
- Are you reaching your target market of ideal customers?
- Are your customers satisfied? (This can be tracked through surveys and reviews.)
Other metrics to track:
- Employee satisfaction (Happy employees will want to go the extra mile to exceed goals!)
- Page performance
- Keywords that resulted in organic visitors
- Number of new leads or form submissions
Remember the “time‑bound” part of your SMART goals. After all, time is money.
Create daily, weekly, and monthly milestones to estimate a time frame and to keep track of progress. Determining how far you are on the path to your goals is only possible by consistently tracking metrics over time.
6. Allocation of Work
It’s great to plan exciting, effective marketing activities, but don’t forget that they have to actually get done! Who will write the weekly blog content? Who will keep up with the organization’s social media channels? Who is in charge of tracking metrics?
Remember the “actionable” part of your SMART goals. Allocate projects to team members with specific dates and deadlines. Knowing who is going to do the work that needs to be done (and when) will keep everyone on task.
7. Cost of Implementation
After the who, what, where, when, and why, the first question on a CEO’s mind is “But how much will it cost?”
Your marketing plan should be so detailed and strategic that your team, investors, board members, and other relevant parties have no questions about whether it’s necessary or not.
Pro tip: Regularly calculate your return on investment (ROI). Whatever you propose spending on marketing should pay off by reaching those sales goals. This is why your sales goals are baked into your marketing plan.
8. Reasons You Know the Plan Will Deliver
A successful marketing plan doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. The seven marketing plan components listed above are tried and tested steps toward success.
So at the end of your marketing plan, include a section showing how you know the suggested strategies, activities, and content will help achieve the company’s goals. Marketing statistics are a great way to show your strategies are based on solid research. Whenever possible, use data from your own past marketing efforts.
Putting it all together
Compile these eight components using a marketing plan template. Soon you’ll be showing your team a fresh marketing plan that will knock their socks off! Once you've covered these eight key points in a written marketing plan, you’re well on your way to promoting and growing your organization.