How to Create a Strategic Marketing Plan

A quick Google search on marketing strategy will reveal thousands of articles with tactics and ideas on how to market a business. While helpful, many times a reader ends up with a larger to-do list than what they had started with before reading the article while still lacking in direction on the best path forward to grow his or her business or brand. One reason for this is because many marketing strategies are so overly focused on the tactic or channel that in return they end up overlooking the overall goals and objectives of the business or organization. A well-positioned strategic marketing plan can help you to plan, prioritize, focus, and measure your marketing efforts in a way that is aligned with a business’s goals. The five-step plan introduced below can help you develop a strategic marketing plan for your organization, setting your team up for success this year. 

Five Steps to Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

  1. Market positioning and situational analysis
  2. Target audience and buyer personas
  3. Goals and Objectives
  4. Tactics and Plans
  5. KPIs

Market positioning and situational analysis

In order to build a plan, you need to understand how your business fits in the marketplace. A good place to start is with a SWOT analysis. Even if you’ve done a SWOT analysis previously, it is helpful to level set with your team and document any changes to your internal and external environment. In addition, having a recent SWOT analysis readily available can help you prepare for the additional steps in developing your strategy. Another useful tool at this stage is to conduct a competitive analysis to understand how your business fits in with the competition and what sets you apart. 

Target audience and buyer personas

The second step in developing your marketing strategy is to document your target audience and buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. Understanding who your customers are and how to talk to them are key components of building your marketing strategy. Depending on who your buyers are, some strategies and tactics may make more sense than others, and this stage can help you answer those questions. 

If you have developed your buyer personas already, use this time to revisit them. Putting yourself in the shoes of your buyer can help you develop achievable goals and objectives. If you have not created buyer personas yet, HubSpot has a great template to use.

Goals and Objectives

When it comes to marketing planning, objectives and goals are two words that are often used interchangeably when they are in fact quite different. 

A goal is a long-term desired result you want to achieve and is often used as a guide for your marketing efforts. Some common examples of marketing goals could be:

  • Increase traffic to our blog
  • Improve our email marketing
  • Increase our organic search rankings
  • Grow our yearly revenue

An objective is an action that you will take to help you achieve your goal. Typically, objectives are narrow in scope, precise, and measurable. Some common examples of marketing objectives may include:

  • Increase visits to our blog from 10,000 to 15,000 in 12 months
  • Increase our email click rate from 1.5% to 2.5% in 12 months
  • Grow our yearly revenue by 15% to $50M by the end of the calendar year

Setting your goals and objectives helps your team identify specifically what they want to achieve, significantly improving focus and prioritization. Instead of doing a little bit of everything, you can focus on the activities that move you closer to your goal. Ideally, your goals should also align with the business’ overall goals, this way you can map the marketing team’s contributions and progress to the overall impact on the business.

Tactics, Plans, and KPIs

The next stage in the process of developing a strategic marketing plan is to develop your tactics, plans, and KPIs. This is often the stage where many marketers attempt to start their strategy development, and this is why many marketing strategies struggle when it comes to execution. At this point, you will have a solid understanding of your market positioning, a detailed analysis of your target audience, explicitly defined goals and objectives and you are finally ready to identify the tactics and plans that will build that to-do list. 

As previously mentioned, tactics are the things that you will do to accomplish your strategies. At this stage, you will start to map out your plan, including tactics and channels, on how to deliver on the goals and objectives previously set forth. An example of how this might look in practice is:

  • Goal: Get more traffic to our blog 
    • Objective: Increase traffic to our blog from 10,000 to 15,000 in 12 months
      • Tactics:
        • Utilize Twitter to promote new content
        • Start sending out a weekly newsletter to subscribers to notify them of new content
        • Optimize blog posts for SEO to increase organic traffic

As you can probably guess, your list of tactics will be greatly influenced by your market positioning, target audience, and goals and objectives. You are going to want to ensure that the tactics you choose are feasible for your business, relevant to your target audience, and will help to accomplish the goals and objectives set by the team. Your tactics and plan will also help you narrow down and prioritize the list of activities you’re hoping to accomplish, making it easier to stay on track and focused.


The final stage in developing your marketing strategy is to identify KPIs. In order to evaluate how well your strategy performed, you need to determine what success looks like. This comes in the form of metrics that you can measure against, making it easy to determine whether or not you accomplished the goals and objectives set forth in your strategy. 

Time to Develop Your Plan

In summary, a well documented and thorough marketing strategy can help you to focus, prioritize, measure, and plan your marketing activities. In addition, by aligning your goals to the business’ goals, you can elevate the role of your department. While it seems like a time-intensive process, the art of strategic planning helps marketers to save time in the long run and ensure that they’re consistently moving forward towards their goals.

About Courtney McIntyre:

Courtney joined AMA NEO in 2015 and has been an active member of the AMA NEO Board for four years. She previously held the role of VP of Membership for 2 terms before moving into the President-Elect role and our 2019-2020 AMA NEO Chapter President. She currently serves on the Board as Past President.

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