MaRS Library Marketing plans for startups: Create your marketing strategy and planning
A marketing plan is a systematic process of evaluating marketing opportunities and resources, determining marketing objectives, and developing a plan for implementation and control. It outlines a startup’s strategy to create, satisfy and maintain customers.
The marketing plan links marketing activities with marketing and strategy objectives and is important in ensuring the company’s focus and direction.
Strategic marketing plan
The strategic marketing plan describes how managers recognize their marketing advantage and what objectives to achieve. It also states the strategies to achieve those objectives as well as the required resources and expected results.
The marketing plan covers a period of three or more years. The operational marketing plan provides detailed scheduling and budgeting of the actions required to achieve the first year of the strategic marketing plan.
Benefits of the marketing plan
In a startup situation, creating a marketing plan diverts time and resources away from other critical activities. You may be tempted to put it off, especially if you are in a pre-launch phase. That would be a mistake.
The benefits of creating a marketing plan are many, but the most critical is that it helps you identify and stay focused on those factors that are important to your (future) customers. Having a marketing plan increases both your productivity and your profitability. Other benefits arise from:
- Identification and analysis of emerging opportunities and threats
- Description of sustainable competitive advantage
- Improved communication between executives
- Involvement of management in all aspects of the process
- Improved allocation of resources
- Consistency of organizational approach
- Increased market-focused orientation
How to develop a marketing plan
Marketing plan templates can be useful in helping a company to develop its marketing plan. However, most marketing plan templates are not relevant for startups, especially during the early stages.
Startups have limited resources and depend on their ability to be agile when pursuing specific opportunities. Startups should not invest their time in creating a full-blown marketing plan.
We recommend that startups use our simple marketing plan as a way to start their marketing planning. This plan provides enough structure to organize the necessary activities among the team and keep everyone focused on the same objectives.
As a company grows, adds customers and builds its marketing and sales team, it can create a more detailed, comprehensive marketing plan.
Viardot, E. (2004). Successful Marketing Strategy for High-tech Firms. Boston: Artech House.