The Marketing Planning Process: Step-by-Step Breakdown

Want to learn about the different steps that go into the marketing planning process?

Managing a marketing project is a bit like managing a fast-food restaurant.

Here’s how:

You have a very limited time to prepare the product (campaign).

You have to coordinate with staff members who are handling completely different duties.

And if it’s done right, you’ll be attracting tons of loyal (and hungry) customers.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the strategic marketing plan process, how you can implement it in your business, and the best tool to help you with the entire process.

Order up! Let’s go.

What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a document that showcases your company’s marketing strategy for the upcoming month, quarter, or year.

Here’s what a marketing action plan contains when you unbox it:

  • Your current marketing activity and position
  • A detailed overview of your marketing goal and business goal
  • A description of customer needs
  • The metrics you need to track ( ROI, number of potential customers, etc. )

And what happens when you create an amazing marketing plan?

You’ll be able to stay focused on your marketing goal and also create an equally amazing marketing strategy.

Here’s how you can create a marketing campaign that can make even the pros jealous!

breaking bad

What Are the Steps in the Marketing Planning Process?

Creating a marketing plan for the first time might seem like a convoluted process, but it’s actually super simple. 

The planning process becomes 100x easier to deal with when you break them in down into these six steps:

  • Document your business goals
  • Do market research
  • Define your buyer/client persona
  • Set a marketing budget
  • Identify a marketing tactic
  • Schedule the marketing campaign 

Let’s take a closer look at each step:

1. Document your business goals

Before planning a marketing strategy, you and your marketing team should ask your senior management to highlight your corporate objectives. 

Ideally, every large-scale business goal and objective should span over 18-24 months. This gives you enough time to develop marketing initiatives that align with these overall business objectives.

Let’s say you’re the marketing manager for ‘Los Pollos Hermanos’ from Breaking Bad.

los pollos hermanos chicken gif

The business owner, Gus Fring’s business goal might be to increase restaurant revenue to $3 million in the next year.

You’ll need to create a SMART marketing goal that can contribute to his business goals. 

For example: 

  • Gain 20% more repeat customers
  • Increase hot chicken sandwich sales by 35%
  • Boost shipment and distribution revenue for other products 😉

Curious about SMART goals? Check out our guide for tips on how to create a great business goal.

After you’ve decided on the goal, marketing project management tools like ClickUp can help you document and track them.

In ClickUp, Goals are high-level containers that can be broken into smaller objectives, known as Targets. Targets can be measured by units like numbers, $$$, true/false, and task lists.

When you meet your Targets, you achieve your marketing goal too. 

ClickUp automatically updates progress percentage as you meet Targets in real-time. This can motivate your sales and marketing teams as they see the numbers rising every day!

chicken sales goal

Want to monitor more marketing metrics? 

ClickUp is loaded with features that your teams need to manage your project or marketing program.

Its Dashboards are the way to go. 

Each unique dashboard offers a lot of Custom Widgets that let you track marketing KPIs and every marketing objective.

Track sales, conversion rates, social media engagement, and more, with a Line Chart, Bar Chart, Pie Chart, Battery Chart, or however you best visualize data!

daily total sales line graph

2. Conduct a marketing audit and research

It’s time for a serious throwback.

You need to take a look at all the marketing decisions and initiatives that you’ve taken in the past few years. Additionally, you’ll also have to go through old reports to see which marketing tactics worked and which didn’t.

But why?

With the help of a marketing audit, you’ll be able to avoid the issues your marketing department has faced in the past. 

Take it from Gus:

man saying to never make the same mistake twice

ClickUp Docs let your team collaborate in real-time on your audit, marketing research, and annual marketing plan documents; it’s like Google Docs, but way better!

Not only can you embed lists, tables, images, and videos, you can also assign actionable tasks directly within a ClickUp Doc.

And to make your job even easier, ClickUp lets you save your work as a marketing plan template that you can use later!

collaborative editing in clickup

After the audit, you’ll need to determine where you’re currently placed in the market. 

Ask your team:

  • Are your customers price sensitive?
  • Have new competitors slowed down your business growth?
  • Do you have a competitive advantage over other businesses?

But why just limit feedback to your company? 

Your customers and clients’ opinion matters too. 

After all, they’ll be using your products or services.

With the Form view, you can create detailed customer survey forms faster than you can say ‘Heisenberg.’ 

Choose from different fields text, labels, questions, and more.

custom fields in clickup for a form

ClickUp allows you to publicly share these forms, and it then collects responses within the tool. This way, you can directly take action on their responses by including their inputs in the marketing plan.

3. Define your buyer persona

How well do you know your customers, really?

In this phase, you’ll need to embrace market segmentation.

What’s that?

Essentially, you’ll need to identify the different kinds of customers in your marketplace. Then you’ll have to narrow your focus on a specific target audience.

After that, you’ll have to create a buyer persona. 

These are fictional representations of your ideal customer you want to target.

Ask your team:

  • Who is this person?
  • What are their needs and priorities?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • Where do they work?
  • How much do they earn?
  • What do they like, and what do they absolutely hate?
  • What media do they consume?

You’ll need to really get into their minds, so you can tailor your marketing strategy that appeals best to them.

For example: 

Los Pollos Hermanos’ settles on a buyer persona named Walt, who’s a middle-aged high-school chemistry teacher. 

walter settling a deal

“He has a modest income but wants the best for his family. He is a stickler for quality and isn’t hesitant to pay more for a higher quality product. He’s a pizza fanatic. However, he has a soft spot for fried chicken. He gets all his information from TV.”

Now that you have an idea of who he is, how he behaves, and what he wants, you can market to him better!

But how do you come up with a buyer persona?

Two words: Mind Maps.

Drawing Mind Maps in ClickUp can help your marketing team organize your thoughts and ideas when creating a persona. Just place a central idea and add relevant thoughts when they pop up. 

mind maps in clickup

And remember, the more detailed the persona Mind Map, the better.

Knowing your customers well will allow you to create a personalized yet strategic marketing plan that connects to your target audience.

4. Set a budget

You might have tons of cool strategic marketing ideas, but if they don’t fall into your budget, it would be almost impossible to execute them.

And even if you do break the bank to work on them, there are no guarantees that you’ll be rolling in dough in the end.

man rolling in money

So how much should you spend on your strategic marketing plan?

Allocating 7-15% of your company’s income to your marketing department is ideal, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all rule. 

However, keep in mind that any initial marketing activity can be expensive. 

This includes getting a logo, branding, and creating a campaign from scratch. 

How do you track all your marketing expenses?

In ClickUp, every task can have additional details called Custom Fields. With these fields, you can record data like phone numbers, labels, checkboxes, and more.

In this case, you can track the budget, and cost of each marketing activity and task with the ‘Money’ field.

list view of campaigns in clickup

What’s more is that with Column Calculations, you can automatically add up your spending to see whether it’s in line with your budget.

So no more half measures when you’re creating your strategic marketing plan!

5. Identify a marketing tactic

Now that you know exactly what your customers are like, it’s time to choose the right distribution channels where they spend most of their time.

After all, your target audience has to see your ad, right?

Let’s take a few platforms where you can implement your strategic plan, and the best tactics for each:

  • Blogs: Content marketing + SEO
  • Facebook/Instagram: Social media marketing + Influencer marketing
  • Google: SEO + Search Ads
  • Newspapers: Print advertising 
  • Television: Commercials + Sponsorships

Let’s look back at Walt’s persona. 

Since we determined that he gets all his news from TV, our marketing effort should focus on creating a wonderful commercial:

ad for curly fries

Remember that the message of your strategic marketing campaign should reflect customer needs. In this case, this commercial should reassure their target audience that their food is high-quality and fresh,- 99.99% fresh 😉

However, you don’t have to focus all your tactics on one single platform. 

A healthy marketing mix between offline and online media ensures that everyone gets your message. 

Now, it’s up to your marketing team to decide which route they want to take. 

For example, you can create and publish new content on your blog, host automated webinars, and at the same time promote offline content to convert your audience.

With ClickUp’s Chat view, you can discuss tactics, sales deals,  attach images/videos, and even assign tasks.

6. Schedule the marketing campaign 

Now we’ve finally reached the end of the strategic marketing planning process. 

After you’ve got the marketing plan locked down, it’s time to list all the tasks that need to be done in order to pull it off.

How do you do it?

With ClickUp’s Gantt Charts, you can create a dynamic timeline of your marketing campaign activities from start to finish. The Gantt view lets you visualize the start and end dates for each task, and any important milestones along the way.

With Task Dependencies, you can indicate the sequence in which you want to complete your tasks. All you have to do is draw a line between two tasks, and you’re done!

connecting dependencies in a gantt view

Now, your marketing team won’t be able to work on a dependent task until they’ve cleared the preceding task.

Need to work on a digital marketing calendar?

You can schedule all your marketing activities through ClickUp’s Calendar view. It’s super easy to schedule posts or tasks, adjust due dates; all you have to do is drag and drop.

calendar view in clickup

Note: Since the marketing planning process requires your team to be quick on their feet, ClickUp offers marketing plan templates for your content calendar, SEO management, campaign tracking, promotional calendar, A/B testing, and graphic design processes

Just apply the marketing plan template, and you’re ready to start planning in seconds!

However, note that ClickUp isn’t just built for the strategic planning process; it can help with every marketing process from execution to monitoring. 

So, ClickUp has more features?

walter saying you're right

Here’s what ClickUp has to offer:


So what’s the secret behind running a great strategic planning session?

All you need to do is figure out what your customers want, set a time and resource budgets, brainstorm the best way to serve your customers, and that’s it.

(We told you… it’s just like the restaurant business.😁) 

And as most restaurants have sophisticated equipment to help you out, you’ll need a dedicated project management tool like ClickUp to help you out too! 

From Goal Trackers to Dashboards and Timelines, it’s got everything you need you to get started with your marketing project.

Get ClickUp for free today, and cook up the perfect marketing plan!

man saying to do it

Want more tips? Read our expert roundup to get more marketing management ideas.

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