What Are Elements Of A Marketing Plan?

atlanta seoA marketing plan is generally created for two main purposes and its purpose determines what its contents should be.

  1. The first purpose for a marketing plan is to communicate to someone that you’ve given thought to the marketing strategies you’re going to be employing and understand the market you’re going to be participating it. Let’s call this the Business School Marketing Plan.
  2. The second purpose of a marketing plan is to guide executing your marketing activities. It includes both elements of strategy as well as tactics. Let’s call this the Marketing Action Plan.

Some might make a distinction between the two purposes above and call one a strategic marketing plan and the second a tactical marketing plan. This is true but only on the surface level. You’ll understand why by exploring what the elements of each plan are so let’s explore them.

Elements of a High Level Marketing Plan

A high level marketing plan is the format that is traditionally taught in MBA schools and marketing classes of business programs across universities. The typical elements they contain are:

  • Executive Overview
  • Situational Analysis
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Action Program
  • Financial Forecast
  • Controls

The problem with these plans, like most business plans is that they are usually based on hundreds of assumptions that may or may not be true.

Now let’s explore an alternative approach.

Elements of a Marketing Action Plan (MAP)

A Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is a pragmatic approach to marketing planning and execution. It promotes actionable planning over high-level thinking. The great news is that once your plans are in action, you can start to get feedback and start making better high-level, strategic decisions based on proving or disproving your assumptions. The flow of a MAP is as follows:

  • Objectives
    • Strategies per Objective
      • Specific actionable steps for each strategy
      • Ingredients needed per strategy
      • Costs involved with each strategy
  • Monitoring systems for tracking, analyzing and adjusting based on results.
  • Calendar

You might notice that there are similarities between the elements of a traditional marketing plan and a marketing action plan. They both contain objectives, strategies, financial information and an action plan. The difference between the two is that each part of a MAP is helping define, execute and monitor the results of your actions.

For example, a Strategy in a a traditional marketing plan might contain “Internet Marketing” a strategy, with 10-20 pages of direction on how the organization plans to use it to attain it’s marketing objectives.

A MAP marketing plan will instead break down the Internet Marketing strategy into a more manageable, actionable state and instead become 5-10 separate strategies that address various parts of internet marketing such as email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, display advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. Each strategy would contain less general information and more specific steps needed to get real results.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sally Lane June 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Hi, there. Good info but please note there are two typos in your opening sentence – “it’s” should be “its” — A marketing plan is generally created for two main purposes and it’s purpose determines what it’s contents should be.


melvinram June 2, 2011 at 12:28 am

Good catch. Thanks. Fixed.


Steve Foerster August 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Hi Melvin, there’s also one near the bottom — “to use it to attain it’s marketing objectives” should have no apostrophe.


Alison Jaenicke October 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

While you’re at it, you might want to fix the “it’s” error on the page entitled, “What is a Marketing Plan?” (“The answer depends on who the plan is for and it’s main purpose.”)

This looks like good material, and I’d like to direct my Business Writing students here.


Cecilia Robles December 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

i’m doin a report for my business management class and this was a very informative site to encounter upon…its simple and tells the basics of a market structure :)


David T. Maestas January 5, 2012 at 1:31 am


I have not seen you touch on Mission Statement. That is an intrigual part of any marketing plan.


melvinram July 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

No it’s not. I find Mission Statements to be mostly total bullshit.


glaenda March 6, 2012 at 12:26 am

What is a identify the appropriate place and protional strategy that shoul be used in developing the strategic marketing plan.
Develop an initial sales promotion schedule.
Create an advertising plan.


Zhai March 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

Thank’s for the information I really needed it for our marketing class. This time we need to produce marketing plan for our final.


tinashe timbayi March 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm

the MAP is a more pragmatic, action and results oriented approach to marketing


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