Marketing Plan Writing

The Essential Contents of a Marketing Plan

written by Tim Berry of Palo Alto Software


Every marketing plan has to fit the needs and situation. Even so, there are standard components you just can’t do without. A marketing plan should always have a situation analysis, marketing strategy, sales forecast, and expense budget.

  • Situation Analysis: Normally this will include a market analysis, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and a competitive analysis. The market analysis will include a market forecast, segmentation, customer information, and market needs analysis.
  • Marketing Strategy: This should include at least a mission statement, objectives, and focused strategy including market segment focus and product positioning.
  • Sales Forecast: This would include enough detail to track sales month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements. The forecast alone is a bare minimum.
  • Expense Budget: This ought to include enough detail to track expenses month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements. The expense budget is a bare minimum.

Are They Enough?
These minimum requirements above are not the ideal, just the minimum. In most cases you’ll begin a marketing plan with an Executive Summary, and you’ll also follow those essentials just described with a review of organizational impact, risks and contingencies, and pending issues.

Include a Specific Action Plan
You should also remember that planning is about the results, not the plan itself. A marketing plan must be measured by the results it produces. The implementation of your plan is much more important than its brilliant ideas or massive market research. You can influence implementation by building a plan full of specific, measurable and concrete plans that can be tracked and followed up. Plan-vs.-actual analysis is critical to the eventual results, and you should build it into your plan.

Tim Berry

about the author

Tim Berry

Founder and President of Palo Alto Software and a renowned planning expert. He is listed in the index of "Fire in the Valley", by Swaine and Freiberger, the history of the personal computer industry. Tim contributes regularly to the bplans blog, the as well as his own blog, Planning, Startups, Stories. His full biography is available at Follow Tim onGoogle +


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dominic obure September 21, 2009 at 4:07 am

its a good road map to guide successful business managers. thank you im enlightened .

Silver May 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

Unrivalled! Clarity exposed! Thanks very much Mr Berry for this unblinding exposee' on Designing Mart Plans! As an MBA researcher, I observe this covers what many pay loads to listen to...

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as a new member on this site i hope to benefit alot on issues to do with marketing plans.

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new member of this site hope to benefit from info. concerning marketing plans

Whitney April 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Thank you for helping AphaBet City Dolly Film Festival. I could not have begun the marketing plan without your guides. How utterly practical?

isaac ademola May 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

i am thankful this is accessible to me and the larger generation of marketers like me God will empower u the more.

Travel Insurance October 2, 2011 at 8:22 am

Great article... though it is all about action for me.. planning is important part of marketing activities.

Prakash December 29, 2011 at 11:44 am

Thats a great road map for success. will it be the same criteria when implementing a new segment to an existing market which is actually struggling and need such a new segment to boost up the business ?? thanks a Million...

Small Business Ideas and Tips December 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Small Businesses with a viable marketable plan will succeed. The contents of a marketing plan are important for anyone for small business owners to know about. Great post

Dan Jenza May 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hey y'all, I'm a budding entreprenheur from the United States. I'd just like to thank everyone for all their support with helping me form my marketing plan. Thanks a bunch. Stay golden y'all. bye for now ;). Comment/rate

Igere Austin October 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I am very grateful for these tips. I have been struggling with marketing some old stock of my org. At least these guidelines will put paid on my efforts. Thanks a bunch.

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Thank i for explanation

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I has observed that Most of Your Sample Marketing Plan are too detail and not straight to the point. Most of people did not have experience about that will not understand it. Best regards, Sokea,

Timothy Bwalya February 25, 2013 at 5:35 am

This is very informative....

Sariki March 3, 2013 at 4:10 am

is there any difference between situation analysis and swot analysis

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