It’s time to get serious about marketing.

You’ve dabbled in the past with some radio ads, published a couple of blogs, and each month you send an email out to your previous customers.

But it just isn’t delivering the lead generation your company needs.

Now you’re ready to invest that hard-earned capital in a decent marketing strategy. But you’re stuck on where to go from there.

That’s exactly what this article is intended to solve.

In this post, you’re going to learn about the 9 key steps to developing an epic marketing plan, as well as how a forward-thinking Work OS like can help you nail the job.

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What is the marketing planning process?

Before we dive in, let’s start by saying that these 9 steps are the ideal process for creating a marketing plan, but as with anything, there’s some wiggle room.

That doesn’t mean skipping anything!

But it does mean that as you progress through these 9 planning stages, you might find it important to retrace your steps and make adjustments to previous decisions that you’ve made.

That’s perfectly OK. Cut yourself some slack.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive in.

1. Set your marketing goals

What good is any plan, let alone a marketing plan, without some firm and relevant goals?

It’s pretty simple: you need to give yourself a target to aim for, otherwise, you won’t have a reference point for each of the following stages.

You should start broad and list out everything your team is hoping to achieve.

Common wide-lens marketing goals include:

  • Growing brand awareness
  • Increasing lead generation
  • Driving more sales
  • Reaching new audiences
  • Entering new markets
  • Developing stronger relationships with current stakeholders
  • Expanding your share of the market
  • Increase profit margins
  • Securing funding

Once you’ve brainstormed all of these key ideas, it’s time to narrow them down using a SMART goals framework.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: ‘increasing lead generation’ becomes ‘increasing lead generation by 50% compared to 2020 numbers’.
  • Measurable: ‘securing funding’ becomes ‘securing $5m in funding’.
  • Achievable: this means you set a goal that is within your reach. Not an easy goal, by any means, but not one that you have no hope of meeting.
  • Relevant: the goal needs to be tied to wider business objectives.
  • Time-bound: ‘driving more sales’ becomes ‘lifting sales by 20% by the end of this quarter’.

You should aim to have between 3-5 carefully thought-out SMART goals. Any more than this, and your efforts will become scattered.

Ideally, the goals will be linked. For example, increasing lead generation by 50% is likely to work toward lifting sales by 20%.

2. Create your customer personas

If you’ve not got customer personas already — aka marketing personas or buyer personas — don’t make another move until you have.

Customer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer or target audience. They help your sales and marketing teams identify how efforts should be directed, including what language to use, where to find prospects, and what factors to focus on to influence the sale.

Below, you’ll find a great example of what a customer persona looks like.

infographic of 9 elements of a buyer persona

(Image Source)

Your buyer persona should include:

  • Demographics like age and gender
  • Typical locations, including work and home
  • Challenges they face
  • Buying behaviors
  • Common work roles, especially for B2B companies

The best way to create personas for any marketing activity is to interview your actual buyers, as well as your sales reps. Collate their responses to come up with a sort of meta-customer.

3. Determine your budget

Next, you’ll need to determine your marketing budget.

The amount you spend on marketing may flex as you grow, particularly if you invest heavily in inbound efforts like content marketing. That’s perfectly fine.

You might not know exactly what your company needs to spend before you get into things and start to understand actual ROIs.

You should, however, set some benchmarks for available spend, so you can distribute this budget across your marketing mix without risking cash reserves blowing up.

You’ll be able to track actual costs against the budget in your Work OS, and adjust as you go, if needed. But first, you need to get some numbers on the board.

screenshot of a board for budget tracking

4. Set your marketing metrics

At the beginning of our marketing plan, we set out our key marketing goals in SMART format.

The measurable aspect of these goals will indicate which metrics are the best fit for monitoring your marketing performance.

Common marketing metrics include:

  • Marketing/Sales Qualified Leads (MQL/SQL)
  • Funnel Conversion Rates
  • Lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
  • New website traffic
  • Marketing spend per customer
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

The rule of thumb here is to track 1-2 metrics per goal. You might find that a specific marketing objective shares the same metrics as another, and that’s great.

It’s also important to make sure that you set up an easily accessible dashboard so that everyone on your marketing team knows how you’re tracking.

The following image shows this step in action using

screenshot of a reporting dashboard

5. Perform an audit of existing marketing efforts

Perhaps you’ve dabbled in a little digital marketing before, or maybe even have some marketing channels in play right now.

Before you start planning out any additional marketing tactics, take stock of your current efforts by conducting a marketing audit.

You may find some quick wins to focus on early.

Analyze each of these aspects, and consider creating a spreadsheet outlining each marketing effort you’ve implemented to date and its impact on your company.

visual of the many marketing areas that should be included in your plan.

(Image Source)

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6. Decide on appropriate marketing strategies

Your customer personas and marketing audit should provide some insights into which marketing channels work for your target market, and which don’t.

The truth is, there are quite a few areas of marketing to consider these days, such as:

  • Digital marketing and display advertising
  • Email
  • Content marketing
  • Social media
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Traditional marketing

If you’re just getting started and your budget is limited, consider focusing on just one distribution channel at first, and really owning that space before expanding.

7. Determine how and when you will evaluate your efforts

Part of this strategic planning exercise is to understand how and when you’ll monitor performance.

Of course, your marketing dashboard should allow you daily and weekly insights. But you should also consider monthly or quarterly deep-dive reports, which give more detail on performance and provide action points for further strategic marketing plan development.

Your marketing Work OS should provide tools for this. One such example is’s Performance Insights view, which we’ve highlighted below.

screenshot of a performance insights report

8. Develop a schedule for implementation

Now that you know which strategies you’re going to use to reach each potential customer, you’ll need to break that down into specific marketing activities, and schedule them across the month (or quarter, depending on how far in advance you’re planning).

For example, if you’ve chosen content marketing as an appropriate avenue, you’ll need to build your content calendar. An excellent example of this from’s Work OS can be seen below.

screenshot of a content calendar in

9. Assign resources

Lastly, bring it all together by assigning tasks and projects to individual members of your team.

This is easy to implement using a Work OS like Just use a People Column to designate which team member is responsible.

Don’t forget to set a due date, as well, so that you’re holding team members accountable to deadlines.

screenshot of the people column in

Using to plan a killer marketing campaign

To wrap things up, let’s talk briefly about how, a Work OS designed to help high-performing teams get work done, can help you plan and deliver a killer marketing campaign.

We’ve already touched on a few of these points, but let’s look at some of the other features that will take your marketing plan to the next level.


Small, repeated tasks are often the backbone of implementing a strong marketing plan.

They are the backbone in that they are essential, but maybe they aren’t as sexy in the grand scheme of things (read: marketing tasks).

So, why not set your Work OS up to take care of this for you? makes this easy with premade automation recipes that you can customize as needed.

You can even create automation rules that work across multiple boards. cross board automation recipes

Progress Bars

Want to see where a task or project is at without breaking a sweat? Our Progress Bar Column is a great way to make this happen.

screenshot of a board with progress bars

Per-User Board Permissions

Marketing teams often involve outsourcing to freelancers and independent contractors.

When this is the case, you want to involve them in your project boards, but you’ll probably want to restrict them from accessing certain pieces of information.

By setting board permissions on a per-user basis, you can invite outside parties to your board without compromising data security.

screenshot of setting board permissions in

Now, get to it

Let’s recap on the 9 key steps to building an epic strategic plan for marketing:

  1. Set your marketing goals
  2. Create your customer personas
  3. Determine your budget
  4. Set your marketing metrics
  5. Perform an audit of existing marketing efforts
  6. Decide on appropriate marketing strategies
  7. Determine how and when you will evaluate your efforts
  8. Develop a schedule for implementation
  9. Assign resources

There’s only one thing stopping you now — you! You getting started, that is.

So what are you waiting for? Dig in today with our free marketing calendar template.

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