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21 December, 2023   |  12 min read

How to create a killer marketing plan [2024]

You’ve probably heard the saying — if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. This also applies to your marketing.

You’ve probably heard the saying — if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. This also applies to your marketing.

Many businesses (small and large) struggle to come up with (and stick to) a marketing plan for their business to drive leads, sales and ultimately, revenue.

In this blog, we’re going to look at:

  • Why do many businesses struggle to create a marketing plan?
  • What is a marketing plan?
  • How to create a marketing plan (9 essential steps)?
    • Strategy and SMART goals
    • Budget
    • Buyer personas / Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
    • Organic search
    • Organic social
    • Paid search and social
    • Website
    • Email marketing
    • CRM


Why do many businesses struggle to create a marketing plan? 

In today's fast-paced business world, entrepreneurs and business owners are constantly presented with new and exciting opportunities and ideas. While it can be tempting to chase after these new opportunities, it's important to be aware of the potential pitfalls of doing so.

Many businesses struggle to craft a marketing plan due to one (or a combination) of two reasons: 1) Time or 2) SOS.

Time. Most CEOs and Marketing Managers are absolutely stretched to the max. They’re wearing multiple hats, they have no time, limited resources, back-to-back meetings and so on. They lack time. Time to think. Time to come up with a strategy or plan and then to actually execute it.

What’s the second reason? Shiny object syndrome (SOS).

SOS is a term used to describe the tendency of some people, particularly entrepreneurs and business owners, to become easily distracted by new and exciting opportunities or ideas, often at the expense of their current goals and objectives. The term refers to the way that these new ideas or opportunities can appear shiny and attractive, drawing the attention away from what is currently being worked on.


What are some symptoms of shiny object syndrome?

  • Constantly switching focus from one project or idea to another without completing any of them.
  • Being easily distracted by new opportunities or ideas, even if they are not relevant to your current goals or objectives.
  • Difficulty sticking to a plan or strategy for an extended period of time.
  • Chasing after the latest trends or technologies without considering whether they are a good fit for your business.
  • Difficulty making decisions or taking action due to being overwhelmed by too many options.

As an agency, we see this a lot. Shiny object syndrome can be detrimental to a business as it often leads to a lack of focus, lack of progress, and lack of results. It can be difficult for business owners and entrepreneurs to stick to their plans, and this can lead to feeling overwhelmed, demotivated, and unproductive. Sound familiar?

To avoid SOS, it’s important to set clear goals and priorities, and to stay focused on them (more on that below).

It's also important to be mindful of the time and resources you invest in new ideas and opportunities, and to evaluate them in the context of your goals and objectives. It's also important to have a system in place to manage your time and attention, and to limit distractions.

This is why a marketing plan is so critical!

A marketing plan is a document that outlines a company's overall marketing strategy for a specific period of time, usually a year.

It includes details on your target market (buyer personas/ICP), competition, positioning, marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion), budget, and metrics for measuring success.

Your marketing plan serves as a roadmap or north star for your company's marketing efforts and helps to ensure that all marketing activities are aligned with the company's overall goals and objectives.

It also helps the company to allocate resources effectively and measure the results of its marketing efforts.

No one wants a marketing plan that resembles the 1,200+ page book War and Peace right? If you can aim to get it down to one-page, you’ll be doing yourself and your team a favour. Best selling books like Traction and The 1-Page Marketing Plan recommend the same approach. So here are some tips and tricks for your marketing plan:

  1. Keep it simple: Avoid using jargon or industry-specific language that your team may not understand.
  2. Be realistic: Set achievable goals and budget accordingly.
  3. Be flexible: Be prepared to adjust your plan as needed based on market changes or unexpected results.
  4. Be consistent: Ensure that all elements of your marketing mix are consistent and support your overall strategy.
  5. Be creative: Don't be afraid to think outside the box and try new tactics to reach your target market.
  6. Use both traditional and digital marketing strategies: Maximise your reach by using a mix of both traditional and digital marketing tactics.
  7. Get feedback: Ask customers and stakeholders for feedback on your marketing plan and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate.

Below are 7 things that every killer marketing plan needs:

  1. Conduct a market analysis: Research your target market, including demographics, psychographics, and buying behaviour. Understand your competition and their strengths and weaknesses. Identify market trends and opportunities.
  2. Define your target market: Based on your market analysis, clearly define your target market / Total Addressable Market (TAM) and segment it into smaller groups like buyer personas or ideal client profiles (ICPs).
  3. Define your unique selling (or value) proposition (USP): Identify what sets your company or product apart from the competition and how you will position yourself in the market.
  4. Develop your marketing mix: Decide on which marketing channels you're going to focus on.
  5. Set clear and measurable objectives: Identify specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for your marketing plan.
  6. Create a budget: Allocate resources and set a budget for each aspect of your marketing mix.
  7. Monitor and measure success: Establish metrics for measuring the success of your marketing plan and regularly track progress.


Strategy and SMART goals

The first step of any marketing plan is identifying your strategy. My recommendation is that you keep this to three to five things max. The fewer things you have, the more focus and clarity you can have, not just for your C-suite but your team who will be delivering the work. 

Pro tip: Don't just think 12 months at a time, but try to think about your marketing plan as a 3 year cycle.

This is a time to step back and look at which channels you want to focus on: organic search, organic social, paid search and paid social. You also want to look at why you want to focus on these channels. Don't get sucked in by the shiny object!

Over time, ideally, you want 60-80% of your leads to come from organic search, organic social or your email list. Why? The customer acquisition cost (CAC) from organic and email is way lower than paid search/social like Google Ads, Meta (Facebook/Instagram Ads), LinkedIn Ads, etc.

Take a hard look at what marketing channels are generating (not just leads) but customers for you and double-down on them. As a startup/SMB, you're going to be more focused on driving bottom-of-funnel (BOF) demand generation. If you're a mid-market or enterprise company, you'll likely want to include more top-of-funnel (TOF) brand awareness into your mix. 

The next step is to define what success looks like, your goals — and they should ideally be SMART.

Specific. They should clearly state the desired outcome.
Measurable. They should be something you can track the success of.
Achievable. They should be realistic.
Relevant. They should align with your overall business objectives.
Timely. They should have a time frame attached to them.

For example, here’s a bad SMART marketing goal: Increase organic traffic.

Here’s a good one: Increase organic search visibility in the U.S. from 3 to 6% in the next 12 months.

When working with clients, we find that working back from how many new customers (or revenue) you need each month or quarter is helpful. You can then reverse-engineer this to calculate how many opportunities, SQLs, and MQLs you need based on industry-standard conversion rates.



The dreaded 'B-word'! This is where the fun starts between marketing and finance.

If you're a startup/SMB, you'll want to allocate 80-90% of your marketing budget on demand (including lead) generation and the remaining 10-20% on brand awareness (including events, product marketing). This may sounds counter-intuitive but the more brand awareness marketing you do, the less you'll spend per lead on the demand generation side of things.

If you're a mid-market/enterprise business, demand generation is likely to be more like 60-70% of your budget with 30-40% for brand awareness. 


Buyer personas / Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Buyer persona research is your next most important step, because if you're targeting everyone, you're targeting no one.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a company's ideal customer, based on market research and real data about existing customers. It includes information such as demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. Marketers use buyer personas to better understand their target audience and create more effective marketing campaigns.

When we're doing buyer persona research, we typically drill down as much as we can into a persona's dream, goals but also their fears and worries. To cut through the noise, you need to really understand what keeps your dream customers up at night and then offer your product/service with as much clarity as possible. 

Pro tip: Highly recommend the book "Building a Story Brand" by Donald Miller.

While you're focussing on an individual with buyer personas, you're focussing on a company (or account) with an ICP.

An ICP is a fictitious company that combines the key characteristics that best portray your ideal customer. By analysing firmographics such as company size, industry, location, annual revenue, and budget you can more easily define the types of companies that you serve best. 

For B2B companies, you should have buyer personas and ICPs.

Once you've set your SMART goals and you know who you're targeting, you can start to get into tactics and specifically how you're going to drive website traffic, leads and sales. 

One important part of your marketing plan is driving brand awareness and traffic to your website. You have two options to drive traffic to your website: organic search (SEO) or paid search/social. Let's tackle them one-by-one.


Organic search (SEO)

There has been a lot talk in the past 12 months around SEO and how it's going to be impacted by AI — specifically, Google's new Search Generative Experience (SGE) and OpenAI's ChatGPT. Some media are even going as far to say that "SEO is dead" and similar fear-mongering. 

It's true that AI will impact organic search and organic search traffic to everyone's website will likely decline over time as Google provide more, but here's the thing — it’s estimated that Google processes approximately 99,000 search queries every second, translating to 8.5 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. On top of that, Google controls 92% of the search engine market globally.

What about links? Google has been quoted as saying "SGE places even more emphasis on producing informative responses that are corroborated by reliable sources." How does Google know who is "reliable"? Links play a big role in that.

So Google is here to stay and you need to include it as a core marketing channel for your business. 

Below is a recap of where Google search is headed.


Pro tip: Google is going to become more multimodal with Gemini, so video and images will need to play a bigger of your organic search strategy.


Tactically speaking, here are some things that you should consider in your marketing plan from an SEO perspective:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify which keywords are going to drive revenue
  • Optimise your website's structure and on-page content, focussing on these keywords
  • Build high-quality backlinks to your website to improve its authority and search engine ranking
  • Monitor and measure your website's search engine performance regularly and make adjustments as needed.

This epic ultimate guide goes into way more detail here.


Organic social

Social media is another important channel that can drive brand awareness and traffic back to your website.

Here are some tips when it comes to your organic social media plan:

  • Identify which social media platforms are most relevant to your target market. Many businesses are “on” all social media platforms but really “on them” if you know what I mean. They might have a LinkedIn page, Instagram profile, Facebook page and Twitter page but there’s tumbleweed blowing through them all! Less is more. Pick THE social media platform(s) that make sense for your business and customers and double-down on them.
  • Create a content calendar and be active, post content regularly (daily ideally) and grow your followers/audience
  • Engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages
  • Use social media advertising to reach a larger audience (more on that below)
  • Measure the success of your social media campaigns through analytics and adjust your strategy as needed. And we’re not just talking about vanity metrics here like “Likes” or “Impressions” but metrics that drive revenue — clicks and leads.

Paid search and social

Google Ads will always be the most bottom-of-funnel (BOF) paid advertising platform, compared to say Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok which are more top-of-funnel (TOF) — but all have a place in your sales funnel. You just need to look at what you’re able to invest on advertising and then decide whether you’ve got enough $$$ across multiple platforms or whether you’re better off focusing on one platform but doing it well.

Here are some paid ads tips for your marketing plan:

  • Do buyer persona/ICP research to find out where your customers get their information, which social media platforms they use, and what challenges/pain-points they have
  • For Search Engine Marketing (SEM) like Google Ads and Microsoft (previously Bing) Ads, research relevant keywords and phrases for your target market
  • Setup and A/B test your audiences — location, demographics, interests, lookalike
  • Monitor and measure the performance of your PPC campaigns regularly and make adjustments as needed
  • Test different ad copy and targeting options to improve your conversion rate
  • Use analytics to track the ROI of your PPC campaigns and make informed decisions about your budget.



Having a website strategy is crucial for any business — it serves as the foundation for all other digital marketing efforts. It’s your #1 marketing asset, your best salesperson and it works 24/7.  A modern, fast, SEO-optimised, and user-friendly website can have a significant impact on your online presence and your overall marketing success.

Here are some key elements to consider when developing a website strategy:

  • Website Design and User Experience (UX): A website that is visually appealing and easy to navigate will keep visitors engaged and improve the likelihood of conversions. Consider hiring a web designer or developer who specialises in UX and UI design to ensure that your website is modern, visually appealing, and easy to use.
  • Website speed: A fast-loading website is crucial for both user experience and SEO. Optimise images, minify code, and reduce the number of HTTP requests to improve load time.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Optimise your website's structure and content to improve its relevance to search engines. Use keywords in your website's meta tags, header tags, and content.
  • Responsive design: Make sure your website is fully responsive, meaning it is easily accessible and readable on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Content Management System (CMS): Use a leading CMS such as HubSpot, WordPress or Shopify that allows you to easily manage and update your website's content.
  • Website analytics: Use website analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track website traffic, bounce rates, and conversions. Use this data to make informed decisions about website design and content.
  • Website security: Ensure that your website is secure by using an SSL certificate and a security plugin.

Keen to know how your website measures up? Check out our Free Website Grader here.

Email marketing

The money is in the list! And marketers attest to the fact that email marketing is the best marketing channel of all. 

Still unsure? Check out these statistics.

  • The average return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent.
  • Email marketing has an average open rate of around 24% across all industries.
  • The click-through rate (CTR) for email marketing is around 3%.
  • Email is the most popular form of communication for businesses, with over half of all companies using email as their primary form of communication.
  • Email marketing is almost 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • Email is the preferred method of communication for most consumers, with 72% of consumers preferring to receive promotional content through email.
  • Personalised emails have 29% higher open rates and 41% higher click-through rates than non-personalised emails.
  • The use of segmented campaigns can increase revenue by 760%.

So now that we know that email marketing is a no-brainer, here are some tips for your email marketing plan:

  • Define your goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your email marketing campaigns, such as increasing sales, building brand awareness, or engaging with your customers.
  • Segment your email list: Divide your email list into different groups based on characteristics such as demographics, purchase history, or email engagement. This will allow you to send targeted, personalised messages to different segments of your audience.
  • Create compelling content: Develop email content that is relevant, valuable, and engaging to your audience. This could include special offers, informative articles, or behind-the-scenes insights. The trust email newsletter also works great!
  • Optimise your subject lines and calls to action (CTA): Your subject line is the first thing your recipients will see, so make sure it is clear, compelling, and accurately represents the content of your email. Use clear, action-oriented calls to action to encourage recipients to take the next step.
  • Test and measure: Test different elements of your email campaigns, such as subject lines, content, and calls to action, to see what works best. Use metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions to measure the success of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions.
  • Schedule and automate: Schedule your emails in advance and automate certain aspects of your campaigns, such as welcome emails or abandoned cart reminders, to save time and increase efficiency.
  • Continuously optimise: Continuously monitor and analyse the results of your email campaigns and use the data to optimize and improve your strategy over time.


Last but not least, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy is an essential component of any marketing plan, because it enables you to have a complete 360 view of your customer from marketing to sales to customer service.

A CRM system allows you to manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, driving sales growth, and increasing customer retention.

Here are some key elements to consider when developing a CRM strategy:

  • Data management: A CRM system allows you to centralise all customer data, such as contact information, sales history, and communication logs, in one place. This makes it easy to access and analyze customer data and make informed decisions about your marketing and sales efforts.
  • Sales automation: A CRM system allows you to automate sales processes, such as deal management, call logging and tracking, opportunity tracking, and forecasting, to increase efficiency and improve the accuracy of sales forecasting.
  • Marketing automation: A CRM system enables you to automate marketing tasks such as email campaigns and lead nurturing, to increase efficiency and improve the ROI of your marketing efforts.
  • Customer Service and Support: A CRM system allows you to manage customer service and support requests, track interactions, and resolve issues more efficiently.
  • Reporting and analytics: A CRM system provides detailed reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing you to track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as lead conversion rates, customer lifetime value, and customer retention rates.
  • Mobile access: A CRM system that can be accessed from anywhere and anytime, this allows you to manage customer interactions and data on the go.
  • Integrations: A CRM system should be able to integrate with other systems and tools, such as marketing automation software, accounting software, or e-commerce platforms, to provide a comprehensive view of your customer interactions.

Overall, having a CRM strategy and a CRM system in your business is essential for managing and analysing customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. It enables you to improve your business relationships with customers, drive sales growth, and increase customer retention. It is important to choose a CRM system that fits the needs of your business and can be easily integrated with other systems and tools.


In conclusion, creating a comprehensive marketing plan is essential for any business looking to grow.

A marketing plan should include: Strategy and SMART goals, buyer persona / ICP research, organic search (SEO), organic social, paid search and social, website, email marketing and a CRM.

It's important to remember that all aspects of a marketing plan are interconnected — what you do in one area, may have an impact on the other. It's important to consider all aspects of your marketing plan together and make sure they are working in harmony to achieve your objectives. It's also important to monitor your progress and make adjustments to your plan as needed — no set and forget!

Need a hand with your marketing plan? Book a Free Marketing Strategy Session here. 100% free and no obligation.

Nathan Reiche

Nathan Reiche

Nathan is the CEO and Founder of Content Chemistry, a digital marketing agency and a HubSpot Platinum Solutions Partner. He has over 15 years' marketing experience in Australia and Europe, working both on the client-side and as an agency. He's passionate about content/inbound marketing, SEO and sales funnels. And yes he's been told that he looks like Roger Federer.