UNB Marketing Blog
Tips and tricks from your university marketers

8 simple steps for building a powerful marketing plan

Author: Emily Blaney

Posted on Nov 6, 2020

Category: Marketing Services

We get it – new initiatives and important events are exciting!

However, executing tactics without taking the time to engage in proper planning practices could potentially result in missed opportunities.

Before you begin thinking about marketing tactics, consider taking a step back and put together a marketing plan. A well-thought-out plan will not only translate to better results, but it will also help your team stay organized while managing projects (we promise!).

To help with your planning, we’ve outlined eight components to include in your initiative-based marketing plan.

1. Project overview

When you are ready to start building a marketing plan, your first step should be writing a project overview.

This section captures a high-level summary of the project. Your project overview can include items such as background information, project goals, key stakeholders and more.

This section of your marketing plan is similar to an executive summary. Stakeholders should always be able to understand it clearly and refer back to it at any time, regardless of their level of knowledge of the project.

2. Strategic objectives & success measures

Strategic objectives are fundamental to any effective marketing plan. To put it simply, they are clearly-defined goals that outline the intentions of your marketing plan.

For example, if you are hosting an event, one of your objectives might be to increase ticket sales by X% from last year. Whereas with an awareness campaign, your objective could be to drive engagement among your audience.

Success measures (or key performance indicators – KPIs) are measurable metrics that determine whether you are on track to achieve your objectives. Without success measures, your objectives will hold little value. Examples of success measures include social media engagement, webpage views, web form submissions, etc.

Tip: When choosing your strategic objectives, ask yourself if they are SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Related: What are strategic objectives and why do I need them?

3. Positioning strategy & key messages

A positioning strategy and its accompanying key messages are vital aspects of any marketing plan.

This is the information you most want to highlight about an initiative or event. When writing this section, focus on what you most want your audience to know, use impactful language, and include any relevant information or distinguishing features such as statistics, people or facts.

Strong key messages are helpful to those responsible for executing tactics. In fact, this section of a marketing plan is often utilized by our office as a starting point when writing copy for print collateral, social media posts, myUNB News posts and more.

4. Timing & considerations

Before you can determine your tactics, you must establish clear project timelines that are agreed upon by all stakeholders. Accurate timelines are important when it comes to keeping your project on track and making decisions about which tactics to execute.

Remember - graphic design work, edits, approvals and printing all take time. If you are a designer yourself, or are working with an external graphic designer, you’ll need to submit collateral for brand approval to brand@unb.ca. It is important to factor in all of these things when determining project timelines and adjust if needed.

Examples of dates to include in this section are: draft and final deadlines, holidays, potential conflicts, etc.

5. Target audience(s)

A target audience is a specific group (or groups) of people that you want to reach. Your primary audiences are people you are trying to reach strategically, while your secondary audiences are additional groups who could also be interested in this information.

For example, the primary audience for UNB’s Spring Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) event is incoming students, while a secondary audience could be parents and supporters.

Although your marketing plan can include more than one target audience, remember to be strategic and identify who you most want to reach. When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one, so don’t be afraid to get specific.

6. Budget

Similar to the Timing & Considerations, establishing a budget will help you make decisions about tactics. Therefore, it is important that all stakeholders agree on a budget upfront in order to move the marketing plan forward.

A small budget does not necessarily equal a small impact. Our office regularly supports marketing projects with a wide range of budgets (both large and small).

Tip: When possible, budget slightly above what you think you’ll need to account for any unexpected costs. If you have an idea but are unsure how much it will cost to execute, reach out to our office for support.

7. Tactics

After completing steps 1 through 6, you can move on to choosing tactics. This is the fun part! Feel free to get creative, but remember to keep your strategic objectives in mind and choose tactics that will meet the needs of your objectives, timing, audiences and budget.

Posters, web forms, social media posts, etc. are all examples of tactics you might use in your marketing plan. Remember to clearly define your tactics by identifying who is responsible for their execution, as well as the timeline and budget needed.

Related: Get your content posted on UNB’s social media accounts

8. Key contacts

Lastly, list the names, job titles/departments and contact information for all project stakeholders at the end of your marketing plan. This will help streamline the process if any questions or concerns need to be addressed while executing the project.

Learn more

Do you have questions or want to work with us on a marketing plan for your next event or initiative? Get in touch with our office by emailing brand@unb.ca. We would love to hear from you!