UNB Marketing Blog
Tips and tricks from your university marketers

Marketing Plans 101

Author: Marketing

Posted on Dec 13, 2017

Category: Brand , Marketing Services

marketing strategy

Why is a marketing plan important?

For the simple reason that you’ll get so much more out of your efforts if you take the time to define some key parameters before jumping into tactics.

Don’t get us wrong, we love talking tactics (Fun collateral? Facebook Live? Updated branding? Yessss). But the first place we encourage any unit or faculty to start is definitely with the marketing plan.

Over the coming months, we’ll feature case studies on specific marketing plans we’ve created to support units and faculties — giving you insight into both the content of the plan and the performance. But first, here’s a post on what goes into a marketing plan.

What’s in a plan?

When meeting with units and faculties about supporting their initiatives, we always work off a marketing plan template. Here’s a quick snapshot of the components:

1. Objectives & Success Measures

Pretty straight forward, right? The very first component of the plan is to clearly define what we want the plan to achieve. Maybe it’s to drive attendance at an event, to encourage submissions for a conference or to build awareness of a program.

You can have more than one objective, and they may feed into each other. For example, if you’re trying to generate interest in a new program, perhaps your first objective is to generate awareness of the program and the second objective is to drive inquiries. Just be wary of trying to have a plan do too much.

The second part of this section is all about measurement. For each of your objectives you should have at least one success measure, but likely more. These may be easier to define once you’ve gone through the other steps. But ultimately you want as many quantitative performance indicators as possible.

Clearly defined success measures allow you to check-in on the performance of your plan during the execution of the plan and to make optimizations as needed. They’re also key to evaluating whether you were successful after it’s completed.

smart goals are specific measurable achievable realistic timely

2. Positioning Strategy & Key Messages

Depending on what your marketing plan is about, these can be pretty varied. But overall, this should be a short and concise (!) description of how you want the initiative to be positioned and a couple of bullet points on the messages that can be leveraged in the tactics to come.

Think of this as the ‘elevator pitch’ of your initiative — what differentiates it and what would you focus on to promote it if you had to describe it quickly. Any kind of stats that need to fit into that messaging (‘the only of its kind in Canada’, etc.) should also be included here. It can be tempting for this section to get quite long. Try to stay focused and be concise and impactful.

3. Timing & Considerations

This helps to define the timing considerations of the marketing plan. It’s good to talk about the end date of the initiative and do a workback from that. Are there considerations such as the academic calendar, holidays, deadlines, etc. Put them here so that they’re agreed on and understood up front.

4. Target Audiences & Markets

Your audiences are the actual groups that you’re looking to promote to. We often break these into primary and secondary audiences. For example, perhaps your primary audience for your event is alumni. Secondary audiences might include those who fall outside the primary audience but still may be interested, including faculty & staff and general public.

Markets are geographical regions. Is this only relevant to your specific campus? Is it institution-wide? Is it relevant to promote outside of our local markets? If so, which ones and why?

5. Budget

This is more for the high-level budget of your initiative. You can define by-tactic spending in the next section, but again it’s good for everyone to agree at the start what your entire budget is for everything including printing, advertising, etc.

6. Tactics

Having gone through everything above, we then start to brainstorm tactics. This can be the most fun part of the exercise. Having defined the previous sections, your conversation on tactics can be focused on meeting the needs of your objectives, timing, audiences and budget.

This helps you decide on tactics that address these best, rather than a more haphazard list. We actually put our tactics into tables so that each tactic is defined by who supports it and how, timing and budget, so that they’re as detailed and understandable as possible.

team work

And that’s it!

From here we work on edits until all stakeholders are agreed, then partner with our units and faculties on who is responsible for what.

Inspired to take your efforts to the next level by starting with a plan? We’d love to help. Reach out to us to get the process started.