How to Develop a Modern Marketing Plan

03.01.19 // Angela Earl

Create a marketing plan and track, leverage and experiment your way to success.

As we enter a new year, many CMOs and marketing leaders are finalizing their marketing plans and determining what they need to spend. But statistics show that few will provide details of expected results and even fewer will use this plan to track their progress and success.

High performing marketing teams present plans that show clear conversion rates and draw a measureable line from spend to revenue, but many marketers struggle to reach this level of clarity and transparency in their planning exercise.

Let’s take a look at Wikipedia’s definition of a marketing plan.

“A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.”

— Wikipedia

Sometimes we over complicate things that should be easy, let’s take another look at that definition:

A marketing plan is simply a document, that outlines marketing efforts, and describes the activities planned to accomplish specific goals within a set time frame.

If all you did was list the activities your team is planning to do (events you’ll attend, emails you plan to send, etc.) and the expected outcome for each of those activities, you will have accomplished more than 32% of marketing teams. (Source: Marketri)

“Marketers who document strategy are 5 times more likely to report success than those who don’t.”
— State of Marketing Strategy Report

Don’t forget to include projects you may be outsourcing to contractors or agency partners. When managed properly, these extensions of your team can be essential to actioning your plan.

A modern marketer won’t stop at getting their plan written down. They strive to track conversion rates and tie actions back to revenue generation. A modern plan empowers its team to make adjustments and refine their execution to continually improve.  


There are three things all modern marketers should do when creating their plan:

  1. Track only what will be acted upon.
  2. Leverage more than historical data.
  3. Experiment and plan to try new things.

Let’s explore practical ways to include each of these in your planning:


We are working in a world where marketers could drowned in all the data they have access to. What Marketing Week calls ‘over data-fication’ is a real obstacle that can prevent marketers from creating a modern marketing plan.
No matter what label its given, overcome this challenge by outlining the KPIs that will cause action and measure only what you will use. 


Often teams use results from the previous year to define their program goals for the next year. This data is useful and if its easily accessed, then it should be considered but it shouldn’t be the only input.
Marketing is changing at such a rapid pace that benchmark data and other outside sources should be used to ensure you’re plan won’t leave your brand, and your growth, in the past.
According to statistics published by TopRank, only 46% of marketers have a chance at beating the status quo.  Cisco reported that by the end of this year, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic — and that was last year’s fad! As artificial intelligence makes it’s debut this year, nearly 60% of marketers will be left behind. 
Don’t be afraid to incorporate new mediums and channels into your plan. The only way to strike gold is to keep digging!
A modern marketing plan has a strategic focus on pipeline contribution. It correlates outcomes with the investments required to generate those results and empowers marketers with the ability to manage marketing programs throughout the year and evaluate new opportunities.