Marketing is the activity of creating awareness about a brand or product in the minds of potential consumers. Marketing goals are typically set by the top management of a company. Marketing activities fall across multiple disciplines such as advertising, public relations, and sales.
When approached as a holistic strategy, marketing can be used to boost brand awareness and to connect with customers at every stage of their buying cycle. A marketing plan, which is part of a larger business plan, outlines the strategy and tactics used to achieve marketing objectives.
Alvin Silk, founder and CEO of Marketo, suggests that every marketing plan should include the following four steps:
1. Set a benchmark for the company.
This step involves establishing a benchmark for the company. The benchmark is a measure of the company’s performance against the goals and objectives set out in the business plan.
A benchmark can be a financial number, such as earnings per share or total revenue, a quantitative measure, such as market share, or a qualitative measure, like customer satisfaction. Setting the right benchmark can be a critical part of the business plan and helps to clarify the direction of the company. It also helps investors, employees, and reviewers understand how the company is performing.
For example, the tobacco company Philip Morris International, Inc. (NYSE: PM), manufactures and distributes cigarettes, rolling tobacco, and electronic cigarettes worldwide. Philip Morris International, Inc.’s, financial benchmark for 2019 was $16.67 EPS compared to $16.48 EPS in 2018 and $15.82 in 2017.
2. Identify the target audience.
It is important to identify the target audience for a brand or product. The target audience is the group of people who will ultimately choose to buy the product or service.
For example, the fragrance company Eternity, Inc. creates and markets perfume for men and women. Eternity’s target audience is Gen Z, or the millennials and digitally native adults, who they believe will identify most with their product. Eternity, Inc.’s, benchmark for 2019 was $22.22 PER OZ.
According to the Future of Fragrance 2025 report from market research company NPD group, 90% of fragrance purchasers, or about 68 million people per year, plan to purchase products that are unique to them. Further, 66% of respondents, or about 51 million people, cited individuality as the top reason for fragrance shopping. In other words, people want to purchase fragrances that match their lifestyle and personality.
3. Select the media.
The media are the tools used to promote a brand or product. While traditional media, like radio and TV commercials, are still very effective, social media have fundamentally altered the way we find, consume, and interact with information.
In 2025, according to HubSpot Blogs’ 2025 Marketing Predictions report, digital marketing, or using digital tools to market a brand or product, will increase in importance as marketers look for ways to stay relevant to customers.
Social media let businesses connect with consumers, which can lead to direct sales, increased web traffic, brand advocacy, and ultimately, revenue growth.
Marketing on social media is often called “digital marketing” and includes things like:
- Online marketing and advertising
- E-mail marketing
- Mobile marketing
To learn more, I recommend checking out the Marketing for Hotels and Restaurants blog tour, which highlights the most influential marketing blogs and podcasts that cover the topic of hotel marketing.
4. Develop a marketing and sales plan.
Developing a marketing plan is similar to setting a benchmark in that it involves laying out the strategy and tactics used to market a brand or product. A marketing plan also typically includes a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, andThreats) of the company.
However, unlike a benchmark, a marketing plan should include the following:
- An evaluation of the current marketing strategies employed (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, andThreats)
- A clear objective for the implementation of the plan (e. g. increase brand awareness, generate sales)
- A set of benchmarks to measure success (e. g. increased web traffic, brand recall, customer satisfaction)
- An annual marketing budget
- An execution plan
- Regular reviews of the plan
A business’ marketing plan is only as good as its weakest link. Therefore, it is crucial that each link, or segment, in the chain is strong and effective. Starting with the benchmark, which serves as the measure of the entire plan, and then working your way downstream, each link should be reviewed and evaluated to ensure that it meets its intended purpose.