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How To Create A Marketing Strategy - Here's A Detailed Example

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Creating a Marketing strategy can be very stressful and time consuming. To make that process a bit easier, I've written up a lot of material on this blog that will hopefully simplify that process for you.

However, if you would like to know how to put together a full and proper plan, here is an example I've written using a charitable organisation as the 'client'.  This is an actually mock Marketing Strategy I prepared - the client is fake but all of the research was undertaken as if preparing a plan for a real business.

Please note: You'll see a few figures mentioned throughout the article - please check the links to documents at the bottom of this page for budgets/forecasts and sources.


Creating A Marketing Strategy - Here's A Detailed Example

Start with your document's contents...

The contents below are the sections that I would recommend you use in your marketing planning - if you plan for each part below, you'll make sure you have every area and eventuality covered:

1. Executive Summary

1. External and internal situation and issue analysis and summary

1.1 External analysis

1.2 SWOT analysis  

1.3 Key issues

2. Objectives

3. Strategy

3.1 Segmentation and targeting strategy

3.2 Product, brand and positioning strategy

3.3 Creative strategy

3.4 Channel strategy

3.5 Communications strategy and testing

3.6 Database and information strategy

3.7 Customer relationship (CRM) strategy

3.8 Research strategy

4. Operating and implementation plan

5. Contingency plan

6. Budget
Then it's your Executive Summary...
The Executive Summary is an overview of some of the more important parts of your document. Therefore, you write this part last, even although it is presented first in your finished paper.

Executive Summary

CharityABC is currently assessing the optimal way to raise sponsorships from a new source - charity cycling. The following strategy has been designed to achieve this goal by identifying and resolving key issues and then highlighting a detailed 12 month marketing strategy and forecast. This document is written for marketing management at CharityABC in order to present information as to the best way forward in terms of raising new cycling sponsorship.

Key Issues

Charitable giving in the UK has fallen by 20% in the past year, primarily due to reduced disposable income and a stalling economy. This means that an already competitive marketplace is now even more difficult.

Further, 0.5% of UK charities receive 54% of all charitable giving in the UK. Extremely large charities with substantial exposure therefore naturally attract more of the total share, which adds to the problem explained above - particularly for smaller charities such as CharityABC.

Also,Charity ABC's website is sub-par, which may negatively affect the performance of any current or future marketing campaign.


This strategy will suggest an integrated digital marketing campaign, comprising of the following channels:
  • PPC
  • Banner placement advertising
  • Display network advertising
  • Email marketing/Lead nurturing
Budget and ROI

The following figures show the budgetary requirements as well as the overall ROI expected from this 12 month strategy:
  • Budget used - £54,029.80
  • Budget held in reserve - £5,970.20
  • New charity cyclists acquired - 340
  • LTV per cyclist - £591.00, total lifetime revenue delivered - £200,740.83
  • Overall ROI - 357.50%
Then it's your external and internal situation and issue analysis and summary
This is one of my most favourite parts of the strategy document. Here, you examine issues that will impact how successful your marketing strategy will be, both internal and external. Using the following framework will make sure you cover everything needed.

1.1 External Analysis

PEST (read more about this)

There is a significant move on behalf of the Government to get people active (METS)

The Big Society Audit has acknowledged that many charities are now struggling due to lack of funding

Back Britains Charities Campaign founded by CAF and NVCO
Disposable income is at a 3 year low

Donations to charities fell by 20% in 2012

The proportion of people giving to charity last year fell from 58% to 55%

The number of individuals engaging in athletic sports has increased since Olympics 2012

23% of charitable donations were made to childrens charities
There is a growing shift toward mobile for media consumption

Most people check email on mobile devices

Most people prefer to be contacted by brands via email

New technology facilitates ease of giving

Competitor Analysis

Key Features
Potential Drawbacks
Jane Tomlinson
Indirect - not directly targeting cyclists, but competing for the same sponsorship fund pool
Loyal subscriber base - excellent example of how a smaller charity can capture an audience with a strong message

Clear and easy to use website - a real sense of community

Online registration is quick and easy through the Jane Tomlinson For All Events Website

Good use of social media, engaged community
Small brand awareness compared to the larger charities

Only seems to be actively targeting runners, swimmers and walkers - bikers may rather choose a charity who is actively seeking their help

Only really focussed in the North West

Perhaps more open to being negatively affected from drop in charitable giving levels due to smaller size
Cancer Research
Direct - directly targeting cyclists
Extensive brand awareness and advocacy

Medical sponsorship receives the highest amount of giving

Extensive database from Race for Life which could be used to convert cyclists

Strong social media profile could make it easier to attract new sponsors
Such a large charity that some people may not think they ‘need’ their money

Have a relatively small cycling section on their site - only two featured races. Focus appears to be on running.

British Heart Foundation
Direct - directly targeting cyclists
Has a high street presence that could be used to reach potential cyclists

Well known and trusted charity

Cyclists can complete event registration quickly and easily online

Website has a strong cycling focus - including cycling training tips and plans as well as different cycling categories
Again, so large that potential cyclists may not think they need their money, especially in light of a reduced giving pool

Weak social media presence for such a large charity

Direct - directly targeting cyclists
Strong cycling focus, 12 races mainly throughout the summer

Clear and easy to navigate website

Sign up and registration is easy and available on the site

Included detailed race day information, including itinerary and FAQ’s

They have testimonials from previous cyclists on their cycling pages

Strong and well promoted social media presence
Such a large charity that individuals might think that their funds would be more helpful elsewhere

No clear advocacy from sports personalities

Current Market Situation - Key Points
  • 150,000 UK charities seek sponsorship and donations from the British public - ¾ of those charities are unfunded by the UK Government and need support from individuals
  • 0.5% of UK charities receive over 54% of total sector income
  • The Charities Aid Foundation's World Giving Index states that the UK is placed second in terms of charitable giving
  • The market has a low barrier to entry - there are no restrictions on which charity people can choose to run for, nor in which races they choose to run
  • The market is well served by facilitating technology - for example, the JustGiving platform has connected over 21 million people to 13,000 UK Charities in order to raise over £1.5bn since 2001
1.2 SWOT Summary - Internal Analysis (read more about this)


23% of all charitable donations are made to childrens charities

11% of all charitable donations are made to disabled charities

******* is an established and trusted charity

Advocacy from competitive wheelchair athletes

Potential cyclists should be encouraged by the extensive collection of good news stories on the site and motivated to help

The website lacks a user friendly design

Potential cyclists cannot register online through the website - this may deter prospects

Low staff numbers likely point to a shortage of specialist marketing employees

Medical charities receive the largest portion of donations and sponsorships from the public


The charity biking market is not saturated

Low barrier to entry to reach target audience

New technology and digital marketing platforms facilitate reaching new subscribers

Popular races are already established - there is no need to invent

Existing runners database can be used to attract cyclist sponsors - either the runners themselves or from their network

Competing charities gaining wider exposure and advocacy

Falling SEO performance

Larger charities receive a large share of charitable giving - - already, 54% of charitable giving is received by only 0.5% of UK charities

Charitable giving has fallen by 20% (£1.7bn) the past year - this could impact funds received from runners via sponsorship

1.3 Key Issues

Reduced disposable income coupled with the general downward trend of charitable giving clearly results in a more competitive environment for charities to operate in. This is magnified by the fact that 54% of all charitable giving is received by only 0.5% of charities.

The last point above also highlights the fact that larger, well known charities have substantially more market presence and brand awareness to help attract new would-be fundraising members of the British public.

Then it's your objectives...
Here, you would clearly state the objectives of your marketing plan. Be as specific as possible here - there is no such thing as being too specific here.

2. Objectives

The objective of this marketing strategy is to generate 340 new cyclist sponsors with a combined lifetime value of £200,740.83.

Four marketing channels will contribute to these numbers, each expected to achieve the following figures:

Total Number Of Cyclists Acquired (Annual)
Total Lifetime Revenue Achieved
Display advertising
Banner advertising
Email marketing/lead nurturing

Then it's your strategy...
As the name suggests, this is where you plan the steps involved that will result in your objectives above being met. Again, be as detailed as you can be here - following the headers below will make sure you complete this section properly.

3. Strategy

3.1 Segmentation and targeting

Personas (read more about this)

Due to the reductions in disposable income, the fact that cycling equipment is needed to participate and the level of sponsorship we can expect to achieve (highlighted below), the following persona describes the target market member well:

Both male and female

Aged between 24 and 35

Single, or at least not cohabiting

Degree educated at least or professionally accredited

Earns £25k per annum or more

Identify with aspirational brands

Motivated to climb the career ladder and are already doing so

Like to socialise in groups with similar lifestyles and aspirations

More value driven rather than price sensitive

A regular donator to charity by monthly DD
Already physically active, ideally within cycling

Quick to adopt technology

Internet savvy - banking, shopping and media consumption

Shop in stores such as M&S, Sweatshop, Next and Waterstones

Part of local classes, such as writing, reading or language groups

Reside in the UK, although nationality isn’t relevant

English spoken, most likely learned a second language during school or university

Prefers to pay by credit card online, debit card in-store, using ‘contactless’ where available

Live alone or in house share with similarly minded people

Males will be the ideal acquisition due to the figures below.

Key sponsorship findings

The only data freely available related to the level of sponsorship each sponsor is likely to be able to raise is related to runners. However, there is no reason to expect cycling sponsorship levels to differ - the assumption is made that sponsorship levels are more indicative of the person and their network, rather than the activity. Therefore, the following averages will be used throughout this strategy.
  • 19% of male runners raise over £500 per race
  • 5% of female runners raised over £500 in a charity race
  • The average male runner raised £369 per race in 2012
  • The average female runner raised £212 per race in 2012
3.2 Product, brand and positioning strategy

This campaign exists to solely promote the adoption of CharityABC as a preferred charity for charity cyclists to support through advocacy and race sponsorship. The brand - CharityABC's Brand - will be positioned as the champion of children who wish to pursue success in athletics. The brand will also be positioned as a charity to helps to keep such disabled children mobile in their personal lives too.

The result of the above will be that CharityABC will be understood as authorities in the field of helping disabled children become more mobile in their personal lives and successful in their sporting lives.

3.3 Creative strategy

This campaign will utilise a mix of graphically based rich media advertisements, such as:
  • Youtube video ads, designed for a general audience - detailing real life stories of children supported by CharityABC
  • Designed to generate click-throughs to website landing pages (first touch)
  • General display marketing ads designed for a general audience - encouraging web users to click through to website landing pages (first touch)
  • Specific interest/behaviour based adverts specially designed to match user behaviour/interests - designed to draw people back to site conversion (second touch +)
In addition, this campaign will require text-based content, such as:
  • Website text and optimisation
  • Email marketing copy
  • Other web content copy
The campaign message will consist of clear, inspiring calls to action, such as:
  • ‘Cycle to help the next generation of wheelchair athletes. Find out more’
  • ‘Learn how your wheels can help the next generation of wheelchair athletes succeed’
  • ‘Get on your bike and help our wheelchair athletes - click to find out how’
  • ‘Find out how you can help inspire athletic gold’
3.4 Channel strategy

This marketing strategy will adopt a multi-channel approach, which can be thought of in terms of the ATL and BTL marketing approaches:

ATL (Above-the-Line)
  • PPC - Search
  • Organic Search
  • Banner Advertising
BTL (Below-the-Line)
  • Email
  • PPC/CPM Display - Remarketing
3.5 Communications strategy and testing

Due to the limited marketing budget available, the campaign will be run digitally. Digital channels have been proven to be more cost effective and efficient in generating new business, with leads costing around 62% less than those generated through traditional direct marketing methods alone.

Refining this further, we will adopt an educative approach with the marketing strategy - an ‘inbound marketing’ approach. This will be achieved by creating useful, valuable and engaging content that prospective supporters will want to read and/or view. This will help build brand awareness of CharityABC and also help to increase authority and recognition in the market place.

Such materials will be delivered according to specific segments and targets outlined in 3.1 above, and through complimentary channels as highlighted in 3.4 above. In turn, the marketing strategy can be said to be TTL (Through-the-Line) in nature.

Furthermore, this strategy will adopt the ‘Agile’ marketing approach. Key metrics will be measured on a daily and weekly basis, allowing adaptations to be made efficiently and effectively according to marketplace feedback. This will be discussed further in the operation plan below.

3.6 Database and information strategy

The initial lead generation and customer acquisition processes will collect the following types of information:
  • Lead Generation: name and email address
  • Customer Acquisition: name, email address, telephone number, postal address (required), age group, gender (optional)
Further, internal databases will be updated with the following types of information:
  • Which races contacts have participated in (distance, location)
  • The amount of races contacts have participated in
  • Average and total levels of sponsorship achieved per contact
This information will facilitate accurate targeting, forecasting and future marketing campaign planning. Data will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and individuals will be able to quickly and easily opt out of our database at any time.

Databases will be cleansed once each year, with a focus on ensuring that email addresses, phone numbers and postal addresses are accurate.

All of the above data will help with CRM strategy, as outlined below.

3.7 Customer relationship (CRM) strategy

Customer data will be held in a automated lead nurturing/CRM system. Studies by the Yankee Group and Eloqua show that entreprises with a lead nurturing system in place improve their sales pipelines by between 40% and 80%.

This system will allow contact data to be stored in segments, with each segment being targeted with relevant, useful and engaging information created specifically to appeal to where contacts in each segment are in the buying journey.

For example, segments will include:
  • Leads - further segmented into race type they have expressed interest in
  • Customers - further segmented into race type, average race sponsorship and total sponsorship raised
  • Contacts - individuals who have provided contact details, but are not expressly interested in anything specific as yet
By segmenting databases as above, maximum returns will be realised by ensuring that all Contacts, Leads and Customers are nurtured and developed along the sales funnel according to their particular place in the buying process.

The CRM strategy will utilise the Infusionsoft marketing software. This will result in maximum returns from the database segmentation mentioned above, which will help deliver the LTV predicted in the forecasts. This is because a well designed lead nurturing process should result in an average of 2 charity events per cyclist.

The key benefits of ensuring that an efficient CRM and lead nurturing strategy is adhered to are as follows:
  • An average LTV of £591 can be achieved
  • Cost per acquisition rates can be as low as £6.56
  • Overall ROI of 378.5% can be achieved
Then it's your operation and implementation plan...
This section deals will how you are actually going to roll out your strategy above. What systems do you need? As you will see, this section requires a media planning document (linked below). You'd include a brief overview of that document in this section.

4. Operating and implementation plan

Firstly, this plan required that two SaaS Applications are purchased on a monthly basis:
  • Infusionsoft email marketing/CRM software
  • Moz Inbound Marketing Software
The email marketing software is critical to the success of this strategy, particularly in regards to medium-long term forecasts. Moz inbound marketing software will help to analyse web presence and overall performance of the brand online.

Search PPC, Banner Advertising and Display Advertising will account for 53 new cycling sponsors each month on average. However, the real growth comes from email marketing over the medium-long term, which begins to exceed the number of sponsors recruited by advertising by month 5.

The marketing strategy outlined in section 3 above does this by using digital advertising methods to generate both new sponsors and new contacts, who are then either converted quickly or converted at a later date by the automated lead nurturing system into sponsors at a rate of around 3% per month. It is important that all main channels are active from month one to ensure the compound effect builds as quickly as possible.

Full details can be examined in the Media Plan (See Appendix A) and Budget/ROI Forecasts (See Budget Sheets1 & 2), although here are the key requirements for implementing this strategy:
  • Systems set up - Pre-launch
  • Banner advert design - Pre-launch
  • Display Advert Design (graphics and video) - Pre-launch
  • PPC campaign design - Pre-launch
  • Email marketing/CRM process - active months 1-12
  • PPC campaign - active months 1-12
  • Display advert campaign - active months 1-12
  • Banner advert campaign - active months 1-12
Please see the Media Planner and Budget Sheet forecasts for more detailed information - especially in regards to increased budgets covering months 4-8, which is when the larger races take place. Marketing focus will be increased during these months to capture the increased market size.

Important summer races such as these include:
  • The London-Bristol Bike Ride
  • The London-Paris Bike Ride
  • London to Lands End Bike Ride
  • London to South Wales Bike Ride
Agile marketing. This strategy will adopt an agile marketing framework - all channels and KPI’s will be analysed on a weekly basis to evaluate what was effective the previous week, what wasn’t as expected as hoped and what (if anything) should be improved for the week ahead. If improvement using the outlined plan and channels is unlikely, it is recommended that a move to a contingency plan as highlighted below.

A special note regarding the ‘Banner Ad’ channel and testing. The ROI sheet shows that this channel delivers a paper loss, with a ROI of only 59.1%. However, it should be remembered that this channel also feeds 396 contacts into the lead nurturing process and also contributes heavily to brand awareness. This should be taken into consideration and tested after 3 months.

Then it's your contingency plan...

Simple enough - just have a think about what your plan B  could be if various parts of your proposed strategy do not go to plan.

5. Contingency plan

Being ‘Agile’ in nature, this marketing strategy has contingency ‘built in’. However, should there be problems with the chosen platforms that cannot be overcome by weekly fine-tuning, we have the following options:
  • Other PPC platforms, such as Chitika, Bing and Facebook
  • Other display networks, such as Burst Media and Tribal Fusion
  • Banner advertising on alternative sites
Furthermore, this marketing strategy leaves £5.970.20 contingency budget in reserve to help with the above, or indeed to bolster planned marketing activities if needed.
Then it's your budget...
No strategy would be complete without a budget forecast, and neither it should be. You should take care when writing this up, including as much as detail as you possibly can. Be an honest with yourself as you can in this section - there is no point in setting yourself up for disappointment with unrealistic forecast figures - keep it realistic and make sure you account for everything you need to implement your strategy.

6. Budget

In preparing the financial forecasts, the following assumptions have been made, which are taken to be reasonable:
  • Male and female cyclists should be able to raise similar amounts of money as their running counterparts.
  • The lead nurturing and email elements of the marketing strategy will result in a cyclist taking part in 2 sponsored events for ******** during their lifetime
  • PPC, Banner Ads, Display Ads, Landing pages and Email Marketing will convert at the rates outlined in the relevant forecasts
Please see the budget spreadsheet for detailed figures. Key figures are as follows:

Starting with a £60,000 per annum budget, this plan requires that:
  • £2189.40 is spent on email marketing/CRM software
  • £780.00 is spent on inbound marketing management software
  • £10,670.40 is spent on Google Adwords Search PPC
  • £33,000.00 is spent on banner advertising
  • £2,400.00 is spent on Display Network advertising
  • £5.970.20 is held in contingency
A note on budget - as a registered charity, CharityABC is able to receive substantial PPC support from Google Adwords (£60,000 per year). Restrictions and terms apply, although should be kept in mind to help take advantage of new and unexpected opportunities that come up throughout the year.

Return on Investment

In return for the above investment, this marketing campaign will deliver the following returns:
  • New cyclist sponsors - 340
  • Lifetime revenue - £200,740.82
  • ROI - 378.5%
Then any extras, such as website suggestions...
7. Website Suggestions

It is recommended that the following steps are taken to address key issues in relation to the website:
  • Overall layout should be improved to help with navigation and usability. For example, a wider page and new navigation structure following the traditional ‘category/subcategory/page’ hierarchy would help. At the moment, site navigation is unclear and distracting from a good user experience
  • Specific landing pages should be created for optimal conversion rates from advertising activities
  • At first glance, the website seems to only cater for charity runners and running events - cycling events should be given more prominence on the homepage before the above campaign begins
  • Online registration for events - conversion rates would likely be higher if users could register online easily. When clicking on an event, flyer images are presented, although it’s not clear what a user should do from there. An online registration form would be helpful
  • An online ‘Account’ login - taking the above point further, users may be more engaged if they had the ability to log into their own account area to manage event details and sponsorships
  • The ‘Donate Online’ button should be more prominently designed and placed on the upper-left of the site for optimal performance
  • The site would benefit from having a static homepage and a separate news/blog section - at the moment, it looks like news is updated above the main homepage text
  • A clear, concise message as to what the charity do should be prominently displayed on the header of the new website - similar to the image currently on the right hand side, although this isn’t immediately noticeable
  • A link to a ‘Start Here’ page should be easily identifiable on the homepage - at the moment, there is almost too much information on the page, which may put some visitors off. A ‘Start Here’ link could clearly direct users to a page designed to guide the user through the rest of the site
  • A re-assessment of SEO practices would be suggested to ensure that the new site performs well in searches related to charity events and sponsorship
  • A ‘Why choose us as your charity’ page should be included on the site
  • Race FAQ’s and itinerary would be useful for cyclists
  • Testimonials and feedback from previous racers could help develop rapport with the brand and a strengthened desire to help

Then you need to cite budgets, forecasts, sources etc.
  • Appendix A - Media Planning
  • Budgets (1) - Digital Channel ROI
  • Budgets (2) - Marketing Budget
So that's that - this is how you put together a well planned and highly actionable marketing strategy. Hope you found it useful.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question?

Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.

This post first appeared on Revenue Builder, please read the originial post: here

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How To Create A Marketing Strategy - Here's A Detailed Example


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