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What Is a Market Summary in a Marketing Plan?

marketing strategy communications planning

A market summary is the essence of a marketing plan. The market summary outlines, points out or highlights important points. The summary is a brief version of a marketing plan.

The summary is placed at the beginning of the market plan, and it should not be more than three pages long. The short version allows investors to find a particular section of the plan quickly without reading the entire report. The summary gives short descriptive details of each section in the plan. Important details about the purpose, direction and funding of a marketing project is found in the marketing summary.


marketing strategy communications planning

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Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Business

Every business needs a business plan that maps out the process of identifying the target market, attracting interest, gaining customers and retaining them for future sales. A solid marketing plan is an integral part of the overall business plan, as it maps out objectives and the plan for achieving them.

What Does a Marketing Plan Contain?

An effective marketing plan is detailed with concise steps that will accomplish a defined goal. The plan should identify and discuss the target market with information about direct competition in the industry. It should include information about marketing activity used in the past with the effectiveness of these activities. Then, the marketing plan consists of a set of realistic goals with defined objectives along with deadlines for meeting these objectives. The plan must also include budgetary guidelines for the marketing activities as well as a plan for measuring the effectiveness of the activities. It’s important to make the marketing plan easy to maintain and update as a company evolves, too.

Marketing Planning Process

The process of making a marketing plan involves market research to assess trends, profile target customers, identify potential competition, outline products or services, find vendors, calculate costs and brainstorm all positive and negative impacts that could affect the business. The business should create a mission statement that defines the company, its vision and its priorities. Next, the plan needs to focus on specific strategies and methods that will generate sales, including product descriptions, calls to action, promotion and advertising methods and budget, product or service pricing, and a plan to monitor how effective the marketing strategies are performing for the company.

Questions to Ask Yourself

To succeed in any industry, a business needs to set itself apart to attract customers and compete successfully with similar businesses. Questions to ponder include:

Using a Marketing Plan Template

Some small business owners prefer to use a marketing plan template. Free marketing plan templates are available for download from the Internet. You can also use a marketing plan worksheet to help you brainstorm your ideas, goals and objectives. Once you have an outline of your marketing objectives, you can create an effective plan.

How Do I Write a Marketing Plan?

Make sure your marketing plan includes these points:


marketing strategy communications planning

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Marketing communications plan: The RACE Framework and PASTA model, and how to use them

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The RACE Framework and PASTA model are complementary models for your marketing communications plan, one is strategic and one is operational, get started today to win more customers

Commercial as well as non-profit organizations, routinely confront these typical questions about a marketing communications plan: Do we need social media? How do we introduce our new website? What can we do to publicize our eCommerce Store? How do we introduce our new product? How will our market share rise?

These are five commonly asked questions that require marketing and communications expertise. In this article, we will address 2 complementary models for your marketing communications plan - the RACE Framework and PASTA model.

Whether it be a strategic plan, a business plan, a marketing plan, or a communications strategy, marketing communication planning requires systematic, step-by-step development that takes into account elements of all the other types of plans.

This article describes the PASTA method, a new roadmap for solving operational marketing and communication issues. But first, find out how our RACE Framework to structure your marketing strategy, or risk missing out on the benefits of communication planning altogether.

Marketing communication planning

The various types of plans within the marketing and communications disciplines can be structured hierarchically, and divided between strategic and operational.

The activities of an organization start with a business plan, leading to a marketing plan, followed by a marketing/communications plan and a communications plan (advertising and/or media plan). That's why we recommend utilizing the RACE Framework to optimize your strategy before getting stuck into the operational plans.

business plan

The first two plans in the hierarchy above are strategically oriented, while the last two have an operational perspective. Strategic planning captures the implementation of overall direction. An operationally oriented planning strategy makes it distinct. A business plan lasts for perhaps 10 years, a marketing plan for three years and a communications plan is only for the coming year.

If you're still not convinced, don't miss Dr. Dave Chaffey's 10 reasons you need a digital marketing strategy in 2022 .

We will walk you through how the PASTA model walk you through an operational marketing communication planning process starting with problem definition and finishing with action. But first, a recap on our popular marketing strategy structure the RACE Framework.

Strategy: The RACE Framework

Where does RACE come into this? There's very little benefit in meticulously creating your operational marketing communications plan if you don't have an integrated marketing strategy in place, since your key messages and touchpoints will not be fully supported by your marketing activities.

With our RACE Framework marketing and communications leaders can plan, manage, and optimize all elements of their marcomms strategy, across multiple touchpoints during their customers' journeys.

Your operational plans will sit within the appropriate stage of RACE depending on your objectives of reach, interact, convert, and engage. Don't underestimate the strength of a structured, data-driven marketing strategy to lift your communications, and delight your customers.

While you're at it, don't forget to check out our top 18 recommended digital marketing techniques .

Smart Insights RACE Framework 2022

Wondering how the RACE Framework can help you reach and acquire more customers? 

Our free digital marketing plan template is our most popular download. Members around the world are using this hands-on template to create, streamline, or optimize their marketing plans to achieve their goals. Find out more.

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Operational: PASTA model

With a winning marketing strategy in place, the PASTA method can be used to develop an operational plan: Problem definition - Analysis - Strategy - Tactics - Action (PASTA)

marketing communications plan

Problem Definition

First, there must be a clear definition of the problem: Which goal does the client want to achieve? What issues are involved? What strategic objectives underlie the development of a plan?

There must be knowledge about the organization, product or service. But also knowledge about what the client is really asking for. When an organization indicates low brand recognition, it is justified in asking more questions to seek out the reason why.

The second step is to analyze the market and the environment in which the organization or the product exists. To create an operational plan, there must first be an examination of the organization, consumers or customers, the product (supply), and competition.

This consists of both internal and external analysis. For internal analysis it is important to ask questions such as:

The external analyses are more extensive. Most of the information will come from desk research or existing and available information within the organization. Questions to be answered are:

The term "strategy" is comprehensive and confusing. It should be regarded within the context of an operational plan. The term "concept" can also be used in place of strategy. The development of a strategy or concept within an operational plan consists of four modules, which are interdependent. These building blocks are: target group, objectives, proposition, and positioning.

The differences between the operational and the strategic plans are:

Target Group

The better the target group is known, the better the strategy that can be worked out. Many questions can be answered using desk research. Discussions and interviews with members of the audience or an observation of the target group can also provide a lot of information.

A description can be made by creating a Customer Profile, which consists of the "Customer Jobs" (description of what the customers want to achieve in daily life), "Customer Gains" (description of the results that customers want to reach and the concrete benefits they want to see) and "Customer Pains" (description of the negative outcome, risks and barriers that are related to the job).

Our RACE Framework empowers marketers to use customer data and analytics to inform their marketing strategies, so they can track and measure their customers' experiences of their omnichannel journey touchpoints. Our RACE funnel demonstrates the different marketing activities required from the planning stage up to conversion and engagement.

marketing strategy communications planning

Our popular RACE Framework marketing tools and templates make it easy for you to create or optimize your company's marketing strategies, so you can build an agile, stratic approach.

Structure your marketing plan around a structure proven to boost performance. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member for instant access to our free digital marketing plan template to hone your skills and drive the results you need.

What should the campaign achieve? Marketing/communications objectives can be broadly divided into three categories: "Reach" goals, "Process" goals and "Effectiveness" goals. The Reach goal of communicating is to reach the target groups in an effective and efficient way. For this purpose a good segmentation and audience definition are needed, as well as insights into the media behavior of the desired segments.

Process goals are conditions which should be established before any communications can be effective. All communications should capture the attention of the target group, then appeal or be appreciated, and be processed (remembered).

The third type of goals are the Effectiveness goals. They are the most important, since Reach goals only assure sufficient exposure, and Process goals only ensure enough processing of the message to make the Effectiveness goals possible. An Effectiveness goal is a behavior goal: Buy, download, registration etc. An Effectiveness goal is the ultimate goal: to enter into a long-term relationship or obtain a growth in market share.


"Positioning" is the creation of a distinctive position relative to the competitors in the perception of the consumer. When an organization wants to determine positioning, it is important to have done a good competitive analysis.

An organization can choose an informational Positioning focusing on the functional attributes and benefits of the product: the product is the best solution, or the price is most favorable, or the delivery terms are the best. There can also be choice of a transformational Positioning. That responds to the needs of the customers to purchase a product. When products have many similarities, the transformational Positioning can provide a good solution. For example, values such as "sociability" and "convenience" are being used. When using a two-sided Positioning, there are functional aspects which are connected to the values and needs of the customer.

That responds to the needs of the customers to purchase a product. When products have many similarities, the transformational Positioning can provide a good solution. For example, values such as "sociability" and "convenience" are being used. When using a two-sided Positioning, there are functional aspects which are connected to the values and needs of the customer.


If the target group is known and Positioning is determined and it is clear what needs to be achieved, then a central message and values (Proposition) can be determined. The Proposition is the aggregate offer which can be separated into product, price, distribution (which channel?) and the communicative value of the offer. The value Proposition is shaped by the visible and invisible benefits to the consumer.

The Proposition is a bundle of products and services that represent value for customers. In the Value Proposition Design (Osterwalder et al, 2014), the Proposition is formed by a list of "Products and Services", the "Gain Creators" (description of how the offer creates advantage for customers), and "Pain Relievers" (description of how the offer alleviates specific customer pains).

The value Proposition is shaped by the visible and invisible benefits to the consumer. The Proposition is a bundle of products and services that represent value for customers. In the Value Proposition Design (Osterwalder et al, 2014), the Proposition is formed by a list of "Products and Services", the "Gain Creators" (description of how the offer creates advantage for customers), and "Pain Relievers" (description of how the offer alleviates specific customer pains).

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The next step is to determine which devices, tools, and techniques are to be used. What communication tools and devices (channels) are used to achieve the goal? The channels are the traditional channels such as print (newspapers and magazines) and television, augmented by digital devices (desktop, laptop, tablet and especially the smartphone with internet access).

The tools are the traditional instruments such as advertising, sales promotions (brand activation [1] ), direct mail and retail promotion, augmented by typical Internet tools such as the website, the app, email-marketing, bannering and mobile marketing.

The techniques [2] are specific and unique to the internet, such as search engine marketing (traceability), behavioral targeting (communications offering based on the behavior of the user), and affiliate marketing ("sellers" are rewarded based on units sold). Within the Tactics phase, devices and tools and techniques are to be weighed to determine which can be used to achieve the target within the strategy.

Once all the tools and resources have been established, the content for the tools is to be developed to actually carry out the messages. The ads (e.g. AdWords) must be created, the e-mail campaign must be designed, the website should be developed, etc., etc. This step is about creating a schedule, determining a budget and designating people.

Examples include a keyword plan, a content plan for social media, sites for link-building and a planning schedule.

So, that's how I see today's marketing planning process. I'd be interested to hear your views.


[1] De Pelsmacker, P., Geuens, M., Bergh, J. van den, (2013) Marketing communications, a European Perspective . Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

[2] Reijsen, M. van, Zweers, Th., Janssen, H. (2013), Interactive Marketing . Amsterdam: Pearson Benelux.

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Marketing Communications Strategy: What It Is & How To Do It Right

What is marketing communications strategy?

Marketing communications strategy is the strategy used by a company or individual to reach their target market through various types of communication. It includes your message (what is to be said), the medium (where it is to be said), and the target (to whom your message is reaching).

You might be wondering: what’s a marketing communications strategy that always works, even without a budget?

Easy: build relationships with journalists to get press coverage, guest posts, and backlinks.

Marketing communications or Public Relations is the ‘Promotion’ bit of the “4P’s of marketing” you might have learned during your university days (product, place, price, promotion).

Since “marketing communications strategy” is a mouthful, most people just shorten it to “Public Relations” which essentially uses online channels and software to identify relevant journalists, pitch them suitable stories and earn free media coverage.

Usually, “PR strategy” means building top of mind awareness amongst your ideal customers about the product or offer.

If you think about a strategy you employ to sell on Instagram DM the tactics and messaging you use are similar to PR and pitching journalists.

How you go about this will depend a lot on your experience, industry, and budget. If your marketing plan has a budget of a million dollars to spare, you can reach out to your target market with a promotional mix that includes TV or Facebook ads.

However, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you want to promote your business without breaking the bank. And there is no better way do that than by managing your own PR campaign internally without retaining the services of a media relations company or a full-service marketing company.

Wait, do you mean “free as in ‘free lunch”?

Exactly! If you apply the methods in this post to your own marketing communications strategy, you’ll learn how to build lasting relationships with journalists and influencers, get free press , and acquire more customers through a sustainable organic approach.

Anyone from your team can easily play the role of a marketing communications manager. You don’t even need to hire a dedicated marketing communications specialist!

As I mentioned earlier, marketing communications strategy defines the entire range of activities you will do to market your products. This includes everything from paid marketing to media relations (PR).

Any integrated marketing communications strategy (IMC) should have three guiding principles:

Any large company’s marketing plan will have several campaigns on multiple channels simultaneously. The combination of all these channels – PPC, social media, advertising on TV, print, radio, etc. – is called the “marketing mix” of your marketing communications strategy.

Smaller businesses, however, usually stick to one or two marketing channels to reach their target customers. Else you risk diluting your budget and focus.

Keeping the above principles in mind, you should create an annual or bi-annual Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy (IMC). Here are the key steps to follow.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Before you can create a strategic communications plan, you need to understand your target audience. Any marketing communications plan has to be formulated for a specific group of target customers. Your IMC has to define the needs and characteristics of this target audience.

The simplest way to do this is to study your existing customers through surveys, interviews and so on. Ask:

What needs do most of your customers have in common?

Why are they buying your products or services?

These consumer insights are crucial for creating highly targeted marketing messages that your persona can truly relate to.

Your integrated marketing communications plan should always follow an outside-in approach, i.e. be centered around extensive customer analysis. You should invest time to stay in touch with shifting customer needs even if you are doing business-to-business marketing and you think you already know your customers very well. Avoid using an inside-out approach which does not invest sufficient resources in researching and analyzing customers.  A marketing communication mix based on insufficient research is bound to be flawed.

2. Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your USP is the foundation of your integrated marketing communications plan. The USP should be reflected in every message your brand sends out across all communication channels, whether it’s for PR, sales or content marketing.

A clear USP will ensure that your brands messaging is clear, consistent and recognizable. It will also help you in crafting compelling media pitches.

Doing a SWOT analysis of your company from the viewpoint of your target audience will help you frame your USP. Ask:

Why will a consumer choose you over a competitor company?

Where do you fall short of your competition?

Survey your existing customers about their purchase intention. Understand the rationale behind the decision-making process of your typical consumer.

3. Determine your Marketing Communications Mix

Marketing communications mix is the combination of channels you use to reach out to potential customers.

Your marketing mix could include:

Large corporations would have dedicated teams within their marketing/sales division to take care of each of these activities. However a startup or small business would have to choose only two or three of these marketing strategies as part of their communication process.

The decision to choose which marketing initiative would yield the most ROI is a tough one for most small businesses, the American Marketing Association recently published an article comparing ROI of advertising vs. other marketing initiatives which sheds some light on this decision.

As I mentioned before however, the most budget-friendly channel that drives the maximum results is DIY PR – that is Do It Yourself Public Relations.

4. Define Branding Elements

Branding is a vital part of your IMC. It broadly includes two things.

At the most basic level branding is about having a consistent look and feel across all your online and offline marketing materials such as your:

However, at a deeper level, branding is about the core identity of your company. It’s about what you stand for, and what you want people to recognize you as. For example, Apple’s branding is all about cutting edge but extremely user-friendly technology. This identity should be a part of every marketing communication your organization sends out whether it’s for PR outreach, a new advertising plan for a sales promotion or a personal selling campaign.

5. Define Success Metrics

Once you have decided on your promotional mix for your integrated marketing communications plan, you also need to plan the right set of success metrics for all communication channels.

For instance, your success in Public Relations can be measured by a range of outcomes from brand awareness to sales. Here are a few metrics:

You will have to define metrics for each component of your communication mix .

These metrics will determine whether you are fulfilling the key objectives of your communications plans. So make sure you pick metrics that actually drive value to your business, irrespective of what communication platforms you are measuring.

For example, just because you are measuring social media, don’t use vanity metrics such as likes or retweets. Instead, go for website visits, leads acquired, etc. that indicate a higher degree of engagement by your target audiences and potential consumers .

6. Execution

Once your plan for you marketing communication process is ready, you execute these marketing strategies , measure your success and modify your approach as necessary.

If you’re a small company or startup, your marketing communications strategy will be vastly different from that of a large business . The P&Gs and IBMs of the world can be on multiple channels and communication platforms at once – online and offline advertising, public relations, social media etc.

For you, however, being effective and cost – effective matter the most.

And one of the most effective marketing strategies is to get free press for your business.

This is the process of approaching influencers, journalists, and bloggers with stories about your company, your brand, and your products.

Depending on the target and your own goals, you can often turn this outreach into guest spots on high-value publications, press mentions, and interviews – all things crucial for a successful marketing communications strategy.

A story in a top media outlet is an excellent way to get in front of a vast number of potential customers. It can work wonders for your brand awareness, generate website visitors, signups and backlinks – all objectives you would have expected from advertising or any other paid marketing channel.

A marketing communication plan for getting press has three steps:

I’ll cover these steps in detail below.


Just as “product-market” fit is important for a business, “message-journalist” fit is crucial for successful marketing. The angle or “spin” you use on a message will decide its audience. Finding the right journalists or influencers, therefore, should be a key part of your marketing communications strategy.

I made JustReachOut precisely for this purpose. Get in touch with me to see how we can help you achieve “message-journalist” fit.

Implement this tactic right now with our software.

How to Create a Marketing Message

Your marketing message describes what you have to say and how you say it. That is, it includes both the content of your story and its ‘spin’ or ‘angle’.

Both of these elements are crucial for virtually any communications plan or marketing activity. A small change in your marketing message completely changes how and where you market it.

For example, if you sell plain white tees, you might have three different angles to promote them:

The core content of all these three messages is the same – “everyone needs plain white tees”. However, the “spin” on them is radically different.

This impacts where and to whom you promote the message. If you emphasize the low cost of your products, you’ll target press outlets that cater to cost-conscious customers.

Instead, if you emphasize quality, you’ll target outlets that cater to luxury buyers.

Creating a compelling marketing message requires a deep understanding of your own product, target customers, and brand values.

You’ll have to introspect. Ask yourself: what is my product about? Who would buy it? What kind of brand do I want to create?

One great way to condense this marketing message into a press-ready pitch is to use the ‘mad libs’ approach outlined by the Founder’s Institute .

This involves defining the company, its product, target audience, the problem it solves, and how it solves it – all condensed into a single sentence (similar to a sales elevator pitch).

marketing strategy communications planning

Never use jargon or buzzwords in your one-sentence pitch. If your target audience – journalists, bloggers, influencers – have never heard the term (or heard it a billion times), you don’t want it in the pitch.

Here’s one example of a terrible, jargon-riddled pitch that should have never seen the light of day:

marketing strategy communications planning

In contrast, here’s one pitch that is short and to the point:

marketing strategy communications planning

Doing this will ensure that your brand has have a short, snappy marketing message with clear content and a well-defined angle.

This will make the entire process to get press much easier.

The next step, as you’ll learn below, is to find the right targets for this marketing message.

Getting press today is very different from what it used to be two decades ago.

For one, there were no “influencers” and “bloggers” in the 1990s. Marketing campaigns were about pitching journalists in the mainstream media and hoped they would mention you in their newspapers, radio stations, and TV shows.

Today, however, anyone with an audience can be a “press target”. A small blogger with a few thousand engaged followers is as legitimate a target as a big publication with a large but disengaged audience. Your search for press targets should take this into account.

Here are a few foolproof ways to find prospects when creating your marketing communications strategy:

1. People linking to similar content

If someone has linked to similar content in the past, there is a good chance they’ll write about it again.

Start your search by finding a piece of content similar to yours. A Google search is a good place to go. Look for keywords that describe your product, business or content.

For example, if you work in AI, searching for “AI startup” shows a number of media outlets that might write about you:

marketing strategy communications planning

All of these would be good targets for outreach.

You can find even more targets by finding sites that have linked to the stories above.

Plug a story into a backlink research tool such as Ahrefs or Moz OSE . This will show you everyone that has linked to it:

marketing strategy communications planning

Add these to your list of prospects.

2. Reverse image search

If you’re promoting visual assets such as infographics, one of the best ways to find prospects is to look for media outlets and blogs that have linked to similar infographics in the past.

Start by going to Pinterest and looking for your target keywords + infographic.

If you’re sharing a content marketing infographic, for instance, you might use this:

marketing strategy communications planning

Once you find an infographic, right click on it and select “Search Google for this image”. This will open Google’s reverse search engine and show you everyone that has linked to the image.

marketing strategy communications planning

All of these are great targets for getting backlinks and press.

3. Crunchbase

Crunchbase is a massive database of startups. It is also one of the most overlooked communication tools for finding media targets.

Here’s how it works:

For instance, here are some publications that have written about HubSpot:

marketing strategy communications planning

For large companies, this database is updated very regularly so you can get a lot of prospects. You can also use it to see the different approaches you can take for reaching out to different media outlets.

4. JustReachOut

Shameless plug, but JustReachOut is the tool I made to solve this exact problem. It does all the media opportunities searching work for you so you can focus on the outreach and relationship building.

To use it, just search for your primary keyword . You’ll see a list of journalists who’ve written about the topic recently.

marketing strategy communications planning

Hit the ‘Send Email Pitch’ button and you’ll see their email details as well.

JustReachOut works better than the other approaches since it focuses on journalists and influencers, not publications. It also dramatically cuts down your effort by showing you email addresses and helping you craft a pitch.

If you’ve ever done any sort of outreach, you’ll know that finding press targets and looking up their email addresses takes a ton of time. If you want to personalize your message – crucial for improving response rates – you’ll also have to keep track of what they wrote about recently.

I made Just Reach Out keeping these exact requirements in mind. You get all the essential data you need to pitch journalists, along with ready-made pitches. Nothing more, nothing less.

There are a number of other less effective tactics for finding press targets. I covered some of them earlier in my post on how to pitch journalists .

Once you have your list of prospects, find their email addresses. Here’s a detailed post on how to find anyone’s email .

Next comes the most important part of getting press: building relationships and pitching your story.

The public relations field is a built on relationships.

You might have seen the stereotype in movies – a busy PR person glued to the phone, thumbing through a Rolodex thicker than two packs of cards.

The reality isn’t far from the truth (though emails have replaced phones and CRMs have replaced Rolodexes). Getting the word out to journalists and influencers is still all about relationships in any marketing communications strategy.

A successful marketing communications specialist builds up these relationships over years.  As an entrepreneur, you are an unknown quantity to any journalist, influencer, or investor. You might have the best cold email pitches in the world, but since they don’t know you, they’re unlikely to respond.

You’ll also find that the top journalists almost never respond to unsolicited cold emails . You might get a response from, but if you want to land on TechCrunch, you’ll have to be familiar to the journalist.

It’s not that journalists and influencers aren’t nice people. They’re just too bombarded with emails. As Fractl’s study pointed out , most journalists get more than 100 pitches per day.

70% of journalists also prefer collaborating on a story rather than be pitched something fully baked.

marketing strategy communications planning

Essentially, this means that you can’t simply send out cold pitches to top journalists. It’s far less effective than sending cold sales emails .

Instead, you have to:

To do both of these, you have to do one thing.

You guessed it: build relationships.

The secret to building a relationship with an influencer is the same as building any other relationship:

Be valuable.

This single rule should be the guiding force in your marketing communications strategy. All your interactions with journalists, bloggers, influencers, investors, prospective customers, etc. should follow it.

In psychology, the “principle of reciprocity” – that you do unto others as they do to you – is even considered one of the pillars of persuasion . The more you give people something they want, the more they’re likely to do what you ask of them (in our case, publish your story).  Taking this into account is vital when you are building your marketing communication process .

Before I share strategies to offer value, there are two principles you should adopt in your PR efforts:

1. Segment Your Prospect

Would you use the same approach to reach out to Tim Ferriss as you would for a no-name blogger?

Of course not.

Your first step in your marketing communications strategy should be to segment your list into three categories:

Segmentation will help you align your efforts with the quality of the target. Create a marketing communication plan focused on maximizing the time and effort on high-priority targets.  Use scalable tactics for reaching out to low-priority targets.

2. Personalize Your Outreach

Sending personalized emails is the number one thing you can do to build relationships.  By the way, most journalists prefer not to be pitched on Twitter or over the phone. Medial relations professionals who stick to email and avoid other communication tools achieve the highest response rates.

The problem is that personalization isn’t scalable.

One solution is to personalize according to the target’s priority.

For your high-priority targets , always use a personalized conversation starter. This should be a unique, handwritten email that initiates a conversation by giving something of value without any ask.

The goal of this ‘conversation starter’ is to establish yourself on the prospect’s radar. The ‘ask’ will come later.

For mid-priority targets , throwing in a single personalized line at the start of the pitch is often enough. This helps you stand out from the army of PR agents sending out emails from templates .

The rest of the email can be from a template and should include an ask.

For low-priority targets , personalize the name and, if possible, their website name. The rest of the email can just be a template.

It’s also a good practice to work your way up from low/mid-priority targets to high-priority ones. You can use your coverage in lower priority targets to build social proof and reel in bigger publications. This “snowball” effect is a big part of any successful marketing communications strategy.

You might now be wondering: how do I start conversations and offer value to journalists? I’ll share four approaches below.

As I said earlier, the best way to build relationships is to give your targets something they value.

While this will obviously vary from target to target, there are a few things most influencers, bloggers, and journalists want:

I’ll share some ways to use these approaches to build relationships below:

1. Share useful content

Journalists live and breathe content. Any writer who cares about his work likely scours the internet for interesting stories and useful content.

If you can point the journalist to content that is relevant to their needs, they’ll appreciate it.

To do this, you need to do some quick research on the journalist’s interests and recent stories.

Most journalists will clearly identify their area of interest on their public profiles. For example, Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch notes his reporting areas in his Twitter bio:

marketing strategy communications planning

This means that Darrell will likely be interested in stories related to transportation.

You can also go through their most recent stories to see what kind of topics they’ve been interested in lately.

In Darrell’s case, he’s written a lot about automotive tech companies like Tesla and Uber:

marketing strategy communications planning

If you send Darrell a story about Musk’s flamethrowers or a flying car, there’s a chance he’ll find it useful, getting you one step closer to establishing a relationship.

I used this approach to connect with Darrell earlier. I sent him a link to a story on a topic he’d shown interest in (Philips Hue). He responded by writing about the story later on TechCrunch:

marketing strategy communications planning

It’s important that you do this without any expectations. Don’t have an ask; just share good content. “Giving” should be the cornerstone of your marketing communications strategy.

Don’t try to sneak in a link to content you created either. There will be a time for self-promotion later; for now, just be generous by sharing quality content.

If you’re going to share content with journalists, pick up something that is both substantial and not easy to find. Don’t just send them the latest article you saw on NYTimes; chances are, they’ve seen it already.

Keep a list of top websites that regularly feature content from your journalist’s industry. If you’re targeting business bloggers, for instance, you might share something from

For best results, tie the content to what the journalist wrote about recently. A list of their most recently published pieces – as shown on Just Reach Out – can help.

2. Promote them on Quora

A surefire way to hook in an influencer is to give them free exposure.

However, most marketers mess this up by writing about the influencer on their own blog and sending them a link to it.

While they’ll likely be chuffed to see their name on your site, this approach has an element of selfishness to it. There is an expectation that they’ll have to promote your website in exchange for the mention.

The trick is to be generous by giving them exposure on sites that a) you don’t control, and b) have a large audience.

And one of the best sites to do this is Quora.

Search for your target keyword on Quora. Look for a question that is fairly open-ended, yet specific enough to invite expert opinion.

For example, if you’re writing about content marketing, this would be a good question (you know it’s a good one because Neil Patel has answered it):

marketing strategy communications planning

Next, write a detailed answer to the question. Most importantly, include a quote or reference to the influencer you’re trying to target.

For instance, I wanted to reach out to a Venture Beat writer so I included a quote from her in my answer:

marketing strategy communications planning

Now reach out to the influencer and tell them about your Quora answer (or a tweet, as in the example below):

marketing strategy communications planning

This approach works better than simply dropping the influencer’s name in your own blog post (whether it’s on Medium, another forum site or a customer created with an blog maker  . It shows that you care enough about their work to not only read it, but to also promote it on a platform you don’t even own.

The result is a solid foundation for building a relationship as part of your marketing communications strategy.

3. Share data and insight

Journalists love data, especially if it can be used to support something they’ve written about earlier.

If your organisation has some unique data or insights, sharing it with a journalist or influencer is a great way to get an “in”.

The trick to make this work is to tie the data to something they covered recently. If they wrote about poor conversion rates of outreach campaigns, and you have your own data showing otherwise, share it with them.

For example, OKCupid referenced a journalist’s recent posts on “loneliness” to share data about dating preferences:

marketing strategy communications planning

But what if you don’t have data of your own?

In that case, you can create unique content specifically for the influencer.

I used this tactic extensively to promote Polar. We created unique polls bloggers could plug into their recent posts to spur engagement.

marketing strategy communications planning

Notice how I closed the email with a question?

That’s a great way to get a response.

4. Answer their questions

What if instead of pitching journalists, you could get them to pitch you instead?

Sounds impossible, but that’s precisely what HARO (Help A Reporter Out) does.

HARO makes the marketing communication process easier by connecting journalists with sources. Every day, it sends out an email with a list of requirements from different journalists. Sources who fit their requirements can jump in and leave a response.

For example, here’s a recent requirement for blockchain experts posted on HARO:

marketing strategy communications planning

If you had a blockchain product, this would be some of the easiest press you could ever get.

The problem with HARO is that it queries can be hard to find. It is not searchable; you have to ask your marketing communications manager to keep an eye out for the newsletters they send twice a day.

To solve this problem, I added a HARO search engine to JustReachOut. Instead of digging through newsletters, just enter your target keyword and find relevant opportunities.

marketing strategy communications planning

This makes the entire marketing communications process drastically easy and gets your organization into some high-profile media publications.  So do try to include HARO as one of your marketing communication tools .

“Be where your customers already are” is Business 101, and it applies equally to PR. Be where journalists are already asking questions. In our case, it’s HARO.

Digging through HARO’s lengthy twice-a-day emails, however, can get tiring very quickly. So we incorporated a HARO search engine in Just Reach Out to make the process much more streamlined.

If you’ve put in the hard work and built relationships with journalists as part of your marketing communications strategy, you’re already far ahead of the competition.

You’ll find that it’s significantly easier to get people to respond to you if you’ve communicated with them before.

For one, instead of sending a fresh email, you can simply reply to your older conversation thread. When they see that you’ve spoken to them earlier, it’s guaranteed that they’ll at least look.

Two, there is the principle of reciprocity at play. If you’ve been nice to them in the past, there is an implicit obligation on them to return the favor.

After you’ve had a couple of touches (the more important the influencer, the more touches you’ll need), send them an email referencing your earlier conversation. But this time, include a clear ask, like this:

marketing strategy communications planning

If your pitch is good and of interest to them, most will happily respond.

The best part about this approach is that your pitch doesn’t have to be perfect. Marketers spend hours following cold email pitch tips , but if your targets have already warmed up, you don’t have to use any clever “hacks”.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can send a lazy pitch. You should still be succinct, offer value, and use a strong subject line.

Follow the tips in this post to learn how to create a compelling pitch to journalists and influencers.

Out of all marketing and communications approaches, there’s nothing as valuable as these press relationships!

Over time, these relationships will get you valuable media coverage that will far outweigh what you can achieve even with a huge advertising budget. After all, a story in a top outlet brings far more credibility than any self-promotional advertising campaign – whether it’s a TV ad or a direct mail campaign .

It’s the best marketing investment you will ever make!

Over to You

Getting press, backlinks, and guest blogging opportunities should be the cornerstone of any startup’s marketing communications strategy. It’s way more cost-effective than advertising, scalable, and helps you build the long-term relationships necessary for promoting your business.

What kind of marketing communications strategy do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

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Dmitry is the founder of which helps 5000+ businesses pitch journalists and get published in press without any PR firms. See more here .

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Curious is HelpAReporter a free service?

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It sure is, you just need to sign up for the email newsletters that’s all.

I’ve never thought of promoting a journalist or an influencer on Quora as a way to build a relationship with them, loved this idea, going to try!

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Thanks for the post Dmitry, this really helps. The thing I have most trouble with usually is how to pitch myself or my business without mentioning what I do. How do come up with stories which relate to what I do but do not promote me directly. You know what I mean?

I hear you! I was in your shoes before I started You are speaking the pain point of most of our customers! It’s tough when you don’t know how to start conversations with influencers and journalists. Journalists are people too and building relationships with them and giving them value first is the best way to get exposure from them in the long run. Hopefully some of the tactics in this post give you ideas on how to start doing this on a budget right now.

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Thanks, great post, i like the examples you provided of starting conversations with journalists, this is the part I struggle with most, I generally just send a press release out and don’t typically think about “chatting with them”. This part of the post really got me thinking about “relationship building” more then just pitching them.

Glad I could help and share some of my tactics with you, absolutely, building a relationship with them is vital in this day and age so you can stand out from the rest. Glad my post helped you change your approach. Let me know if you need more examples to implement some of this stuff or just have questions!

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Really enjoyed your article. I subscribed to Quora (taking a suggestion from you) and couldn’t see its value until I read this article. I “get it” now. I am a clinical psychologist turned professional chef. I teach cooking classes and am developing a “theory” associated with the positive psychological impact of cooking, cooking together and then eating that meal together.

Happy to help Candance, I love using Quora this way. This is such a cool concept – the girl can cook school! My wife and I love to cook, and our kids do as well. We love it!

How long have you been working on it?

Thanks! I think it’s cool, too! I have had my school for almost 10 years. I was a restaurant chef for awhile before that. And, got into the food industry as a personal chef. Thanks for asking.

Really neat concept! How do you get your clients mainly? Word of mouth? are you doing much marketing online?

Thanks! It is primarily word of mouth. I have tried print but not very effective. I have recently started working with a radio station and have a 15 second video on their website. It has only been running since the end of February so not sure about the ROI on it. I use social media (the usual suspects, FB, Insta, not a lot of Twitter) and my website. I use Squarespace for my site.

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Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I’d love to take you up on the offer to review some of my pitches.

In the next comment, you will find two pitches for my yoga mat & apparel company, Apeiron Yoga.

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Here are our two most frequently used pitches:

Thanks, and looking forward to your response!

Hey Adam, Thanks for taking the challenge and leaving your pitch in the comments. I looked over this pitch, what I can see is a description of your product and not a PR pitch or a PR story. Does this make sense? Do this: complete “find press targets” step above, look at headlines of each story the journalist you pick has published, come up with your own headline for a story similar to these others

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Fantastic article! Very long and insightful, where can I find more of your work? I bookmarked the site 🙂 I have to single out Quora advice as the best one.

Thanks David. I spell out the Quora one in detail in this webinar, take a quick look, I think you’ll appreciate this detailed version of the Quora tactic—4-actionable-tactics-

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Thank you for the helpful tactics. It was really great and worthy article to go through. All your points are worth considering if one wants to improve their marketing communications. Again Thanks.

Happy to hear you find the article useful Jeremy. Let me know if you have questions as you try to implement some of these tactics. Also – take a look at the video walk through of the Quora PR Strategy here:

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Hey Dmitry,

First time reader, can’t believe I haven’t found you sooner. Really enjoyed reading this, as others have said you’ve given me some new ideas to try!

Struggling with some of the headings you’ve got here so hopefully I can start improving following your advice.

Also, love the layout by the way, having the table of contents on the left is very useful! Just subscribed as well.

Thanks, Andy

Thanks Andy, happy to hear you found the article useful. The trick is of course applying this stuff. Let me know how it goes as you try to apply some of this stuff. Let me know any struggles you have along the way!

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Great write up. There are so many important factors to think about when creating an effective marketing communications strategy… makes my head spin. I wonder which one I should start with. Any advice on how to choose the right one to start with?

Sure thing Gregg, good question. I’d start with something relatively simple such as answering press opportunities, then answering Quora questions, then maybe guest posting – that’s how I did it when I was starting up this blog and JustReachOut. Let me know if you still have questions on this, obviously there is not one size fits all here.

'  data-srcset=

This was a really good and informative article!

Thanks Janell, which part of it did you find more helpful?

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Thanks for sharing such a useful article, very interesting as well. You made me remember my university days through it.

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marketing strategy communications planning

6 Steps to An Effective Marketing Communications Plan

By Ronan Keane

June 16, 2019

Technology and SaaS companies, routinely confront these typical questions: Do we need social media? How do we introduce our new service? What can we do to position and publicize our acquisitions? How do we introduce our new product? How will our market share rise?

These are five commonly asked questions that require marketing and communications expertise.

Before we go through the 6 most important steps of you marketing communications (marcomm) plan, it's worthwhile putting the plan into perspective. Your marcomm plan should be derived from preceding plans you've established.

Whether it's a strategic plan, a business plan, a marketing plan or a marketing communications strategy, their design requires systematic, step-by-step development that takes into account elements of all the other types of plans.

Types of Plans

The various types of plans within the marketing and communications disciplines are structured hierarchically:

The activities of your technology or SaaS company should start with a business plan , leading to a marketing plan , followed by a marketing communications plan and campaign plans (digital advertising, events, lead generation etc).

marketing strategy communications planning

The business plan sets out the objectives for the entire organization according to a specific time frame. Those objectives are quantitative as well as qualitative.

Here are a few examples:

For you to bring the business plan to fruition, multiple execution plans are described for sectors such as finance, human resources, marketing and innovation.

The marketing plan contains marketing goals and the strategy to achieve these goals, as in gaining market share, number of products and distribution channels.

The marketing plan is the starting point for the marketing communications plan to determine how and with what tools and resources will marketing goals be achieved.

Finally, the campaign plans describe how to communicate with various interest groups/stakeholders and generate awareness, interest and demand.

The first two plans in the hierarchy graphic above are strategically oriented, while the last two have an operational perspective.

The strategic planning captures the implementation of overall direction. An operationally oriented planning strategy makes it distinct. An operational plan is a normative plan to achieve the results you're looking for. 

A strategic plan has a much broader horizon than the other ones. A business plan lasts for perhaps 3 years, a marketing plan for 1-2 years and a marketing communications plan is only for the coming year. Campaign plans are usually very flexible and should be, you might say, they're made to be broken. In other words, you need a big element of agile marketing to run effective marketing campaigns.

Now let's get to the marketing communications plan and the steps you need to follow.

These questions can leave marketers grasping at straws.

If you can’t answer them clearly, though, your marketing communications plan is bound to go off the rails.

#1: Establish Your Mission Statement

The first step in your marketing communication planning process is reminding your team of your mission statement. Your mission statement is the end goal that your company wants to fulfill for your customers.

Here are a few example mission statements to inspire your own (if you don’t have one yet):

Your Mission Statement:

Our company exists to provide [benefit], [benefit] and [benefit] through [product/service].

#2: Identify Your Business Objectives

The next step in your process is to identify your business objectives. Business objectives are goals your company needs to hit to be successful.

Every goal your team sets needs to contribute back to these objectives. If you’re unaware of what you’re aiming for, you’ll miss every time.

#3: Develop Buyer Personas

The next step is to define your target buyers. You should document who they are, what their problem is that your service or product solves and other demographic and psychographic information.

Identify Your Target Audience

Before you start developing your buyer personas, you need to identify your target audience. Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to purchase your product or service.

You need to identify at least the following:

Here are a few ways to learn more about your target audiences:

Survey current customers to learn more about them. Try using tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to gather data from your audience. Ask demographic style questions to gather the information you are looking for.

Dig into Google Analytics to learn more about who is currently visiting your website.

Search through your competitors social media followers to see who they appear to be attracting (and compare that to your own followers).

You should also list their interests including websites they visit, LinkedIn groups they're members of and trade magazines they read.

On top of other deliverables you can create with this data, you need to create a one to two sentence description about your buyer for your sales and marketing to reference. It could look something like this:

Our target buyer is a CFO at a mid-size company with $100M in revenue in the cybersecurity industry who wants to work with one vendor so they can reduce costs. 

#4: Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Customer Value Propositions (CVPs)

What is a unique selling proposition or USP? The key to developing a USP is to ignore the features and benefits that could apply to anyone, and instead focus on the one thing that makes your offer unique.

Here's one definition:

The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.

Let’s take a look at an example of a USP.

Casper is an online mattress retailer, and their USP is focused around one simple idea. Since their product is sold directly to the consumer, they can offer lower prices than what you would find if you went to a brick and mortar store. Unbeatable low cost sets them apart.

Customer Value Propositions (CVPs)

We need to be very clear about what we are selling. This is to state the obvious but it is amazing how often a company’s products and services look grey – they are indistinguishable from those of the competition. We need customer value propositions.

Building a customer value proposition is important within any marketing strategy. Working out what people value about the products and services that you are selling has to be one of the earliest considerations in a marketing plan.

The following framework could be helpful in developing the CVP:

Target audience

Elevator pitch

Answer these questions

Who is the customer?

What can we offer the customer that they value?

What can we offer that is better than the competition?

How will we make money out of this?

What would we say to a customer if confronted by the elevator test?

In developing customer value propositions, most people make the mistake of overloading their offer, with the result that customers becomes confused.

The fewer benefits in the CVP, the better, but they must pass the 3D test.

They must be desirable for otherwise the product or service will not be in demand. The more desirable, the better.

They must be different to benefits offered by other companies for if they are not, the offer will look very “samey”.

They must be defensible in the sense you can prove, with good evidence, that your claims can be substantiated.

Desirable, different and defensible. If you can build a customer value proposition that passes this 3D test, you will have an offer that is very distinctive indeed – a unique selling proposition.

#5: Create Effective Messaging and Positioning (Elevator Pitch)

To claim a mental space in your target audience's mind, consistency and repetition are absolutely the keys.

Figure out your theme, your positioning statement in 12 to 25 words, not including the company name. It's a declarative sentence. It states a benefit for why the buyer should care. It's your elevator pitch.

When you do that, you'll have a strong theme for all your marketing campaigns.

Do some research to differentiate your technology or SaaS brand from the competition. When you going through a positioning process, you could use a perceptual map to find out where the unclaimed space is.

B2B positioning isn't easy, but it can be simple. If you're starting from scratch, is really as simple as identifying your buyer's most pressing problems, stack-rank them, then develop a positioning statement that addresses that problem.

You can then determine whether it's unique or not. And if it's unique, you've hit the proverbial nail on the head. The trick is to have the good research on the customer problems to be able to do that quickly. This is where there's a real disconnect, at least in companies in B2B software and technology.

Successful B2B messaging requires a ruthless focus on your ideal customer profile.

The B2B Message Matrix

As a final deliverable for your Sales and Marketing teams, you'll want a message matrix.

Essentially, it can be a table in Word, or a series of PowerPoint slides that contains:

You can use the completed messages as “copy blocks” wherever you need them: in marketing materials, in sales presentations, on social media, as well as on your website.

This will not only save time, but will also ensure that you communicate consistently about your services and/or products.

#6: Execute in These Marketing Channels

I'm going to be brief but concise in this section since I could write hundreds of blog posts dedicated to each one of these channels.

If you're a technology or SaaS company then these are the marketing channels I'd focus on. Invest most of your budget here while tweaking and optimizing. 

I speak from a position of experience having spent 90% of my career focused on these channels. I've managed marketing budgets totaling $Ms and generated significant bottom line results having been an accountable demand generation expert in a front-line position within Sales and Marketing. 

These channels are where the rubber meets the road. It's where you finally start generating demand at scale.

I've listed the channels below but there's also a strategy to making them work together in a cohesive and results-oriented way.

List of Most Effective Marketing Channels for Technology and SaaS companies to generating interest and demand:

Book a call with me if you have questions or would like to know more about effective marketing strategies and planning to increase revenue for your B2B technology or SaaS company.

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Ronan Keane

Ronan Keane is an award-winning marketing and demand generation leader with 16 years’ experience. His expertise is in complete B2B marketing strategy and demand generation for increased bottom-line revenue and cost efficiencies. Ronan has worked with SMBs and Fortune 100 and household brands like Nike, Black and Decker, Renault and Popular Science Magazine. Ronan is a Forrester Groundswell winner and LinkedIn Sales Blog contributor . Ronan has taught thousands of marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and sales professionals how to use SEO, LinkedIn, Facebook, Social Selling and Digital Marketing techniques to grow their customer base.

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Nicely done Ronan…keep sharing your wisdom. Ali

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marketing strategy communications planning

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How to Write an Effective Communications Plan [+ Template]

Kayla Carmicheal

Published: January 05, 2023

Remember the " Tide Pod Challenge ?" That horrendous time at the beginning of 2018 when adolescents filmed themselves ingesting laundry detergent?

woman writing a communication plan

While it was a funny (albeit dangerous) start to the new year, this small boost of infamy was a PR mess for the detergent brand in question, Tide , whose crisis communication team had to figure out how to respond to America's teens swallowing their toxic product. Tide's parent company, Procter & Gamble, was swift in their response, thanks in large part to their communication plan .

In this post, you'll learn how to create an effective communication plan that prepares you and your company for any situation.

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What is a communications plan.

A communications plan enables you to effectively deliver information to appropriate stakeholders. The plan will identify the messages you need to promote, to whom you're targeting those messages, and on which channel(s). Communications plans can be used in times of crises, but they are also used when pitching new initiatives or launching new products.

Communication plans can help you clarify the purpose of a product launch or new initiative and officially determine the messages you want to deliver to your intended audience(s).

Additionally, a communication plan can help your business during a time of crisis if a previous marketing message or business decision damages your reputation with internal stakeholders or customers.

If companies don't have a communication plan, they'll be unprepared when disaster strikes. It may be unlikely that your company will find teenagers eating your product for internet fame, but not so unlikely that you'll never find yourself needing a procedure to effectively handle difficult situations.

Need a free, easy-to-use communication plan template? HubSpot has 12. Check out this toolkit for everything you need to build your own.

This is part of a template offered in the toolkit. For this particular template, the organization is separated into phases, a description of that phase, and who needs to complete that action.

Download These Templates for Free

Now that we've gone over how a communication plan can be helpful, let's learn how to write one that will be effective.

How to Write a Communications Plan

1. Conduct an audit of your current communications materials.

Before sitting down to get rollin' on your plan, you need to first decide where it'll fit into your business. So it's important you complete a "state of the union," or an audit of the current climate of communications within your company. This can help you identify any problem areas.

For instance, let's say you need to create a communications plan for a new product launch. To create your plan, you'll first need to perform an audit to identify gaps in your current marketing approach.

After performing the audit, you might find there is a major gap in your marketing materials in which you rarely discuss a topic that aligns well with your new product. You'll want to ensure this topic makes it into your communications plan.

Free Communication Plan Template

Fill out the form to access the template..

To conduct an audit, you'll need to carefully gather and interpret data on your current marketing plan performance and build a path forward based on those results. Additionally, you might consider hosting focus groups or sending surveys to your audience to find gaps in your current communications materials.

Of course, you'll want to have the goal of your communications plan in-mind when conducting an audit. In the example above, noticing you're lacking material on a certain subject only matters if your goal is to drive leads and conversions to a product that aligns with that subject.

For instance, if you're launching a new email marketing tool and you notice you're lacking content on Google Ads, this might not be relevant information for your communications plan. However, if you're missing content on email marketing best practices, that's important information you can use to tailor your communications plan appropriately.

2. Set SMART goals for your communications plan based on the results from your audit.

After your audit, you'll want to lay out a few goals based on the data from the results. What do you want to achieve with this plan?

When in doubt, remember that your goals should be SMART : Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

For instance, if a small agency is writing a communications plan for its client, they might write a goal along these lines: "We plan to increase employment applications for our client by 25% over the course of one quarter."

Alternatively, perhaps your HR team needs to write a communications plan to pitch designing a new growth matrix for individual contributors who don't want to become managers.

If that's the case, your HR team will need to identify specific goals they hope to achieve as a result of their plan, even if the results are less quantifiable — for instance, their goal might be to "increase employee retention rates by 10% over the next year" or even "increase employee satisfaction, as indicated by their next NPS scores." They'll need to pitch these goals to stakeholders to get leadership on-board.

SMART goals calculator

Download Your Free SMART Goal Template

3. Identify the audience to whom you plan to deliver your communications plan.

Good communication starts with knowing and understanding your listener. In this case, if a crisis communication plan is for stakeholders, which one(s) are you writing for? Stakeholder examples include employees, investors, customers, local government officials, or media outlets.

If you're writing for media outlets, a press release detailing your goals is a good idea for that audience. There should be a process for who will speak to the media outlets, an outline of what they will say, and an action plan put in place moving forward.

Alternatively, if your audience is your employees, you might want to create an up-to-date internal document for employees to refer to, as well as the contact information for the internal DRI if they have follow-up questions.

4. Outline and write your plan, keeping your audiences in-mind.

When you're ready to outline and write your plan, it's likely easiest if you start with a table or chart to identify the messages you need to promote, to whom you're targeting those messages, and on which channel(s).

Once you've created a general outline, here's how you'll want to structure your communications plan (feel free to copy these sections into a Table of Contents for your own plan):

(If you need help writing a communications plan, download our free, ready-to-use communications plan templates .)

When writing your communication plan, work with groups or representatives from your stakeholders to improve accuracy. Strategies should solve for goals or potential risks.

For instance, if you work for an agency aiming to promote a client's product, a risk might be spending money on paid ads without a guaranteed ROI. To solve for that risk, the agency should detail different steps to ensure the ads are effective before going public.

5. Determine the channel(s) on which you need to deliver your messages.

The channels you choose to communicate with your audience depends on your message, and to whom you want to deliver that message. For instance, if you're creating a communications plan for internal employees, you might send out your communications plan in a company-wide email, or use in-person team meetings to deliver your message.

Alternatively, if you're communicating with customers, you might determine it's best to communicate via an email newsletter, or via a press release.

Of course, the channel(s) you choose will depend on your goals, but it's important as you're writing your communication plan that you keep your distribution methods in-mind.

6. Decide which team members are responsible for delivering the message.

Once you determine your audience and channel(s) on which you'll deliver your communications plan, figure out the DRI for delivering the message.

For instance, if your HR team is pitching a new growth matrix to leadership, you might ask your Director of HR to deliver the initial pitch in the first meeting. Once leadership is on-board, you might ask each HR representative to deliver one training session for each internal team to ensure every employee understands what's changing internally, and why.

7. Estimate a timeline for how long each step should take.

You should have a ballpark estimate of how much time each step in executing your strategy will take. For instance, if your plan needs to go from the higher-ups down to the employees, it's good to take into account how long going through the chain of command will take. It's also smart to infer how long a media cycle will last.

For instance, for a minor slip-up on an ad campaign, the advertising agency might estimate the cycle for controlling the issue will take a month — including meeting with the client, stakeholders, and employees to discuss steps moving forward.

8. Measure the results of your plan after presenting to stakeholders, and determine successes and areas for improvement.

There's always room for improvement. Measure the results of the plan after presenting it to stakeholders, and determine aspects that went well, and areas for improvement next time.

For instance, the ad agency might not have met its goal of increasing prospective applications by 25% within a quarter. They might rework their goals to give themselves more time or pivot their quarterly focus to fit those goals.

Alternatively, if you notice certain language in your communications plan evokes a level of stress or fear with internal stakeholders, consider how you can re-word next time to ensure your communications plan feels helpful, beneficial, and positive.

Some aspects of building a communication plan can be a "choose your own adventure" journey. The key is choosing aspects that best reflect what your business needs in times when effective communication is key. What do your stakeholders need to know, and how are you going to best communicate that?

Communication Plan Examples

Communication plans can get tricky, but writing an effective one will prove itself with its longevity. The following communication plans include analysis for stakeholders you'd respond to and the procedures for what to include in those communications.

1. Strategic Communication Plan

Bright Hub Project Management's communication plan explains how, when, and why communication happens within its organization.

This example is great because it details how communication managers write crisis plans and acknowledges that sometimes the busy marketer or project manager takes on this responsibility.

Strategic Communications Plan

3. Marketing Communication Plan

A marketing communication plan is essential for communicating to your target market, especially when launching new products or initiatives. This example from Smartsheet allows you to plan marketing communications strategies for customers, sales prospects, media partners, internal stakeholders, and events.

marketing communication plan example

Ultimately, your communications plan needs to clearly and succinctly provide necessary information to everyone involved in the business decision, product launch, or PR crises. Use the strategy mentioned above, as well as our communication plan templates , to ensure yours is as effective as possible.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to create a marketing communications plan template

marketing strategy communications planning

Beyond effective crisis management, a marketing communications plan template helps marketers improve their brand messaging. It’s a tried-and-true roadmap that shows you how to craft the right messages for the right audience.     

In this blog post, you’ll learn:

  • What a communications plan is
  • How to build a communications plan template 
  • How  Content Marketing can solve all your strategic communication issues

Marketing communications plan in a nutshell (and its importance)

Let’s assume you already have a communications strategy in place for each key audience your business is involved with (think: your prospects, customers, suppliers, investors, sponsors, etc.). What are the limits of that strategy?

How effectively does it handle both internal communication and external communication?

  • How well does it support measurable communication goals?
  • Do you have a well-defined process for emergency response?
  • Do you have a clear roadmap for handling negative feedback and customer complaints?
  • In what sequence do you communicate with key stakeholders?
  • Which communication channels do you typically use when connecting with your target audience?

A good communications plan ensures you deliver key messages to key audiences to achieve the underlying business objectives and drive a positive brand experience.

A mitigation plan and so much more

A communications plan is simply a strategy that allows you to deliver information to appropriate stakeholders. The strategy will flesh out the messages you need to communicate, to whom you’re targeting those messages, and on which channels.

As much as an effective comms plan shields your brand when disaster strikes, it also serves as a springboard when launching new products, pitching new initiatives, and broadcasting an existing (or new) marketing plan. Think of it as the final piece in your marketing strategy jigsaw.

Building an end-to-end communications plan template

Here are eight steps you can follow to create an effective marketing communications template:

1. Perform an analysis of your current communications material

Before setting out to create a communications plan, you first need to decide where it fits into your business objectives.

So, it’s crucial you complete an audit of the current state of communications within your company. This will help you identify any bottlenecks or gaps.

To conduct an audit, follow these five actionable steps:

  • Determine scope: Which content do you want to target? Will you peruse all the formats in your content marketing stack?
  • Collect and synthesize your past communications:  Gather all digital content from the past year or so and take a closer look at them.
  • Don’t forget to collect team members’ and key stakeholders’ insights as well: This involves one-on-one interviews, group discussions, or surveys. Choose the method that resonates best with all parties.
  • Bring external audiences in the loop: Review all your social media channels to determine what the community thinks and knows about you.
  • Do a SWOT analysis:  Pull all collected data into a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of your communications efforts. This allows you to pinpoint which communications practices and methods work well and which don’t.

2. Carve out SMART communication goals based on results from the audit

Do you, perhaps, want to drive positive social media feedback within a specific timeframe? Or do you simply want to articulate an ongoing project to make sure it’s on time, within budget, and aligned with customers’ expectations?

Whatever they are, make sure your deliverables are SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

3. Drill down on your target audience 

The next step is to identify and understand your target audience. Which stakeholders are you trying to reach?

If, for example, the communications plan is for customers, you need to establish their personas. What are their pain points? How would they find value in your products?

Alternatively, a press release highlighting your goals is a good idea if you want to write for the media. 

The key here is to know your audience on a deeper level. 

4. Flesh out the contents of your plan

Your outline should ideally be in the form of a chart or table. Carefully highlight the key messages you need to put out there, to whom you’re targeting those messages, and on which communication channels.

Once you have the outline all figured out, go ahead and structure your communications plan template this way (feel free to copy and paste these sections on your own table of contents):

Plan purpose and approach

Include a high-level description of the plan, why it exists, and a general idea of how you will implement the plan on your project. Think of it as the executive summary.

  • Communication goals and objectives:  Define what you want to achieve through strategic communication.
  • Communication roles:  Get all the relevant team members involved. Clearly define all roles and their corresponding communications responsibilities.
  • Key challenges: During one of your team meetings, you’ll want to create a list of challenges you’re facing and those you can foresee. 
  • Situation, customer and competitor analyses: Start by pinpointing key industry metrics. Follow it up with an overview of the decision-making process your prospects and clients use to buy a product or hire a service like yours. Wind it up with a thorough  analysis of your competitors’ market positions .
  • Dos and don’ts: This is pretty much self-explanatory.
  • Escalation roadmap: Include the “greater response team,” and more importantly, “the first line of defense” that would work to combat crises.
  • Maintaining an effective response plan: Focus on the ‘how’ here. When fleshing out the details of your communications plan, you need to partner with every stakeholder in your decision-making hierarchy to improve accuracy. 

5. Choose your channels (with precision)

Next, you need to select the communication channels on which you’re going to share your messaging. As a marketer, you know there is a huge variety in communications channels, so we’ll just cover some common ones:

  • Email marketing
  • Press releases
  • Social media

6. Aligning messages with channels and audiences

Summarize and systemize your communications plan template so your messaging can better align with your core value proposition.

But the job is only halfway done.

Once you’ve figured out your plan, go ahead and pitch it to the relevant stakeholders. If it’s an internal communications strategy, then give each team member the heads up, informing them what’ll change when the new plan is rolled out. You can utilize training sessions if needed.

If it’s an external communications plan, you need to bring on board a much bigger bench. 

As always, you can leverage our marketing planning software as a single source of truth to align your team on every detail of your plan. Stakeholders will have the necessary context, collaborations and insights needed to execute the new marketing communications plan template to perfection.

7. Execute your communications strategy with a marketing calendar

It’s now time to plan your messaging and campaigns on your calendar.

This will deliver company-wide visibility into what your team members are doing, making it easier to enforce deadlines, and helping other key stakeholders understand what needs to be done and when.

Content Marketing’s marketing calendar software was made for this exact purpose. Use it to see, share and stay sharp. It will also keep your content, campaigns, and communications plan on track.

8. Measure the results of your plan

Even if you didn’t ace your communications plan the first time, don’t throw in the towel just yet. The key here is to keep improving. 

Measure the outcomes of the plan after presenting it to key stakeholders, determine what went wrong, and work towards improving those areas next time. 

Ready to jump-start your communications plan?

Incorporate Content Marketing into your marketing stack with Optimizely's content marketing platform so you can create workflows and visibility in all your marketing communications planning. 

Ready to give it a try? Get started with a free account today.

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marketing strategy communications planning

What's the Difference Between a Comms Plan and Marketing Plan

The difference between a comms plan and a marketing plan

We marketers sure love our verbiage and jargon. Branding , marketing, communications planning, where is the line drawn? What’s the difference?

One thing we’ve noticed that gets people occasionally hung up is the difference between a marketing plan and communications plan. They’re both vital to the success of a brand but serve very different purposes. Generally, every brand has a marketing plan. However, not everyone has a comms plan. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two and how when to use them.

Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is the high-level guiding document that guides the overall direction of achieving the marketing goals a business has.

Whereas a marketing campaign and its accompanying comms plan address one specific marketing goal, the marketing plan serves as the general road map that weaves everything together. The comms plan ladders up into the marketing plan and then up into the overall business plan. 

Marketing plans last for a longer period of time (typically a year) and usually contain the following:  

  • Market research and analysis
  • Marketing and financial goals and objectives
  • Target audience breakdowns 
  • Marketing strategies covering the 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion)
  • Budget: This component of a marketing plan consists of developing a marketing budget, which will allow you to plan for marketing expenditures.
  • Monitoring and evaluating (KPI's and how you'll respond)
  • An execution plan (or a marketing plan checklist) which breaks down tasks and tactics as well as timing and responsibilities.

Though marketing plans can differ by industry, they generally follow a similar structure.

Now, a communications plan is a very specific tool which we’re huge fans of. Its primary use case is to help layout an integrated execution plan of a marketing campaign. With so many channels available to marketers these days, the comms plan was born out of a necessity to think strategically about how to integrate all these executions under one overarching concept, while still being bespoke to each channel. 

Here is a sample comms plan we use inspired by Julian Cole, a well-revered expert on comms planning.

Campaign Architecture

Let’s take a look at each section and break it down.

Business Problem

This is the connection point to the business/marketing plan. While it is crucial to frame most of the campaign architecture through a consumer mindset as opposed to the business’, the business problem is the exception. It is generally driven through analysis of the marketing plan and could be something such as:

“We’re seeing a decrease in subscriptions to Spotify by Generation Z because that generation sees the platform as the place for annoying Millennials”


Positioning refers to the intersection of where the brand sits in the context of the product category, culture, and consumer sentiment. It is driven by uncovering insights quantitatively and qualitatively. It is by comparing the positioning to the business problem that we can begin align the marketing campaign and its initial goals. For example, the positioning of Spotify could be:

“Spotify is the streaming service for Neverlanders who will never grow old”

Campaign Idea

This represents the core concept of your marketing campaign. It will serve as the umbrella idea that connects to each comms task which we will describe below. 

Barriers are the specific pain points being addressed within that specific channel/execution of the campaign. These barriers are uncovered through a mapping of the consumer journey starting from the high-funnel down into the final purchasing and advocacy touchpoints. Once complete, we can discern what are the specific barriers to accomplishing the goal of the campaign within said touchpoint. 

An example of a barrier could be:

“Gen Z’s on TikTok feel like any platform outside of it is just for old people”

With the barrier established, it is time to develop how we will solve that barrier. To do this, we work through the specific communications task. In relation to the previous example, the task could be to convince Gen Z’ers on TikTok that Spotify is just as youthful as TikTok itself .

Last but not least, is the tactics themselves. This is where we prescribe the specific channel and tactic that the creative will live to solve the aforementioned barrier. In this case, one tactic could be for Spotify to hire TikTok influencers to develop branded playlists of their favourite songs on Spotify to be shared on Tik Tok to their followers.

This process of outlining the barrier and task repeats itself until all touchpoints of a consumer journey map have been addressed and solved. As this occurs, an integrated and strategic execution plan of your marketing campaign emerges.

The benefits of following an integrated comms plan such as this are proven and substantial. It leads to increased emotional responses and overall branding perception as seen in the studies below.  

Comms chart

In summary, the marketing plan is the high-level plan of a brand that focuses on more than just an advertising campaign. It includes pricing strategies, distribution strategies, and is much more focused on driving sales from a high-level perspective. A comms plan is a specific tool used to think of the rollout of an advertising campaign from a more integrated and strategic point of view. It is driven through analysis of the consumer mindset and is used to tap the consumer at specific points within the purchasing process. 

Both plans serve very different purposes but often get mixed up. However, both are fundamental to the success of a clear and discerning brand that knows exactly where it stands and where it is headed. You might also like our post titled The Difference Between Branding and Marketing .

Contact MMGY Origin

Specializing in the outdoor industry and tourism, MMGY Origin has a team of experts who robust, digitally driven, creative and marketing services to clients across North America.

If you need help developing a communications plan or marketing plan, we can help. Feel free to contact us .

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