Marketers tend to be overwhelmed when putting a big B2B marketing plan together.
I was one of them for longer than I’d care to admit, but eventually, I discovered a very simple way to structure a plan for marketing campaigns.
Keep in mind that even using my strategy, plenty of work will still be involved, but breaking down the scope into clear, digestible chunks will help keep you focused, organized, and on task with much less stress.
Why is the process of building a marketing plan so stressful in the first place, and how do we change that?
One of the main reasons we get stressed about tackling projects like these is that we look at the plan as a whole and immediately become overwhelmed by the scale.
We want to create a successful marketing campaign, and the pressure of that compounds when we start to think of all the work needed to complete it.
Another reason is that we don’t know how to build a flowing, logical marketing structure to demonstrate all the information we want to share with our team members.
When you have to undertake a massive outline to convey your ideas, sometimes the throughlines can become muddy, and your audience may be left scratching their heads.
The easiest way to solve that is to break your presentation into three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
It makes it much easier to determine what information should go where and will help you think big-picture cohesively without feeling overwhelmed.
I follow the three acts of most common storytelling structures, which include Act I (the introduction/beginning), Act II (the conflicts/middle), and Act III (the closure/end).
In a typical movie or storytelling structure, things play out like this:
- Act I introduces the world, characters, the protagonist’s desire, and the conflicts or obstacles preventing them from achieving their goal.
- Act II showcases the escalation of the conflict and the journey to achieve the goal.
- Act III resolves the story with either success or failure.
You can and should follow the same guidelines for your presentation flow. I promise you’ll never look back after you use it for the first time. Let’s get a more detailed view of how this strategy will play out as you build and present your marketing plan.
Act I – The Beginning
Act I of your plan is the beginning. You should quickly establish what you want to communicate up-front.
Let everyone know clearly what you want to cover, whether that’s the launch date for your products or services, your overall marketing goals, or anything in between.
In general, this is when you want to share what you’ve done well and what you plan to do in the future.
Think carefully about what you want to say, then make sure you can articulate it clearly and concisely.
This will help everyone get into the appropriate mindset to receive information well; you’re eliminating wandering minds because you’re laying out precisely what they can expect to hear.
How you set up the beginning will also determine the table of contents in Act II, which will decide what you should include as the “meat” of your presentation based on the information you gather and the interviews you conduct.
Utilizing an executive summary opening
One approach to get started is to create an executive summary. To accomplish this, get key recommendations and findings up-front that you want your audience to know.
For example, you can highlight the key initiatives you want to focus on for the upcoming year or start with some insightful stats to pave the way for key points you want to address shortly.
Utilizing a marketing objective opening
You can also start with your marketing objectives, metrics, and strategy summary.
Get to the point about:
1. What you want to accomplish (your business objectives)
- Launch [product] through the integrated campaigns for product launches
- Position [company] as a thought leader in [segments]
- Enable sales through [specific tactics or initiatives]
2. How well you’ll be able to measure the team’s success
- Revenue impact
- Pipeline opportunities
3. How you’ll get to the finish line with marketing campaigns and outreach
- Key marketing campaign activities
The opening should be short; it should be 10% of your deck and less than <10 minutes if you create a one-hour presentation.
Tell people what you want to talk about in the beginning; there’s no need for suspense. This will also help you stay on track for the remainder of the presentation, ensuring you use your time wisely.
Act II: The Middle
Act II is the meat of your recommendations, and you start by building this out by looking at your table of contents. The table of contents should be based on questions you want to address and interview feedback from your stakeholders.
It’ll cover things like:
- What are the key concerns of your stakeholders?
- What are your marketing outreach and communication recommendations?
- What are some challenges ahead?
- How do we measure our successes?
For example, one of the most common questions in a marketing plan is about the target audience.
The sales team probably wants you to focus on decision-makers, while product teams request you reach out to broad end-users. Your management asks you to narrow it down to only specific job titles of end-users.
The sales team wants to go after ICP, but you want to reach out to your buyer personas.
Check out my guide on how to develop buyer personas here.
You need to address this gap in your marketing plan and clarify who you should target in the middle part of the presentation.
The middle is also where you’ll provide details on what marketing needs to do. Use past campaign results, benchmark baselines, or 3rd party data to substantiate your recommendations.
For example, if your paid media campaign did very well last year, you may suggest doing that again with an even bigger budget this year for better results.
Discuss what you want to address in detail and answer your stakeholders’ concerns and questions. Make sure you’re coming in with a strong point of view.
You should also plan to showcase your marketing campaign activities in a 12-month calendar and identify the key marketing channels you’ll use for key campaigns.
This should be 80% of your presentation. If it’s a one-hour presentation.
- that this part is about 40 minutes out of the one-hour presentation time
- practicing in advance so that you get a sense of where you are timing-wise
Things can always change a bit on the actual day of the presentation, whether it’s because you’re speaking faster or slower than when you practiced, or you have to pause for comments or questions, but having a ballpark idea is a good way to feel more confident walking in.
Act III: The End
Act III is about reiterating key points and clarifying the next steps. Reinforce your key marketing directions, or else they might get lost. There’s a lot to take in during an hour-long conversation, and you don’t want anything to slip through the cracks in your haste to wrap up.
Let’s say you recommend sponsoring specific events with a big budget. You should state that clearly at the end.
In general, you need crystal-clear calls to action to inform your next steps and set yourself up for maximum success.
This should be about 10% of your presentation, in a one-hour presentation, that would equate to the last 10 minutes of your time.
Finally, in summary…
With the 3 acts approach, you can easily split the information you gather into different segments.
Having these digestible chunks can help alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with creating your plan. It will also help you stay organized and on the task before, during, and after the presentation.
You can certainly move things around based on circumstances. Just make sure that the flow is coherent so it’s easy for your audience to follow.
In fact, being flexible is always a good idea when it comes to developing, presenting, and executing a plan, but having a solid skeleton will allow you to do that more smartly.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3, right? Sorry, I had to make that little joke.
Putting a plan together is still a lot of hard work, but this is one way to put your thoughts together in a way that won’t make you want to crawl under the covers and hide. At least, that’s the idea.
Also, don’t forget to properly deliver presentation to your senior managers. Check out my webinar Create and Deliver Impressive Presentations to Senior Managers for tips.
How have you gone about structuring your marketing plan? If you have other methods that do the job equally well, I’d love to hear about them; get in touch!