Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Eight Steps to Develop a Marketing Plan for your Group

Eight Steps to Develop a Marketing Plan for your Group

The first part of this help sheet, available by Clicking Here looked at the importance of developing a marketing plan for your group or organisation including the advantages it can bring in building your profile, influence, size and ability to leverage, as well as the benefits to your bottom line.

It also looked at the groundwork your community group needs to take in developing a marketing plan, including doing some research and defining policy.

This help sheet outlines how your group can define and develop its marketing plan.

Eight steps towards your group's marketing plan

Your group should be able to use these steps as a guide towards putting together a marketing plan of its own. Think carefully before excluding any of these steps.   

1. Executive summary

The executive summary provides a quick run-down, or synopsis, of the overall marketing plan. This helps your group as well as others quickly identify the main points.

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A table of contents should follow the summary so readers can easily find more details about each point.

2. Current situation

This looks at the nature of your group's market, what you are going to market and your competition.

It should include data on:


Details of your group's members, donors, volunteers, supporters and helpers – details such as: sex, age, income, occupation, education, ethnicity, location, attitudes, opinions, interests, motives, lifestyles.
  • Consider the following about your stakeholders:
    • What they need?
    • Where they stand?
    • What they think?
    • And, has any previous research been done?
  • Your competitors/colleagues/partners/stakeholders –
    • What are their goals?
    • What do they offer?
    • What don't they offer?
    • How do they operate?
    • And where are they going next?
  • The Government –
    • Where does it fit in?
    • What, if any, effect does it have on your group or organisation?
  • What are your performance indicators?
  • How many members/donors/volunteers/mailing list entries/special event attendees did you have last year?  The year before?
  • What did you receive from donors/members/volunteers/attendees last year or in previous years?
  • Are you gaining, or slipping back?  
  • Where are you gaining?  
  • If you're slipping back, is it something you can fix with better marketing?
  • Where are you weak?
  • Is everybody in your area of interest in the same situation, or just you?
  • Look at outside influences like the economy, demographics, social or societal factors and what effects they are having on your group.
  • What trends or changes are occurring?
  • Could any changes or trends affect your group?
    • Is there a greater awareness of an issue your group is involved in?
    • If so, can you take advantage of that to gain more members or attract more donors?
  • Does the government, local, state or federal, have any effect on your group?
    • If so what, and will this change in the near future?
  • Are any new rules/regulations/taxes on the horizon?
    • If so how are they going to affect your work?
  • Are any new technologies on the horizon in your sector?
    • If so how are they going to affect your work?  

3. SWOT analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis builds on the information you gathered in step two and identifies the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with which your organisation is faced.

For more information on how your group can do a SWOT analysis, refer to the help sheet A SWOT analysis in preparation for your direct mail campaign, at the Media & Marketing Centre on the Our Community website.

4. Marketing objectives and issues

Having done your SWOT analysis you can then work out the issues you need to focus your plan around.

Your group should list the issues that the marketing plan will address, and form goals and strategies to help you do that.

Next, objectives should be stated as goals. These objectives should be phrased so that you can easily measure your results against them – for example:
  • "We want to attract 100 new members by…." or
  • "We will finish this project and publicise the release of the accompanying report within six months." or
  • "We will raise $2,000 in donations from new donors within six months."

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5. Marketing strategy

You can now outline a marketing strategy setting out the logic you'll use to achieve those objectives.

This strategy will outline your target markets and give specifics of the mix of the "6 P's" (Product, Price, People, Promotion, Place and Positioning) your group will work with. Say how each strategy item responds to the items identified in your SWOT analysis.

An example could be that your community group's marketing objective is to seek 100 new members. The strategy it uses to do so could include the following detail:
  • The strengths you have – for example, the size of your group and its networking and referral abilities and how they relate to the type of marketing you are going to do to achieve your aim.
    • This could mean you use a direct mail-out to existing members, inviting them to network and refer prospective new members back to you through a "member-get-member" exercise.
  • The weaknesses or elements that are lacking that might hinder the type of marketing you propose doing.
    • For instance, using the above example of using a direct mail-out: Maybe your community group have never done a direct mail-out and is not prepared, or may need to update its current member database in order to effectively seek out new members.
  • The opportunities there are that may help you achieve your stated marketing aim and method.
    • Your group could take a stance or advocate on an issue in society that has recently received a lot of media coverage – meaning more people might want to jump on board and help you out.
  • The threats your group may face that could hinder it reaching its goals.
    • This could include another group, similar to yours, staging a membership drive through a recent direct mail-out, and/or if your group is not as well known as the "other group" you may need to look at how you can make yours different or alter your methods.

6. Action plans

Each marketing strategy can now be broken down into specific action plans, or the actual things, your group plans to do in order to meet your objectives.

Each action program should specify:
  • What will be done (for example, a direct mail-out to attract new members to your group)?
  • When it will be done (started, reviewed and completed)?
  • Who is responsible for doing it?
  • How much it will cost (for example, maybe you will have to buy access to a new list from a list broker, or factor in postage and printing costs for a direct mail-out)?  
  • What will the measurable projected outcome be (for example, 50 new members from the mail-out)?
When you've finished this you'll have a detailed plan to follow. Be careful to ensure that all marketing activities are coordinated with the other areas within your organisation.

7. Resources required

Operating an effective marketing plan requires resources in people, money, and technology.

This section of the plan details the resources needed and through that the marketing budget.

Once the required resources have been determined you may need approval by your group's committee or board to go ahead and draw your marketing budget.

8. Monitoring

The last section of the plan outlines controls that will be used to monitor progress.

Review the results for each period, maybe each month or quarter, and determine if the plan is meeting goals. Modify where necessary.

Outcomes of a successful marketing plan

A successful marketing plan:
  • Makes sure you possess the right services to meet the needs of your 'audience', be they donors, volunteers, members, helpers, fundraisers or special event attendees.
  • Defines your niche in the marketplace and what your group can do to make the most of it.
  • Introduces your organisation to new people and engages them as friends.
  • Builds on existing relationships to convert 'friends' into supporters, donors, volunteers, members, fundraisers, etc.
  • Builds sustainability, reduces risk and increases accountability.