A marketing plan is essential when you are launching a new business or product. This plan guides your marketing activities, which can include building brand awareness, establishing your competitive advantage, growing your customer base and attracting new leads.
Marketing plans can be complex because they provide a lot of detail about your overall marketing goals and supporting activities. That’s why it’s important to also write an executive summary for your marketing plan.
As the name suggests, an executive summary provides a high-level overview of your marketing plan. Its primary purpose is to reduce complex topics and projects within your greater marketing plan to the basics and show your short-term and long-term goals. In one or two pages, it describes the key results of your marketing research and provides an overview of your brand objectives, marketing goals and related activities.
A marketing plan executive summary is usually one or two pages that provide an overview of the marketing plan.
The executive summary should cover the main parts of your marketing plan, as well as information about your company and brand, your products or services, the market, and your overall direction. While the marketing plan is typically written in sections separated by subheadings, the executive summary is usually written as a series of paragraphs, with each paragraph focusing on one section of the marketing plan.
Here’s how to write your executive summary and what information you should include in each paragraph:
Your executive summary should begin with an introduction that briefly explains what the reader can expect. It provides valuable context and will make the subsequent points easier to understand. Concisely explain the project, the purpose of your marketing plan, and the key benefits it provides to potential customers. Keep the introduction simple, short and direct.
Example: This plan is presented for XYZ Company, which sells widgets for the IT industry. We’ve created a new widget for the healthcare industry, and our marketing plan will show that we have a unique opportunity to expand into a new market.
Briefly describe your business, including its history, structure, customer base and sales figures. List the main people involved with the business, including their positions and responsibilities, their respective skills and experience, and their responsibilities with respect to achieving your marketing goals. Include relevant external service providers (e.g., accountants, marketing experts and suppliers) and your company’s name, location and contact information.
Example: XYZ Company has been around since 2010 and is based in Anaheim, California. We sell widgets for the IT industry, which are designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs.
Describe the marketplace and industry sectors in which you sell your products and services, and the main trends that affect them. List the factors that influence the market, the innovations that are taking place, and the main drivers or players involved.
Example: There are several large companies and a few smaller specialty companies that sell similar widgets to the IT industry. Innovations in this market can cause disruptions, but only when they provide significant benefits in cost savings or efficiencies.
Describe your products or services and explain their key features and benefits. Outline your products’ or services’ unique selling propositions to show how they differ from or are better than competitors’ offerings.
Example: We’ve created a new widget for the healthcare industry, which is outside our current market. This new product provides healthcare companies with greater efficiencies and cost savings not currently offered by existing products. Similar products exist in other industries, but there are currently no widgets designed specifically for the healthcare industry.
Describe the key aspects of your target audience, as well as how you identify those customers. Briefly explain where you find your target customers and how you will reach them. Outline your promotional strategy, including its main objectives and related timelines. Describe your key marketing priorities and how they relate to specific business activities (e.g., entering a new market or creating new products). Explain what methods you will use to distribute your products or services.
Example: Our target market is large healthcare companies, including hospitals, clinics and manufacturers of healthcare devices. We plan to do a marketing campaign through direct sales and social media marketing. [Learn more about how to design an email marketing campaign you can include in your marketing plan/executive summary.]
Clearly define key financial information related to short-term and long-term marketing activities. Provide line-by-line budget details for individual activities and related metrics to determine their success.
Example: Our marketing budget for the year is $100,000, which will be spread over the following marketing activities.
Briefly describe the project’s goals and the strategies that will be implemented to achieve those goals. Conclude with a couple of sentences that will encourage the reader to review your marketing plan.
Example: We’ve developed a marketing plan that will help us to quickly reach key stakeholders in the healthcare industry and become the main provider of widgets to this market. We will use our experience in selling to the IT industry to showcase the benefits of our widget.
These tips should help you create an effective executive summary of your marketing plan:
The executive summary is a brief overview of your marketing plan. Write the complete marketing plan before you provide a summary of that plan. Once you have all of the information for your marketing plan, you can decide what’s important enough to include in the executive summary.
Whoever reads the executive summary should come away with a complete understanding of your marketing goals. Tell your story. Explain what your company does and why you chose to do what you do. Talk about what matters to you, the people who are helping you meet your goals, and what you want to achieve with your marketing.
When you’re creating your marketing plan, make note of anything that stands out. This could include interesting statistics, memorable moments, key findings about your competitors, anecdotes from leadership, ideas to support promotion and newsworthy events. Check out what your favorite brands are doing, note anything interesting you’ve read in a blog or article, or recall an interesting tool or technology that you can apply to your business. These ideas can be inspiration for an engaging executive summary.
Your executive summary must contain key data and findings, including an analysis of the market and your competition, as well as budgetary and financial considerations. Your full marketing plan will provide more details, but the executive summary should contain important research data to get your reader interested in your marketing plan.
An executive summary is a professional document, so you should write in a professional manner. However, the language should also reflect who you are as a person and as a company.
Your executive summary tells your story. What is your style? What is your audience’s style? The tone of this document should match the tone of your marketing material and your company.
Avoid clichés and hyperbole, as they come off as inauthentic and can rub readers the wrong way. Clichés tend not to match the reality of your situation, as they can overpromise on what you can actually deliver. Is your company the best in its category among all competitors? What determines “best”? Ensure any claims you make are specific and measurable.
Keep in mind that the purpose of your executive summary is to market your business. The summary should concisely position what you’ve written in the marketing plan in a way that compels the reader to continue. Include a brief explanation of the most important and interesting information and the key takeaways that will matter to the reader. [Learn more about effective offline marketing tactics you could potentially include in your marketing plan.]
Your marketing plan should change over time, and so should your executive summary. Include any updates to your products, services or technologies, or any significant changes in your market and competition. For example, COVID-19 forced many companies to change their marketing strategies and business practices. Your executive summary should reflect the changes your company has made to its marketing plan to deal with the changes in the market.
Treat your executive summary as a living, breathing document that is subject to changes, just like your marketing plan. Write it with the expectation that it will change over time to reflect any serious changes in your business’s market.
A marketing plan has several benefits:
The marketing plan is your guide to marketing your business effectively. The executive summary highlights the most important goals, actions and research results of your marketing plan. It is designed to grab readers’ attention and ensure they quickly understand where your business is going and how it plans to get there.
Additional reporting by Sean Peek.