There are no magic one-size-fits-all guidelines for writing a successful marketing plan. Still, the following writing and style guidelines should be adhered to:
a. Use a direct, professional writing style.
- Use appropriate business terms, not jargon.
- Use active voice with present and future tenses:
- "I will write an effective marketing plan" versus.
- "An effective marketing plan will be written by me."
b. Be positive and specific to convey potential success.
- Avoid superlatives (terrific).
- Specifics are better than glittering generalities.
c. Use numbers for impact.
- Where possible, justify projections with.
- Reasonable quantitative assumptions.
d. Use bullet points for succinctness and emphasis. They enable key points to be highlighted effectively.
e. Use A-level and B-level headings.
- Helps readers to make easy transitions from:
- One section to another.
- One topic to another.
- Forces the writer to organize the plan more carefully based on the sequence and level of topics covered in the plan.
- The size of headings should give a professional look to the report and not overwhelm the reader.
- A heading should be spaced closer to the text that follows (and that it describes) than the preceding section to avoid confusion for the reader.
- Use liberally: One every 200 to 300 words.
f. Use visuals where appropriate.
- Photos, illustrations, graphs, and charts enable massive amounts of information to be presented succinctly.
- Photos or sample ads can illustrate key points effectively, even if they are not in color.
- A brief caption on photos and sample ads ties them to the text and highlights their reason for being.
- A graph shows more clearly the effect of a trend (such as sales growth) than data presented in a table would do.
- Sometimes short tables are woven into the text rather than given a figure number and a title.
g. Completed marketing plan should be 20+ pages in length.
- Double spaced
- 12 pt. font
h. Use care in layout, design, and presentation.
- When creating a list:
- Use parallel construction to improve read ability.
- In this case, a series of infinitives starting with "To.."
- To improve readability:
- Each numbered section usually starts on a new page. -
- Each long table, graph, or photo is given a figure number and title.
- It appears as soon as possible after the first reference in the text, accommodating necessary page breaks.
- This avoids breaking long tables in the middle.
- Short tables or graphs:
* Are often inserted in the text without figure numbers because.
* They don't cause serious problems with page breaks.
- Effective tables seek to summarize a large amount of information in a short amount of space.
- Most readers find that indented paragraphs in marketing plans and long reports are easier to follow.
- An "introductory overview" sentence tells the reader the topics covered in the section.
- While this sentence may be omitted in short memos or plans.
- It helps readers see where the text is leading.