High-level marketing plans set out the advertising and sales goals for a given business. They are typically created once every year and set forth the prime directive for all branding, marketing and promotional efforts. High-level marketing plans are devised by the head of marketing and the chief executive or, in the case of some small businesses, the owner himself.

Setting the Tone

A high-level marketing plan is designed to set the marketing message and the overall advertising tone for your small business. The company philosophy, the expected market share and your current and desired market position should all be laid out clearly in the plan. Company goals both financial and otherwise, sales targets and departmental responsibilities are included in the outline of what will be expected and why in the year to come. The point of laying out your company directives on paper is not to intimidate or command your employees, but to give everyone the same information so that all personnel can work toward the same goals at the same time. A single purpose as mentioned in your high-level marketing plan can result in a far more efficient and effective marketing and sales effort.

Specific Initiatives

High-level marketing plans do not typically go into as much detail as standard or partnership marketing plans, but they do at least touch on or suggest the types or marketing initiatives that are projected to take place throughout the year. For example, rather than stating that there will be subway car ads running on three separate lines for the month of June advertising the summer sale, the plan may mention the use of mass transit advertising during the busiest buying season of the year for your particular small business. Specific projects tend to have wrinkles that must be worked out and should be added to the plan later on in the process once the details and logistics have been completely settled.

Time Lines

High-level marketing plans are regarded as the ultimate scheduling reference by members of the marketing team. Instead of requesting a rundown of dates and deadlines for each initiative as they come, the team will refer to your master plan to get things done on time. This can be a plus and a minus depending on how things go during the course of the year. For example, if your team expects a major newspaper ad roll out in April according to your marketing plan, they may start working on the campaign a few months before. If for some reason the launch is moved to July, time that could have been spent on other efforts will have been wasted and the marketing message and product may even have changed from spring to summer. If your high-level marketing plan comes equipped with hard deadlines, stick to them or leave them out altogether.


A section is typically dedicated to funding since every part of the plan will have to be paid for. The funding section not only reveals the sources of revenue for the year's efforts, but should also highlight the successes or failures of the last go-round. If prior campaigns have failed, the funding for the current year will likely have to come from outside the allotted marketing budget. The plan should demonstrate the need for better results and use the financial foundation as a way to critique or eliminate whatever did not work. By the same token, the financial benefits of worthwhile campaigns should be highlighted and these campaigns used as the model for future ideas.