Creating Your Startup Marketing Plan

How to write a startup marketing plan and a free template you can use to get started

I’m going to show you how to write a startup marketing plan and give you a template you can use to create your own.

What if the startup your working on goes broke on marketing before it can prove itself?


  1. Taking aim at the traditional marketing plan
  2. An agile approach to planning
  3. Enter the single page startup marketing plan

Taking Aim at the Traditional Marketing Plan

A marketing plan needs to be a dynamic document rather than a static report created once and rarely to be altered in the future.

The marketing plan you create should evolve over time and be constantly influenced by the market, your customer, and the ever evolving space you play in. The static marketing document of 10, 20 or 50+ pages, with an executive summary and content that talks about financial projections, resourcing, equipment, staff and goes into great detail about the product itself and the market that we plan to enter and the type of customer we assume will be buying from us — however it just won’t work for a startup who’s still finding its feet and who’s business may well pivot or evolve before the marketing plan is complete.

The static document although full of useful information is based almost entirely on assumptions, most people in business will tell you that the idea they started with is quite different to the idea that has brought them success today. The customer they assumed they’d get and the customer need they thought they were filling also change.

So how can we base our marketing plan on a static document?

A Lean Approach to Marketing Planning

This approach can be liken to an upside-down pyramid it starts off with high level broad information and builds as we learn from our actual prospects and customers, because everything starts of as an assumption or hypothesis of how we think things will turn out — but not necessary how they will turn out.

marketing strategy for startup company

This differs from the traditional marketing plan as it’s built and it’s expanded upon alongside feedback and testing, not from behind closed doors with others that are heavily biased and whom in most cases may not actually be the target market you’re looking to reach.

A startup marketing plan shouldn’t need to be a 30, 50 or 80-page document, but there are a few things it still needs to take into account.

  • We still need to know customer motivations
  • How their motivations relate to the solution we’ve created
  • How we're going to be communicating our offering to customers
  • Where we are going to communicate
  • What we’re going to be saying to them

We’re not just looking at how people find out about us, but also looking at the most effective ways to keep them as customers, because early on your focus should be on retention. If you can’t keep your customers there’s no point getting more of them into the top of the funnel.

For those of you working within a startup a lot of this shouldn’t be news to you, all we are talking about here is the essence of growing your business.

Enter the Single Page Startup Marketing Plan

In my experience, a one-pager is all you really need to start off with (make it an A3 size and stick it on your wall). But don’t laminate or spend too much on printing as you’ll be changing it quite a bit.

I’ve developed The Startup Marketing Canvas which you can use to clearly touch on all the essential elements of your startup marketing plan.

It covers the basics of a marketing plan but also digs deep into topics which are essential for a startup over an established business, such as:

  • Who your first customers will be and where you’ll find them
  • The underlying problem/need that your solution solves
  • Measurements of success including how you will retain your customers
  • Engineering your efforts against the SMART goal you’ve set yourself
  • Evaluating your startup runway to make it happen
  • Mapping out the marketing funnel to clearly define touch points

In the early stages of your startup, at a time where strategy pivots are common you don’t need nor should you dedicate too much effort to creating pages upon pages of analysis and research.

Here’s what your startup marketing plan template would look like:

startup marketing plan canvas template

You can download a copy of the startup marketing plan template here.

As you build out your strategy and you begin to discover what actually resonates, gains traction and produces results you can then start to document your plan in greater detail.

Successful businesses have great plans and processes behind them to ensure a consistent experience and result, but any great business knows that if you create a plan around assumptions that are fundamentally flawed or untested negative results are almost sure to follow. So, test every assumption before committing to your plan.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
― Benjamin Franklin

If you’re ready to learn the exact steps to building a startup around something people really want, over 2000 people have already done this course, and many have claimed that it’s changed the trajectory of their startup journey.

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