The world’s most legendary marketing campaigns win customers, earn acclaim, and generate public debate. What’s often taken for granted is that even the most creative promotional efforts begin with pretty standard marketing documents.

There’s no denying that compelling campaigns engage audiences and build demand. But successful marketing agencies and consultants know they need to put as much energy into thoughtful processes and detailed marketing documents.

The Marketing Documents You Need

We get it. You might not be thrilled about the idea of creating marketing documents. And you wouldn’t be alone.

Some marketing professionals don’t think documentation is a top priority; others don’t have enough time, according to a survey from the Content Marketing Institute.

But the truth is, there’s solid science behind the power of documenting your plans.

A study by Dr.Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California suggested that people who wrote down their goals were more successful.

That’s true for marketers, too.

A survey of over 3,000 marketers across the world found the most successful professionals documented their strategies. In fact, they were “313% more likely to report success”.

The majority of marketers understand this: at least 55% of marketers document their work, according to this analysis by Contently.

Beyond the positive impact on goal-setting, marketing documents make it easier to run your business. Having all these marketing documents—ideally stored in one, easily accessible place—puts your paperwork on autopilot.

Here are a few marketing documents that can help grow your business.

1. Marketing Processes

You’ve just taken on a new client.

What happens next?

Does a frenzy of random, frantic actions ensue? Or does your marketing company have a well-designed system to guide routine marketing processes?

Committing to defined, documented marketing processes and workflows makes your life so much easier. The benefit of these systems is that they save time and improve productivity.

Here’s an example of an agency that was able to scale because of its processes. By committing to a system, the company could identify, and correct, weaknesses.

What your marketing processes look like depends on your company, but CoSchedule suggests including a SWOT analysis, marketing mix plan, and review.

So let’s say you want to develop a process for content approval, for instance.

Here’s a typical workflow:

  • Writer is assigned to the task
  • Editor reviews content
  • SEO adds keywords
  • Design team creates graphics
  • Article is published
  • Marketing reviews analytics

Typically, each step could require spending a lot of time getting clarity. How long will this process take? What comes next? Who’s responsible for individual tasks?

Documenting these methods removes all that uncertainty and confusion, speeding up the entire process. The trick with your system is to stay flexible. What you want to do is monitor your process, reflect on the results, and adjust when necessary.

The more feedback you get, the more effective your systems with be. A bonus is that once your marketing processes are documented, it becomes a great resource to share with clients and new hires.

2. Marketing Proposal

There’s no denying that the success of your business depends on the quality of your marketing proposals.

It’s a strategic business document that sells your services to a prospective customer. When signed it becomes a legally-binding marketing agreement between your company and your client.

Typically, a marketing proposal contains ideas, timeframes, and costs.

It could be for just one project, like a targeted campaign for a product. Another format involves long-term marketing work.

Whether your marketing proposal is for once-off or recurring projects,  it should outline the company’s problem, your solution, and a scope of work.

Some proposals also include case studies and testimonials. Think of this as social proof; you’re conveying that you have a proven record of results in the client’s industry.

Key sections to cover:

  • Timelines, like start and end dates
  • Payments. What’s the monthly retainer?Will the client pay a lump sum?
  • Metrics. How will you measure the success of the campaign?
  • Terms. Which events will trigger the end of the contract, for instance?

TIP: Instead of sending off just a pitch, add a signature field to the marketing proposal. The client can accept your proposal, automating a lot of the routine tasks that come with finalizing contracts.

3. Marketing Plan

You won the deal on the strength of your proposal, now it’s time to get down into granular detail.

A marketing plan will outline how you’re going to execute on your ideas. You’re detailing the strategies you’ll use to achieve success.

A marketing plan includes:

  • Marketing tactics, e.g., PPC, paid ads, influencer marketing
  • Channels. Where do your customers live? Determine this through your own research and customer data. Reports like We are Social provide detailed audience demographics.
  • Campaign goals. How will you measure the success of your efforts? Different channels will come with different metrics. An email marketing campaign would track open and click through rates, for instance.
  • Target personas. The attributes of your customer. This data should be present in all your documents and guide your marketing plan.
  • Competitive analysis
  • Audit of your existing content
  • Content team and workflows

To see this in action, check out Buffer’s detailed marketing plan template here. Then, here’s an example of a comprehensive marketing plan from Nerdy Mind.

Approaches vary and you’ll find each plan provides different levels of data. The purpose, though, is the same. A great marketing plan shares your strategies for putting the client’s message in front of the target audience at the right time.

4. Marketing Messaging

As a marketer, you know the power of a consistent brand voice.

The research is clear on this one, too. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found products with a high degree of “brand concept consistency” were more successful.

Think of it like this, a brand is a promise.

“...a promise of what you can expect if you use the product or service, or if you engage in the experience,” says Daniel Pink in Brand Thinking.

So each interaction with the brand is an opportunity to deliver on that promise. Constantly changing marketing messaging muddies the waters.  How can you be sure that company communication lines up with its objectives? You’re aiming to create a cohesive brand experience for customers, after all.

Here’s where a core marketing messaging document makes all the difference.

The goal of this document is to make clear the value the company provides. That’s why marketing messaging should be highly targeted at your buyer personas.

A marketing messaging document means everybody is on the same page. For instance, when an executive is called to a speaking engagement or press interview, they’ll draw from the marketing messaging document. Content creators can make sure they’re adding the most important points to their blog posts.

There are a lot of different marketing messaging strategies and templates, but here’s the fundamentals:

  • Unique value proposition. How does the company stand out from the competition?
  • Key benefits. Instead of features, focus on the benefits delivered by the product.
  • Concrete examples. Add clear examples that speak to the benefits.

5. Content Calendar

Use content calendars to organize your day-to-day marketing efforts. Well-structured content calendars makes it easier to meet deadlines and track important dates.

Your content schedule should include:

  • Content type
  • Copy
  • Digital assets like images or video
  • Theme/topic
  • Publish date
  • URL

When mapping out your content calendar, check for dates relevant to the company’s industry. Plan campaigns, or even single posts, around commemorative dates, for instance. This will increase your client’s visibility online.

Check Google Trends for spikes in activity to guide your campaign dates.

For instance, an eCommerce company will benefit from posting about Black Friday from the beginning of November.

Consider color-coding your calendar so it’s easy to scan. You can, for example, assign colors to different mediums, so you can view the spread of your content types at a glance, i.e., you’ve covered all the key channels over any given time period.

To get started, find templates from sites like HootSuite, HubSpot, Sprout Social. But you can create your own calendar easily in Google Sheets.

Managing Your Marketing Documents

You don’t need to start from scratch each time you take on a new task in your marketing business.

How much time do you spend searching for documents?

A 2012 study from the Industrial Development Corporation found knowledge workers in Western Europe companies spent over eight hours creating documents and over four hours looking for documents.

Here’s a few pointers for managing your marketing documents:

  • Use cloud-based storage to manage your documents, so they’re easy to access.
  • Create templates for re-usable documents. You can use a tool like eversign, for instance.
  • If you need help organizing your documents, categorize your files so they’re easy to find.

Marketing documents don’t often get the credit they deserve. They will improve productivity, save time, and streamline workflows.

That means you’re freed up to focus on the magic: coming with remarkable marketing campaigns.