Build Your Social Enterprise Marketing Plan with This Template

8 min read

Social enterprises like yours have a unique advantage. You’re already differentiated from other players in your industry by the simple fact that you’re balancing purpose and profit, and consumers are taking notice. New research from Cone Communications released just last month found that  87 percent of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.

87% of consumers will buy a product because a company advocates for an issue they care about. Click To Tweet

But the consumer preference for companies committed to a cause does not mean you can ignore marketing. As buying behaviors shift, competition is growing. The Great Social Enterprise Census found that today’s known social enterprises earn over $300 million in revenue and employ an estimated 14,000 people in the U.S. Additionally, 60 percent of U.S. social enterprises were created in 2006 or later, with 29 percent created since 2011. If there isn’t already another social enterprise in your space, you can bet there will be one soon.

And if you haven’t put a comprehensive marketing plan down in writing, you might as well be ignoring marketing altogether. Pursuing marketing without a plan might sustain your social enterprise for a short time, but ultimately, it will keep you from fulfilling your true potential for earnings and impact.

That’s why we’ve created a new resource: The Essential Social Enterprise Marketing Plan Template. This template is made up of a series of easy-to-use worksheets that when complete, will come together to form the backbone of a marketing plan for your social enterprise. You can complete the entire workbook in one afternoon, so not having time to create a marketing plan can no longer serve as an excuse.

Let’s take a look under the hood and discuss how to use each worksheet of the template to develop your marketing plan.

Goals and Objectives

Goals and objectives are perhaps the most important part of your social enterprise marketing plan.

Think about the act of filling out the Goals and Objectives section of the marketing plan template as an exercise in determining a destination for the roadmap you’re about to create. If you don’t know where you’re going with your marketing plan you aren’t going to get there.

So what is the difference between a goal and an objective? A goal is a general, qualitative statement about what you want to achieve, while an objective is a quantitative, time-sensitive measure of that goal. For example, one goal might be to build an online community of supporters for your social enterprise, while it’s corresponding objective would be to grow your social media following to 1,000 engaged members by March. Your marketing goals should be tied closely to the larger, strategic business goals for your social enterprise.

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: your goals and objectives should be S-M-A-R-T: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. It’s cliché, but it works.

Using the Goals and Objectives worksheet in our template, you’ll work through the process of considering how your broader strategic goals translate into marketing goals, and then determining the objectives through which you can measure success.

Target Market

Whether you succeed or fail depends largely on how well you connect with people. This is especially true for social enterprises, where everything you do has the potential to make a meaningful impact. But, you can’t really connect with people in an effective, strategic way until you understand your target.

Do you really know who your social enterprise’s target market is? The general public is not an acceptable answer, nor is a list of every single stakeholder that your organization might come in contact with. Our template will force you to get specific. Using our worksheets, you’ll brainstorm a list of anyone you might consider a potential target for your marketing efforts, and then narrow that list down to the three most important groups through a ranking tool we use with all our clients. The more focus you have, the more powerful your efforts will become. Then, you’ll develop detailed stakeholder personas for each one that will help you understand and connect with your target stakeholders on a deep level.

Brand Values

Why do people choose to buy from your social enterprise? It comes down to their personal alignment with your brand values. As a social enterprise, your values must be authentic, deeply held and consistently exhibited.

Using our worksheets, you’ll brainstorm a list of both current and future (aspirational) brand values. Then, you’ll work to hone your list down to a tight set of values that both communicate what you stand for today and can evolve with your organization into the future.

Key Messages

By the time you reach this section of the workbook, you’ll know where you’re trying to go as an organization and who your stakeholders are. The next step is packaging all the work you’ve done into a set of key messages that will help you make all of your marketing efforts consistent and effective.

Strong key messages are:

  • Original: Unique and specific to your social enterprise in order to differentiate it from others
  • Short: Longwinded and complicated messages are harder to remember. Keeping key messages short also makes them more adaptable
  • Limited: Only a few (3-4) per audience
  • Audience-centric: Focused on the specific needs, interests and preferences of each target stakeholder group
  • Linked to values/benefits: Focused on the values you deliver and the benefits your social enterprise offers to various stakeholders

In this section, you’ll use our key message grid to create a set of key messages segmented by brand value and stakeholder group. That means you’ll be writing a key message for each brand value and stakeholder group combination (i.e. how do we talk about our brand value “transparency” to our millennial consumer stakeholder group?)


There are so many ways to bring your marketing goals and messages to life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of marketing tactics that everyone is telling you to pursue. Should you be focused on search engine marketing or search engine optimization? Events or publicity? Direct mail or email?  It’s enough to make your head spin. All of these tactics can be valuable, but trying to do too much at once is a recipe for disaster.

We’ve worked with enough social enterprises to develop a strong opinion about the tactics that are most effective and most accessible for small or early-stage social enterprises, and we’ve created a “menu” to help you pick the best ones for your organization using our worksheets.

Of course, if you already have some of these things in place, or you’ve moved beyond the “beginner” phases of your marketing work, you should feel free to add in some other tactics of your own.

This section of the workbook will also give you a variety of ideas about how best to utilize each tactic, though your specific execution plans will depend on the nature of your social enterprise and audience.

Marketing Calendar

Most marketing efforts fall apart when it comes time to transition from planning to execution. The calendar section of our template is built to help you avoid that pitfall.

When you fill out the marketing calendar worksheets, you’ll go through the next 12 months and for each one determine:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Target
  • Call-to-Action
  • Key Message
  • Events
  • Content to create/release
  • Tactics to Pursue
  • Responsibilities
  • Measurement Practices
  • Budget

It might sound like a lot to tackle, but our easy-to-use marketing calendar makes it simple.


All of the work you put into planning work will be wasted effort unless you have a strategy for determining what’s working and what’s not. The final set of worksheets in this template will help you understand what strong marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) look like, and how to determine your own.

The key measures you choose to track will be closely tied to the objectives you set up at the beginning of the workbook. Once this worksheet is complete, you should check in at least every month, if not more, to see how you’re tracking against your objectives. Then, do more of the things that are working and eliminate the things that are not. Simple, but effective.

Is this really it?

While this workbook will form a great foundation for your marketing plan, as you get more serious about marketing, you may find that you want or need to go into more detail in certain sections or add additional ones. And that’s a good thing. Your social enterprise marketing plan should be a living, breathing document that grows and changes right along with your company and your impact.

Ready to get to work?

social enterprise marketing plan templateDownload the Essential Social Enterprise Marketing Template here and book off an afternoon. That’s truly all it takes to start building a solid foundation for marketing success.

If you have questions or need help along the way, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve built marketing plans and supported major campaigns for social enterprises across the country, and we’d be happy to collaborate with you, too!

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