Marketing strategy and marketing plan – Do you know the difference?

So, you want to improve your marketing efforts, but you’re not sure where to start. On the mission to more profitable marketing, one of the best ways to start is to go back to basics. Start by understanding the difference between a market strategy and a marketing plan.

Don’t worry if you’re thinking, “aren’t they the same thing?”. You’re not alone. As a business owner, you have to be an expert in several areas. For people without a marketing background the difference between the concepts can become blurred. Especially if the terms marketing strategy and plan are commonly used interchangeably.

The way these concepts differ is the application and purpose. In the simplest term a marketing strategy is the long term marketing goals for the company. A marketing plan is how you’re going to achieve those goals. If you aren’t clear on the differences, you could be wasting valuable time in the early stages of planning. A great marketing campaign needs the marketing strategy and plan to work in harmony together.

Still confused? Let’s break it down.

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy is the long-term goals of your marketing efforts. It’s what you are looking to achieve in the future. These goals are shaped by thorough research of your customers goals and buying habits, and your competitors actions. Your marketing strategy must be shaped and aligned with your business strategy.

This forward-thinking approach forces businesses to stay focused. Did you know 46% of business say they don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy? That is almost half of businesses that risk the chance of becoming directionless when it comes to marketing. This could lead to their marketing efforts not producing the desired results.

Documenting your long term goals, customer habits and competitor actions, provides you with information that can be regularly reviewed, improved and altered to ensure you are achieving your results.

Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is how you are going to achieve the marketing goals you stated in your marketing strategy. It should be a clear guide for all of the team should follow. A marketing plan will include the campaigns, channels and tactics you will use to achieve the marketing goals. Ensure a time schedule, budget and measurements are included in your plan.

While your marketing strategy will remain consistent over time, your marketing plan needs to be agile. You need to maintain flexibility so you can be prepared for any adjustments. If you do not achieve your desired results, putting more time or money into a specific area will make it more realistic to get the results you want.

For example, you might think you need to invest a certain amount of money into television advertising. But it might not create the amount of leads you first expected. However, you might find there is a huge amount of leads coming in from your digital marketing campaign. Therefore you might decide it would be more effective to invest money there. Deviating from the original plan might make you feel uncomfortable, but this is where you can reap the rewards of flexibility. Ultimately, you want to work towards the goals you set in your marketing strategy.

There’s a great quote that states ‘Without strategy, execution is aimless; without execution, strategy is useless’. This highlights the importance of both of these marketing elements.

Let’s face it, without a marketing strategy, how can you possibly produce a marketing plan to achieve it? Without both, you may find yourself without direction and worse still, finding you’ve wasted your resources.  

If your struggling with your marketing strategy or plan, our business coaches are here to help.