At a quick glance, there does not seem to be much of a difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan. After all, just as business strategies such as acquisition strategies are found in business plans, marketing strategies will naturally be found in marketing plans.
Yet, while marketing strategies are found in marketing plans, marketing plans are not found in strategies. Do excuse us for the play with words; instead, let’s use a simple example to illustrate the difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan.
Marketing Strategy – An Example
Imagine you are in the middle of planning to start your own business next spring, to promote and to sell your expertise and skills. Whether it is a car wash business or a business consultancy, what you will need as one of your marketing strategies is to launch the website for your business simultaneously.
Your business goal is to start your business; the marketing plan is to sell your services and that goes hand in hand with your marketing strategy or marketing effort to set up the website. The website helps to position and promote your brand. However, the strategy in itself does not provide you with the background processes and details as to how your website is to be developed.
What Your Marketing Plan Contains
Rather, those background processes and details, which include items like:
- What resources are available;
- Who is going to develop the website;
- What will be the breakdown of the various sub-projects e.g. graphic design, CMS configuration, content development, sign-off and debug;
- Who is overseeing each of the sub-projects;
- What are the dates set for the deliverables.
All of these will be contained in your marketing plan.
Difference Between Marketing Strategy And Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is a detailed guide to how you will go about implementing your marketing strategy. As such, someone who reads it will have a full picture of what your underlying objectives are; the strategies that will help to achieve those objectives and the tactics that will be used to lead towards their accomplishments.
The difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan especially when they flip to your marketing plan’s table of contents is that they are likely to find sections laid out as follows – Executive Summary; Marketing Audit; Threats and Opportunities; Objectives and Challenges; Strategic Action Plans; Budget Allocations and Controls.
They get a clear sense of the list of activities involved; who will be responsible for them and the time frames in which they need to be achieved. Potential issues will be highlighted, along with the remedial actions and other contingency plans that are available to quell them.
In contrast, your marketing strategies may be ones that are company wide as in the launch of your website or a new piece of car detailing equipment, both of which adds value to your customers experience with your brand and car wash service. Of course, you will want to get the word out and tell as many potential and existing customers as possible.
Or, it could be a customer focused marketing strategy via SMS promotions or one that rewards your customers with credits each time they use your car wash service. For the rewards program, you may decide to include several attractive options on which they can “spend” their accumulated credits. For example, priority reservations, further discounts, special prizes, or free parking.
As you can tell, although there are areas where your marketing strategies overlap with your marketing plan, there is a distinct difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan. You cannot have a marketing plan without marketing strategy. And if you design a marketing strategy, it is most likely because there is already a marketing plan with objectives in place that requires the execution of meticulously and well thought out marketing strategies to bring its goals and objectives to fruition.
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