Looking at a checklist

The key differences between a marketing plan vs. marketing strategy

Posted by Adam Catterall
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Are you guilty of committing random acts of marketing? Marketing without rhyme or reason makes your efforts half-hearted, erratic and impulsive.

You need a plan to get you going, and an overall strategy to tie it all together.

Let’s take a deeper look at marketing plans and marketing strategies.

What’s the difference?

Your marketing strategy and marketing plan are the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of your marketing efforts.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a roadmap showing the steps you’ll take to achieve your marketing goals. It’s about the individual tactics you use to do your marketing, as well as when and where you’ll deploy them. It also details how you track the success of your marketing efforts.

What is a marketing strategy?

On the other hand, a marketing strategy is your overall purpose. It’s what you offer, how you offer it and why marketing is important for your company’s goals. An overarching strategy highlights what your marketing efforts need to achieve to be effective.

Tired of the word marketing yet? Let’s start by looking at the marketing strategy because more often than not, you’ll create your plan based on your strategy.

What should you include in a marketing strategy?

  1. Your goals. Your strategy needs to reflect your business goals, otherwise why are you doing it? Your goals might be as simple as ‘increase brand awareness’ or ‘grow our customer base by 10 percent.’
  2. Your target market. Review what your target market is and your ideal client profile. This will highlight what your marketing strategy is for.
  3. A competitive analysis. You need to know what’s out there. A competitive analysis looks at your competition and sees how you compare to them. A detailed competitive analysis gives you a focused look at the market, and what it takes to succeed.
  4. The right tools. Whether its analytics or a reliable CRM platform, the right tools make your strategy realistic and achievable.
  5. An internal audit. We’re not just talking about money here. To get your strategy underway, you need to review what you have at your disposal currently. Do you already have branding, media and graphics? What about a marketing analytics platform or CRM?

What should you include in your marketing plan?

  1. A mission statement. You can’t start a plan with a reason. A mission statement aligns your marketing efforts with your business goals.
  2. A selection of KPIs. KPIs are metrics for success. They help you outline your short-term goals to keep you heading the right direction. Some examples might include your landing page conversion rate, or your social media engagement.
  3. Your buyer personas. From your market research, you can identify your ideal buyers. These should reflect the customers you already have and the ones you want to attract.
  4. A content strategy. We know that content is king. It can be blog posts, infographics, white papers, videos, and more. In your marketing plan, you need to work out what content you’ll create, where you’ll post it, and how you’ll promote it.
  5. A budget. Marketing has its costs. You’ll need to clearly lay out your budget to determine what you can realistically achieve. New hires, freelance fees, and video equipment are all going to rack up the prices.

The key to an effective marketing strategy or marketing plan is having the customer in mind at every step. Focus on solving their problems, and don’t waste your time on things that won’t.

Plan first, market later

‘Plan your work and work your plan’ is the advice of self-help author Napoleon (no, not that Napoleon) Hill.

Planning is important, it keeps your efforts on track and provides you with a vision of success. But don’t let your plans get too rigid. Some flexibility will go a long way in allowing you to adapt and overcome problems.

Want to see the difference between ‘random acts of marketing’ and a well-engineered, data-driven campaign? Click here to find out why B2B tech companies partner with Articulate for their marketing needs.

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