What is the Difference Between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy?

by | Jun 7, 2022

With over 57% of the world’s population using the internet, the digital landscape provides abundant opportunities for businesses to reach potential customers. It’s tempting to dive into creating a beautifully designed website and targeted social advertising, but how do you know what will work for your business? Where should you spend your money?

Before diving into the details, you need to step back and look at the bigger picture. You need to develop a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. Mistakenly used interchangeably, the distinction between a strategy and a plan is essential. Read on to understand what the difference is between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy and how both are vital to realizing your goals.

What is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy is the WHY behind your efforts. It defines your overall game plan to realize your goals, often spanning several years. It includes a situational analysis that details your:

  • company’s mission
  • vision
  • positioning statement
  • unique selling proposition (USP)
  • customers
  • market
  • competitors

Reviewing your current situation helps identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This SWOT analysis highlights where to focus your efforts. It’s vital to include KPIs (key performance indicators) and reasonable timelines to stay on track and gauge success along the way.

Many of your tactical marketing questions are easily answered with a well-documented strategy. The strategy guides all future decision-making while ensuring that you prioritize initiatives that are consistent with your mission and positioning.

What is a Marketing Plan?

While the strategy lays the foundation, a marketing plan details the specific activities you need to undertake to realize the goals defined in your strategy. While the strategy is the WHY, the marketing plan is the HOW.

The marketing plan breaks down each marketing initiative into detailed implementation plans including what needs to be done, who needs to do it, when it needs to happen, and how it will be evaluated to determine success. The marketing plan explicitly identifies the channels and messages to attract customers. With these details in hand, you can track results and identify if changes are required to keep you on track to realize your goals.

Whereas the strategy documents the approach, the marketing plan details the tactics and the steps needed to achieve your goals.

You Don’t Have to Go it Alone

Because many organizations lack the time or resources for planning, the marketing strategy and marketing plan are often rushed or ignored altogether. The planning process is the vital first step. But don’t stop there. Your strategy and plans must be documented, followed, and tracked for success. Equivity can help. We have a pool of experienced marketing strategists and marketing assistants who can plan, implement, and monitor your marketing efforts. Contact us today!