Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy: What is the Difference?

July 12, 2022

You’re checking off all the boxes: posting on social media, writing blog posts, and sending emails, but nothing’s happening. Most of the time, it’s not that what you’re doing is wrong, it’s that you don’t understand why you’re doing it in the first place. Without a solid marketing strategy in place, your marketing plan will only get you so far. Think of it this way: If the marketing plan is a roadmap you follow to get in front of your clients or customers, then the marketing strategy is the reason that consumer ultimately gives you a call or presses the checkout button.

WHAT IS A MARKETING PLAN?

A marketing plan consists of the steps to take to get your name out there so that your ideal client can find and hire you. Elements of a standard marketing plan include:

What is a Marketing Plan?

Developing a Brand

Branding is a foundational component of any marketing plan and one of the first to-dos business owners need to tackle. Most understand that branding includes a logo, typography, and colors. But effective branding goes beyond aesthetics – it evokes meaning and purpose that makes your business memorable. Marketing strategy develops the visual personality of your company by aligning your branding with your company’s mission and values. Without doing so, potential clients can be confused by your brand or overlook it entirely.

Building a Website

The second marketing must-have for businesses is a clear and well-designed website. Unfortunately, the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to websites. Websites should exist beyond simply providing basic information about your services. Your website is a critical piece of marketing collateral that needs to grow as you do by constantly being updated and serving as a place where potential clients can find relevant and helpful information about your business to make the best decision for their needs.

Posting on Social Media

Social media is oversaturated with tons of businesses competing for the attention of your ideal client. So, how do you stand out from the rest? Distinguishing yourself from the competition is less about having the best-looking graphics or videos and more about understanding your ideal client well enough to know what they want and need from you. It could be a post that updates them on critical news happening in your niche community or it could be providing them with a notable selling point that convinces them that your services will help solve their problem.

Writing Blog Posts

Content writing is often looked at as the biggest chore of digital marketing. It’s something that everyone knows they should do, but it is often the most grueling and time-consuming. However, with the right strategy in place, writing posts for your business’s blog is one of the best ways to highlight expertise in your niche. Anyone can write a standard blog post filled with keywords but writing articles that provide new information and valuable insight into a subject that is relevant to your ideal client and catches their attention is where the magic happens.

Sending Emails

A lot of the time, businesses use email marketing to push promotions or new services onto their existing clients, but these efforts only get you so far. A better strategy involves using email marketing to nurture relationships with your current clients by sharing content that is engaging and relevant to them. Otherwise, your email marketing is at risk of coming across as spam and being ignored completely.

WHAT IS A MARKETING STRATEGY?

A marketing strategy involves an in-depth analysis of the consumers most likely to turn into your customers or clients and how your business can stand out in the marketplace. As stated earlier, the strategy gets at the “why” behind your marketing activities by outlining how you will convey why you’re better or different than your competitors and why your target client should choose you instead. The basics of a marketing strategy start with these elements:

What is a Marketing Strategy?

Mission Statement

Simply put, a mission statement is a brief description of why your business exists by providing an overview of your goals and values. Even the largest brands can describe what drives their business in a few digestible sentences that completely encapsulate their ethos. A mission statement guides business decisions, ensuring that marketing efforts are aligned.

Value Proposition

In tandem with a mission statement is a business’s value proposition. The value proposition includes the reasons a client should choose you. Driving factors could be cost, level of expertise, or a novel approach in your industry. Your value proposition is then used across your marketing materials to demonstrate how you can help your target audience as well as your strengths compared to competitors.

Target Audience

Next, it’s time to identify your target audience. Your target audience includes the different groups of people who you want to hire you or buy your product. This could be professionals from a certain industry, consumers from a particular age group, or people who live in a specific geographic area. After you define who your target audience is, then you want to understand their wants and needs to determine the best ways to reach and engage with them. This could be figuring out how they like to consume content, what social media platforms they use, or the organizations they are members of. This market research informs your marketing strategy, ensuring that you put your efforts into the activities that are most likely to reach and resonate with your target audience.

Competitive Analysis

More likely than not, there are other businesses that offer similar services or products to you. So, it’s important to understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses so that you can understand where you stand in the market. A successful competitive audit can highlight areas of opportunity and improvement so you can address them and strengthen your market value, especially in a crowded field.

Marketing Goals

Now you’ve written your mission statement, determined your value proposition, defined your target audience, and conducted a competitive analysis – is it finally time to jump into a marketing plan? Not quite yet! Before diving into the items on your marketing plan, you’ll want to figure out the marketing goals that will guide the plan. Whether it’s to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or grow your social media presence, the marketing goals should always be the focal point of your marketing plan and frame your execution.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Marketing plans and marketing strategies have different methodologies, but they are meant to work together to achieve optimal results. Here’s why.

Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy: The Differences

The Day-to-Day vs. The Bigger Picture

The day-to-day tasks that accompany a marketing plan – from updating your website to posting on social media to writing blog posts – can feel like busy work. That’s because a checklist without a bigger picture can get lost in its purpose. Your marketing plan should always be created with the marketing strategy’s purpose and goals in mind or else it can feel tedious and fall flat.

Actions vs. Planning

Actions without a plan are often ineffective. Many business owners come to us after engaging in marketing activities (like the items listed on a marketing plan) that are not converting into sales for the business. Instead, we encourage businesses to formulate their plan based on a marketing strategy to make the most of their marketing budget while still seeing results.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term

Every household brand started from somewhere. But the difference between those that scale successfully and those that flounder is the presence of a long-term plan. A short-term marketing plan is implemented in ever-changing bursts that contribute to the business’s overarching, long-term goals.

IN SUMMARY:

Your marketing strategy is “the why,” or the overarching reasons why you are doing what you’re doing. The marketing strategy should be formulated with this goal in mind: conveying that your services or products are the best choice for your target audience. At Bossible, we specialize in developing marketing strategies that convert your marketing from a plan without a mission to a mission with a plan.

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