As a small or midsized business owner, you need to have both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. To truly understand why you need both, first you need to understand what the difference is between a marketing strategy and a plan.
Marketing Strategy (the map)
A marketing strategy is your road map to help you get to where you want to be. It is shaped by your overall business goals. It includes a definition of your business, a description of your products or services, a profile of your target audiences or clients, and defines your company’s role in relation to the competition. The marketing strategy is essentially a document that outlines a road map or summary that you can use to evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of your specific marketing plans.
Marketing Plan (the road)
The marketing plan, also sometimes referred to as a tactical plan, outlines the details of the roads you will take to get you to where you want to be. It is a practical application of your marketing strategy, which includes details of what marketing activities you need to implement (website, advertising, videos, radio, etc.) to support the strategy in getting your business where you want it to be.
Similar to road construction, if you don’t have a road map, you can’t build the roads that will lead you to your destination.
In outlining the differences between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan, it is clear to see that the answer to the original question is simply: you need both.
To get started in developing your marketing strategy, first you’ll need to do a little homework to prepare. Here are a questions you need to answer for yourself before an agency can help you develop a marketing strategy:
- How would you define the business?
- What are your key services or products?
- Who is your target audience for each of your services or products?
- Who are your key competitors in this market segment?
- Is your pricing inline with your competitors or at parity?
- Is your business trying to lead or follow industry pricing?
- What is the ROI for all of your marketing tactics to date?
- How have you measured the success of your marketing activities?
- What distribution channels do you use?
- What do you think is your unique selling proposition versus the competition?
- Why is this unique selling proposition compelling to your audience?
- Have you done any client and/or market research?
- What is the image or personality of your company and its products or services?
- What are the sales targets for this year? Next year? (be specific!)
Your marketing strategy and marketing plan have a symbiotic relationship, in which you need to have both working for you to get you where you need to be. Before you start writing your own strategy, you might want to consult a marketing agency. These are professionals, dedicated not only to the field of marketing, but to helping businesses realize their goals through the creation of successful marketing strategies.
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