Difference Between a Business Plan & a Marketing Plan

by Cheryl Munson; Updated September 26, 2017
The business plan provides an overview of the marketing plan and every aspect of a business.

Think of a business plan and a marketing plan in terms of a pizza, for illustration purposes. A business plan is the whole pie. A marketing plan is a slice of the pie, but a very important slice. The business plan provides an overview of every aspect of a company. The marketing plan focuses on strategies and efforts to generate sales and revenue.

Parts of a Business Plan

A business plan typically includes: an overview of the business; a description of products or services and how they are produced; a description of the business model for the company; identification of the executive leadership and management team; cash flow statements; and charts and graphs on financial projections related to sales, costs, expenditures and more.

Parts of a Marketing Summary

An organization's marketing plan is included in the overall business plan; however, it is written in summary format. Included in a marketing summary are the marketing objectives, and the strategies and tactics the company will utilize to generate sales and revenue. The marketing summary section of the business plan also gives a general overview of advertising plans that will be implemented to achieve marketing objectives and goals.

Detailed Marketing Plan

The complete marketing plan is a separate, comprehensive document that goes into more detail about objectives, goals and tactics. This document guides the implementation of efforts by the company's marketing, sales and advertising departments.

The marketing department uses the plan to align how products and services are to be positioned in the marketplace in terms of distribution channels and pricing. The plan describes in detail monthly, quarterly and annual sales volume goals that need to be reached by the sales team.

The plan also includes a section that sets forth the communications platform for the advertising team and/or outside advertising agency to use to develop advertising, promotions and events that align with the communications messaging strategy to reach customers and clients in the marketplace.

Business Plan Audience

Generally speaking, the business plan is shared only with key executives within the company and external members of the financial community. It is typically written to target potential investors, stockholders and accountants. It is most often used to generate funds to provide working capital to execute the plans and programs the company has identified as necessary to maintain a competitive position and sustainable success in the marketplace.

Marketing Plan Audience

The marketing plan is not shared with consumers and clients, but the contents are aimed at them. The complete plan is an internal document that is usually shared only with those responsible for marketing, sales and advertising efforts. The marketing plan includes results from research that help identify tactics to communicate with customers to get them to purchase products.

The plan includes strategies on pricing and incentives to gain new clients for a service-oriented business and increase sales volume with retail distributors. The marketing plan is an internal strategic document developed to win customers, clients, achieve sales and distribution goals, compete with other businesses and increase the company’s market share.

About the Author

Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

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