The Difference Between a Marketing Plan & a Marketing Strategy

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017
A marketing plan establishes an outline for all marketing activities.

A marketing plan is a product or market-specific, company-wide plan that outlines all activities involved in completing a marketing objective in a particular time frame. A marketing plan is formalized in a written document that serves as a guide. A marketing strategy is a major component of the plan that identifies specific, actionable strategies to put the plan into effect.

Marketing Plan Basics

A marketing plan introduction relies on research to identify specific target customers and how the company's products and services match up with the needs of those customers. Business Dictionary notes that a marketing plan includes "detailed action programs, budgets, sales forecasts, strategies, and projected (proforma) financial statements." In its "How to Create a Marketing Plan" guide, Entrepreneur indicates that a marketing plan varies from several pages for small businesses to hundreds of pages for large organizations. You can monitor progress towards objectives by reviewing your plan with sales and production reports.

Elements

A marketing plan begins with a current assessment of your situation. Thoroughly review your current company status, marketplace and competitors. Additionally, detail current threats and opportunities that impact you in the marketplace. Next, you want to set specific, measurable objectives that guide implementation of your plan and formulation of strategies. Increased awareness, improved market share and sales growth are common objectives you can measure. Finally, outline a budget based on your goals and determine how you will measure results after delivery of marketing messages.

Marketing Strategy Basics

Marketing strategies explain how you will meet your marketing objectives. The marketing strategy section in your marketing plan is your "game plan" for success. Various marketing guides and strategies offer blueprints for success. These strategies help a company identify what benefits and values make its brand unique and better than the competition. A position is established and communicated to consumers through marketing. The marketing mix is a key strategic consideration.

Marketing Mix

Small Business Notes calls the marketing strategy the "the heart of the marketing plan," and notes that the marketing mix is a major component of a good marketing strategy. The marketing mix is often referred to as the four P's of marketing based on the elements of product, place, price and promotion. For the product element, consider the benefits of the products and services you offer. Place, known more as distribution, refers to the system of delivery to customers. Your price points should relate to your position (eg. low cost, value, high-end luxury or premium). Promotion is the use of communication and media to communicate your position to the market.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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