Great Plans and Best Strategy: Why Your Business Needs Both
Every business needs a well-researched marketing strategy and a well-constructed marketing plan. Yes, you read that correctly; there is a clear difference between the two in concept and in practice. To put it plainly, first comes the strategy and then the planning.
Learn what makes each one great with these tips from a Chicago marketing strategy consultant:
- Differentiating between a marketing plan and a strategy,
- Three parts are needed for a marketing plan,
- Three vital parts of a marketing strategy.
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
Watch this video to find out more about how Digital Authority Partners can create a great marketing strategy for you!
Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy
Semantics can be a great headache for a business owner with little marketing experience. For instance, what differentiates a plan from a strategy, and how do you tell them apart? Breaking down topics like these is the key to growing your business with local marketing.
Below is a short description of each to help you know which one your business lacks. Knowing this also helps clarify conversations with experts, such as a Chicago marketing strategy consultant. There might be some overlap, so take your time to understand them both.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a step-by-step outline that details how you will find leads and customers for your business. It involves setting aside a budget for marketing activities and defining how to spend or distribute it among those activities. It also includes your timeline for the entire plan.
Essentially, a marketing plan is the “how” aspect of your marketing. Therefore, creating a marketing plan requires a well-defined strategy to serve as its base. It does not go the other way around, so it is vital not to skip any steps to ensure that you have a sound marketing plan.
What Is a Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy is your long-term marketing approach — the general concept that you turn into multiple, individual, actionable plans for growing your business. It starts with identifying your overall goals or what your business wants to achieve over a long stretch (e.g., five years).
This is when you conduct market research and set key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure your strategy's progress. At this stage, you also decide on your branding and where and how you intend to run your marketing campaign (e.g., social media).
Why You Need Both a Marketing Plan and Strategy
It sounds nitpicky to say you need both a marketing plan and a strategy when the terms seem more or less interchangeable. You could even say you should just focus on the doing rather than the semantics. The truth is that the concept is more important than the label itself.
It is necessary to set up planning and strategizing, as two distinct parts to ensure that you follow through on both. That allows you to have a well-documented approach to marketing that you can return to at any point. It also splits long- and short-term action into two.
3 Essential Parts of a Marketing Plan
Now that you understand what separates a plan and strategy, you must look at the three parts necessary to build a solid marketing plan. This is a very shallow list of items; however, these are the ones you find in almost every Chicago marketing strategy consultant article. They include:
1. Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) campaign goals for your plan. You can easily accomplish this by asking yourself each of the points in the acronym. Base these on your broader marketing goals, of course.
2. Create a list of how you intend to allocate your budget among all necessary channels and activities for the marketing plan. Watch closely how your actual spending goes so you can readily reallocate the budget to keep your project afloat if needed.
3. Define your campaign’s scope, including marketing goals, target audience, and marketing activities, so you can establish a timeline to follow. Break tasks into smaller portions and estimate the duration of each one so you can monitor them properly.
As you can see, it pays to create a detailed marketing plan because it allows you to pinpoint a problem’s source to isolate and address it immediately. Marketing is full of chances for costly mistakes or failures. The most you can do is prepare yourself to meet these challenges.
3 Essential Parts of a Marketing Strategy
Unlike a marketing plan, which addresses the hows of a campaign, a marketing strategy leans more toward the why side of things (i.e., why you chose x over y in your marketing approach). This fits because it exists to guide your smaller marketing efforts. Here are some parts to note:
1. A marketing strategy is where you assign your marketing goals for your business. This is what you want to achieve or aim to accomplish over a significant period. Unlike a marketing plan’s campaign goals, you come back to this multiple times.
2. Market research represents a core part of a marketing strategy because it sets the tone for almost everything you do in marketing. That includes your target market, content strategy, paid marketing strategy, local marketing strategy, and more.
3. Part of creating a marketing strategy is your business’s branding. This helps you remain consistent in approaching your target market and portraying your business as a whole. Essentially, this is all about establishing your business’s publicly known identity.
A marketing strategy forms the foundation of all later campaigns or miscellaneous marketing efforts, so make sure you take your time to thoroughly understand what you expect from it. More importantly, take market research seriously. Gather as much rich data on customers as possible.
A marketing plan and a marketing strategy have notable differences that set them apart, and you need both to succeed online and offline. It comes down to the latter being the logic or concept that turns into the former’s actionable steps. This can get confusing, which means it takes time to digest.
If you think making a distinction between the two is too perplexing, contact a Chicago marketing strategy consultant to help clarify either or both ideas. While at it, consider outsourcing the work to them, too. That way, you have experts making the process easier along the way.
Need help creating a marketing plan and a marketing strategy? Contact Digital Authority Partners (DAP) to learn how we can help.
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