WHAT IS MARKETING STRATEGY
VS
A MARKETING PLAN?

When it comes to creating impactful, engaging marketing that generates positive brand momentum, it is vital to have both a marketing strategy and marketing plan. Working together, the strategy and plan define where the brand is going (marketing strategy) and how it’s going to get there (marketing plan).

The marketing strategy is developed first and focuses on the long-term marketing goals of a company. Oftentimes considered the “why” of a brand’s marketing efforts, it works in concert with the overall business strategy and does not change or evolve too much. There is only one marketing strategy.

The marketing plan focuses on the activities, execution and timing, the “what” and “when”, of the marketing efforts. But unlike the marketing strategy, there can be several marketing plans taking place at the same time. However, every plan must answer to the marketing strategy and do its part to propel the strategy forward. When it comes to marketing plans, think campaigns, programs and tactics. These are generally short-term initiatives that can be measured, reevaluated and adjusted as needed.

HOW IS A MARKETING STRATEGY AND PLAN CREATED?

You don’t have to have an MBA to create a marketing strategy or marketing plan. But you do have to take an honest look at your company and determine whether or not you’re creating something you believe, rally behind and execute.

When creating your marketing strategy, you need to do some homework. Here are few things you should consider and include:

Target Audience. We’re talking demographic and psychographic information. Age. Career. Income. Interests. Turn-offs. Challenges. Purchasing behaviors. Anything and everything you can gather to create a detailed persona

Company and Marketing Goals. As we mentioned earlier, the marketing strategy should work directly with the business strategy and goals. You must be clear as to what objectives you want to achieve.

Assess the Competition. Knowing exactly who your competition is, what they’re doing in the marketplace, what perception the target audience has of them, and where you should position your company are all key factors to creating a solid marketing strategy.

Know Your Resources. This is critical. What systems, manpower and expertise do you have to ensure you can create and live your marketing plan? What gaps need to be filled? Do you have enough budget?

Know Your Business. Run a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Develop your Value Proposition. Understand exactly what’s going on in the marketplace. Know what is working for you now. And what’s not working. Write your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). The deeper you go, the better.

Your marketing plan, or plans, should stem directly from your marketing strategy. It should be detailed and thorough. When creating it, be sure to include:

Campaign Goals. This is key. You must know what you want the campaign to do. Increase awareness? Boost sales for a specific time period? You have to know exactly how you are going to measure the success and be able to adapt the campaign if needed if it is falling short of the set goals.

Timeline and Budget. There never seems to be enough of either. It’s vital you set firm timelines and budgets and stick to them or else you’re bound to run out of both.

Channels and Media. Knowing where you’re going to focus your marketing efforts will help keep your efforts focused. And it will make life easier for your agency and marketing teams.

Tactics and Activities. This is what you’re going to produce. The actual things you will execute. Consider these carefully as they will be the elements that your target audience see.

Dependencies. These are oftentimes overlooked until it is too late. The thought here is, “If this happens (or doesn’t happen, then this will happen (or won’t happen).” It’s important to look at both internal and external variables and do your best to identify them to keep the project moving along efficiently.

WHY IS A MARKETING STRATEGY AND PLAN IMPORTANT?

Creating both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan are essential steps toward achieving success. While there are literally hundreds of reasons why this is true, let’s try to break it down to a few key points.

Clear Goals and Objectives. Knowing exactly where you are going and how you plan on getting there cuts down on needless distractions and reduces a lot of confusion. If your marketing strategy is strong and your marketing plan is comprehensive, the path to success should be clear.

Solid Understanding of the Target Audience. With a firm understanding of your target audience, your messaging should always find the mark. But you have to be very specific to make an impact. Dig deep. Uncover a nugget that only your product or service can satisfy.

March to the Same Drummer. This may sound odd considering we’re in an industry that celebrates individuality and free thinking. But it’s true. Everyone must understand the strategy and plan and be on the same page. Roles, responsibilities and accountability must be owned by each member of the team. When you don’t have to worry about staying organized, the creativity will flourish.

Resources and Budget. Your strategy and plan will outline exactly what you need and who you need to bring it to life. It will identify areas in which you may need to allocate more staff, purchase additional software or bring in specialized expertise. It will also define your budget and timeline so you don’t run out of either.

Competitive Edge. Any brand that creates marketing without a strategy and plan is already in trouble. It’s like a boat without a rudder – who knows where you’ll end up? Creating and sticking to your strategy and plan will ensure you always stay on course. And keep your message on brand. Do the strategy and planning work on the upfront and you’ll start off ahead of half of your competition.

WHAT ARE TEST PILOT’S THOUGHTS ON STRATEGY AND PLANNING?

At Test Pilot, we believe the brand is the most important and powerful element a company, product or service has. But if that brand is to reach its full potential, a solid marketing strategy and marketing plan must be created before any marketing or advertising effort can even begin. For all the reasons discussed above, and from over 50 years of combined experience, we’ve seen firsthand what happens to brands that do not put the time and energy into creating their marketing strategy and plan. From creating a SMART strategy (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) to uncovering the deep-seated human truth only our client can satisfy, the strategy and planning play a critical role when creating marketing and advertising that help our clients brands resonate with their target audience and achieve greater ROI.

READY TO GET STRATEGIC?

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