What is the Difference Between a Marketing Strategy and a Marketing Plan?

Photo of two chess pieces side by side, the one to the left is an upright black chess king and on the right is a silver chess king that has fallen over and is pointing to the right side of a white background.

What is marketing?

Put simply, marketing consists of all business activities and communications that are designed to promote a brand and attract customers. Two important elements include a marketing strategy and marketing plan, which are the initial stages in the marketing development process and inform all other marketing aspects and activities. Often defined together, a marketing plan and a marketing strategy are every bit as important as each other – but they are different. Establishing this difference is imperative.

What is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is the overall picture of your brand, outlining the fundamental objectives. It is a long-term and comprehensive plan that details a brand’s goals, values, and vision. A strategy has consideration for how the brand positions itself in the market, the interactions between other competitors, and how you can connect with your customers.

Why is a marketing strategy important?

A marketing strategy is devised after extensive market research and helps a brand to concentrate its marketing efforts on the most important aspects. It acts as a reference point to come back to throughout the brand’s entire lifecycle, as the strategy forms the basis of each marketing activity. It helps streamline campaigns and ideas for those that are relevant to a brand’s identity.

Planning is important. A brand does not become successful overnight and needs a thorough understanding of the environment and competitors. A good strategy will provide a brand with a unique and valuable proposition, setting the direction for the brand to maximize their own strengths within their environment. Thus, it is important in creating a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a brand’s blueprint for outlining the tactics and methods that will be used to execute the marketing strategy. It defines the marketing activities that will be undertaken, and details of the implementation. It has specific details, including timeframes and budget, making elements of the marketing strategy possible.

A marketing plan helps to keep you on track and identifies a way for you to measure the success of your marketing campaigns. It is a step-by-step guide to implement various marketing activities.

Photo of a curly red haired white woman in a pink dress shirt writing the word 'marketing' at the top of a whiteboard covered in post-it notes. A woman stands in the background overlooking it.

Differences between marketing and strategic marketing

There are many differences in how a marketing strategy and a marketing plan operate.

Purpose

A marketing strategy and marketing plan have very different purposes. The strategy’s purpose is to outline the overall picture of the brand, from a holistic perspective. It includes the brand’s positioning within a market, and its competitive advantage. A plan, however, is the brand’s action plan on how it can execute the strategy and contains specific details.

Timeframe

A marketing strategy will always come before the marketing plan, as the strategy informs the activities that are best suited to the brand and will achieve the brand’s goals. Depending on the complexity of the project, the timeframe may be a simple progress to completion for one or two stakeholders, or it may detail a series of milestones and dependencies across deliverables for numerous stakeholders.

Activities

Another key difference is the activities undertaken to create the strategy and the plan. Creating the marketing strategy includes analysis of the market, competitors, target audience, and other elements of the brand through extensive market research. Conversely, a marketing plan includes details of the timeframe, the specific marketing activities, key performance indicators and other methods to track success, budget, and delegation of responsibilities.

Why should you use a strategic marketing agency?

We understand the importance of a good strategy as it informs the marketing plan. We use a range of techniques to amplify your voice and connect your brand’s mission with the right audience.

At Senspoint, we believe that the best strategies have their origin in a compelling brand story. Deriving the essence of your brand we can understand your goals and personal tastes. Your brand story will help us make sense, you make sense, and consumers make sense of your brand, communicating your vision, voice and offerings most effectively.

The more we understand your brand, the better the strategy. It all starts with a conversation. Make sense of your brand and contact our team today.