• strategy

Are You Confusing a Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan

Executive Summary:
There are three primary components to marketing success. A marketing strategy, plan, and tactics. Combine them if you must, but never confuse them. Distinct in purpose and critically co-dependent, they are your “why”, your “what”, and your “how”.

Marketing Strategy
The strategy assigns purpose. It resides at the leadership level and incorporates the long-term goals of the company. The strategy, while evaluated annually, aligns with your business plan and rarely changes. It should come before and lead your annual marketing plan and ensuing tactics. Here are some questions answered by the strategy.

  • What are the top-line growth goals of the company?
  • What are the marketplace goals for the company?
  • Who is you primary audience?
  • What are the brand identity goals for the company?
  • What separates your brand from the competition?
  • What is your brand’s Unique Selling Point and Value Proposition?
  • What is your audience’s buying cycle and what motivates them?

Marketing Plan
The plan gives direction and organization. It resides at the department level and is the annual alignment between your strategy and tactics. While the marketing plan is guided by the over-arching strategy, it is meant to be the annual “gameplan”. It includes annual goals with clearly defined KPIs and overall S.M.A.R.T. criteria. The current year’s plan should build on the previous year, set up the following, and progress the company toward its long-term goals. Here are some points outlined in the plan.

  • What is the value of a Sales Qualified Lead?
  • What is the value of each conversion?
  • What inbound (pull) and outbound (push) marketing channels will be used
  • What is the overall Key Success Indicator for the year?
  • What are the Key Performance Indicators for each channel?
  • What are the challenges and risks for the calendar year? (SWOT or PESTLE)
  • What is the budget forecast?

Marketing Tactics
Tactics are the day-to-day marketing operations that execute the plan. Tactics encompass all your owned, earned, and paid media. This includes the technology and service selection, campaign management, advertising, public relations, content creation, SEO, SEM, emails, posts, videos, and more.

Signs of Trouble
How do you know you are failing in one or more of these areas? Have you ever felt like your marketing did a lot over the last year but accomplished very little toward your actual long-term business goals? “Why are we in the same position we were in 12 months ago?” This is one of the most common signs. Don’t cut corners. Be thorough. Be realistic. Be decisive. Stick to the plan. Things such as indecisiveness, routine changes in direction, haste, and micromanagement make it easy to get stuck in low gear and even derailed.

Momentum. As John C. Maxwell would say, “Momentum solves problems”. Maintaining momentum in the right direction is key, or every year will feel like you’re starting over.

Discover the four stages of digital strategy that will help you formulate a cohesive, aligned, guide for your marketing plan and set realistic expectations about the outcomes.