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  • Writer's pictureCindy Schrauben

Marketing strategy… Marketing plan… Is all this necessary?

By Cindy Schrauben

Great Gus Marketing

What is the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan? And do you need both?

The answer is… Yes!

Often the terms marketing strategy and marketing plan are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between them. I like to think of the marketing strategy as your business destination, while the marketing plan is the roadmap that you follow to reach your destination. The documents work together to define where you are going and how you’re going to get there.

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy answers the high-level questions:

  • what your company offers

  • what your company stands for

  • what your brand voice is

  • your buyer personas

  • your marketing goals

  • initiatives you’ll undertake

  • what industry you're in

  • who your competitors are

Your marketing strategy is based on your business goals and tells how marketing will help achieve your business goals.

For example, suppose one of your business goals is to achieve a 30% increase in revenue within three years. In that case, your marketing strategy will broadly explain how your marketing will help accomplish the goal. You don't need to go into specifics with your marketing strategy; in fact, it should be broad so that you can make changes along the way. The specifics will be in your marketing plan.

Marketing Plan

You should base your marketing plan on your marketing strategy, so create your plan after you write your strategy. The marketing plan will document in detail how you're going to bring your marketing strategy to life. Going back to the example of increasing revenue by 30% within three years, your marketing plan will document the finer points of how you’ll achieve your marketing strategy. Think of it as road-by-road, turn-by-turn instructions of how to get to your marketing destination.

Marketing plans generally contain:

  • the goals of each initiative listed in your marketing strategy

  • tactics and channels used for each initiative

  • what audience you’re targeting

  • your project timelines and critical milestones

  • budget

Ongoing maintenance

While your marketing strategy won't change over time, you should review it yearly to ensure it is still in line with your business goals unless you're changing your business strategy.

However, your marketing plan is another story. You can’t create it and then set it on cruise control. Too many businesses spend time and money writing their marketing plans and then don’t review them as time goes on. For your marketing plan to work, you must pay attention to it and follow it. I suggest that once you create your marketing plan, you review it at least quarterly to adapt to any changes in your business.

Marketing plans have a shorter lifespan than marketing strategies, usually one year, but can have an even shorter timeframe if business goals dictate. Marketing plans are meant to have a short lifespan to achieve particular goals from your marketing strategy and should be flexible so you can respond if business priorities changes.


If you’d like help creating a marketing strategy or marketing plan, I’m ready to assist. Please contact me by email or call 269-215-1505.

Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Great Gus Marketing specializes in copywriting, content writing, and marketing strategy.


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