I was checking on my own marketing plan recently and decided to do a quick Google search to see what the experts had to say about where a marketing plan ends and marketing strategy begins. Do you know what I found? A lot of confusion.
And I get it – they both have the word “marketing” in them. And they do both have to do with how you portray your business to the outside world… but there are notable differences. And it would be great if we could stop using the words marketing plan and marketing strategy interchangeably.
So, if you’re like a lot of the world, and all of this sounds a little like a rainy day - super cloudy and kind of muddy - then I’m here to help.
Let’s start with the strategy. This is exactly what it sounds like – a high-level overview of your company goals. A marketing strategy should answer questions like:
Once you have these questions answered you can move on to the next step – and this is where things start to get a little grey. It’s time to define the strategies you will use to reach these customers.
Yup. You define marketing strategies within your overall marketing strategy. (facepalm)
ie. Will you use social media? Do people read that blog you write? Do you interview industry professionals on your podcast? Are case studies the customer proof that brings in the big bucks?
These are all individual strategies, but not every strategy works for every industry. (Don't try and do all of the things - you'll burn out.)
For example, if you’re in the business of selling medical beds to senior citizens, you probably won’t start a podcast about slumber options. The senior citizens I know generally are not listening to podcasts. And they may not be on social media either… If sleepy elders are your ideal audience, it might be time to consider a direct mail campaign or a partnership with another local organization that has an existing customer base similar to yours.
Research is a big part of this strategy phase. Do it well, and the planning phase will be much, much, much easier.
Now that you’re crystal clear on who you’re talking to, where to find them, and the easiest way to approach them, it’s time to create a marketing plan. These are the specific steps you’ll take each quarter (or month or week if you get super specific) in order to reach your peeps.
The super broad overview of any marketing funnel includes the following:
Your marketing plan should take into consideration each of these steps – how are you reaching the brand new people who have never heard of you before? AND what opportunities are you giving to the people who are ready to hand over their paychecks?
Use the marketing strategies to execute your marketing plan and watch your marketing goals fall into place!
For this round, let's say that my company has been selling chocolate chip cookies for three decades. It’s an old family business that’s been around longer than social media and websites and online marketing of any kind.
My marketing strategy for the year includes:
My marketing plan includes:
Hope this has helped clear up the muddy waters and blown some of those clouds away!
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