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  • Writer's pictureDan Spencer


The terms Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan get used a lot, and in many cases in replacement of each other. However, there are some major differences between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan which shouldn't be confused.

In this blog we'll explore the major difference between a marketing strategy vs. a marketing plan, highlight the key elements of each, and why they are both important for your business.

Keep reading to learn more.


What is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy is the overarching blueprint that defines a company's marketing goals, target audiences, and value propositions. It addresses the "what" and "why" of marketing efforts, focusing on long-term objectives and overall direction.

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is the detailed "how" to deliver the strategy, outlining specific actions, timelines, and budgets. It translates strategic goals into actionable steps, detailing the execution of campaigns, resource allocation, and performance metrics.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

As you can see, they cover different aspects of your marketing. While the marketing strategy provides the vision, the marketing plan lays out the roadmap for achieving that vision. This makes them both essential for effective marketing management.

Now, let's jump into what they specifically include, starting with the marketing strategy.


When we explored the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan above, we identified that the strategy focused more on the "what" and "why" of your marketing efforts. As a result, a marketing strategy is made up of six key components:

  • Target Market

  • Value Proposition

  • Competitor Analysis

  • Goals and Objectives

  • Channels and Tactics

  • Performance Metrics and KPIs

Let's explore each one of these.

Target Market

An absolute must for any marketing strategy is knowing your customers inside and out. The greater you understand who your customers are, including demographics, psychographics, behaviours, etc. the greater you can tailor your messaging, products, and services to meet their specific needs and preferences.

This focus will help enhance your marketing efficiency and effectiveness, improving return on investment (ROI) and foster stronger, long-term customer relationships.

You can better understand your target market by undertaking surveys of your existing customer base to highlight similarities between them, as well as conducting external market research.

Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition is the core reason why customers should choose you.

It succinctly communicates the unique benefits and features of your product or service, setting you apart from competitors and addresses specific customer needs or pain points, offering clear solutions or improvements.

If your product isn’t aligned with the needs or challenges of your customers, you won’t be successful. So, the better you communicate this value, the greater success you will have.

Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis provides a comprehensive view of the marketplace, revealing what competitors are doing well and where they fall short.

This insight is invaluable for identifying gaps in the market, potential areas for innovation and opportunities for differentiation.

By understanding the competitive landscape, businesses can better build their value proposition to address the needs of their audience.

Goals and Objectives

Setting clear, measurable goals and objectives is vital for guiding your marketing efforts.

Goals should begin with broader business objectives, such as revenue or new customer targets, and be used to steer marketing activities. Use the SMART framework to help define what success looks like, how it will be measured and when you need to achieve it by.

You’re more likely to achieve your targets the clearer your goals are and the more closely aligned your marketing activity is to these goals.

Channels and Tactics

The right channels and tactics will make or break your strategy. Choose channels that are most aligned with achieving the goals you set, and where you can best reach and engage your target market.

A well-aligned channel strategy ensures that marketing efforts resonate with the target audience, make the biggest impact towards your goals, and ensures the efficient use of funds and resources.

Check out a recent blog where we provide an overview of the most common inbound and outbound marketing channels you might want to consider in your marketing strategy.

Metrics and KPIs

Once channels have been established, you need to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to these tactics.

Implementing the right KPIs ensures that marketing strategies remain aligned with business objectives and provide insights into what's working and what isn't.

This approach ensures ongoing optimisation of marketing efforts, allowing businesses to adjust tactics in real-time improving ROI, and better meeting the needs of their target market.


Now that we've identified what goes into a marketing strategy, it's time to explore the key elements of a marketing plan.

The marketing plan focuses on "how" you are going to deliver your strategy and includes these six core components:

  • Campaigns

  • Budget Allocation

  • Resource Management

  • Timeline

  • Content Creation

  • Measurement Metrics

Let's dive into these in more detail.


Campaigns are the heart of your marketing plan and the central focus of delivering your overall marketing strategy.

Your campaigns are the building blocks of your plan and are the strategic focus that defines your marketing activity for the coming period.

They should engage and add value to your audience as well as drive results against the goals defined in your strategy.

Budget Allocation

Every successful plan needs a realistic budget. The general rule of thumb for most small-to-medium-sized businesses is 5-10% of annual revenue. If you have ambitious growth plans, or are in a specifically competitive market, you may want to increase this.

You’ll want to allocate your marketing budget according to the campaigns that will drive the biggest ROI. For example, if Lead Generation is your core strategic focus, you need to align your budget accordingly.

Proper budget allocation ensures you have the resources to execute your campaigns effectively, without overspending.

Resource Management

One of the most crucial elements of any plan is “who” will deliver it. Evaluating your team’s skills and identifying gaps in resource availability ensures a smooth process and delivery of your campaigns.

Align your team's strengths with your plan's needs, and to maximise efficiency, productivity, and quality, look to hire or outsource where you require the additional skill set not currently available.

If you're wondering whether you may need to outsource some of your marketing efforts, check out our guide to help you decide if you need to hire a marketing agency.


A detailed timeline keeps your plan on track. It outlines when each campaign runs and helps to plan resources for crucial campaign and project milestones.

Implementing a Project Management tool like ClickUp, Monday or Asana can help to keep everything on schedule. You can assign tasks to individuals, keep abreast of campaign statuses, and generate reports to see if you’re running like a well-oiled machine.

We find working backwards from key dates such as seasonal milestones or campaign launch dates helps ensure you start at the right time. And don’t forget to build in contingencies

in case a few timings slip.

Content Creation

Now that you know what campaigns you’re running, how much budget you’ve got to run them, who is going to do it, and when it needs to be done, it’s time to get going. Build out your campaign content and deliver it against your timelines.

Think about how you’re going to measure performance (hint, that’s step 6) and the role each deliverable plays in your plan. That way, you’ll always be creating content that is engaging, fit-for-purpose and delivering against your plan.

We do recommend SEO to all of our clients because of SEO's long-term benefits. So as you create your campaign content, consider how it can benefit your wider marketing strategy and how you can potentially repurpose it for other uses.

Measurement Metrics

We talked about KPIs in our Marketing Strategy too. But those were top-level.

It’s important to also set key metrics and KPIs for individual tactics and deliverables. For example, for email marketing that might be open and click-through rates, for blogs that might be page views and dwell-time.

Set benchmarks or realistic minimum targets which will allow you to track the effectiveness of your campaigns, as well as offering insights for continuous improvement and strategic refinement.


Your marketing efforts, effectiveness and performance would benefit from having both.

The marketing strategy focuses on the bigger picture in terms of who you are targeting, how you communicate your brand messaging and how you will deliver value to the business. Whereas, your marketing plan will provide you a detailed, step-by-step process of how you are going to deliver your marketing.

As a result, you shouldn't be considering either or, you should be building your marketing to incorporate both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

If you need help with building a strategy, plan or executing them, we have the skills and experience to help. As specialists in small business marketing, we aim to provide enterprise-level marketing solutions at SMB prices.

Why not book a free discovery consultation to get started?


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