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How to Create a Strategic Plan

Looking for a way to take your company in a new and profitable direction? It starts with strategic planning. Keep reading to learn what a strategic plan is, why you need it and how you can strategically create one.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

When it comes to business and finance, strategic planning will help you allocate your resources, energy and assets. When implemented, a strategic plan will begin to move your operations in a more profitable direction. The primary goal of the plan is to ensure you and any other stakeholders are on the same page and striving to reach the same goal.

Creating a strategic plan requires a disciplined effort. Once you put the plan into action, it will influence the segment of customers that you target, how you serve those customers and the experience those customers have.

Assess the Current Infrastructure and Operations

The first step in creating a strategic plan is to carefully assess your existing infrastructure and operations. You can do this through a SWOT analysis, which is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal here is to pinpoint the resources that you use to carry out your day-to-day operations, to look at your monthly revenue patterns, to list any company challenges related to the customer experience and, most importantly, to look at your marketing methods and ways to improve the overall customer experience.

Creation of Mission Statement and Objectives

The next step is to create a mission statement. You may already have one, but it’s important to note your mission at the top of the strategic plan document you create. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. Your mission statement should cover why you started the company and what you intend to accomplish through the products and services that you offer.

In addition to the mission statement, make sure to outline both short- and long-term objectives. List the objectives according to their priority and designate certain managers or employees to be responsible for each one. Also, jot down the resources that will be used to achieve each objective.

Measure Performance

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve and who is responsible for each goal, it’s time to deploy the plan and measure its progress. A weekly meeting is extremely important for all managers and stakeholders provide feedback. Your goal is to determine if the company is headed in the right direction. If not, you’ll need to revise the strategic plan accordingly.

Strategic Plans Are Ongoing

Once your strategic plan helps you achieve several objectives, it’s smart to regroup and set new objectives. As your company grows, you can set new goals to ensure the company keeps moving forward. You can share the success of your strategic plan with potential investors as a way to tap into new capital funding.


compare and differentiate strategic planning and marketing planning using the venn diagram

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan – Similarities and Differences

Clint sanchez.

marketing plan vs marketing strategy similarities differences

We cringe when we hear these two words used interchangeably, especially by marketing “experts” here in Louisiana.

A marketing plan and a marketing strategy are two separate elements of your business’s marketing.

Your marketing strategy is your approach to achieving your competitive advantage — the marketing plan is the activities that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

Simply put, a marketing strategy is the “what,” and a marketing plan is the “how.”

Both a marketing plan and a marketing strategy are essential for your business’s growth, and this article will explain what each is, how they are alike, how they differ, and how the two work to help you meet your long-term marketing objectives.

Related Reading:

What is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy is essentially a document that answers some of your company’s biggest questions:

Of course, your marketing strategy can contain more or less information, but the purpose is to be a sort of compass and help you keep your company’s marketing focused on your marketing goals.

Your marketing strategy should be based on your overall business goals.

Suppose your business strategy is to grow your business revenue by 40%.  

Then your marketing strategy will explain how marketing will help you achieve those goals.

It’s a 50,000-foot point of view.

Your marketing strategy should NOT go into laser-focused marketing tactics.  That will come into play later on.

It should, however, attempt to answer the following questions:

8 Questions to Ask When Creating your Marketing Strategy

marketing plan vs marketing strategy

1. What business objectives does your marketing strategy need to support?

Believe it or not, this simple question tends to be overlooked.

Define your end game. 

If your business hasn’t defined what you’re trying to sell, and to whom then your marketing strategy has a 0.00% chance of being successful.

Your marketing should move your business to a different place than where it currently is, such as:

First, you want to clearly define your business objectives in measurable terms, for example:

2. What statistics and metrics will we use to determine success or failure?

Before you type the first word on your marketing strategy, ask yourself (or your team) how you are going to determine if your marketing efforts have been successful.

Make sure that you have a means in place to measure and report on that data.

For example, if you define success as the number of conversions (new customers) from an email marketing campaign, you’ll need to have a CRM in place to know which new customers came from your email blast.

Invest in quality measurement tools so that you can effectively implement your marketing strategies.

3. What should my marketing budget be?

We get this question all the time.  Marketers and business owners focus way too much on the perfect number and end up spending nothing at all.

Or, worse they spend based on a random figure, and no system is in place to have any meaningful impact.

The amount you should spend on your marketing is simply to spend what makes sense for your business. 

How do you figure that out?

4. What marketing strategies and plans have you used in the past?

Before you look ahead, it would do you well to look behind. 

Look back at what you’ve already done to determine what’s worked in the past, and what hasn’t.

If you have access to performance data, now’s the perfect time to pull it out.

Learn from your mistakes, and try to duplicate your successes as best you can.

The more information you can analyze before you start making new decisions, the better informed you’ll be (and the smarter your decisions will be).

5. What’s your competitive landscape like?

semrush traffic analytics for google

When building a new marketing strategy, it’s not just important to know what works and doesn’t work for your company.  Take the time to analyze your competition as well.

Identify your competition, both locally and nationally (depending on your industry).  It’s important to know how those that provide the same products or services are representing themselves.

Not only that, but you’re probably competing against businesses—and other factors—that might not occur to you without doing a little research.

Better said, you’re competing against more than just your competitors.

You are also competing against businesses that may not offer the exact same thing as you, but those whose offerings can have an impact on yours.

Throw in the digital marketplace, and now you’re competing with other businesses that may have the same name as yours.

So now that you know who your competition is, you’ll need to audit their marketing in the same manner that you did your own.

Take a look at what they’re doing, and compare it to what you’ve done.  

To get a leg up on them, if you possibly can, take a look at their company’s website’s metrics by using a paid SEO tool such as Ahrefs or Semrush .

Now you can see what’s working for them, and what isn’t, just like you did for your own efforts.

6. What messages will work for your audience, and how will you position them?

Before you start banging out content, you need to establish who you’ll be talking to and how you should talk to them. 

Don’t take a shot in the dark, and don’t make assumptions.  Actually do the research to identify your audience and to determine what messages and positioning will be the best suited for them.

You can easily do this by examining data you should already be collecting from your website via analytics tools such as Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics .

If your company doesn’t have a website, check out our pay-per-month website program to help avoid resource-draining website development costs.

Build customer personas based on that and any other market research you have access to or have done yourself.

Now that you have that information, it should be evident what your message should be, and who it should be said to.

Bear in mind, that it is critical that your content 

7. Who can assist in implementation?

Take an inventory of those people inside and outside your organization who can assist with carrying out your plan. 

Allow these people to guide your strategic marketing plan. 

A strategy is of no use if you lack the financial or human capital to execute it.

Get creative . 

In addition to company staff, think about bringing in the expertise of industry leaders, key partners, influencers, vendors, clients, and interns. 

How can you use all of these individual contributions to support mutual goals?

42 percent of companies have a designated content strategist. Consider hiring one for your business.

The main reason that great ideas and strategies are unexecuted is that no one took the time to figure out who was going to do the work.

8. Who is going to be in charge?

While momentum is important in marketing, so is consistent execution.

Without a clear decision-making process prior to content creation, your ideas and work may get lost in unresponsiveness or opinions.

Assign one trustworthy person the responsibility of approving all content.

The more complex your process is the smaller your chances of having a strategic marketing effort.

Too many chefs spoil the stew.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Your marketing plan is based on your marketing strategy, and consists of the specifics and methods you will be using to achieve your goals:

As opposed to your marketing strategy, your marketing plan is more concerned with which tactics, campaigns, initiatives, and promotions you’ll run in a designated amount of time. 

When you create a marketing plan, bear in mind that typical marketing plans can range from three months to a year and should remain semi-flexible in the event that your marketing needs to shift priorities.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

marketing plan vs marketing strategy infographic blaksheep creative

To help you visualize all of this, we’ve created a graphic that explains some of the core differences between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

In our experience, your marketing strategy probably won’t change as much as your marketing plan. 

If it does, it’s almost impossible to gain any real traction or to effectively measure the impact of your marketing on the business. 

However, you’ll probably need to revisit your marketing strategy each year, whereas you’ll be executing against your marketing plan regularly.

Example: Content Marketing

Most marketers have some knowledge of content marketing, so we’ll it as an example. 

Like mentioned earlier, strategies address high-level issues whereas plans show how you’re going to execute.

Content Marketing Strategy

Your content marketing strategy plan should include some basic questions:

Your content marketing strategy isn’t intended to point out every single topic you’re going to write about or even what your specific KPIs for the upcoming year are going to be. 

Instead, it’s supposed to give you some context as to why you’re investing in content marketing , who you’re targeting, what mediums (website, social media, print ads)  you’re going to use, and more.

Content Marketing Plan

Now that you have your content marketing strategy set, your content marketing plan will explain how you’re going to attack the problem.

Here is where you will document your goals and KPIs, the resources you intend on creating, when you will be creating them, who will be creating them, how you’ll be promoting each piece of content, and more.

At the least, you should set up an editorial calendar to make everyone aware of what topics your content is addressing, where it’s being published, when it’s being published, what channels it’ll be promoted through, and what goals it should be aiming to hit.

We realize that this may seem like a lot cause it is.  The important thing to remember is that effective marketing requires planning, execution, and analytics.

As always, if you need help creating an effective marketing plan, analyzing your marketing strategy, or anything else in our wheelhouse, feel free to contact us , and we’ll give you a free consultation.

Clint Sanchez

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Read BBA, BMS, B.Com Syllabus wise Notes

Difference between Marketing Planning and Strategic planning

The Purpose of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is designed to provide an organization, its divisions, departments or even individual players with a game plan or road map to achieve specific goals and objectives. Strategic planning identifies internal and external effects and opportunities to consider in the creation of strategies and tactics. From a marketing standpoint, strategic planning might help to identify new market opportunities as well as new competitive threats.

The Planning Process

A number of steps are involved in any strategic planning process, including a strategic marketing planning process. These steps include identifying the overall planning goal, selecting team participants and gathering data related to the internal and external environment.

They can include conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, developing specific objectives, creating strategies and tactics, and designing a measurement and reporting process. In many organizations, the overall strategic plan provides direction for the creation of sub-plans, including a strategic marketing plan.

A marketing plan includes:

Introduce the business, brand and product with the objectives to be achieved in the long run

Sum the marketing strategies and overview into a summary.

Describe the targeted market and industry

Explore your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and keep a record of analysis for future reference.

Highlight specific and short term aims and objectives

Aims and objectives related to building brand identity and strategy

Aims and objectives for overall promotional campaigns

Defined actions, deadlines to carry out actions to accomplish the objectives and the budget necessary for implementing the actions.

Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

The components of a strategic marketing plan include goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, according to Opportunity Goals are broad and provide general direction in terms of what the marketing organization would like to achieve, for instance an increased market share.

Objectives are tied to goals and provide more specific, measurable outcomes; for example, increase market share in a specific geographic area for a specific product, by a certain amount or by a specific date. Strategies and tactics indicate how goals and objectives will be met.

Strategies are broad: for instance, implement a social media strategy. Tactics are more specific and indicate the individual tasks to achieve the strategies for instance, set up a Twitter account or establish a YouTube channel.

The Important Role of Measurement

It is not enough to strategize a plan must include some form of measurement and a process for monitoring and reviewing results. An overall strategic plan might outline broad objectives for marketing; the marketing plan would detail more specific objectives for the marketing department to monitor and report on.

The results achieved whether they fall short or exceed expectations provide input used to consider changes or adjustments in the plan. Ongoing measurement and reporting can help to ensure the strategic plan continues to achieve measurable results.

Using digital analytical tools, such as those that come free with most websites, help businesses track where potential customers are coming from and what they’re searching for. Administering and analyzing sales reports and customer surveys also help manager learn what they are doing right and wrong.

Marketing Strategy

Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but they actually mean two different things.

Marketing Strategy : Shaped by your business strategy, your marketing strategy should explain the problem and how you will overcome it. It’s the offering you deliver, how you will deliver it, and why your marketing efforts will help you achieve your company’s mission and strategic goals. Once you have your strategy, only then will you be able to develop an effective marketing plan.

Marketing Plan : Driven by your marketing strategy, your marketing plan is the execution. It’s the roadmap of marketing efforts that help you achieve your marketing goals. Your plan should include detailed campaigns of what you will do, where you will do it, what they will cost, how and when you will implement them, and how you will track success.

If you have your marketing strategy, are your plans working to meet those goals? If not, this may be the reason why you’re not seeing your desired results.

The difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan comes down to purpose and application.

Marketing strategy is driven by your business strategy: What do you want? Where you will play? How you will win? A marketing plan includes goal-driven activities and tactics to help you achieve the strategy.

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Marketing Plan vs Marketing Strategy: What's the Difference?

You’re posting on social media, you have blog posts but you’re not seeing any results. What’s the deal? The problem isn’t what you’re doing, it’s why you’re doing it. If your marketing efforts are not backed up by a strategy then that’s probably why you’re not seeing results. Before posting content, you should always start with your marketing strategy and then use it to support your marketing plan and efforts.

What is the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy?

Our Co-Founder, Laura Laire, has a quick overview of this topic:

Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, but they actually mean two different things. We’ve found that the simplest way to explain the difference is:

Marketing Strategy

Shaped by your business strategy, your marketing strategy is your purpose; it's the offering you deliver, how you will deliver it, and why your marketing efforts will help you achieve your company’s mission and strategic goals. While many people think about jumping into action when it comes to marketing, having a clearly defined marketing strategy is incredibly important for your business growth. Once you have your strategy, only then will you be able to develop an effective marketing plan.

Marketing Plan

Driven by your strategy, your marketing plan is the execution; the roadmap of tactical marketing efforts that help you achieve your marketing goals. Your plan is your detailed campaign of what you will do, where you will do it, when you will implement it, and how you will track success.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan 

What's the difference.

The main difference is that your strategy is the “why” behind your efforts, while your plan is how you’re going to execute your strategy. This chart details the differences between your marketing plan and marketing strategy.

New LAIRE Marketing-strategy-vs-marketing-plan-image

What’s included in your marketing strategy?

Executive summary.

The outline of your marketing strategy. This is your marketing strategy from a high level. Consider it the table of contents before you jump into the entire strategy.

The background describes your business goals, marketing goals, and challenges. The background can also include your previous marketing activities and initiatives.

Market Analysis

Your market analysis describes the opportunity, market sizing, market segments, and impacts that could affect your market (trends, economics, seasons).

Target Audience

The detailed version of your market segments and their characteristics (from their demographics to psychographics, goals, pains, buying patterns, and positioning of benefits and unique selling proposition). In this section, you will also want to include examples of segments you are not targeting and how your offering is better than competitors.

Competitive Analysis

The different categories of competitors and their characteristics including threats, market share comparison, differentiation, barriers to entry, etc. An overall look at what your competitors are doing digitally and how their activities seem to be performing from a keyword, paid advertising, and social perspective .

This includes what you deliver or offer to the market, what the need is, the feature and benefits for each segment, and how you intend on delivering those features or benefits.

Uncover what the audience knows or believes about your company today. Determine the most important message to all segments and provide evidence supporting that claim. This is a great opportunity to provide information from happy clients - what do they say that supports your message? Why are they happy?

Write down the channels you sell through, and who is involved in selling through each step of the sales process. This is a good place to document whether this is an impulse or planned purchase. Additionally, describe the steps they take through each stage of the buying process and understand their buying criteria, this informs the content you can create and use in your marketing materials.

If you have your marketing strategy, are you executing your plan to meet those goals? If not, this may be the reason why you’re not seeing results. 

Now, let’s take a look at a marketing plan. Unlike your marketing strategy, you'll use the marketing plan more frequently; referring back to it as you implement your plan and monitor your findings. Learn more about reviewing your findings in this blog: 5 Steps for Successfully Reviewing Your Marketing Plan .

What’s included in your marketing plan?

Provide a brief overview of the marketing plan. A high-level overview of your goals and how you intend on achieving them.

Target Market

Provide an overview of your target market, their pains, goals, buying patterns, and messaging. In other words, who is your ideal buyer persona , what challenges are they facing, how do they connect with your business, and how can you create language that speaks directly to them?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Your KPIs measure the success of your marketing campaign. Here are some examples of KPIs for your marketing campaign: 

Situation Analysis

Describe your goals, strengths, weaknesses, environmental factors, and market analysis to clearly articulate your challenges and impacts on your business moving forward.

The 4 "P"s of Marketing 

From your website to social media, to content, and the channels you will engage with potential clients, your marketing plan is a critical component to achieving your business objectives and producing results for your company. There are many best practices when it comes to creating a successful marketing plan , but they should all include the following:

Website and Branding

Content strategy and plan, social media plan, resources/budget, responsibilities.

Your marketing plan acts as your roadmap, clearly identifying the plan of action for your marketing efforts. Your marketing strategy, on the other hand, describes the overarching reason for how your marketing efforts will help you achieve your goals. Remember, to be successful and generate results, you must ensure that your team is executing a plan that backs up your strategy.

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Founder & Managing Partner, LAIRE

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compare and differentiate strategic planning and marketing planning using the venn diagram

The Marketing Strategy vs. the Marketing Plan

The Marketing Strategy vs. the Marketing Plan

Do marketing teams need strategy? I recently answered this question with an emphatic Y-E-S. Strategy allows bold marketers to use their creativity to drive the growth of a company. Yet far too many marketing teams are working without strategy . Some do not even have a firm marketing plan.

In order to do meaningful work, you need to know where you are going and how you will get there. In other words, you need a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

The marketing strategy is your approach to achieving your competitive advantage — the marketing plan contains the activities that will get you there.

The strategy is the why behind the work, and the marketing plan when and the what that describes the work. While this is a rather simple definition, there is often confusion around strategy versus planning. This is especially true if you work on a team that does not lead with strategy. You might wonder — Do marketing teams really need both? What are the differences?

The first question is easy enough. Yes, you need both. The latter will take a bit more time to explain, which is why I have detailed my answer below.

Build your own strategic marketing plans

Here are the key differences between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan:

Purpose The purpose of a marketing strategy is to capture the marketing goals — what needs to happen for your product or service to reach the right customers and do well in market. Strategy keeps the team aligned around those shared goals by helping everyone understand who will get the most value from your offerings (the target audience), the value proposition, and how you will reach your ideal customer.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to describe and visualize for the team when and how you will accomplish those goals. Plans establish the timeline and themes of your work — your campaigns and programs — and allow you to prioritize the activities within each based on your strategy. This makes it clear how every activity connects to both the marketing goals and overall business goals.

Timing A marketing strategy should be created before you do any actual work. It lays the foundation for all your campaigns and activities. But you do not need to craft a new one for each new campaign. To make a real impact, your marketing strategy should not change significantly in a short period of time. Instead, reevaluate it quarterly and make adjustments as you see changes in your market, team, and budget.

A marketing plan should be created once you have an established marketing strategy — a clear understanding of why you are doing the work. You might create a variety of different plans over a quarter — for different campaigns or programs or by teams such as product, digital, and content marketing. Each plan should be time-bound and include key dates for when a given activity needs to be completed.

Components The marketing strategy usually contains the following:

Company vision and goals

Marketing goals



Brand essence

Buyer personas

Competitive landscape

The marketing plan usually contains the following:

Campaign goals

Timeline with key milestones

Channels to be used


Reports A marketing strategy should be created with the leadership team or, at a minimum, have their agreement . One of the best ways to share your strategy is to present how your major initiatives map to the objectives via a strategy report . It showcases that you are thinking about how everything is connected.

Blog - The Marketing Strategy vs. the Marketing Plan - inline image

Your colleagues will need to understand the details of your marketing plan . This makes sense because they need to know how they can help and what dependencies exist. There are many visual ways to share this. For example, show this by creating a schedule as a Gantt chart or calendar. These kinds of reports show the timeline for when each activity needs to be completed and who the owner is.

Blog - The Marketing Strategy vs. the Marketing Plan - inline image

Strategy and plans work together to motivate the team  — so you can move forward boldly, with purpose.

So, how do you go about formalizing your marketing strategy and your marketing plan? Each one has many components, so it can be difficult to track in a spreadsheet or documents that are not widely shared. You may want to consider using a purpose-built marketing planning tool — which makes it easy to set strategy, build visual plans, work on activities, and report on the results.

No matter where you log the details, you need to make the information accessible to each member of the team. This way you can keep everyone moving forward — focused on the big goals and plans. Because yes, marketing teams need strategy too .

How do you set your marketing strategies and plans?

Launch breakthrough marketing campaigns with Aha! Start a free 30-day trial .

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability . Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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what is the difference between strategic planning from marketing planning?which has to broader scope among this two​


Strategic planning-is designed to provide an organization, its divisions, departments or even individual players with a game plan or road map to achieve specific goals and objectives. ... From a marketing standpoint, strategic planning might help to identify new market opportunities as well as new competitive threats.

Marketing Planning –

Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it and who is to do it. Planning is simply a rational approach to accomplish an objective. It bridges the gap from where we are & where we want to go. Planning is the first management function to be performed instra the process of management. It governs survival, growth and prosperity of any enterprise in a competitive and ever changing environment.


they are not the same because Strategic Planning have only individual players with a game plan,and also Marketing Planning is means deciding in advance what to do.

New questions in Technology and Home Economics


Relationship Between Strategic Planning & Marketing Strategies

Operating a successful business requires ongoing assessments of how resources are allocated relative to meeting the company's financial goals. Strategic planning deals with the allocation of company resources in accordance with its financial goals. Marketing strategies translate financial goals into action steps to drive demand for a company's products or services.

The Strategic Plan

A strategic plan is primarily an internal document for key staff and stakeholders in ongoing businesses. The document prioritizes the allocation of the resources -- time, money and people -- required to meet your financial goals. Its main purpose is to articulate a company's strategic direction while ensuring that all operating departments use the same playbook in terms of clarity of purpose. It is a dynamic document, because it is a road map for moving your business from its current position to where you want it to be.

Strategic Planning Process

The strategic planning process assesses the internal and external environments in which your business operates. It focuses on identifying a business' strategic or core competency relative to market opportunities. SWOT analysis is a common method many companies use to identify their core competencies and market opportunities -- analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to the internal environment of a business, while opportunities and threats refer to the external environment. The objective of this exercise is to determine the best ways to capitalize on the assets that favor your strategic goals, your strengths and market opportunities, while controlling the inhibiting factors, your weaknesses and competitive threats. In effect, your strategic plan tells you the best stadium in which to play the game.

Linking the Two

By using an analytical tool such as SWOT to work through a company assessment, you may discover gaps between your current position and where you want to be. This discovery process provides the clarity you need to develop a realistic marketing strategy to achieve your strategic goal and propel your business to greater profits and higher market share. Basically, your marketing strategy is a continuation of the strategic planning process and is, arguably, the heart of your strategic plan.

Marketing Strategy Components

An effective marketing strategy requires the deployment of several interconnected components, commonly referred to as the marketing mix or the marketing 4 Ps: product, place, price and promotion. Winning marketing strategies offer a clearly defined target market the right product or service at places easily available and at prices that signal value to the target market with promotions -- including advertising -- that provoke a desire to buy.

George Boykin started writing in 2009 after retiring from a career in marketing management spanning 35 years, including several years as CMO for two consumer products national advertisers and as VP for an AAAA consumer products advertising agency. Boykin mainly writes about advertising and marketing for SMBs.

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The difference between marketing and strategic marketing.

The difference between marketing and strategic marketing is sort of like the difference between a piece of cheese and using that piece of cheese to make some delicious lasagna - while the former may be great on its own, it's nothing when compared to its use as part of an overall plan that makes the best use possible of all the parts involved., a strategic marketing plan integrates selected, targeted marketing tactics all with common goals; while marketing alone is often activity without purpose..

Strategic marketing is ensuring that every one of your marketing efforts ( e.g., e-newsletters, advertising in magazines, website, direct mailers and so on ) aligns with your overall plan to connect the information you have with the audience that needs to hear it.

The key to understanding and creating an effective strategic marketing campaign is developing a comprehensive strategic marketing plan that allows everyone in your organization to understand what your marketing goals are and your plan for accomplishing them.

Table Of Contents

1:   Audience Identification & Analysis

2:   Competitor Analysis

3:   Opportunity Analysis

4:   Marketing Message Analysis

5:   Marketing Tactics

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Brian Halligan , CEO of HubSpot

"To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products."

What Should A Strategic Marketing Plan Include?

Marketing has become extremely complex between hundreds of channels, many software options, tons of data, and audiences who have become numb to advertising along with short attention spans..

This is all the more reason for your marketing to be strategic rather than reactionary or just activity to fill the void.

A great strategic marketing plan should provide the following:

If you ask marketers about what challenges they struggle with most, the top answers are generating traffic into leads and proving ROI.

Marketers Top Challanges

While we must be agile in our approach and adapt to new information, changing business conditions as well as shifting organizational priorities, strategic planning can mitigate some of our greatest marketing challenges.

Read on to learn more about five key aspects of a strategic marketing plan.

Tracey Sherlock, Chief Marketer

“Every business exists to solve a problem. Identifying what these problems are can be useful in determining who your target audience is. However, it’s not just enough for you to think an error exists; your potential customers also need to be aware that they have the problem.”

Audience Identification, Analysis, and Prioritization

Whether you’re a software startup or a mom and pop auto shop, your marketing only becomes strategic when you know your audience inside and out., more importantly, remember that whatever you sell fulfills a need or solves a problem for your target market..

Therefore, when identifying and analyzing your target audience, always start at the end:

If you sell technology or software to help small businesses manage finances, then you should build out strategic target personas of who might be buying your product. Don’t be afraid to engage with some of your current customers to help develop this, as their word will be better than you simply “filling in the blanks.” You can then determine how they look for software like yours (google search, review sites, online forums, etc.) and when they typically look for solutions like yours. 

Audience identification and analysis takes marketing to the strategic level because you’ll be able to target your message to achieve the highest ROI, instead of simply taking a “spitball” approach that often too many businesses take.

Explore our show on Brand Strategy to learn about prioritization and differentiation.

Richard Willner, Director @ Further

“Have you ever gone to catch a train without looking at the departure times first? Probably not. Most people would rather not take the risk, especially when the information is easily available. So why would you create a digital marketing strategy without a competitor analysis?”

Analyzing Your Competitors

Your marketing doesn’t exist in a bubble, plain and simple. even if you think what you’re doing is effective, prospects and customers are going to stack things up with your direct competitors..

One of the key differentiators between strategic and non-strategic marketing is analyzing the competition in order to fine tune your own approach.

Effective competitor analysis should look at what “they” are up to:

You can conduct a competitive marketing analysis with a variety of information, tools, and resources available online. Use Google Keyword Planner or Moz to run reports on where your competitors rank for key search terms. Or inventory their content marketing to see what topics they’re blogging on, how often, etc.

Without a competitive analysis and the ability to craft a message that stands out from the crowd, your marketing simply won’t be at a strategic level.

Competitor Content Marketing

Sarah Schmidt,

“ In a five-year study , researchers analyzed the growth and performance of 1,850 corporations. They found that the companies with the most sustained profitable growth had used a systematic, disciplined approach to expand the boundaries of their core business into an adjacent space.”

Opportunity Analysis And Goal Setting

A strategic marketing approach needs to be in alignment with the key opportunities that your business is going after..

Therefore, you’ll want to conduct a thorough opportunity analysis in conjunction with your marketing plan.

Whether it’s expanding into a new market, shifting your product or service offerings, or going after different demographics, here are some things to consider as you’re on the lookout for new possibilities and opportunities:

Without conducting a thorough opportunity analysis, you won’t be able to strategically market to the highest value customer segments. You’ll want to also explore adjacent opportunities to your core business that will allow you to easily build upon your current expertise, and brainstorm potential marketing strategies to attack those new verticals. Think of potentially valuable demographic segments that are similar to your current customers, and analyze which ones you might want to start marketing to.

By conducting an opportunity analysis, you’ll have a better idea of where your business should expand next, and start thinking of which marketing capabilities you’ll need to build out to expand.

Myk Pono, SaaS Entrepreneur

“Designing strategic messaging is definitely worth the effort. Simple and concise messages resonate with your prospects and lead to less friction in the sales process. Strategic messaging drives effective content strategy since it helps your organization focus on target audiences and their values.”

Brand Positioning And Marketing Message Analysis

Another key pillar of strategic marketing is figuring out what you’re saying, what you need to be saying, and the best way to say it., in short, conducting a messaging analysis will allow you to fine-tune your communications and make sure that everything from your website copy to your company blog is laser-focused on what connects with your target audience..

Here are some of the key aspects to a strategic marketing message analysis:

A digital marketing partner can help you take many of the above steps, including an inventory of your current messaging and digital assets. Messaging that is nonstrategic can come across generic or haphazard at best, and completely off putting to your target market at worst.

That’s why it’s so important to take a strategic approach to your messaging, and focus on your key differentiators and the problems you solve for your customers.

Bruce McDuffee, Manufacturing Marketing Group

“When creating your marketing plan, strategic marketing comes first because it deals with the direction of your business growth in relation to your competitors. It is a long-term goal that is broad. Next, comes tactical planning which consists of the actual process involved in improving your competitive position.”

Building Marketing Tactics Into Targeted Campaigns

The final element that sets strategic marketing apart from any run-of-the-mill approach is mapping out the specific tactics that will help you achieve your overall business goals..

While the above five steps lay the foundation for any strategic plan, marketing tactics lay out how you’ll accomplish the “blocking and tackling” of actually getting the word out to your target audience, engaged on the right channels, and moving efficiently down the sales funnel.

Whether it’s digital channels like blogging and social media, or traditional avenues like radio and print, here’s what you’ll want to ask yourself when outlining the specific tactics you’ll take to execute on connecting your clients with your message:

Implementing the correct marketing tactics based on the previous four steps and analysis is where a strategic marketing approach really shows how valuable it can be. You’ll be able to see your content generating leads, your social posts generating traffic, and (hopefully) sales going up in the markets and demographics you’re targeting.

Tactics are where all the hard work you’ve done finally starts to pay off, and you can actually see the bottom line impact versus a non-strategic approach to marketing.

B2B Marketing tactics

Final Thoughts on Strategic Marketing

A comprehensive and accurate strategic marketing plan, assuming that you have the dedication and commitment to follow it, will open new doors with potential and existing clients and connect them with the information that they’re looking for. .

This type of dedication is the difference between companies that are “players” in a given sector and those that are “winners” in their sector.

One important thing to watch for is the "Activity for Activities Sake" marketing approach that feels good because you are checking boxes off the list, but doing so without any real strategy or plan. Many companies get sucked into this trap and get an endorphin rush when a blog gets written or they see a post on their company's social media feed.

Although it can feel good for a minute, it is often empty and doesn't produce results.

If you want you marketing to really work, it needs to be part of a well-thought strategic marketing strategy and plan.

Michael Porter

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Additional Resources On Strategic Marketing

Want to learn more about strategic marketing well, here are some key articles we have compiled for you..

What Is Strategic Marketing? Organizations use strategic marketing to create a plan to better reach and satisfy customers while increasing profitability and productivity.

  Six Actionable Steps to Build a Strategic Marketing Plan at Your Organization Building an annual B2B marketing plan is no simple task. The plan must provide a strategy to transform business objectives into marketing priorities and goals, while outlining how to execute and reach those goals.

  The Strategic Marketing Process: A Complete Guide A well defined and feasible marketing strategy makes meeting customer needs a likely and attainable goal. And while most companies do great marketing, only a few have created brand attachment and customer loyalty through their marketing practices and tactics.

Know the Differences & Comparisons

Difference Between Planning and Strategy

Last updated on February 7, 2023 by Surbhi S

planning vs strategy

In business, one might come across with the terms planning and strategy, end number of times. Planning is the basic function of management that tries to take a peep into the future. On the other hand, strategy is one of the components of planning and is also known as interpretative planning. The two terms have different meanings and usage in the business world. So, have a glance at the article that explains the difference between planning and strategy.

Content: Planning Vs Strategy

Comparison chart, definition of planning.

Planning is an organized process of thinking in advance about a future action. It means the preparation of the plan, i.e. the sequence of steps which will help in achieving organizational objectives. Planning is among the five management functions apart from organizing, controlling, motivating & leading and decision-making.

Planning is a future-oriented activity that takes place in routine decisions of a family, a friend group, a college, government and most importantly, in business management. It requires good judgment skills to choose which action is to be done earlier or later to avoid overlapping in actions.

Planning process

Planning process

Planning needs goal setting for which planning needs to be done. After that, alternative courses of action are found, and finally, deciding which plan will lead to your destination successfully. It doesn’t mean that everything will go according to your plan, or it may also happen that the plan may fail midway, so the second list of plans is also prepared, which act as a complementary plan to the original plan if it fails, for achieving the goals successfully in the limited time.

The creation of complementary plans is also a part of the planning procedure. Planning needs to be flexible in nature so that any change can be done if required by the organization. With the help of planning, an organization can exercise control over the action, i.e. whether everything is going as per plan or not.

Video: Planning

Definition of Strategy

The strategy is a master game plan designed to achieve the objectives of an organization. It is a mix of competitive moves and actions made by the top-level management for the accomplishment of goals successfully. They are dynamic and flexible in nature. Strategies are based on practical experiences, not on theoretical knowledge, i.e. they are realistic and action-oriented activities. It requires deep analysis of the managers on any move or action, implementation timing, the sequence of actions, outcome, competitors’ reactions, etc.

In the business world, corporate strategies are made for the expansion and growth of entities, which include mergers, diversification, divestment, acquisition and many others. Strategies are made according to the present situations and conditions prevalent in the business environment, but it can’t be said that they are perfect because of the changing needs and demands of the people; strategies may fail.

Moreover, the market scenario will take an unexpected turn any time in the blink of an eye, and nothing lasts forever. Therefore the organization has to be ready for such unpredictable changes and develop a strategy for overcoming these situations. So, the organisation’s corporate strategy combines proactive and reactive strategies.

Video: Business Strategy

Key Differences Between Planning and Strategy

The major differences between Planning and Strategy are as under:

Planning is a forethought of what is to be done in future, but Strategy is a blueprint of what you want to be and where you want to be. Both Planning and Strategy are made by the top-level managers as they know the mission and vision of the organization clearly, so they will make their plans and strategies to take a step forward towards their mission and vision. Planning is preventive in nature, whereas Strategy is quite competitive, but both aim at the optimum utilization of scarce resources.

Related Differences

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corporate vs business strategy


March 29, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Good explanation!!

Arun Kumar says

May 19, 2017 at 10:13 am

Thank you for sharing.

Dr. C. H. Rao says

December 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Very explicitly detailed and easily understood

Behailu says

March 27, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Good clarification!!

mikael ahmad says

May 25, 2019 at 4:19 pm

thanks for your effort.

Mohammad Halla says

June 14, 2019 at 5:42 pm

simply explained as insprational as any knowledge seeker requires to delve deeper. thank you so much

Kamaraj says

December 4, 2021 at 10:17 pm

Good comparison and examples

Denise says

June 12, 2022 at 9:56 pm

Great comparisons and examples. Simplified and made easy to understand

muhdin says

December 13, 2022 at 8:23 pm

really a good explanation

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