Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy – What’s the Difference

Serious and high-quality marketing is one of the main conditions for a successful business in the contemporary world. Even though this aspect of running a business is wide and requires specialty, there are some basics that are more or less familiar to the majority of people. It seems that the business of promotion is often presented as an iceberg, where only a small percentage is seen on the surface, while the huge amount is, in fact, hidden below the surface. So, the notions which are easily seen are actually based on those which are deeply rooted below.

There are notions such are marketing plan and marketing strategy which are often used interchangeably, even though they represent different meanings. Indeed, they are closely related and, in a way, go together without separation. But, it is true that their often inseparability makes people even more confused. What do we mean by marketing plan and what do we refer to when we say marketing strategy? Read the following article to find out the difference!

Marketing Plan and Strategy – The Basics


These two terms are closely related and that is probably the reason why people use them interchangeably. However, many people address them as ‘what & how’. In this short definition, the essence of both terms is explained. The ‘what’ stands for strategy, whereas the ‘how’ stands for the plan. It is often said that a successful business cannot be run without either of the two. Some even observe them as two sides of the same coin. In other words, one does not function without the other. For example, if you want to achieve a certain goal, and you don’t have the plan (or you don’t know how to do it), you won’t be able to move forward until you figure out the ‘how’. Likewise, if you know the plan, but haven’t thought through the ‘what’ or the goal, you won’t be able to achieve anything before you combine the ‘what & how’ of the whole story.

Marketing Plan


A marketing plan is the roadmap of your marketing efforts. It is both a detailed and general map which is supposed to keep you on track for achieving your goal.

It can consist of multiple components, such as executive summary (overview), target market, key performance indicators, situation analysis, price, product, place, promotion, social media plan, website, resources and budget, etc.

Marketing Strategy


A marketing strategy can be considered to be the purpose of your business, or in other words what you want to achieve. The key thing to remember is that you should first develop the goal of your business, and then the plan according to which you will achieve it.

It can also consist of numerous components such as executive summary (overview), background, target audience, competitive analysis, offering, message, selling, pricing, etc.

If you work in a team, or a group of people, it is important to work through every component of the marketing plan and strategy. This is important because it helps when it comes to clarification. Furthermore, it is important that every member of the team is on the same page. So, in order to meet your objective, everyone should be familiar with the steps which are necessary in order to do so.

Monitoring All the Components


Once you proceed and advance with the development of your strategy and plan, it is out of crucial importance to keep track of the updates. In this way, you will know exactly how much you have progressed and what you should work on in the future. Also, writing reports might be beneficial when it comes to this because it will give you the opportunity to explore the activities in-depth and to analyze the mistakes.

“Strategy is stable. Plans change!”


Another important thing to keep in mind is the stability of these two notions. In other words, the strategy is stable, whereas plans do change. What does this mean? You ‘what’ or goals should stay more or less the same. Due to the fact that you are ready to invest your time, emotion, and resources into something, it should be permanent and stable. When it comes to the plans, they are more flexible and prone to change. Why is this so? Plans are not 100% in your hands. Sometimes there are factors that occur in the market and those factors simply cannot be predicted. Furthermore, once you start your journey, you will realize new things and incorporate them into the ‘roadmap’. Likewise, you will see that some parts of your plan do not work and that they do not belong there. It does take a lot of time, effort, work, and knowledge to keep every aspect of both marketing plan and strategy in order. In case you are having trouble with doing that, it is probably a good idea to ask somebody for help. Marketing is a complex and wide topic, and you will get the most suitable help and advice from people who are trained and educated. So, if you are having trouble, or you don’t have the time to keep an eye on every aspect of the business, don’t hesitate to hire experts. There are many options online when it comes to the agencies which specialize in this field. For example, Medianovas is one of them. They specialize in digital marketing and are supporting small and mid-sized businesses.


To sum up, the key difference between the above-discussed two notions is the fact that strategy refers to ‘what’ and the plan to ‘how’. Besides the fact that it seems like a simple dilemma, fully understanding and applying both of these terms in the practice requires a lot of effort, persistence, knowledge, and time. While many business-owners enjoy this process, others prefer hiring professionals in order to do a marketing-related job.

About Jeanette Iglesias