You’re posting on social media and you have blog posts on your website, but you’re not seeing any results. What’s the deal? The problem likely isn’t where you’re sharing content — it’s why you’re sharing content.
If your marketing efforts aren’t backed up by a strategy, then you probably won’t see results. Although marketers often use “plan” and “strategy” interchangeably, they are actually two different things. Learn more about the components of both so you can start creating your own foolproof marketing machine.
What Is a Marketing Strategy?
Shaped by your business goals, your marketing strategy is your purpose. It’s what solution you offer, how it aligns with your company’s mission, and why it’s the key to solving your prospect’s challenges.
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's growth. Once you have your strategy, only then will you be able to develop an effective marketing plan.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
Driven by your strategy, your marketing plan is the execution — the roadmap of tactical marketing efforts that will 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.
What’s the Difference Between a Marketing Strategy and a Marketing Plan?
Laura Laire, co-founder of our agency, breaks down the topic in this quick video:
The main difference is that your strategy is the “why” behind your efforts, while your plan is how you’re going to execute the strategy. The chart below details the specific differences.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
While a marketing strategy is a high-level overview, there are still a few key considerations you must understand and document.
Consider the executive summary an outline or table of contents before you jump into the comprehensive strategy.
The background describes your business goals, marketing goals, and challenges. It can also include your previous marketing activities and initiatives.
This asset describes the market opportunities, sizing, segments, and potential impacts, such as trends, the economy, and seasonality. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis will help you capture this piece of your marketing strategy.
This section of your marketing strategy is the detailed version of your buyer personas and their characteristics, including demographics, goals, pains, and buying patterns. In this section, you’ll also want to include examples of negative buyer personas.
Next, include the different categories of competitors and their characteristics including threats, market share comparison, differentiation, and barriers to entry. This will provide 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 product or service you deliver to the market, the features and benefits for each segment, and how you intend on delivering those features and benefits. You’ll also want to document how your product or service is better than competitors’ offerings.
Your message is your opportunity to show prospects that you understand their challenges and that your offering is the key to solving those challenges. It should have variations that speak directly to each of your personas rather than trying to reach everyone with a single message.
Write down the channels you sell through and who is involved in selling through each step of the sales process. This is also a good place to document whether this is an impulse or planned purchase for your audience.
Additionally, describe the steps customers take through each stage of the buyer journey and understand their buying criteria. This will inform the content you can create and use in your marketing materials.
Every customer has unique needs. In some cases, the price may not be an important criterion in the buying process. Is this true for your segment?
What is your pricing model? Is it tiered? Are there discounts? Make sure to include competitive pricing, the perceived value of your product or service compared to the price, services that you include in the price, and how consumer trends could drive the price up or down.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
From your website to social media to all the other channels through which you will engage with potential clients, your marketing plan is a critical component to achieving your business objectives and producing results for your company.
Unlike your marketing strategy, you'll revisit your marketing plan frequently, referring back to it as you implement your tactics and monitor your findings. Here are the various elements you’ll need to create an effective marketing plan.
This is a high-level overview of your marketing goals and how you intend on achieving them.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Your KPIs measure the success of your marketing campaign. Here are some examples:
- Sales revenue
- Cost per lead
- Client value
- Inbound marketing ROI
- Website traffic-to-lead ratio
- Lead-to-client ratio
- Landing page conversion rates
- Organic traffic
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
- Product: What are you offering in the marketplace and how it is different from competitors?
- Price: How is your pricing model different? What is the dollar amount and structure? Why will customers choose your product or service over others?
- Place: Today's digital environment demands a shift toward online sales. Is online the first place that your buyers will see your product? What other avenues will you sell your product?
- Promotion: Where will you be promoting your product? Through online advertising? Email marketing? Blogging? Ensure that each avenue selected will positively impact your revenue.
What channels will you use to reach your audience? Where are they most active? Where do they seek advice? Ask your personas which channels they are on.
Website and Branding
Does your website messaging resonate with your personas? Is it optimized for lead generation?
Even if a potential buyer isn't ready to purchase your service or product today, it doesn't mean they won't later. Establish yourself as a thought leader, providing helpful content on your website to bring in leads until they are ready to buy from you.
Look at what content already exists on your website and determine whether it makes sense for your marketing campaign. Do you need to update the messaging so it better captivates and engages your audience? Are there additional questions or common objections you can address?
Social Media Plan
How is your business using social media? Make sure you have a plan for engaging with thought leaders, replying back to happy clients, and how frequently you will post. Also, make sure you’re clear on what KPIs you’re tracking to measure success.
Communication and Promotion
Where and how often will you communicate with customers? What marketing materials can you create to facilitate this communication? Think about how customers might like to hear about you and your products or services, as well as the most relevant and effective channels for communication.
Ensure that you have a timeline for your campaign. Over time, this will help you measure the overall success and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
What is the amount you will allocate to advertising, digital, website, event marketing, etc.?
Identify who is responsible for each part of the implementation. Is one person creating all the designs? Do you have a content writer responsible for blogging and posting on social media?
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan: You Need Both
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.
And remember, to be successful and generate results, you must ensure that your team is executing a plan that backs up your strategy.
Understanding the current state of your digital presence can identify what you really need from a marketing strategy. Our free 20-minute assessment will show you how you're ranking against your competitors, opportunities for improvement, and more.