Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan?

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Your marketing strategy and your marketing plan are not the same things. The marketing strategy answers the questions of when, where and how you should complete. The marketing plan, on the other hand, is an action document outlining the activity you are going to undertake and when.  Your marketing strategy informs and provides direction to the actions in the marketing plan.

B2B Marketing Strategy

The aim of the B2B marketing strategy is to define when, where and how you are going to win the work you should be winning. It defines the business markets you’ll play in, the timing of entry into those markets and how you are going to win in those markets.

The ‘how' question hones in on how you’ll position the business in your chosen markets relative to your competitors. The positioning strategy defines the experience you’ll offer customers, your services and the price at which you’ll offer those services to offer better value than your competitors in the eyes of your customers. The elements that make up your marketing mix are defined in your marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy Questions:

  1. What is our purpose & what values do we live by?
  2. How are we going to be positioned (vs competitors)?
  3. Who is our target market? - (Where are we going to play?)
  4. What services (value) are we going to offer and at what price?  - (How we're going to win Part 1?)
  5. How are we going to promote our value? - (How are we going to win Part II?)

B2B Marketing (Action) Plan

Your marketing plan is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the strategy is put into action. ...So if there is no allocation of responsibility, KPI’s or a timeline then you haven’t got an action plan!

B2B Marketing Action Plan Gantt Example

Figure: Inbound marketing action plan example

Where the marketing strategy answers the when, where and how questions of competition, the marketing plan creates a series of sub-projects and action plans to meet your specific marketing objectives (eg grow revenue in your defined markets, build awareness...). 

Each action plan should define a set of activities accompanied by a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), a person or people responsible for seeing the action is undertaken and a timeframe within which the action is to take place. There should also be a process to monitor and evaluate the success of the marketing activities to inform ongoing improvement.

A lot of modern B2B marketing plans map actions to the sales funnel - defining actions that will directly lead to new revenue from existing and new clients. They focus on attracting visitors to websites, converting those visitors into leads (captured records) and nurturing those leads to a point where they’re ready to buy.

Marketing (Action) Plan Considerations:

  1. Brand - redevelop or refine the brand and messaging.
  2. Website - redevelop in line with the new brand & optimise the site to capture leads (conversion rate optimise)
  3. Social Plan - develop and implement social sharing
  4. Content Plan - define and map the content needed to attract and nurture potential customers

Final Thought

Your marketing strategy sets a broader framework for winning by defining when, where and how you are going to compete.  A great marketing plan will help you execute your marketing strategy setting out the actions needed to achieve your objectives (and bring the dollars through the door!).  

 SMART Marketing Goal Setting Template

Shane Davies

About Shane Davies

Shane Davies is a digital marketing strategy expert. He helps B2B companies win the work they should be winning. He lives in Cottesloe, Western Australia with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on or LinkedIn or or Google+