If you have started a business (or intend to do so in the future), you have likely determined it will be important to have a business plan moving forward. It is equally important to have a sound marketing plan. Creating plans that work with one another is crucial to your success. Doing so will enable your company to stay organized and will help you take measurable steps to achieve whatever level of accomplishment you are aiming for. So, what makes the difference between a marketing plan and a business plan, and how do they both benefit you?
A business plan is, basically, an over-arching snapshot of your business. It will succinctly map out what your business is all about and what steps you will need to take, to grow it successfully. Within a business plan, you will devote some time and energy into determining your overall strategy, finding your target market, explaining your services and products in detail, outlining your operations, determining a realistic financial plan and more. A business plan can be beneficial for your own use to keep you on track, or to help potential investors understand the ins and outs of your company. Developing a business plan can be a lengthy process but is typically well worth the time that goes into creating it.
Within the framework of the business plan, you will find a section dedicated to the marketing plan. A marketing plan can also be split out into its own document or plan, rather than just being one section of the business plan. We highly recommend doing this (for reasons we will dive into later). Marketing plans focus solely on determining how to get your service(s) and/or product(s) into the hands of the consumers that will benefit the most from them. Within this portion of your business plan is where you will work on determining who those consumers are as well as deciding on your marketing goals and strategies, researching your competition in the market and determining what types of marketing channels you will use to educate your audience about the thing(s) you are offering. In other words, how will your company stand out from your competitors and grab your audiences attention?
How A Marketing Plan and a Business Plan Work Together
While you are unlikely to create a business plan without including a marketing plan, some business owners do choose to decide on their marketing without diving into an entire business plan. While there are times when this might be the best idea for your business (and only you will be able to determine whether or not that is true for you), having both can be extremely helpful, being that one really compliments the other. Some of the very real benefits you might find of having both plans available to you are:
Your business plan will help you to identify the goals of your company and offer you a path to follow. The marketing plan will then give you tangible steps to take that will help you to achieve those goals. Having a business plan without a marketing plan is like having a ladder without any rungs. You will have all the ideas you need without any clear ways as to how to implement them. Using both plans together will help to increase your revenue as you consistently track your progress and make any changes you deem necessary. If the overall goals of the business change, the marketing plan can also shift to keep sales high.
While your business plan will include your initial projections based on your previous research, your marketing plan will give you the opportunity to more accurately track how well you align with those projections. Changes can then be made to better support or clarify your initial estimates.
Again, your business plan will outline both the short and long-term goals you have for your company. Your marketing plan will lay out the small steps needed on a daily basis that will help you to consistently meet those goals at a reasonable pace (rather than trying to do everything at once or dragging your feet and never getting any traction).
Surpassing Your Competition
Your business plan will help you to understand your competition and give you a chance to really educate yourself on what strategies have and have not been working for them. This will enable you to focus on putting your resources into marketing channels that will yield the best benefits.
Your business plan will propose what strategies you will implement to achieve your business goals, while your marketing plan will help you to laser focus those strategies. Having the business plan accessible will ensure that your marketing strategies stay aligned with your greater vision.
A Functional Master Plan
Utilizing these two plans in conjunction with one another regularly will help you create a master plan that will continually guide the workings of your company. This last piece is so important because it foreshadows a larger truth. You WILL have to maintain both of these plans if you want them to continue to work together for the greater good of your business.
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Next Best Steps
So, what exactly does maintaining these two plans entail? As your business grows and changes, so will its needs, making it extremely important that you review these plans on a regular basis.
A business plan should be reviewed once per year, giving you an opportunity to notice any areas where you are not meeting your goals or where you may be out of alignment with your bigger vision. Are you operating to the standards and guidelines that you initially intended? If not, do you need to make changes in the business plan or in the way your business is operating?
The marketing plan, on the other hand, should be reviewed each quarter. This is largely because the economy is constantly shifting and changing and, therefore, you may need to quickly adapt your marketing techniques to whatever new situation arises. Additionally, checking this plan regularly allows you to track which marketing modalities are working the best and worst for your business at any given time. Through continual monitoring, you can begin to identify patterns and adapt or plan your future marketing around those patterns.
As you review these plans, you can make whatever changes need to be made to one or both, keeping them constantly working for you.
A Perfect Match
Overall, businesses that understand the differences between a marketing plan and a business plan, and how they can work seamlessly together are likely to have greater success as they move toward achieving their goals. If you don’t know how to create a business or marketing plan, there are several reliable resources and templates available online! And if you need assistance with the planning or execution of your marketing plan, let us know. You can connect with us via the contact form below!