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Need Better Marketing Results? How’s Your Strategy?

You’re sending emails, posting blogs, using social media, and doing a lot of other things to market your business, and yet you’re not generating leads or converting sales. What should you change? Targeting? Website? Should you be using email marketing? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? Are you working with the wrong apps and platforms?

While all of those questions need to be answered, the most probable reason for the lack of success is that you did not start with why you were doing all those things. In other words, while you may have a marketing plan, you do not have a marketing strategy. These terms are frequently used interchangeably, as if they are the same thing, but they serve different purposes. You need both, and you may not have either.

The confusion about the difference is and the purpose of each is common in smaller businesses, and it may be costing you a lot in terms of wasted time and money. Here’s what each is, and why you need them both:

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy connects your marketing efforts to the business goals you are trying to achieve. It drives the marketing plan, and outlines the rationale behind your marketing activities. A marketing strategy is how you get the best Return on Investment (ROI) for your marketing budget, keeps your marketing program focused, and provides the ability to see the sales impact of your marketing program.

A marketing strategy is not just about your website, digital marketing, SEO, or content. It’s about your dream for the company and the ability to realize that dream. Your marketing strategy needs to tie in every action you take and dollar you spend to the results you hope to achieve. Then, you need a plan to achieve those results.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is a guide to implementing marketing activities to achieve the goals set out in the marketing strategy, which is, in turn, linked to your business plan. It’s a tactical level roadmap that supports your marketing strategy. The results you achieve are directly related to the marketing plan. Any plan without a strategy is like taking a road trip without knowing your destination. Sure, it’ll get you somewhere, but is that the place you had hoped to be going?

Here is an analogy:

A marketing plan is like the road map that lays out a trip you’re taking. It includes the stops and alternative routes you can use if you need to make a detour.

A marketing strategy defines the destination, which vehicle(s) you will take to get there, how much you can spend on the trip, and how much time it is expected to take to reach your destination.

You need both.

And here is a side-by-side comparison:

Marketing StrategyMarketing Plan
The rationale and goals behind your marketing efforts.The roadmap for executing your strategy.
Its purpose is to describe how your marketing goals will help achieve your business goals.Its purpose is to lay out your marketing campaign efforts on a tactical level.
It outlines what offering (product or service) you will deliver, who you will deliver it to, how you will deliver it, and who your competitors are.It outlines what you will do, how and where you will do it, when you will implement, and how you will track success.
It helps you make the most of your investment, keep your marketing focused, and measures your sales results.It supports your strategy and is the action plan that you’ll use to implement your marketing efforts.

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