Are they different or the same? Can you have one without the other?And what about tactics and where do they fit in?
What is a Strategy and what is a Plan?
In a marketing sense, to me the strategy is the understanding of the business and it’s why. The strategy establishes the business’s foundations and therefore knowing or getting to know and analysing the messaging, competition, target audience, goals, market and so on.
The plan is the detailing and the organisation of this strategy into tactics and then implementation. The tactics are the marketing channels you will use to execute your strategy, such as networking, direct mail, emailing, advertising and so on.
These tactics or channels will need implementing in a logical step by step way to maximise on resource, time and budget and then they should be managed and measured to ensure ROI.
In summary the strategy is the why and the plan is the what and when. And your marketing activity all needs planning out.
How they work together?
Is a strategy helpful for more than just your wider marketing? (not that I like the word “just” in business terms)In my view, yes it is. As well as detailing the foundations of your business as mentioned before, your crafted strategy will act as a flexible and work in progress piece that will underpin all your mini or sub strategies as in your networking strategy, PR and your comms.
If written and created properly, the strategy will change and adapt as you and your business does, so it’s well worth investing in. Having a strategy is like having foundations to build upon, just like you would with a house.
Why you need both a strategy and plan?
Think of it this way, your strategy determines the basics before jumping onto the planning phase.
How many times have you wanted to press fast forward in your business? Many clients I speak with want to naturally fast forward to the shiny stuff eg the website or social media campaign or printed brochure.
I understand the excitement and passion to have this marketing material to showcase and promote, and without sounding like the fun police, but with my marketing hat on you cannot have the shiny stuff without doing the groundwork first and laying out your foundations. So next time you want to press the fast forward button, take a pause, make your plans and do it step by step.
strategy = market + advantage + risk (taken from Vaughan Evans’ book called Strategy Plain and Simple).
Your strategy and planning document is the marketing gift that keeps giving!