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Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan – what’s the difference?

admin 24-08-2017, 11:23 337 Information

Another good question that I get asked about, so I thought I would put my opinions forward seeking comments from the LI community to correct me as appropriate!

I have compiled both Business Plans and Marketing Plans, and at times they are all part of the one document. So let me start with basic definitions for those that don’t know, and yes I accept that most businesses do.



Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan – what’s the difference?


  1. ‘Business Plan’ – for me, this is a wish list for any business, that describes a company’s product or service, available funds to grow the business, financial goals over the next 1, 3 and 5 years, SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), ‘best effort’ estimate of resources required to operate the business by key operational function or area of direct cost which may include (but not limited to) for example:

Basic infrastructure – office / manufacturing / warehouse / communications / utilities / key staff / sales.  Everything that is an expense has an impact on cost of goods sold or COGS as we know it.

Detailed spreadsheets would normally be a part of the business plan showing revenue forecast against cost as well as assumptions. Assumptions are just that – best guess – they can be a mile apart from reality.

So the business plan might be a meaningful 2 page document or 200 pages of gobbledegook.

In essence, it is a statement of ‘this is where we are today and this is where we want to be in 3 years’.

If you are seeking to raise capital, without a Business Plan I wish you luck. And GUESS WHAT – most Business Plans live in a filing cabinet in the spare office never to see the light of day again! And for most SME’s that is a fact!




Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan – what’s the difference?



  1. ‘Marketing Plan’

OK, so now you know where you are as a business, or perhaps a business idea, and you have detailed your growth aspirations regarding your product or service and you feel good about your new Business Plan and it all makes sense.


Now I know that I am pretty basic in my writing style, but the ‘Marketing Plan’ is your GPS to guide you to where you want to be in say 3 years in accordance with your Business Plan on which the ink hasn’t yet dried.

This document is critical for success in business and should be regarded as a ‘Living Document’ to be reviewed, amended, rewritten, fine-tuned, and above all measured using proven analytics of performance and ROI. All key stakeholders in your business need to take ownership and accept accountability for various components of your ‘Marketing Plan.’

Marketing and Sales are so often regarded as the same function – believe me nothing is further from the truth. I DARE anyone to challenge me in this regard!

So your Marketing Plan is your road-map to get you from A to B from an advertising and marketing perspective. We live in a world of high tech gadgets, apps, laptops and synchronised device mobility all designed to make life ‘easy’. (I do struggle with all this new technology – am I all alone?)

OK so your marketing mix MUST include Social Media, maximize your exposure through SEO (search engine optimisation) and a combination of all other more conventional media channels depending on your product or service. Design and implement marketing campaigns, be sure you understand your target market and demographics, and above all work with your sales team collaboratively and with enthusiasm. Measure the results not monthly – DAILY!

If you identify gaps or weaknesses in your efforts, or perhaps not reaching the sales numbers that you expect for some reason, review your processes, review the skill sets of your people, make changes or seek external help.



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