What Is the Difference Between a Marketing & Business Plan?

by Charmayne Smith

The business plan provides a wide overview of the business, which includes information on staff, operations, location, marketing and financial aspects, as well as clearly outlined missions and goals. Often used as a financial tool, the business plan provides lenders with necessary details to determine if the business is viable, financially sound and able to repay. Although business plans are most commonly known for assisting new businesses, they should be used throughout the life of the business. Not only does it help to develop competitive strategies, the business plan can determine if the business’ actual activity matches the forecasted plans.

The marketing plan details actions that achieve the company’s missions and goals. This plan identifies the business’ price points, target markets and competition. It explains how the business generates customers through advertisements, trade show participation and new referrals. By explaining how the business will overcome competitive challenges by other companies, the marketing plan is a key section within the business plan and requires detailed industry research and consideration.

The business plan and marketing plan are interdependent and must be consistent with one another.

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The business plan identifies the goals and missions of the business, while the marketing plan explains how the business will achieve, if not exceed, those goals and missions. If the plans of the business change, the business’ course of action also changes. A good marketing plan should never deviate from the objective of the business plan.

Both plans should be reviewed periodically. While the business plan can be reviewed once a year, the marketing plan should be reviewed once per quarter at the beginning of the fiscal year, according to Reviewing periodically ensures that the business is operating according to outlined strategies. Comparing actual versus outlined activities helps measure business success and identify any new or updated strategies that are in-tune with the business’ current economic environment.

There are no length requirements for the business plan or the marketing plan. However, both plans should be long enough to provide concise and detailed information. The information within the plans should be well-researched and include supporting evidence for facts presented. The goals, missions and strategies within these plans should be measurable and attainable, and reviewed and updated as the business evolves.

Category: Business plan

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