Strategy vs. Marketing: What’s The Difference?
Two terms in our world that are often intertwined (and sometimes misunderstood) are “strategy” and “marketing.”
While they might seem like two peas in a pod, strategy and marketing are distinct aspects of any successful marketing endeavor. Understanding the nuances between them is essential, whether you’re in the bustling world of healthcare marketing, commercial real estate marketing, or any other industry.
Let’s dive into the intricacies of these concepts and shed light on what sets them apart.
What is Marketing Strategy?
First things first, let’s unwrap the enigma of a strategy. Think of it as the big picture—the overarching plan that guides your marketing efforts. A marketing strategy is your roadmap to success, outlining your objectives, target audience, and the channels you’ll use to reach them. It’s the blueprint that aligns your marketing initiatives with your business goals.
Built on a solid foundation of thorough market research, your strategy should dive deep into your industry, competitors, and the ever-evolving market trends. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the landscape in which your brand operates. Market research empowers you with valuable insights, helping you identify opportunities, gaps, and potential pitfalls. By dissecting market data, you can uncover hidden gems, allowing your brand to make informed decisions and chart a course that aligns with the market’s currents.
Successful strategies must revolve around a crystal-clear understanding of your target audiences. Who are they? What are their needs, preferences, and pain points? What are their attitudes and behaviors, and how often do your target audiences shift and evolve? When you have a good handle on these deep and complex questions, your messages and tactics to resonate specifically with these audiences will take hold.
One of the important aspects to a successful marketing strategy is identifying a unique angle that sets your brand apart from the competition. What makes your brand special? What value do you offer that others don’t? This distinctiveness can be based on your brand’s history, its core values, or a unique product or service offering.
This is called Brand Strategy, and it’s something we do for our clients quite frequently. It’s about showcasing why your brand is not just another player in the field but a standout choice for your target audience. Brand Strategy includes things like your Unique Selling Propositions, Brand Promise, Brand Essence, Brand Archetype and Brand Voice. You can read more about COHN’s approach to brand strategy throughout our site.
Marketing Plan vs Marketing Strategy
A marketing plan is the “how” of your marketing strategy. It’s the tactical execution of your brilliant, game-changing. While your strategy sets the direction, your marketing plan delineates the specific actions, timelines, and budgets required to achieve your goals. It’s the step-by-step guide that transforms your strategy into reality.
It should include various elements, including the marketing mix, a content/social strategy, budget allocation, and a timeline with deadlines. It’s essential to assign responsibilities to team members or departments to ensure accountability. Moreover, your plan should factor in contingencies and allow for adaptability as market conditions evolve.
For example, if you’re in the healthcare marketing sphere, your strategy might be to enhance patient engagement. Your marketing plan would then break down the steps to achieve this goal, such as creating informative blog content, running targeted social media campaigns, or organizing health awareness events.
A more specific example is our work with Panorama Orthopedics & Spine. When we first started our work with Panorama, we conducted research with their existing patients and potential patients to learn all sorts of things, including what they love about Panorama or what made Panorama different from previous orthopedic and spine centers they may have seen in the past.
Through this research, one central idea kept coming to the top: Panorama was the only healthcare provider they’ve experienced that truly felt like they were on “my team.” Thus introduced the creative campaign, “Team You.” This is an example of turning insights into strategy. However, the marketing plan included patient testimonials in both video and carousel ads to highlight these responses in their own words.
To put it simply, a marketing strategy is the destination, and a marketing plan is the roadmap to get there. The strategy defines your objectives and approach, while the plan outlines the actionable steps to execute that strategy effectively.
Partner With An Agency That Can Do Both
This interplay between the strategy and plan is the secret to unlocking your potential. These are complementary forces, with the strategy setting your course and the plan guiding you through the journey. So, as you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare marketing, commercial real estate marketing, or any other field, remember that while strategy is the vision, the plan is the vehicle that gets you there.
Interestingly, larger agencies have fully built out teams for both strategy and marketing. Using the best and brightest in their expertise, these teams focus solely on one or the other. But, as we have come to learn from clients who previously worked with larger agencies, important information can get lost in the handoff. Silos emerge, and the strategy team can go months or even years without seeing how their strategy unfolded.
At COHN, our expertise lies in helping you craft both the strategy and the plan, ensuring your marketing endeavors are not just meaningful but also measurable.
Start your new year off right with a team of marketing professionals who will help you map the course to success, and the expertise also achieve it. Contact someone from COHN, and let’s begin our journey to success together.