Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan: What Are the Differences?

Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan: What Are the Differences?
Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan: What Are the Differences?

Think fast.

You’re on an episode of Shark Tank. The investors on the panel seem to like your pitch and they’re excited about investing in your product. Before entering a bid, however, one of the sharks raises a hand and says, “I love this, and everything you’ve been working towards. But, I need help understanding your business model.”. 

Do you pull out your marketing plan or your business plan?

If your answer to that question was, “I’m not sure.”, then you’ve come to the right place. The whole business plan vs. marketing plan discussion is one that stumps a lot of people. 

What do they do and which one do you need for your business? Read on to get the inside scoop on business and marketing plans.

What is a Business Plan?

In layman’s terms, a business plan is a master document that lays out the foundational aspects of a business. This includes details like your business model, your service area, your timelines, and the strategies you’ll be using to achieve your business goals. Along with these standard sections, you may also find different business plans that include exit strategies and retirement plans.

If it involves your company as a whole or if it covers essential details like your logistics and supply chain strategy, it probably belongs in your business plan. 

On that note, what do Shopify and the U.S. Small Business Administration have in common? They’re both places you can go to find a more in-depth business plan guide

What is a Marketing Plan?

Your marketing plan is similar to your business plan, except that it deals exclusively with your advertising strategy. Because of all the moving pieces involved with coordinating campaigns, creating content, and raising funds, many businesses find it worthwhile to create a robust document that speaks to the methods you’ll be using to get your products and services out there.

Or to put it another way, if you’re a law firm and you’re looking for outside advertising help, a law firm marketing consultant is the person you’d be talking to. Why? Because this is the individual who could speak to your marketing plans and the viability of the steps you’re planning to take.

What are the Key Differences?

From the outside looking in, business plans and marketing plans may still appear to have a lot in common. However, some of the major differences you’ll see between the two documents include:

  • Business plans will have a 5 year, 10-year, 20-year, and exit strategy
  • Marketing plans are primarily concerned with the company’s strategy for increasing revenue through advertising
  • Business plans will cover general operations

The general rule of thumb is that if you’re looking at a global process, you should be reaching for your business plan. But if you’re asking a question about your ad spend or your social media marketing, the answers should be in your marketing plan.

Is the Business Plan vs. Marketing Plan Debate Fully Settled?

Although it’s possible to fold a marketing plan into a business plan, most businesses are better off having copies of both documents on file. As such, the issue shouldn’t be a business plan vs. marketing plan — it should be a business plan and marketing plan. Your daily operations will be better organized if you have both instead of one or the other.

Was this article helpful to you? Check out the rest of our site to find more content like this!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here