Just as a general’s perspective of war will differ from a soldier’s, a CEO or even CMO will have a much different take on marketing than a manager or graphic designer – one is looking at the big picture while the other is in the trenches.
When it comes to marketing, there are many different ways that you can look at it. You can take the 30,000 ft. view or the ground level approach. Just as a general’s perspective of war will differ from a soldier’s, a CEO or even CMO will have a much different take on marketing than a manager or graphic designer – one is looking at the big picture while the other is in the trenches. Of course, this may seem self-evident for those who have been in the industry for ages. But what about new business owners? Or perhaps recent college graduates finding themselves in a real marketing environment for the first time? They may ask themselves, what is a marketing plan? How does it differ from a marketing campaign? Or a marketing initiative? If you want any chance at success, you must understand the differences.

We’re here to answer these questions and clear up any confusion, so that you – and everyone within your team – can focus on what matters most: executing on your plans.

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a robust and comprehensive roadmap outlining a corporate strategy for all marketing and advertising efforts over a given period of time (say, a year). It takes into account business objectives, target demographics, budget, expected return on investment (ROI), and previous strategies. It will leverage existing knowledge to refine an approach for maximum chances of success. In larger organizations, a marketing plan will be the responsibility of the Chief Marketing Officer; in smaller companies, it may be the purview of the CEO, Marketing Director, Vice President, or someone else in executive leadership.

Part of any marketing plan will be a breakdown of specific marketing campaigns that will be employed to achieve the objectives laid out. This brings us to our next question.

What is a Marketing Campaign?

A marketing campaign is a targeted and focused outreach program in pursuit of specific and definable goals (say, increasing sales of X by Y, or promoting awareness of a new product or service). It will consist of multiple initiatives or activities, all working in conjunction with each other, and will often leverage various tracking measures as well. Through tracking, a company can objectively judge the success (or lack thereof) of its marketing campaign by measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) – indicators of success agreed upon prior to the campaign being undertaken. All initiatives (including tracking initiatives) will be built around these performance measurements.

Part of any marketing campaign will be a breakdown of specific marketing initiatives and activities to be undertaken in pursuit of the Campaign goals. This brings us to our next topic of discussion.

What is a Marketing Initiative?

A marketing initiative is a specific activity or effort taken in pursuit of a larger campaign. Marketing initiatives may occur on a recurring or one-time basis, and can vary widely in shape and form. Examples include radio and television commercials, email blasts, monthly pay-per-click (PPC) advertising efforts, social media promotions, trade shows and conferences, and a number of other efforts. If a marketing plan represents an overall strategy for customer engagement, then marketing initiatives represent specific tactics.

Individual marketing initiatives will make up the bulk of your wider marketing efforts (and budget). Whether you’re sending out mailers or producing radio commercials, it is through these individual efforts that you will reach (and engage) your audience.

Remember, Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

Before you set out with your marketing initiatives, be sure that you first have a plan in place. Otherwise, you may find that you’re doing nothing more than throwing darts at a board.
It’s easy to get so caught up on individual initiatives that you lose sight of the big picture (or fail to ever address it in the first place). Don’t make this mistake. Before you set out with your marketing initiatives, be sure that you first have a plan in place. Otherwise, you may find that you’re doing nothing more than throwing darts at a board. What is a marketing plan? It’s a marketing strategy. A roadmap. A list of objectives and goals. It’s all of these things and more. But ultimately, it’s a plan for success – and that’s invaluable.

Want help putting together a marketing plan? Download our Marketing Questionnaire and get in touch with EXERTUS today.