It’s very important that companies understand the difference between the two plans. I tend to use the river and pond comparison. A pond is, for the most part, static. That is, it remains what it is and there is an entire eco system involved with the pond. A river, in contrast, is always moving and changing direction. A tree falls across the river and the water will find a way around. It’s always adapting to its environment and those unforeseen things that impede it’s progress.
The business plan is the pond. It is an independent eco system that provides a means in which a business is created and developed. It is the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to create a business. A business plan does not indicate strategies or marketing. What it does include, in addition to a multitude of things, is the development of a marketing plan, the river.
The marketing plan is a wholly separate document developed for growth of your company. It is a necessary adjunct to the business plan. It determines marketing channels, demographics, competition and so much more. The marketing plan is something very fluid, remember the river comparison? A marketing plan changes and adapts to the market. The current pandemic is a great example to the fluid nature of a marketing plan. If you own a screen printing company and your marketing plan dictates that you continuously search for an emerging market and the pandemic hits. You immediately identify the need that your customer base would have and you order face coverings and offer to screen print their logo on the covering. That would be an example of something that probably was not in your existing marketing plan but you simply add face coverings to the existing need of t-shirts, etc. You already have a marketing plan in place that is designed to reach new and existing customers, add the face covering to that plan, rinse and repeat.
As a business consulting firm, we work with companies that are starting out and need a business plan developed. That business plan is designed as an instruction manual to move forward and the marketing plan is one of those steps. Often times we are contracted by existing companies that have been in business for some time and need help modifying their existing plan based on emerging market trends or industry shifts and they become lost because they only know what they know. Learning something new is a difficult task to overcome for an established company as many times the company is steering the ship and not the management. They react to fires and internal issue and forget to focus on growth and new technology.
Other times we are asked to develop a new marketing plan simply because the company never developed one to begin with. Take for example a manufacturing company that started producing a specific widget because there was an intense need to be filled and they filled it. No marketing plan or business plan just a startup with a great product – A quick business is formed and grown on the merits on a small market and a need Now, because of new technology, competition, obsolescence or lack of demand the company is sliding. The need for a marketing plan emerges.
Becoming organized with a business structure, process development and strategic goals is becoming more and more critical to the success of any and all businesses. Competition is fierce and speed is a huge factor. To quote Clint Eastwood in the movie Heartbreak Ridge “You must improvise, adapt and overcome”
As always, we are at your service and eager to help.