Business Plan vs Marketing Plan: What You Must Know?

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Creating a business plan and a marketing plan can seem like overkill for some small business owners, but it’s extremely important to have both of these documents in place if you want your business to be successful.

Many people don’t know the difference between a business plan and a marketing plan, so in this blog post, we’re going to break down the key differences between the two.

We’ll also talk about why you need each one and what they should include. If you’re thinking about starting a small business or are currently in the early stages of growth, make sure to read this blog post!

What Is A Business Plan?

Many entrepreneurs associate business plans only with new startups that are in the beginning stages of development. That is one kind of business plan, known as a startup business plan that helps entrepreneurs put forth information on all aspects of their business in a written form as a formal document.

This document contains the goals of the business, the strategies the business aims to use to achieve them, and so on. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between a business plan and a marketing plan and how they work together! First, let’s look into what is inside a business plan.

Contents of a Business Plan

A business plan essentially contains a detailed note on all aspects of the business. The following are the contents found on a business plan:

  • Executive Summary: An Executive summary consists of a brief yet subtle summary of the whole business plan.
  • Company Description: It contains the basic information about the company including its name, founder, what the company makes or sells, etc.
  • Vision and Mission: It details the long-term goals of the business
  • Milestones: It details the achievements and successes the company has managed to achieve so far
  • Products and Services: It contains a list of all the products and services that the business sells
  • Marketing plan: It consists of the marketing goals and strategies of the business
  • Competitive Analysis: This section analyses the competitors in the industry and how your business has a competitive edge to attract customers
  • Management Plan: It consists of details on the number of employees required for the business, their roles, salaries, etc.
  • Risk Analysis: This section analyses the possible risks in the market and finds solutions for the business can overcome it
  • Financial Planning: This section deals with all the financial matters of the business

What Is A Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is also a part of the business plan. Sometimes the marketing plan can also be a separate document on its own owing to the importance that marketing activities play in the overall sales and profit of the business.

Similar to the business plan, the marketing plan also encompasses goals and strategies that the business must undertake but it is only limited to the marketing activities of the business.

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

Though the marketing plan and business plan are similar in many aspects, they are also very different from each other. In this section, we will look into the differences between the two important documents.

Definitions of Business Plan and Marketing Plan

Before we dive deep into the differences, let us look into what the business plan and marketing plan mean by their definition. The following are the definitions of a business plan and a marketing plan according to Investopedia:

Business Plan

A business plan is a document that defines in detail a company’s objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written roadmap for the firm from marketing, financial, and operational standpoints.

Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market. A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives.


Both the business plan and the marketing plan are created for certain purposes. The following are some of the objectives of the respective plans:

Business Plan

  • It is created to analyze all aspects of the business
  • It is made for creating goals for the business
  • The business plan is made to evaluate the business activities and revise those activities that are not in the best interests of the business
  • A business plan is used to seek investment for the business
  • It is created for the business to keep track of the goals
  • It provides insight through market research

Marketing Plan

  • It helps generate leads
  • It helps in finding appropriate marketing strategies to create brand awareness
  • It helps in increasing sales and revenue

Components Of A Business Plan And A Marketing Plan

The following are the different components present in a business plan and a marketing plan:

Components Of A Business Plan

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description
  • Market Analysis and Strategy
  • Marketing and Sales Plan
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Management and Organization Description
  • Products and Services Description
  • Operating Plan
  • Financial Projection and Needs
  • Exhibits and Appendices

Components Of A Marketing Plan

  • Market Research: This section consists of data that is collected, organized, and written down about the market that is currently buying the products or services that the business will sell.
  • Target Market: This section helps in finding the niche or target markets for the product and describe them.
  • Product: This section contains details of the product and how it solves any problem that the target audience face
  • Competition: This section describes the competition in the industry and helps find the “Unique Selling Proposition” of your business
  • Marketing Strategies: This section encompasses details of all the marketing activities that the business will undertake to achieve its marketing goals
  • Pricing, Positioning, and Branding: This section details information on the products and services such as their pricing, where they will be positioned in the market, and how they will be branded to the target audience
  • Budget: This section of the marketing plan helps the entrepreneur analyze the budget available for them to perform the marketing strategies and select the appropriate strategies that are feasible to achieve the marketing goals of the business
  • Marketing Goals: This section lists down specific marketing goals of the business such as increasing sales by 30% by the end of the year, creating brand awareness, etc
  • Metrics To Monitor Results: This section helps determine key metrics that will help find the progress of the business towards achieving its marketing goals

Difference Between A Business Plan And A Marketing Plan

At a glance, the business plan and marketing plan may look similar but they are two different documents meant for different purposes. The following are some of the key differences between a business plan and a marketing plan:

  • A business plan encompasses details on the entire business and lists down the overall strategy of the business, the financial plans, target markets, sales, products and services, operations, and how they all relate to each other. A marketing plan on the other hand is in charge of all activities related to marketing such as the marketing strategy of the business, the target markets, marketing mix, messaging, programs, etc.
  • The marketing plan is usually a part of the whole business plan
  • The cash flow is an important element of a business plan whereas it is not vital for a marketing plan
  • The business plan contains goals and mission for the whole business whereas a marketing plan contains details on the types of marketing activities the business needs to do to achieve the goals of the business

How a Marketing Plan and a Business Plan Work Together

Whether the marketing plan is created as a separate document or is made as part of the business plan, both the marketing plan and the business plan are integral for a business to become successful. Some entrepreneurs decide to focus only on the marketing plan and leave out the business plan since marketing is usually associated with increased sales and revenue.

This may work in part, but combining the marketing plan and business plan as a whole unit to design the strategies of the business helps in creating new milestones for the business. In this section we will look into how a marketing plan and a business plan work together to help the business grow:

Increased Sales

The business plan provides the entrepreneur with details of the kinds of goals that the business wants to achieve. It also helps in deciding the path on which the business must move forward to achieve these goals. The marketing plan helps the business achieve the goals mentioned in the business plan by providing tangible steps that are feasible under the budget allocated for marketing purposes.

Having a business plan without a marketing plan is like having a goal but no steps to reach it. Using the business plan together with the marketing plan helps to increase the overall sales of the products and services provided by the business.

Both the plans can be used to track the progress of the business towards achieving its goals. If the progress expected is not achieved using the current strategies mentioned in the plans, they can be reviewed and revised to create new strategies that will help achieve the goals.

Provide Realistic Projections

One of the most important purposes of the business plan is to provide a realistic projection of the current state of the business using data that is already collected through research. The marketing plan will help the business analyze if the business is well aligned accurately with the projection. If it is not, changes can be made to both the business plan and marketing plan to get a more realistic projection of the business.


The business plan will list down the short-term and long-term goals of the business. The marketing plan will list down the steps to be taken by the business every day to achieve both the short-term and long-term goals of the business. Hence the marketing plan helps in achieving the goals consistently and helps the business grow.

Focused Strategies

Both the business plan and the marketing plan consist of strategies that will help achieve the goals of the business. The business plan will provide overall strategies that act as a guide on what pathway to take to achieve the goals.

The marketing plan gives a more focused strategy on a step-by-step basis that will help the business focus on everyday activities that are aligned with the vision of the business.

Surpassing Your Competition

The business plan has sections that focus on the competition present in the industry such as competitive analysis. This helps the business know about the kind of strategies that have worked for the competitors and what strategies have failed. This will help the business form better marketing strategies that have better success rates.

The SWOT analysis performed for the business plan also helps the business analyze the strength and weaknesses present within the business and the opportunities and threats present in the industry. This data can be used to form marketing strategies that make use of the strength and opportunities to overcome the threats and weaknesses of the business.


All businesses, big and small, can take advantage of the importance of the business plan and the marketing plan to grow their business many folds than it already is. Knowing the difference between the documents and how they can work together as one is important to make the most out of them.

Both the business plan and the marketing plan help the business make use of the limited resources within the business and help grow to heights previously thought impossible.

This post is also available in: English


1 comment

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