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Introduction

Marketing plans, Business plans and Strategic Plans
Marketing, business plans and strategic plans are closely related and have extensive overlap. They differ in purposes, perspectives and emphasis.

Business Plans have three main components: a marketing plan, an operational plan and a financial plan. The operational plan examines such considerations as supply sources, costs, staffing and equipment and so on. The financial plan shows all the numbers affecting the business including a cash flow forecast, balance sheet, profit and loss statement, sources of funding and tax statements. The business plan deals with the broader background in which the marketing plan can reach fruition. That is why the two must be compatible.

A business plan is often used to obtain finance or venture capital from a bank, shareholders or other investors. It certainly addresses marketing but is more expansive on finance, production and administration.

A Marketing Plan is often part of a broader business plan but the two are not mutually exclusive. A marketing plan can be for a single product or service or for a group of products or services. The period most marketing plans cover is one year as it is difficult to look ahead much further than that as changes in the market occur constantly. Once written, you should update the plan each year mindful of the changes to the market and your own business that have occurred in the period of the plan.

The Marketing Plan looks at what a business sells, its location, packaging, pricing and selling methods. Anything connected with "selling" your products or services forms part of the marketing plan. A marketing plan is more comprehensive on anything to do with selling your products or services than the marketing section of a business plan would be.

Strategic Plans take more of an overview and longer-term view - usually between five and ten years. They have a lot to do with where your company is now, your vision for the future, and how you are going to get there. It addresses marketing, operations, innovation (including services offered and technology needed), human resources and finance.

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