marketing strategy


Marketing Plan and Marketing Strategy

Marketing is a critical element of any business. Without suitable and sustainable marketing efforts, a majority of the businesses would stare at failure. Here is in this blog I will discuss about Marketing strategy and Marketing Plan. What are some of the best Marketing Plan example?

Benjamin Franklin once correctly mentioned “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Hence without a marketing plan, you are preparing yourself to fail.

Table of Content

  1. Marketing plan –Definition and explanation.
  2. Difference between Marketing Strategy and a marketing plan
  3. Steps in developing a marketing plan
    • Step 1: Carry out a situation analysis
    • Step 2: Enumerate and define a focused target market
    • Step 3: Define the goals
    • Step 4: Analyse your tactics
    • Step 5: Fix a budget
  4. How to structure your marketing plan
    • Business Summary
    • Business Initiatives
    • Target Market
    • Market Strategy
    • Budget
    • Marketing Channels
  5. Draft Template of a marketing plan

1.Marketing plan –Definition and Explanation

At the heart of the overall business plan lies the marketing plan.

A marketing plan is nothing but a detailed one-stop document that describes the marketing and promotional efforts over a specified time frame.

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There could a detailed strategic plan spread over a few years and then an annual marketing plan in order to implement the long term strategic goals.

In order words, a marketing plan is nothing but a detailed road-map to define, implement and track the strategic marketing activities over a given period of time.

While individual marketing teams within a company can have different strategies all of them eventually work towards a common objective.

2. Difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan

Marketing Strategy and Marketing Planning

Marketing strategy and marketing plan are often used interchangeably. However they are different. The marketing strategy is a description of how a corporation will accomplish a specific goal.

A strategy could include the various marketing content, the market campaigns and the marketing types (ATL, TTL, and TTL) applicable.

Additionally the strategy could specify how the objective will be tracked.

A marketing plan is an aggregation of various marketing strategies.

Simply visualize the marketing plan as an elaborate framework from where the various marketing strategies are generates and this same framework itself helps you connect each of the defined strategy back to the larger marketing goal.          

Consider an example, wherein an organization is in the process of launching a brand new Software product and you want so attract customers to this software.

The primary objective of the marketing plan is creating a market for the product you’re selling by describing the product along with drivers that will boost the sales.  

They would use various strategies to implement this plan like launching a blog, sharing YouTube videos, writing Twitter feeds amongst others.

Thus in the above example, there is a distinct difference noted between a plan and a strategy.

While the marketing plan is focused on launching the new software and consequently drive sales, the plan would be executed using the various strategies like blogs, YouTube videos and Twitter feeds.

3. 5 Steps to create a marketing plan

5 Steps to create a marketing plan

Step 1: Carry out a situation analysis

Before detailing a marketing plan, it is imperative to know where you stand and what the current situation you find yourself in is.

Try plot out a strength, weakness, opportunities an threat analysis as a basic first step. In addition assess the current market and where you stand in relation to your competitors.

Try to find out gaps in your competitors’ products that can offer you a competitive advantage.

Step 2: Enumerate and define a focussed target market

Create an ideal buyer image that would buy your company products. Conduct a market research. Identify the proposed target audience in terms of demographics like age, location, income and other criteria. Try and understand what the drivers for your target audience are.

Step 3: Define the goals

Define the marketing goals that must be fulfilled. The defined goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

For instance, a goal could be to increase the sales by 15% in 6 months. Basis the overall marketing goals, the goals must be specific and attainable.

Step 4: Analyse your tactics

This section of the plan deals with identifying the tactics that will help you achieve your marketing goals along with laying down the marketing  channels and the action items to be especially focussed upon.

Step 5: Fix a budget

Prior to implementing any of the ideas one must know the financial resources available at their disposal. For instance your proposal may have television commercial runs.

However if you don’t have the required budget for the same, you may be able to achieve this goal. While deciding on the tactics, one must have a note of the estimated budget and align the tactics accordingly.

4.      How to structure your marketing plan

Whether one is into directly selling to consumers (B2C) or it is selling to other businesses (B2B), there is a common underlying structure to make and effective marketing plan.

The structure should normally be arranged in a logical sequence. Below is a basic sequential structural outline.

1.      Business Summary

This section is self-explanatory and enumerates your origination details and highlights the mission statement consistent with the business.

In addition the same should include a brief summary of the business as a whole.

Post that same should move on to focus on the marketing aspects and highlight the strengths and weaknesses via SWOT analysis.

2.      Business Initiatives

This segment helps arrange the various goals of the marketing department. Specific marketing related projects should be outlined in detail.

Additionally the detailed description of the goals and the ways of tracking those goals must be mentioned. 

3.      Focus on Target Marketing

Describe the customer you`re selling to, competition analysis and your ideal buyer demographics. The goal is to create a your company`s buyer persona.

This can be carried out through a detailed market search. The buyer persona would be a character depicting your ideal end customer and would have defined attributes in terms of job titles, age, location and other demographics,

4.      Market Strategy

This segment used the date enumerated in the target market section to elaborate on ways to tap or capture the said market.

This section details the product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence more popularly known as the 7Ps of marketing.

5.      Budget

The budget aspect of the marketing plan is not to be confused with the end product`s price.

This section deal with the financial resources available with the marketing team to pursue the marketing objectives highlighted in the plan.

Depending on the overall budget, the company must consider segregating the budget amongst various activities.

For instance, one can segregate the spends basis –Marketing agency hire, Software hire, promotional hire, event organizations.

6.      Marketing Channels

The final section of the marketing plan deals with the marketing channels being employed.

The marketing channels are the eventual medium used to pass on your and your company’s message to the end users and spread awareness.

Whether you opt for mass market channels, niche targeted marking channels or a combination of the two is elaborated in this section.

This section also serves to convince the internal stakeholders about the proposed success of your channels.

5.      Draft Template of a marketing plan

Company Name: Write Your Company Name Here

Date: Date on this day you are creating it

Executive Summary: This is a small, summarized version of the detailed marketing plan. The objective is it to briefly highlight and list and describe the necessary components of the plan. This is typically a summary for the top management executives who may not in a position to read the entire detailed plan. Hence this section captures the essence of the whole plan.

Mission Statement

  • What do you want to do?
  • Why do you want to do it?
  • Who do you do it for?

Current Situation analysis

  • Product/ Service
    • Describe the product or service being marketed
  • Unique Selling proposition (USP)
    • Describe what differentiates you from your competitors
  • Best Practices
    • Describe your practices and compare it with industry prevalent best practices
  • Marketing objectives and performance
    • Define objectives and how to achieve them
  • Challenges
    • Describe the current challenges being faced by your company
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Competition Analysis

Target Market

  • Identify companies in your target market?
  • Describe how can you reach them?
  • Reasons the customers would buy your product or avail the service.
  • Why could they refuse to buy your product or service
  • What are their current needs?

Define Pricing Strategies

  • Cost Based?
  • Competitor Based?
  • Skimming Approach?
  • Penetration Approach?
  • Bundle Pricing Approach?

Distribution Strategy

  • Which is the preferred distribution channel?
  • Reasons for choosing it over others
  • Highlight the costs related to distributing your products or services?
  • How does your distribution channel affect your delivery times.

Describe the various available channels

Check the available channels

  1. Blog Posts
  2. Word of mouth publicity
  3. Embedded internet search engine marketing
  4. Billboard and other display advertisements
  5. Outdoor events
  6. Search Engine Optimization
  7. Content Marketing
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Viral Marketing
  10. Engineering as Marketing
  11. Business Development
  12. Sales
  13. Affiliate Programs
  14. Existing Platforms
  15. Trade Shows
  16. Offline Events
  17. Speaking Engagements
  18. Community Building

Select the top 5 traction channels

  • Define channel testing methodologies


  • Prepare a detailed budgeting template and segregate the budget activity wise
Marketing Plan and Marketing strategy

Marketing and promotional activities are amongst the most critical activities towards product selling. Originally the marketing lines were used to differentiate between promotional activities which have mass market penetration (above the line or ATL) as compared to those had specific segmental penetration (below the line or BTL).

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Over a period of time with advancement in technologies and increased competition, an integrated market penetration approach emerged which blurred the lines and included aspects of both ATL and BTL approaches.

This approach is called Through the Line or the TTL approach. This article looks at understanding these various approaches through real life examples, looks at various activities and ideas involved in the approaches.

Table of content

  1. Above the Line (ATL) advertising
  2. Types of above the line activities
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Print advertisements
    • Outdoor Advertising/ Cinema Advertising
  3. An example of ATL marketing activity
  4. Advantages of ATL marketing
  5. Disadvantages of ATL marketing
  6. Below the Line (BTL) advertising
  7. Types of above the line activities
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Print advertisements
    • Outdoor Advertising/ Cinema Advertising
  8. An example of ATL marketing activity
  9. Advantages of ATL marketing
  10. Disadvantages of ATL marketing
  11. Through the Line (TTL) advertising
    • Examples of TTL marketing
  12. Conclusion

Above the Line (ATL) advertising

‘ATL Marketing’ or ‘Above the Line Marketing’ is the kind of marketing that has a very broad reach and is largely not specifically directed.

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It is a sort of a mass market traditional marketing approach to create or spread brand awareness on a large scale or a mass scale.

ATL is extensively used for products which are of mass use and specific targeting is not needed or not required.

The primary purpose of the ATL approach is not to track specific customer conversations but to educate the customers on the existence of a product and look at building a brand.

Given its nature ATL uses untargeted mass market methods with an intent of directing the sales message at anybody with access to advertising mediums.

Consider an example of a soap bar. Being an FMCG product it is an apt candidate for ATL marketing. Mass market products like soap require maximum market coverage instead of specific segment coverage.

Since a lot of alternatives are available for FMCG products, the higher the amount of ATL advertising, more will be the branch recall and consequently the sale.

Hence FMCG companies are likely to employ ATL promotion method.

Types of Above the Line Activities

o   Television

Television is a widely used but an expensive ATL medium. An average viewer spends a few hours in front of the television everyday. TV advertisements have a wide reach from local, to national to an international target audience.

Television advertisements have lasting impact with the audiences as moving images are accompanied with audio signals which create a lasting impression in the mind of the viewer.

o   Radio

Radio is an affordable alternative to television and is extensively used for repeat messaging. Constant repeat messaging in the form of jingles attracts viewer attention. Radios too have a reach ranging from local to international.

o   Print Advertisements (magazine & newspaper)

Local, regional and national print media has a wide direct reach.

The newspapers and magazine are tangible items and the advertisements here have a repeat value in the sense that the same advertisement can be referred again and again.

Newspapers have several advertisement-slots that can be used to inform customers / prospective customers about the brand offering or prevalent promotion schemes.

Magazines exist in segments and make it easier for marketers to reach their target directly through them.

o   Outdoor Advertising/ Cinema Advertising

Outdoor advertising is done through banners, billboards, flags, tickers etc. To ensure effectiveness they are usually done at public places and hence they attract a lot of eyeballs.

An alternative method of advertisement is via cinemas where ads are normally run before the beginning of the move or during the intermission.

If we arrange the ATL medium spends in relation to the cost, get the below

Television >> Newspapers >> Radio / Out of home >> Cinema

Example of ATL Marketing Activity

An apt example would be the campaign run by Nirma for its washing power.

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It has created some great commercials that are shown via television channels, radio, newspapers and magazines.

The ads are aired across the country through these medium and every viewer sees the exact same message.

These ads are be used to create brand awareness and convey information regarding the washing powder.

Advantages of ATL Marketing

Wider Reach

A well designed ATL campaign ensured greater market reach and helps the company spread its brand product message far and wide.

Several banks and retail chains regularly use ATL campaigns to attract customers to their points of sale.


Combining audio with visual enables the penetration levels of ATL to be higher than the other means of promotion.

Newspapers have high involvement so that the customer does read through the ads also. Similarly large illuminated billboards and tickers attract attention.

Brand building

It effectively enable a company to build its brand

Disadvantages of ATL Marketing

  • It is costly.
  • It is difficult to directly measure the impact in terms of sales. Directly measuring the effectiveness of ROI of a television of a newspaper campaign is difficult.

Below the Line Advertising

BTL refers to the practices of making use of means of advertisement and promotion that do not directly use mass media like radio, television, billboards, print, and other outdoor formats.

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BTL methods are typically used to target specific audience instead of casting a campaign for the mass markets.

The main types of below-the-line advertising systems include direct mail campaigns, trade shows, catalogs, and targeted search engine marketing.

BTL advertising methods tend to be less expensive and more focused versus above-the-line strategies. BTL methods are comparatively low cost which target a specific audience and is a focussed means of communication.

For instance, a BTL approach would focus on something like an in-store demonstration of product rather than airing a television campaign during a show.

This allows of a specific high-level customer experience since there is direct interaction between the customer and the sales person.

Types of Below the Line Activities

Targeted online marketing

Many companies indulge in direct targeted SMS facilities, social media posts and targeted pamphlets to the target audience.

Advertisers can target specific demographics with their promotion campaign such as age, income, industry related targeting.

LinkedIn for example allows agencies to target specific audience based on their professional experience.

Online marketing can also use tools like Google apps. The internet is one of the fastest growing vehicle for BTL advertisement.

Direct Mailing

Agencies still engage in direct mail advertising, generally targeting the older demographics that are not online as often as their younger counterparts. Catalaog mailings and postcard mailings are popular forms of this form of advertisement.

Trade Shows and Presentations

A good way to target a specified audience it through dedicated trade shows and presentation. This method is widely used by companies in the technical and sector.

Common examples are automobile expo`s, machine fairs etc.

Sponsorship of events and competition

Another effective means of advertisement is sponsorship of an event which makes use of your product/ services.

For example, a sport company sponsoring a tennis event or a badminton event is a prime example

Sales promotions

This is a very common method of attracting a customer. Do you notice how several E- commerce companies keep coming up with “SALE” under some pretext or the other.

This s because they want to sell in high volume. Sales promotion is not used only at the end consumer.

Dealers can be given additional discounts just so they pick up higher volumes and hence focuses on the product to sell it better.

Example of BTL Marketing Activity

Consider the example of low calorie drink by Coca Cola, targeting commuters on way to the gym. Coke offers free samples of their drink along with promotional vouchers that could be redeemed in local stores.

This is an effective strategy designed to target a defined group of people (health conscious) to encourage quick turnaround in terms of purchases.

Advantages of BTL Marketing

  • Great for building customer relationship through targeted promotion
  • Required lower capital commitment compared to traditional ATL methods.
  • Offers a deep direct reach and the opportunity to connect with customers in an entirely new way
  • The effectiveness of the promotion is comparatively easier to track in terms of the ROI sales/ leads generated.
  • It has the potential for viral marketing
  • Better conversation/ response rate compared to traditional ATL methods.
  • This method of promotion is highly relevant to the local traditions and culture as advertisement can be customized to the local preferences

Disadvantages of BTL Marketing

  • Defining correct target segments may be difficult
  • Specific and detailed training may be required for sales staff.
  • This requires a deep understanding of the customers and their preferences.
  • It cannot be a template method to target diverse cultures and same would need personalization.

Through the Line

TTL method of promotion encompasses an integrated approach adopting partial strategies of both ATL and BTL methods.

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The primary objective is to get a “Big Picture” of the market and communicate with the customers with in every possible means.

Combining both ATL and BTL activities, TTL activities aim at better brand recall and maximum brand visibility. It is 360-degree advertising where campaigns are developed with the vision of brand building as well as conversions.

With the rise of digital marketing an Pay Per Click models and social media, advertisers are looking at TTL approach to drive sales through increasing traffic either at websites or to physical stores.

The major challenge of TTL activities is the cost associated with implementing various promotional campaigns.

It is usually only established or financially secure companies that can implement TTL activities successfully.

Examples of TTL Marketing Activity

Let’s take an example of a well-known property developer DAMAC in UAE. It is a fine example of TTL advertising. It uses hoardings, mall activations and online banner ads in addition to print media.

As a part of ATL advertisements it places hoardings for its upcoming projects at key public places like the airport. This is untargeted marketing.

For its BTL campaign, DAMAC uses property booths inside malls. It effectively uses this campaign to generate leads within the target group.

With a TTL approach, DAMAC creates redirecting pages to direct traffic to its sales website.

It uses various campaigns on social media including FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube etc.

With the usage of cookies, it follows your trail through the internet.

Next time you login to your social media account again you are likely to see DAMAC ads. This time it may also include a personalized offer.

Numerous brands like BATA, RedChief Shoes, Monte Carlo, Lodha Developers amongst others follow a TTL approach.

Apart from ATL approaches, these companies provide customized campaigns for different demographics which form a part of the BTL campaign.

Additionally these brands come with various social media campaigns with an integrated 360 degree approach.


There is no “applicable in all situations” market approach. While ATL method may work for some companies like FMCG, others may need to adopt a BTL approach.

With the evaluation of customer preferences and advance of digital marketing a lot of companies are adopting the TTL approach.

Eventually it boils down to how well marketers read the market and what is the best fit for passing on your company`s message to the customer.

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