Marketing Plan or Business Plan first?


Wouldn't I be more effective doing a marketing plan first - before working on a business plan?

Everybody's working on business plans, and I know they include Market and Marketing information. But I think a separate Marketing Plan may go a little deeper, and certainly let you focus on what you're going to sell to who. That's a mental change from writing a Business Plan where your real intent is getting funding or some other financial objective.

Having written business plans, and even taught business plan writing, I find myself working on a separate marketing plan. The mental point of view is different. The goal is different. I'm trying to make the business work and leave the profit stream for another day.

Has anyone used a Marketing Plan? How is it best used for a new product introduction, or a startup?

Marketing Business Plan

asked May 3 '12 at 22:22
Patrick Ny
300 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

6 Answers


A business plan should contain a summary of how your business will work and that includes how you are going to market it.

You may have a separate, more detailed marketing plan - but a brief outline of how you are going to find your customers should be part of the main plan.

"I'm trying to make the business work and leave the profit stream for
another day."

Erm - doesn't the business have to have profits to work, isn't that the point of a business plan, show where the profits will come from?
answered May 4 '12 at 19:08
1,365 points
  • Of course. But the whole business plan swings on whether you can make sales. Companies with good business plans keep changing their marketing efforts until they find something that works. How many famous companies haven't turned a profit (yet)? Way too many forecasts being made based on a marketing hypothesis. Maybe we should focus more on marketing until we find what works. (As a finance guy I'm not knocking the BP, but 3 years of profit forecasts, really!) – Patrick Ny 12 years ago


Its not an either/or -- a good, workable business plan must have a significant section dedicated to marketing and selling the product/service. But a marketing plan without a business plan and financials which underpins the whole thing is really just hot air. Remember, a business must make a profit (the bottom line) if it is to be viable. Marketing plans, by definition only deal with revenue generation (the top line). It doesn't matter how well you can sell/market something if your operating costs are prohibitive. So a marketing plan which stands alone is risky at best and a complete waste of time at worst.

answered May 5 '12 at 03:39
178 points
  • After the "not either/or" is sounds like a strong vote for the business plan. – Patrick Ny 12 years ago
  • Indeed, but I guess I'm saying you need both. – Brad 12 years ago


keeping marketing plan also in business plan will give you more weight and anyways when you pitch it and if people are interested then you have to say about the marketing plan also again so keep your marketing plan to yourself and write proper business plan

answered May 3 '12 at 23:39
Bhanu Prasad
209 points


I've been asked to work on a Marketing plan earlier when i was interviewed for a start up. According to my experience things which you need to keep in mind while preparing your Marketing Plan are:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Market Analysis(which includes competitors strengths and weaknesses, current trends, etc)
  3. SWOT Analysis(Strengths, Weaknesses/Limitations, Opportunities, and Threats)
  4. Objectives of your plan
  5. Marketing Strategy(your ways of promotional channels, Note that not all promotional strategies works for all kinds of businesses)
  6. Action Program (operational marketing plan)
  7. Financial Summary

Hope this helps.

answered May 4 '12 at 19:24
Krishna Reddy
16 points


If you can't work out if your business is viable, then either a marketing plan or business plan can help. I don't think you should get hung up on what you call it, I think the most important thing to remember is your purpose for creating it (you do have a purpose right?). Once you know your purpose, then what needs to go in this plan that will solve that purpose... there's your answer. At the end, you can call it a business plan or a marketing plan or anything else, it just has to solve your problem.

If you don't have a purpose or problem, then why are you spending any time thinking about it... go build your product. A product might succeed without a marketing plan or business plan, but I assure you a marketing plan won't be a success without a product.

answered May 4 '12 at 23:49
Joel Friedlaender
5,007 points
  • Yeah, got the product. But business is a process - at least for me. I think most businesses try more than 1 way to succeed. While I've previously worked on marketing, and even created bplans for this and others, I've been working on a more traditional marketing plan. And my purpose is to focus more on marketing planning. I don't need 3 years of sales projections - all I have is a theory of what might work at all right now. It's like an awakening that what I should be working on is marketing planning. We'll see what works. – Patrick Ny 12 years ago
  • I would still be inclined to be working on marketing doing instead of marketing planning. – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago


From my experience I can only tell you that most business plans and marketing plans are not effective. Here is what I recommend, just go for it, have a minimum viable product,get user feedback and develop a marketing/business plan when your product has been validated. Otherwise, it is just numbers in the air. Focus on the product, not the plan.

answered Jun 5 '12 at 03:51
688 points

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