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Plan vs Strategy, Are they really the same?

Profile photo of Gordie Chase Submitted by Gordie Chase April 17, 2017

Well there are two reasons I decided to write this post today and they both involve a plan vs a strategy. A lot of people think that both are the same but in my mind they aren’t. A plan is just the map of where you’re going, a strategy is the route you take to get there.

game board

This is the exact reason so many people fail in online marketing. I hear all the gurus telling people to develop a plan and stick to their plan and success is assured. Then they sell you a plan and it somehow doesn’t work out for you as it did for them. If you ever wondered why it’s because they didn’t sell you the strategy they used to make the plan successful. Why would they?

Sure they gave you a step by step process, but we all know that regardless of how detailed the plan is it always needs a little tweaking to work the way you expect it to. You could follow a detailed plan down to the exact letter but still be unable to duplicate the same audience that the plan’s author did.

However, if you create a strategy to use the plan and develop your own audience, i.e. (your targeted audience) the people who want to follow your style, then the plan suddenly becomes effective.

joy

This is the very reason I pay no heed to the so called experts when they say that a particular method no longer works. In the 5 years I’ve been doing online marketing I’ve heard that email marketing doesn’t work, Facebook ads don’t work, PPC doesn’t work. I’m sure you get my point.

Everything is a season to many marketers, instead of saying their strategies no longer work and need to be revised, they blame it on the platform or delivery system.

And as you and I both know, all these platforms that they claim no longer work have continuously worked to create profit for thousands of marketers.

Instead of blaming the platforms they use they should attempt to discover why their strategies no longer work. I’ve noticed that many people still make enormous incomes in every facet of online marketing so that means the market hasn’t changed.

The problem that no one wants to admit is that the majority of us keep following other people’s plans and using other people’s strategies. If we all follow the same plans and use the same strategies of course they’ll reach a point where they no longer work because we’re not targeting our own audience. But if we tweak and test new strategies to target a new audience the same markets the experts claim are dead suddenly start to yield positive results.

make money

I’ve heard MLM is dead yet Natura did 3 billion in business last year, PPC is dead yet 20% of affiliate marketers using PPC make over a million dollars a year.

As you can see even though these markets had changed they were still full of profit potential. What these markets discovered was the old plans no longer worked and new strategies had to be developed to reach a new audience. A plan is only effective when you implement new strategies to use it.

soft drinks

Take soft drinks as an example, you may notice that while they are all basically the same, yet they are all marketed with a different strategy.

Why?

Because every marketing strategy doesn’t resonate with every audience. You need to test and refine strategies to reach new audiences, marketing is not a one size fits all occupation and new audiences are created everyday. You need to be continuously testing new strategies to reach these new audiences.

So yes you do need a plan, and yes it is possible to purchase one that belongs to someone else. But the strategy on how to implement the plan should be entirely yours.

Believe me, I was caught up in this practice myself not too long ago. I followed the exact step by step plan of another PPC marketer, I mean down to the exact letter. Yet I only achieved 1/3rd of the results that they did. At first I blamed the plan but the plan was sound, it took me months to realize what I needed was a new strategy. After I changed my philosophy and split tested a few new strategies the plan actually worked better than I thought it would.

The message I’m trying to relay to you in this brief post is that regardless of how well you plan you still need to find an effective strategy to implement that plan. If the first strategy doesn’t work find another one, don’t just give up on the plan.

Ford’s first car didn’t work, the first attempt to enter space was a disaster and my first blog failed epically. If you can’t see the pattern here let me help you, all of these plans just required a new strategy to work. Keep the plan, revise the strategy.

wrong tools  

Plan – an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective.

Strategy – how to implement the plan.

It doesn’t matter whose plan you use as long as you have solutions to these three questions the plan should work:

a. Who should be the customers that define our target market?

b. What should be the value proposition that differentiates our products and services with those customers?

c. What should be the capabilities that make our business better than any other in delivering that value proposition? (How do we do it better.)

When you have sufficient answers to these three questions the plan you didn’t think would work suddenly becomes an effective strategy.

Now I’m not sayng that every plan you see in a $5 WSO will work, in fact most of them are truly garbage that’s just over hyped to make a sale. I am saying that if there is a plan that’s proven to work for it’s author but so far hasn’t worked for you, it may require a new strategy.

Do you agree?


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Profile photo of Gordie Chase
I'm just here to help! I served 18 years in the military and have raised 3 wonderful kids. I've been in Internet Marketing for about 4 years and have made a few pennies here and there. My journey is not about making quick money on the internet it's about learning, discovery and building a business on a solid foundation. I get excited about helping others and meeting new marketers focused on developing their own businesses. The energy created by helping others has not only motivated me to learn more but has also given me more advice and resources to share. I'm here for all marketers so don't hesitate to ask me for help, and never give up on your dreams.
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21 Responses to “ Plan vs Strategy, Are they really the same?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Elliot Caleira Profile

    I agree with you, they’re different!

    A plan can change along the way. The strategy should stay mostly the same. Your strategy tells you what the goals are and your best ideas on how to achieve those goals.

    The plan is the actual course of action.

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for commenting Elliot and further clarifying my message. There are so many marketers out there that think the opposite and then wonder why a plan didn’t work. They think the plan means it’s set in stone and unbreakable.

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    I couldn’t agree more with you on this. Strategies need to be revised and changed to meet with the features of the audience. Sticking to a plan that has been presented by others could be a mistake especially if the audience isn’t the same.
    I will say that the kind of strategic plans needed is one that has been tested to work for more than one target audience.
    Your definitions on plan and strategy are points on!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for commenting Sunday and for especially bringing up the point of creating strategies for more than one targeted audience. Most marketers do limit their audience and sales by designing a singularly focused strategy to attract a certain demographic but you were dead on when you mention that your strategy should be multi pronged to reach a larger audience, thanks.

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hey Gordie,

    Plan is indeed the roadmap while strategy is the route to the map! The system of following specific routes for plans differs.

    It would be helpful for every marketer to have a good practical understanding on how plans and strategy works.

    Unfortunately, many of us have fallen victims of gurus who end up selling their ‘plans’ to us.

    I guess its time we start revising our strategies to meet our specific plans!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for joining the conversation Black and bringing up some valid points. You’re right we all should focus on creating strategies to implement our specific plans and goals regardless of the generic plan. Personally I say look at every system you purchase and try to make it better, there”s always room for a new approach.

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    Of course I agree with you on this post! One can still make money with any process online. If not, those promoting ‘ways to make money on the Internet’ won’t be mentioning them in their posts.

    To make money online, plan and strategy are needed. It is important to implement them rightly and timely.

    If a strategy doesn’t work then it must be revised!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for your comment James and summing it up with the solid fact that many marketers miss. “If a strategy doesn’t work then it must be revised!”, too many marketers see a failed strategy as a reason to give up instead of finding a solution.

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    The tone of this post makes one reassess his/her position of making money online. For newbies, this post comes handy to help in making profitable decisions online.

    Plans and strategies are needed to succeed online. The understanding of these concept can help us do better after implementation.

    One great takeaway from this post is that if one plan or strategy doesn’t work, it becomes important to revise it and try another!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for your input Celine, the entire reason I wrote this post was to help marketers who think their plan is faulty and give up. I’m trying to show that like life, everything involves a strategy, and like life every strategy needs to be revised when it doesn’t fit your plans.

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    I guess we should focus more on strategy than plan. They are not the same. The latter is more action-orientated than the former. Every business person must be strategic to achieve a plan.

    In online business journey, we need to learn and understand what value is suitable to the target audience, what vehicle is suitable for delivering that value, and how best to deliver that value effectively and efficiently!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thank you for participating in the conversation Winford. Focusing more on strategies is exactly what I was trying to relay in this post. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between a plan and the strategy used to implement it.

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Of course Plan and Strategy are not the same thing. The former is broader but the latter is precise, so to write 😉
    You have made good analysis of both and I agree with you.
    Readers must be more practical with strategy instead of relying more on plans!
    This is food for thought! Every proactive marketer must ruminate on this!

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    The plan is important and the strategy is essential. If we keep the plan and revise our strategies then we are better achieving success online.

    The three questions posed in this post

    a. Who should be the customers that define our target market?

    b. What should be the value proposition that differentiates our products and services with those customers?

    c. What should be the capabilities that make our business better than any other in delivering that value proposition? (How do we do it better.)

    must be answered by any marketer who wants to make the difference online!

    Thanks for sharing this post. It reminds of the need to be ‘practical’ when it comes to running an online business for success!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thanks for participating in the conversation Carl. I included the three points just to remind folks that marketing is a business not online gambling. Too many marketers have no basis for developing strategies to market their products and as you stated, these three questions have to be addressed. if not you’re just wasting time online.

  • Profile photo of steven Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    I think you have made my day with this post! The explanations about plan and strategy are revealing. I never thought of them like this. I always see goals, plans, objectives, strategies and tactics as same concepts. Now I know better!

    For the online marketer, it is crucial to ensure better understanding of what it takes to blend plan and strategy for online success.

    Plans and strategies must never be carved on stones. They must be dynamic, flexible and adaptable to the times!

    • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

      Thank you for your comment Steven, that’s exactly why I wrote this short article to clear things up a bit. I saw too many people confusing their focus. I even outline the main question to ask yourself when developing a strategy. I hope everyone takes another look at their marketing objectives and implement real strategies that could turn the tide in their business.

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile

    Hi Gordie,

    Nothing could be truer than this remark

    The problem that no one wants to admit is that the majority of us keep following other people’s plans and using other people’s strategies. If we all follow the same plans and use the same strategies of course they’ll reach a point where they no longer work because we’re not targeting our own audience. But if we tweak and test new strategies to target a new audience the same markets the experts claim are dead suddenly start to yield positive results.

    You are very correct about this, and I think every reader should take this into consideration!

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Strategy is what gives meaning to plans. This must be understood in everything we do in life!

    It is not enough plan without taking action! The delivery of a plan is at the mercy of a good strategy!

    Yes, plan and strategy are not the same but they work in tandem to help individual succeed in life’s ventures – family, relationship, business etc!

    Your post is soul searching!

    Thanks Gordie for this awesome post!

  • Profile photo of Gordie Chase Profile

    Thank you for participating in the conversation Amit. I was baffled by a conversation I had with another marketer because he didn’t understand the difference between a plan and a strategy. Since he was confused I had to add some enlightenment to his life. I reminded him that every success he’s had in life required a plan and a strategy on how to achieve the desired results.

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