Business Plan vs Marketing Plan: What are the key differences in 2024?

Business Plan vs Marketing Plan. Two detailed images of what goes into business planning and marketing planning. Blaze Business & Legal

A Business Plan and a Marketing Plan are both essential documents for managing and growing a business, but they serve distinct purposes and focus on different aspects of a business's operations.

Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Purpose

Business Plan

A Business Plan provides a comprehensive overview of the entire business. Its primary purpose is to outline the overall business strategy, goals, and how the business will achieve its objectives. 

  • Maps out exactly where you're going to go with your business.
  • States the goals of the business, how much you are going to sell, what your turnover is going to be, etc.

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This document is essentially a "plan for your business". It can be long-form or short-form depending on the ultimate objectives of the business.

The Business Plan should cover various issues, including the business's mission, products or services, financial projections, operations, management team, and funding requirements.

This document is often provided to third parties, including lending institution, startup funding providers and agents for commercial leases of premises.

Marketing Plan

A Marketing Plan is a subset of the Business Plan, although it may be created in a separate (standalone) document.

The primary purpose of a Marketing Plan is to detail the marketing strategies and tactics that the business will use to promote its products or services. In startup phase, because the business is just getting started, the Marketing Plan may involve high-level intentional statements contained within the Business Plan.

  • Is about picking your target audience.
  • Finding out where they consume their media.
  • Finding out where you can reach them so you can sell your product or services to them.

However as a business grows, particularly those businesses who rely on marketing to sell their products and services, it becomes more important to have a detailed and well-thought-out Marketing Plan. This may be drafted with assistance from a marketing expert.

A Marketing Plan focuses specifically on reaching and engaging the business's target audience (and may involve detailed identification of the ideal customer/client profile (ICP), building brand awareness, and driving sales or conversions.

Preparing a Business Plan and a Marketing Plan. Woman placing sticky notes on wall. Blaze Business & Legal

2. Scope

Business Plan

The scope of a Business Plan is broad and encompasses all aspects of the business, including marketing.

It addresses strategic, operational, financial, and managerial considerations, making it a comprehensive guide for business owners, investors and lenders, other startup funding providers, and stakeholders.

Business Plan on Gray and Black Laptop on the Table
Planning a Marketing Plan. Person Drawing on a Notebook. Blaze Business & Legal

Marketing Plan

A Marketing Plan has a narrower scope and is solely focused on marketing-related activities.

It outlines the specific actions, channels, and campaigns that the business will implement to attract and retain customers. It also identifies the main way the business will target its clients and customers.

3. Content

Business Plan

The content of a Business Plan includes sections such as the business description, market analysis, financial projections, organisational structure, funding requirements, and more. It provides a holistic view of the business's entire operations.

Marketing Plan

The content of a Marketing Plan centers on marketing strategies, target audience profiles, competitive analysis, promotional activities, advertising budgets, and marketing goals.

It provides a detailed roadmap for achieving marketing objectives.

4. Audience

Business Plan

The primary audience for a Business Plan includes potential investors, lenders, business partners, and internal stakeholders. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the business with a view to securing funding, partnerships, or support.

A business is also asked for its Business Plan in other circumstances, including where it wishes to enter into a Commercial Lease of premises.

Marketing Plan

The primary audience for a Marketing Plan includes the marketing team, sales team, and other departments responsible for executing marketing strategies. It helps ensure alignment and clear communication among team members regarding marketing efforts.

A Marketing Plan is very much an "internal" document, while the Business Plan is meant to be shared with other stakeholders "external" to the business.

5. Time Horizon

Business Plan

A Business Plan typically outlines the long-term vision and objectives of the business, often covering a period of 3 to 5 years or more. It is meant to include long-term financial projections.

Marketing Plan

A Marketing Plan focuses on shorter timeframes, often covering one year or less. It outlines specific marketing activities and campaigns for the near future.

By its nature, a Marketing Plan may be edited and revised frequently.

Conclusion

While a Business Plan provides a comprehensive overview of a business's entire operations, and is meant for distribution to stakeholders (particularly in the early stages of a startup business), a Marketing Plan is a specialised internal document that sets out marketing strategies and tactics the business intends to use.

Both plans are essential for business success, and they complement each other by aligning marketing efforts with broader business objectives outlined in the Business Plan.

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Rachelle Hare and Shannon Drew, Blaze Business & Legal
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About the Author

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare - Managing Director and Principal Practitioner of Blaze Business & Legal

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare is a highly experienced Construction Lawyer and Contract Lawyer, with over 23 years of experience in Tier 1 and Tier 2 Construction Firms, Top Tier Private Practice and Government.

With 23+ years of experience as a Senior Lawyer, Strategic Contracting Adviser and Management Consultant in Construction Law, Contracts, Major Projects, Commercial Advisory, Compliance, Procurement, Contract Management and Risk Management, Rachelle has the rare skills to offer you seamless business advice and legal advice to help support your organisation.


As well as a Lawyer and Business Adviser, Rachelle has also acted as a Strategic Procurement Adviser, Compliance Manager, Strategic Risk Adviser and Commercial Manager.

Rachelle owns
Blaze Business & Legal, a combined Commercial Law Firm and Business Advisory Firm located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Blaze Business & Legal assists a broad range of clients in the Construction Industry and related industries, and advises owners, contractors, subcontractors, NFPs and other organisations on a broad range of Construction Law, Commercial Law, Business Advisory and Management Consulting issues in Brisbane, Queensland and around Australia.

Rachelle also owns Blaze Professional Learning, where she offers practical contracting skills, hands-on experience in drafting and working with contracts, and industry insights to help Professionals upskill and advance their careers with real-world skills.

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