It's not uncommon for people to confuse a marketing strategy from a marketing plan. The easiest way to explain the difference is:
Marketing Strategy - Your marketing strategy is an explanation of the goals you would like to achieve with your marketing efforts. (This is the WHAT). Your marketing strategy is shaped by your business goals. Your business goals and your marketing strategy should always go hand-in-hand.
Marketing Planning - Your marketing plan is how you are going to achieve those marketing goals. (This is the HOW). It's the application of your strategy which is a roadmap that will guide you from one point to another. You can also refer to this as your tactics.
The issue is that most people try to set out to achieve the "HOW" without first knowing the "WHAT." This can end up wasting resources for a company, both time and money. When it comes to marketing, we must always identify the what and then dig into the how. If you remember one sentence from this section, it's this one: Strategy is the thinking and planning is the doing.
A successful formula that can be used to further explain the importance of marketing strategy and marketing planning looks like this:
Marketing Strategy + Marketing Plan + Implementation = Success
Your marketing strategy consists of: The "what" has to be done. re different than your competitors. Your marketing plan consists of: The "how" to do it. Create marketing campaigns, design advertising, public relations and promotions that will achieve the "what" in your strategy. Your implementation consists of: Establishing budgets and taking action to achieve the items identified in marketing strategy and marketing plan.
Analysis of Your Customer - How many customers would you like to strive for? What type of customers are they? What are the values that drive them? What does their decision process look like? What customers will you focus on for the products or services that you offer?
Analysis of Your Competitors - What's your marketing position? What's their market position? What are your strengths when it comes to your competitors? What are your weaknesses? What market share are you going after? What market share has your competitor already tapped?
As you can see your marketing strategy goes hand-in-hand in with your marketing plan. Without both you will find that you not only waste resources, but that you could also end up stuck without an idea of where to go.