If you are a business owner who is ready to lift your ideas to the next level yet you’re not sure whether you need a business plan, proposal or marketing strategy, there is a way to determine which you need and which should come first.

While some believe that a business plan is the most appropriate document in taking a company to the next level, others would do better with a proposal or marketing strategy. The choice is based on what your intention is and what you actually need for your particular project. The following defines the differences between the proposal, marketing strategy and business plan and which steps to take in realizing your goals.


A proposal in essence is an overview of what it is you are planning to present or offer to a client. It basically defines what you will do for your client and how you plan on helping them achieve their goals. It does not need to be lengthy nor does it have to contain as many details as a business plan, although in most instances it should include everything about how you plan on helping the potential client's company grow.

Perhaps you are promoting your business to some new clients who have already expressed interest in your company but they want to learn more about you. A proposal can stir the interest of the potential client by seeing in black and white what you will do for them. The proposal is meant to whet the appetite of those reading it, as it demonstrates your capabilities and expertise and is the perfect way of presenting your ideas. For example, I recently wrote a book proposal for a popular self-published book. Although the book had reached a high level of success, the author was ready to take her book to a higher level and wanted to find a publisher who would publish her next edition. As a result of the great proposal, she now has three different publishers who are bidding on her project.


When you construct a marketing strategy bear in mind that you are presenting ways in which you will promote either your own business or that of someone who has hired you. Marketing strategies can either be included in a business plan or as a stand alone document. It is precisely what it says; a strategy. As an example, while working with a Real Estate Broker, his company was being considered to handle the selling of a huge new condominium complex. The individuals who were thinking of commissioning the broker to handle the project wanted to be sure of his direction and requested details of his methodologies. They weren't interested in anything more than the strategies he would take in attracting the clientele they were after, so a marketing strategy was the perfect tool for his needs.
To assist my client, I compiled a detailed marketing strategy, which defined every conceivable way he would fulfill his responsibilities. As a result, the gentleman that was thinking of commissioning him was impressed with the marketing strategy and the job was given to the Broker. Basically, a well-put together marketing strategy can be the precise tool you need when convincing someone of your expertise.


A Business Plan can have several intentions. The first and most obvious is for the purpose of gaining the attention of investors, financiers or loan companies. It is a detailed plan that will show your potential investors exactly where you're heading. In it you will include sections such as an overall objective, company overview, executive summary, product or service, competition, target market, demographics, marketing strategies, bios and financial projections. A business plan is an entire blueprint of your business from the initial concept of your idea all the way to the completion of your projected goals.

A business plan can also serve another purpose. As you move forward in the direction of your endeavor, having a good business plan in place, keeps you from veering off in fruitless directions. Even if you aren't looking for investors, the plan will keep you on track and prevent you from wasting valuable time and effort regarding your business efforts.

When making a decision as to which you require for the next stage in your business enterprise, the preceding should help in clarifying your needs. But whichever you choose, make sure your proposal, marketing strategy or business plan is well constructed and carefully put together. If your goal is to have an investor, business or agency take you seriously, you have to demonstrate your ability through a professionally prepared business presentation.

Author's Bio: 

Charlene Rashkow brings 15 years of experience as a Writing Stylist and Author to her creative efforts as a freelance business writer/consultant. She has successfully helped thousands of companies and individuals reach their objectives by writing outstanding business plans, proposals, marketing strategies, press releases, bios, articles of interest, web site content and all other forms of professional and personal material. To speak with Charlene you may contact her at allyourwritingneeds.com or write her at info@allyourwritingneeds.com. You can also call her directly at (310) 514-4844