People often ask us, “what’s the difference between marketing and business development?” – which to us, seems simple.
However, the nuance can be difficult to grasp. To some, there’s a line of thought that the two should never mix. And if you add in ‘advertising’ and ‘sales’ it becomes further complicated. Then you could add in ‘digital marketing’ ’email marketing’ ‘marketing strategy’, etc etc.
So, let’s take a look and see if we can figure out what you need:
There’s an official answer to what marketing is. It’s the very business-like: “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. Which is fine, but what does it mean?
At Limeslade, we tend to see marketing (or construction marketing) as the various ‘soft’ activities that go together to promote a business. The things that help ensure prospective clients know what a business does, and how it can benefit them. I’d say it probably includes advertising. And to an extent, it should include business development.
However, advertising and BD are often seen as separate disciplines. Our general view is that marketing opens the door for business development and the different elements should work hand in hand.
The strategy you put in place, and the activities you engage in for marketing – knowledge sharing, promotion, social media, websites, events etc, all combine. They provide the ‘shop window’ for your business. The aim is to create a desire in the customer or client to find out more. And if you’re lucky, make a purchase.
Typically, we see business development as the face to face relationship building, particularly in professional services, that helps win the work. In our world it’s perhaps just a more substantial element of the marketing mix. Once the door has been opened by a marketer through promotion and some of the ‘softer’ elements, the BD people can pop along and build a relationship.
The world of professional services – architecture, surveying, consultancy, law, etc – thrives on relationships. Someone needs to ensure those relationships are nurtured and cared for. That’s the job of the business developer.
Often BD is seen as sales. We’d like to think it’s slightly more than that.
Sales teams or people typically work to directly sell a product, often on commission. Once the sale happens, the relationship is over. Though BD can work like that, it’s often far more subtle.
Business development activities work best when people have a relationship of trust that allows the prospective client to trust the BD team enough to place a commission or project with your company.
One of the best descriptions of BD I heard was simply, “making friends”. It’s about long-term relationships and developing business rather than selling.
Sales and Advertising
Then you add sales and advertising into the mix. Millions are spent by large corporations on good adverts.
Think the John Lewis ad, automotive advertising etc. But it can also drop down to simple ads on LinkedIn or google for a small business. It usually requires direct expenditure with a media company of some sort.
We wrote about online ads a little while ago here. Whether they’re good or not ultimately boils down to what you want to achieve.
And sales, as outlined above, tends to be quite a direct, focussed thing. Unlike business development which will be a broader, long-term operation, sales are often quite short-term and focussed.
So, Should We Be Doing Marketing or Business Development?
It won’t surprise you to hear that we would typically recommend a selection of activities. A typical marketing campaign will contain a selection of all the above. However, it very much depends on what you’re selling and how. The old marketing concept, “the 4 P’s” defines a mix of things that go into the marketing of a product or service.
Much will depend on these 4 P’s.
Ultimately, much will depend on what is appropriate for the product or service and the business we work with. Particularly cost-conscious clients may be concerned not to commit capital to advertising. Some may not like the lack of subtlety of sales.
Others may not feel comfortable with knowledge sharing. Some, in contrast, may not be comfortable with business development. However, in order for a business to grow and develop, as one of our friends says, “you have to turn the handle”.
There should be a mix of different, appropriate forms of marketing, positioning your brand correctly. This in turn should ensure people will be willing to pay the price you wish to charge and make a purchasing decision for any product or service you offer.
Often people seem to think that marketing and business development should stay well apart from each other. However, surely it would be far better if the two went hand-in-hand? The marketing team needn’t necessarily do the business development, but the two should be collaborative.
The two should certainly never work against each other, as is often the case. Where possible, the two disciplines should ensure they work to ensure one is supporting the other reciprocally. A business that lacks some of the key elements, is potentially missing opportunities to grow and develop, and ultimately make money.
And of course, if any of this makes sense to you (or if it doesn’t!), why not get in touch with one of us, and see if we can assist.