What is the difference between marketing and business development?

One of the questions we get asked a lot by the lawyers, accountants, patent and trade mark attorneys and barristers we work with is “what is the difference between marketing and business development?” 

Some think it’s pretty much the same thing.  Others just aren’t sure.  This is why we thought it may be useful to table our answer in this week’s blog.

What is marketing?

For me marketing is the process of getting one message out to as many people as possible, preferably (if not critically) with those people sitting in your chosen targets markets.

This process involves using all the channels that connect you with your target market/s.  You never know who’s going to see/use/trust each channel so you need to make sure all bases are covered so you maximise your chance of reaching as many prospective clients as you can with every initiative. 

In terms of the marketing channels open to law firms, IP firms, accountants and barristers’ chambers they include:

  • Your website
  • Social media (although we’ll come back to social media under business development too)
  • The websites and publications your targets read
  • Video
  • Podcasts
  • Open seminars/webinars
  • Speaking slots
  • Targeted digital advertising

What is business development?

Conversely – and this is the fundamental difference between marketing and business development – business development is the process of making sure your getting your message out to the right people in person and on a personal basis.

It’s about working out who you need to talk to, what you need to say when you are in front of them and how to engineer the best possible opportunity to have that conversation.

Just as importantly, it’s about keeping that conversation going between seeing these people in person.  For me, this is where marketing and BD have to overlap.  You can’t keep up with every single person in your network so your website, social, editorial coverage and PR, video content, podcasts, speaking slots and events will help joint the dots and keep you visible until it’s time to get together again.

In terms of the business development channels open to lawyers, IP firms, accountants and barristers’ chambers they include:

  • Coffee/lunch/drinks
  • Attending conferences
  • Getting involved with the relevant trade bodies, networking groups and professional associations
  • Networking (both in a formal and informal sense)
  • Social media (although for BD this means staying in top of your personal LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram accounts)
  • Setting up social events for small groups
  • Supplanting emails with phone calls
  • Volunteering to help your clients and contacts 1on1 or with initiatives they want to run
  • Volunteering to help with local or industry-based initiatives

Helping lawyers, accountants, patent and trade mark attorneys and barristers understand the difference between marketing and business development so they can use both to maximum effect to grow their practice is one of Tenandahalf’s specialisms.  If you’d like to know more about our BD training for lawyers and accountants, please get in touch.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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