Have you noticed how different accountants, lawyers and IP attorneys use the terms marketing and business development (BD) differently? Individual preferences aside, in the professional services is there a difference between marketing and business development?
And does it really matter which term you use? After all, surely the bottom line is you’re doing both to promote your practice to attract more profitable new clients.
Let’s start with dictionary explanations for both terms and build from there.
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
“Business development is the activity of pursuing strategic opportunities for a particular business or organization, for example by cultivating partnerships or other commercial relationships, or identifying new markets for its products or services.”
That’s not massively helpful, is it?
Here is a Tenandahalf alternative that’ll hopefully make it a bit clearer.
Is the difference that marketing is for the many and BD is for the few?
Marketing is for the many. It is about raising brand awareness and positioning a firm.
Marketing activity provides the backdrop to sell advisory services (via your marketing department or and outsourced provider) by:
– Building and maintaining a website
– Managing SEO to maximise visibility
– Creating fresh and exciting brochures and making them available as hard copies and online
– Gaining coverage and editorial in the publications your clients and prospective clients read
– Creating content for your firm’s social media channels
– Commissioning market research (including client listening programmes)
Hosting events (business and social)
BD activity is for the few.
It needs to be owned by fee earners as it hinges on personal relationships between an advisor and his/her clients, referrers and other professional contacts and their ability/willingness to:
– Go to the right networking events
– Initiate more informal contact with clients and contacts over coffee meetings, lunches and after work drinks
– Speak at the right events (in person and online)
– Create content for LinkedIn, the trade press (or local press if your practice is more private client focused) and other target publications and websites
– Experiment with the other types of digital content, podcasts, video and motion graphics