Business development and marketing: are you nurturing growth?

Strategic Planning
Tuesday 1st August 2023

Business development and marketing: are you nurturing growth?

Strategic Planning
Tuesday 1st August 2023
Written by Steve Roxby

Business development and marketing are integral to strategic planning—and business success. 

While they are both focused on generating leads, building strategic relationships, improving sales and getting new clients, they are slightly different. However, they complement one another. 

Like any good business strategy, marketing and business development should begin with quantifiable goals that align with your business goals, followed by a plan of action, resource identification, implementation and subsequent review to measure success. 

But what exactly should each involve? And what could you be doing right now to improve your efforts?

What is business development?

First, let’s look at business development or BD. 

Business development focuses on identifying business opportunities, building business relationships, and creating strategic partnerships to grow and expand your company's reach, revenue, and market presence. 

It involves various activities aimed at creating long-term value. The key aspects of business development strategies include:

  • Market research – Analysing market trends and customer needs and identifying potential growth areas or untapped markets
  • Lead generation – Identifying and attracting potential clients or partners who could benefit from your products or services
  • Networking – Building and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders, potential customers, industry influencers, and partners
  • Negotiation and deal making – Collaborating with other businesses to create mutually beneficial strategic business partnerships or securing contracts and deals
  • Strategic planning – Developing long-term plans and strategies to achieve business growth and success
  • Expansion and diversification – Exploring new markets, product lines, or industries to diversify and expand your business

Importantly, not all definitions of business development are the same. Here at Maxim, we always talk about business development strategy in a broad context. This includes looking at your team, clients, systems, property and culture. 

It’s all about customising business processes, products and services to fit your overall business development goals.

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What is marketing?

Marketing, by comparison, is the process of promoting and advertising products or services to attract, engage, and retain customers. It focuses on creating and delivering value to your target audiences, generating demand, and building brand recognition. 

Marketing strategy comprises a range of activities, including:

  • Market analysis – Understanding customer needs, preferences, and behaviours to identify target markets and segments
  • Product and price development – Creating offerings that meet your customers' demands, solve their problems effectively and are the right price
  • Branding – Establishing a unique and recognisable brand identity to differentiate your business from competitors
  • Advertising and promotion – Using various channels (e.g., digital marketing, print media, TV, etc.) to reach and communicate with the target audience
  • Content marketing – Creating valuable and relevant content to engage potential customers and establish yourself as a thought leader 
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) – Maintaining positive customer interactions and experiences to encourage repeat business and loyalty
  • Sales support – Providing your sales team with the necessary materials, information, and leads to convert prospects into new customers

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Practical tips for success

Now we’ve covered what business development vs marketing are and what you need to consider when devising your strategy, here are some practical business development and marketing tips to consider and implement. 

Business development 

Invest in market research 

Understanding your target market is essential for effective business development. So make sure you have taken the time to conduct market research to gather insights into customer behaviour and buying patterns and to identify your ideal customers, their needs, preferences, and pain points.

Make networking a priority

Attend conferences, trade shows, and networking events related to your industry.

If you don’t have time, we encourage you to make time. Face to face is always the best way to connect and build relationships with potential customers and business partners. 

You can also take advantage of your LinkedIn networks to cast a wider net.

Offer free initial consultations

Offering free consultations gives you a chance to talk to prospects about the ways your product or service is fit for these needs and the value it provides.

Meeting them can also tell you whether or not they’re a good fit. Better to get rid of unsuitable clients now than deal with them longer term, leaving you both frustrated.   

Get employees to stay ahead

Encourage your employees to learn more about the nuances of your field and the industries you serve. The more they’re on top of trends, the better they can identify potential clients and opportunities. 

Encouraging softer skills, such as relationship building, is also a good idea, as this can make every employee a potential lead generator. 

Explore ways to innovate 

Explore opportunities for diversification and innovation to stay competitive in the market. Continuously assess your product or service offerings and identify areas for improvement or expansion.

Innovation doesn't necessarily mean reinventing the wheel. It could be as simple as finding creative ways to improve efficiency, enhance customer experiences, or add value to existing offerings.


Define your brand and live it 

Your branding is about more than just a nice logo. It starts with defining a clear mission, vision and values and influences everything from your tone of voice to your uniforms and what your premises look like. 

Every interaction with your target clients or customers should reflect your brand and have consistent messaging.

Consider the best channels 

Are the marketing channels you use best for your target clients? Do you know what channels and tactics are the most effective today? 

Here are some channels to consider:

  • Website – Your website is your digital home and the heart of any online marketing strategy. Is yours well designed, fast, easy to navigate, full of great content that speaks to your target customers, and optimised for Google (SEO)? If not, this is something to work on. 
  • Social media – Do you have social pages for your business, and are you active on them? Sharing advice and tips, insights into your business and answering customer or client questions can help you build a loyal following. 
  • Video – Has your business embraced video yet? Not only is video proven to be one of the most engaging types of content, but it can also boost your online presence, build your brand and up conversions and sales. So don’t be camera shy. 
  • Blogging – Are you writing blogs for your business? Maybe it’s on your to-do list, and you’re struggling to find the time. Creating and publishing regular, relevant blogs on your site can set you up as an expert and increase your online traffic. 

Add the right skills to your team

Do you have a marketing team? Are they adequately skilled to deliver on your marketing strategy? Often, businesses end up delegating marketing tasks to admin or other staff members, who may lack sufficient knowledge to carry them out. 

If you have the budget to invest in a new team member or relevant training, do it. In our experience, outsourcing the work and consulting with brand and web specialists, copywriters, and other marketing professionals can be a smart move. 

Budget costs and monitor outcomes

It’s crucial to consider your budget. Some experts suggest spending 5-15% of your total revenue on marketing, but it might come down to what you can afford. 

You should also be thinking about cost versus benefit. This means monitoring the effectiveness of any marketing activities you engage in to see what’s working and what’s not so that you can plan for future investment.

Most digital channels come with tools for this, for example, Google Analytics, making things easy to test and track. 

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It’s all about achieving sustainable growth

Strategic business development and marketing are crucial in creating a strong and well-rounded business strategy.

While business development spots growth opportunities and nurtures relationships, marketing works its magic by showcasing the value of your products and engaging customers. 

By embracing these vital functions and implementing our practical tips, you'll be on your way to achieving sustainable growth, building a powerful brand, and gaining a competitive edge. 

If you’d like an informal chat about business development and marketing, reach out to your Maxim advisor or get in touch with our team. We can also refer you to our network of specialists.