In the first post of this 4-part blog series, (Marketing vs. Business Development: What’s the Difference?), we learned that marketing’s overall goal is to position your firm for success by warming up the market, while business development’s focus is on developing one-on-one partnerships and strategic relationships in an effort to ultimately bring in new business.Then, in another recent post, we discovered what makes for a strong marketing professional, and in the third post of this series, we discussed what makes for a successful business development professional.
But, how do these departments and key attributes effectively work together to increase a firm’s ROI? While each department has its separate “duties” and functions, ultimately, they must work together to support the firm’s overall goal — to grow the business. Balance and coordination toward this common goal are key in maintaining a high level of productivity and attaining the most profitable return on investment.
What Happens If Marketing and Business Development Are Unbalanced or Uncoordinated?
When a firm embraces marketing but lacks business development outreach and follow-up efforts, potential clients may be aware of the brand, but the firm will miss opportunities to close red hot prospects, and ROI will likely be low. On the other hand, an emphasis on business development – without marketing that creates brand awareness and clear, consistent messaging – makes it challenging to get the face-to-face meeting, and nurture prospects; the firm may face more rejection or missed opportunities.
When there is a balance of marketing and business development, but those efforts are not coordinated, neither department is being used to its full potential. For instance, if marketing defines a target market that differs from business development’s target, the message may be wrong for the audience, and thus ineffective. Conversely, if the targets and messaging are aligned, but business development is not aware of a campaign and there is no direct follow-up, your firm is likely missing opportunities to close business.
How Marketing and Business Development Can Support One Another
The following areas are where marketing and business development can and should be closely aligned to maximize efforts and stay connected with the firm’s target audience:
Strategy and Planning.
Start coordinating marketing and business development in the beginning, during the planning stages. Smooth communication of firm messaging, goals, and simply knowing “what makes for a good client” helps marketing and business development support each other. Then, a process for follow-up should be established for each campaign so that results can be measured.
Whether it’s a qualifications brief, web copy, or the firm’s “30-second commercial,” the message should be developed based upon how the firm is uniquely qualified to meet needs and wants of the prospect or client. Who has better access to clients’ needs and wants than a business development professional, or a partner active in the sales role? With this first-hand knowledge, a marketer can ensure that overall firm messaging and service offerings are closely aligned to the client’s or prospect’s interests and “pain points.”
Content items such as articles, blog posts, and webinars should be developed based upon topics the target audience is clamoring to know more about. Business development can inform marketing about the latest “hot button” topics learned from one-on-one conversations, so that marketing can develop content that matters.
After content has been created on a great topic, it is often used as a “call-to-action” where a reader can access the content in exchange for some basic information. When someone shares his/her contact information in exchange for your content, it’it’s a red flag that this person is interested in your firm’s expertise. Marketing and business development must coordinate a follow-up strategy or the firm will miss an opportunity to nurture a warm lead.
Hosting a client event or even a referral source meet and greet is a great way to enhance existing relationships with face time. Marketing can coordinate and promote the event, but adding in direct, personalized outreach will likely result in a larger turnout, and is simply a great opportunity to make another touch. Marketing and business development, along with the firm’s partners, should debrief the event and coordinate on follow up communication.
If marketing has successfully pitched a partner at your firm to speak at an event, the partner or business developer should be on site, meeting prospects, handing out business cards, and following up. Simply showing up to speak does not ensure someone will reach out and ask for business.
Both marketing and business development need to be aware of changes to client needs and challenges and adjust how the firm responds to these. Marketing can develop the right questions to ask, while business development should have in-person conversations. Feedback should be shared among both departments and the team leadership to plan appropriate communication, follow-up, or changes to strategy.
Marketing and business development naturally have skill sets that complement each other, and while each function is separate, they work together to support the business. It’s crucial for any firm to take advantage of the strengths of both departments and strike the proper balance (and coordination) of marketing and sales. A firm that understands the role of each function and how they interact and support one another will be able to leverage both functions to realize more streamlined business growth and a higher return on investment.