The Difference Between “Marketing” and “Business Development”

by Zack Larson, Contributing Author
Small Business Development Group

At times, “marketing” and “business development” are used interchangeably as terms generically intended to represent “pre-sales activities”. These activities may include prospecting, introductory outreach, and sending sales or marketing collateral to a targeted prospect.

A Marketing Mindset

However, there are distinct differences between the mindset behind marketing vs. business development.

Marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

The Business of Relationship Building

Business Development is defined as “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.”

Only one of those two definitions contains the word “relationships”.

You may ask yourself, “Why is cultivating relationships a better strategy than marketing my products/services?”

The answer is that relationships cultivated from an effective Business Development strategy can turn into long-term, continuous revenue opportunities.

Long-Term Revenue is the Goal

While Business Development and relationship building may take more time and effort to realize ROI initially, over time, this effort will create stable long-term revenue potential.

In contrast, marketing is designed to yield faster results – because you’re engaging during the Decision Stage of the “Buyer’s Journey”.

However, this faster result can come at a price.

Specifically, your prospect will likely evaluate your offer primarily based on price rather than value.

Marketing helps you sell. Business development empowers you to solve…and there’s typically more money in solving than selling.

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