Business development (or biz dev, if you want to make everyone around you cringe so much that they spontaneously combust) is a word that’s getting thrown around a lot lately.

You often hear it in conjunction with words like ‘sales’, ‘expansion’, and ‘partnerships’, normally as an answer to the question ‘What is business development?’.

You rarely, however, get a straight answer.

So before we go all guns blazing into how to approach business development, I think a brief explanation of what it entails is in order.

What exactly is business development?

Many people’s go-to answer to this question is ‘It’s sales’. And while they aren’t wrong, they’re not entirely right either.

You see, sales’ function is to sell the products/services of a business to customers/clients, in exchange for money.

While the function of business development does overlap with that, sales is not its only function.

The aim of a ‘biz dev’-er is to pursue a number of strategic opportunities, in order to facilitate growth for their business.

Forbes has a particularly clear description for the term:

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships…At its heart…[it] is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth.  (Source: Forbes)


When you think of it like that, it’s no wonder it’s become such a coveted term as of late… It’s an incredibly valuable venture for any business that’s ready to grow.

Now you know what it is and how it functions differently to your/a sales team, let’s look at how you can integrate aspects of BD into your firm’s daily runnings.

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My top 5 tips for business development from a marketing perspective:

1. Figure out where your prospects go for information…

And make a plan to be visible and valuable, wherever that is.

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses stubbornly refuse to do anything but send emails, when their target audience are all on Facebook (for example).

2. Asses your market segments.

With the market position and resources you currently have, are some sectors going to be more difficult to break into than others? Are your markets likely to grow or shrink? Are there any new regulations coming into effect that might impact how you do business?*

It’s vital that you have an on the ground view of what’s going on in each of the markets that you are targeting, so that you can make informed decisions about where your efforts will be most valuable.

*GDPR comes into effect on May 25th. Are you ready? Read our blogs GDPR Compliance Part 1: What It Means For US B2B Firms Marketing To The EU and Part 2: What US Firms Need To Do If They Have Chosen Consent As Their Lawful Basis to find out.

3. Don’t jam your message down your prospects’ throats

It’s time to face it; traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less effective. In fact, the world seems to be becoming advertising-allergic.

Nowadays, if you want to attract your target market, you need to prove that you are an expert in your industry without forcing your own agenda.

That’s where content marketing comes in.

Content marketing is a tool that business developers use to demonstrate their firms expertise (in a way that people care about).

For example, by creating content that addresses long term issues/trends/opportunities, you will give your firm a voice and opinion on issues that your target market are interested in. This will, in turn, create business development opportunities for your firm.

Essentially, it’s a round-about way of saying ‘We know what we’re talking about, so choose us’.

If you haven’t already, I strongly advise including content marketing in your 2018 marketing strategy…It’ll get you much further than you think.

4. Know the ROI of all of your marketing methods and market sectors.

Knowing the return on investment (ROI) of your efforts will, again, allow you to allocate your resources profitably**.

For example, if you know the ROI of one of your services is low then you’d probably choose to use a cheaper method of communication (e.g. emails) to quickly reach a large audience at low cost per prospect.

But, if you know the ROI of a service is high then you’d be able to justify a high cost per prospect (e.g., personally calling them, or organizing an event to invite them to).

**Sometimes, calculating the ROI of certain marketing methods can be a little tricky. That’s why we wrote a blog that demystifies the ROI of content marketing: A 4-Step Process To Calculate Return On Investment From Content Marketing.

5. Figure out what you can do yourself, and what you can’t

No man is an island… and the truth of the matter is that sometimes the best person for the job isn’t you anyway.

I recommend assessing the resources, skills, and knowledge needed for all of your business development ventures, and making a list of what could realistically (and profitably) be done in-house, and what should be outsourced.

Which brings me on to the plug…

Here at JTN we’re experts in all areas of B2B marketing.

If you’d like to have a no strings attached conversation about how we might be able to help you with some of those projects that would be better outsourced, get in touch with our amazing Account Manager, Kelly, on [email protected] or (UK) +44 20 7099 5535 / (US) +1 877 465 7740.

We don’t know everything, but we do know marketing!