Marketing and Business Development – What’s The Difference?

Marketing and Business Development are two terms often used interchangeably by those not in those professions. But these two things are quite different, yet mutually dependent. Let’s start with some definitions.

Marketing has been defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” While Business Development is: “a function focused on strategy, creating strategic partnerships and long-term relationships with suppliers and customers.”

So Marketing is about communicating with prospective buyers (or donors if a non-profit) and nurturing them through the decision process until they become a customer or donor; and then maintaining the relationship through regular communications. While Business Development is about designing a strategy for the organization’s success and growth by creating strategic partnerships and building long term relationships.

Simply put, marketing is about science and creativity: using research and analytics to design the messaging; while business development is about the human touch: connecting and bonding person to person for mutual benefit. Both are critical to the success of any enterprise. One cannot succeed without the other.

Marketing exists (in my opinion) to help make business development successful. All the things marketing does with branding, direct marketing and other advertising grows awareness of the organization and adoption of its products or services.

In large enterprises, these two functions typically operate as separate departments. But in smaller organizations and certain industries like professional services, they are often combined into a single role. Such an organization needs an individual with a creative mind matched by quantitative expertise, a brilliant communicator with deep experience and repeated success both in marketing and business development.

marketing and business development


Why It’s Crazy to do Your Own AdWords

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the most cost effective way for a small business to reach a target audience. Compared to direct mail, TV, radio, print, billboards and other traditional media, SEM has the lowest cost per new customer acquired.

Every business of any size receives numerous offers from Google every month for $50 or $100 in free SEM spend on Google AdWords. Virtually every business I’ve talked to that has taken Google up on their offer and trialed AdWords as a DIY project has come away thinking that SEM doesn’t work for their business.

The fact is, it will work for your business, you just don’t know what you’re doing (also a $100 spend isn’t going to take you very far.)

Google’s pitch is that AdWords is easy and anyone can do it, but from a practical standpoint, that’s simply not true. To do AdWords right, you need a lot of specialized training. You also must be spending several hours a day (at least) running AdWords campaigns, every day. Otherwise you’re like the DIY plumber that floods his house or the amateur barber that butchers her kid’s haircut – you’re going to make a mess of things.

An SEM specialist needs to understand the AdWords bidding process, geo targets, geo modifiers, keyword categories, ad layout and design, ad extensions, conversion page optimization, quality scores and lots of other things. The businesses I’ve talked to that love SEM and spend a big piece of their ad budget on it all have one thing in common, they hired an SEM specialist to run their program.

Don’t think you can assign a new or existing employee your SEM campaign in addition to other projects like web design, SEO, social media or traditional marketing. To get good enough at SEM to achieve strong results, you must be a fulltime specialist.

Besides hiring an employee or contractor, there are many national, regional and local internet advertising companies that will run Google AdWords (and Yahoo and Bing) campaigns for a fee. Any business spending less than $20,000/month on SEM should go this route, it’s way cheaper than a fulltime employee.

If you are thinking of signing up with one of these digital advertising vendors, here are some really important issues and questions to ask before you sign a contract:

  1. Do not sign up for more than 3 to 6 months initially – Most vendors want 12 month contracts. But if they don’t deliver the results you were told to expect, you don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad. Make sure you can get out early for poor results.
  2. Make sure you know who will be managing your campaign – Is it a person or a robot? Many SEM programs are fully automated and lack the fine-tuning of a program run by a highly trained human. If it’s a person, is it a CSR or a trained SEM specialist? Can you call a specific person anytime to discuss your campaign, and can you get their name, email and phone extension? Usually dedicated account managers or dedicated campaign specialists are reserved for larger customers spending $1,000 or more per month on SEM spend.
  3. They should train you how to understand their dashboard – All legitimate SEM vendors offer an online dashboard that allows you to track campaign results, usually in real time. This is how you can tell how your program is working. They should walk you through how to interpret all the graphs, tables and gauges on your password secured dashboard.
  4. Make sure you spend enough – After the vendor develops your initial set of keywords and geo targets, ask them to show you what the average cost of those keyword/geo combinations is. To run a decent program, you’ll want to get at least 100 clicks a month. (That number is based on an average of 10 clicks generating one action, i.e. a phone call or purchase or other conversion. Your ratio may be higher or lower.) If your average cost per click is $6, your minimum monthly spend should be $600. Spending less will mean that you likely won’t get many new customers.
  5. How much of your monthly fee goes toward spend? The spend is the amount of money paid directly to the search engine – Google, Yahoo or Bing. The rest of your fee is the management fee for the service provider. If your monthly spend is below $500, the management fee should be in the 50% to 100% range. Spends between $500 – $5,000/month should generate management fees in the 25% to 40% range. If your spend is over $5,000/month, your management fee should be 20% or less.

There are other key issues to consider, but these are some of the big ones. Be sure to do your due diligence on your prospective SEM service provider, it will greatly increase your odds for success.

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Do You Have Competition? You Need an Ad Budget!

I have talked to hundreds of small business owners throughout my career. I have broken them down into two simple categories:

  1. Businesses that spend money on advertising and grow sales and profits
  2. Businesses that never grow, or just plain fail

At first glance, this may seem an oversimplification. But it highlights a basic fact: to grow your business, people need to know who you are, where you are, and why they should do business with you rather than your competitors.

Occasionally there are articles in the news about start-ups (usually in the tech or online sector) that manage to launch their business without paid advertising. They get articles published about their innovations and get thousands of followers on social media. But all of these businesses have one thing in common: they’ve built a better mousetrap. Their product or service is so unique that it can completely remake a product category or industry.

But here’s the catch. This is almost certainly not a description of your business. You have competitors who are established and serve the customers you want. Your product or service may be new, but you are still competing for the dollars people spend now for a similar product or service. People need to find you.

I know business owners that spend several hours a day on Facebook trying to build a following. This is a great way to stay in touch with existing customers, but a terrible way to find new customers. Facebook is primarily an inbound platform; people have to be looking for you. If they don’t know you exist, Facebook doesn’t help. You need outbound advertising to make yourself visible to potential new customers. Facebook has warned businesses that they will get very little organic reach through posts shared with friends and followers. Facebook is not a charity, they want you to buy advertising to get your message out there.

There are many types of outbound advertising, both digital and traditional. The most important things to remember are:

  1. Don’t spread your ad spend too thin, doing a little bit of everything. It won’t have the impact you’re looking for.
  2. Be consistent with your messaging. Keep it simple and focused.

Research your market and identify your target audience. Then use your ad budget to target them on the media they use. Targeting Millennials? – Go all digital, maybe add some Cable TV if your budget allows. Targeting Boomers and older? Use print, direct mail, radio and broadcast TV. Don’t waste money sponsoring little league teams, using Groupon or buying a single billboard. You won’t get the results you need.

Are You Listening to Your People?

The world is full of brilliant managers. Of course only some are actually brilliant, but all of them are geniuses in their own minds. Be they real or delusional, gifted managers nearly always share a common trait: they are not nearly as smart as they think they are.

In any human endeavor, we learn the most valuable lessons from our failures. The only lesson most of us learn from our successes is simply: I must be brilliant! This is the opposite of insight and is a major cause of managers trying to apply what they learn from past successes more broadly, often producing poor results.

Just because you think you are the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean you can’t learn from lesser mortals. I see this every day working with marketing executives. It starts with their first big promotion. Their bosses and colleagues all congratulate them for a well deserved recognition. Too often they walk away thinking “I have been rewarded for my managerial brilliance. They have recognized what I already knew: I am a rock star! To get to the next level, I need to do more of what I did to get here.” That’s usually when things start to go south.

Genius managers are bad listeners. They have so many “great” ideas (mostly their own, but some appropriated without attribution) in their heads that there is no room for outside input, particularly from subordinates. They have a grand vision of where to take their team and that vision is theirs…and theirs alone. They have no intention of sharing the glory of their successes with the worker bees.

Employees that are ignored don’t feel part of a team, and thus are not invested in the team’s success. They feel undervalued. Remember the rule: employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. Want to build a great team? Learn to listen.

B2B Product Marketing: Is Customer Experience Driving the Bus?

B2B Marketing is still an evolving specialty. Traditionally, people that aspire to a career in marketing mostly choose the much larger B2C space, working for the likes of P&G and PepsiCo. Marketing to businesses certainly is a different process and customer dynamic than marketing to consumers. But fundamentally, all B2B buyers are also consumers. B2B marketing can learn much from their more mature B2C brethren.

In most B2C product marketing, the key driver is Customer Experience (CX). Marketers do extensive research to gain deep knowledge of consumer preferences and behaviors. Then new products and product line extensions are developed based on these research findings.

On the other hand, B2B product marketers often have small or non-existent research budgets and end up designing products and services based on limited information, like anecdotal contacts with customers and trade show attendees.

Business product marketers must develop strong ties to their company’s Sales and Sales Training departments and staff. Salespeople are on the front lines of customer interaction at the moment of purchase. They know exactly what customers want, what they don’t like and how they perceive value. Sales trainers can tell marketers which are the products and policies that reps struggle with; where problems occur in the post-sale fulfillment process; and why reps are selling some products/services and not others.

Marketers should ride on sales calls with reps, attend training classes and experience these interactions first hand. They should also ride on service calls and sit with new customer on-boarding staff, CSRs and tech support personnel, listening and observing to live customer interactions.

The goal is to build a complete understanding of the customer experience over the life of the relationship. Equipped with this data, B2B product marketers can build products and services that delight customers, are understood by the company’s employees and create strong long-term relationships.

How Do Sales Reps Bring Value to The Client Relationship?

Traditionally, B2B sales reps, particularly premise reps meeting clients face-to-face, have relied heavily on “relationship selling.” In this model, the salesperson is focused on building deep, long term, personal relationships with customers, leveraging that connection to produce a steady stream of sales over many years. Buyers bought based on personal connections and rep “likability”, since all major product/service alternatives were viewed as the same, with the relationship serving as the differentiator. Products and services were sold using a feature/benefit approach, where features of the product were tied to specific benefits to the buyer’s company.

Then in the eighties and nineties, the concept of feature/benefit selling was eclipsed by books like Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling, which introduced the concept of the Discovery Call, where the rep would ask the client questions about their business and achieve the customer’s buy-in to the proposed product or service. This approach embraced the concept of the Complex Sale, where the client’s buying process involved multiple approval levels across multiple departments. Clients were not expected to make an immediate decision, but were instead provided by the rep with all the information the buyer needed to drive a favorable decision through the purchase process.

Around that same time, Miller and Heiman introduced Strategic Selling, which further evolved the concept of consultative selling, where products and services became “solutions”. This approach required an ever deeper dive into the client’s business, and different buyer profiles that the rep needed to identify and formulate a selling strategy based on how the buyer approaches the evaluation and selection process. Again, the underlying assumption was that the decision process would take weeks or months due to the buyer’s requirements for multiple levels of approval.

Solution selling is a big improvement over mere relationship sales, in that the rep actually brings value to the customer by educating them on how their products and services will improve the customer’s business. But much of the data required to formulate this solution comes from an exhaustive discovery process that puts the onus on the customer to research and respond.

In 2011, Dixon and Adamson published The Challenger Sale, which shifted the responsibility for information collection to the sales rep’s company. In this model, the rep’s marketing department researches the client’s industry exhaustively (prior to rep contact) to develop valuable insights into the issues that face owners and managers in the client’s sector. This eliminates the need for the customer to undergo an extensive discovery process and instead boils the rep’s value proposition down to a few key insights.

In the Challenger model, the sales rep becomes a trusted advisor that provides valuable insights to clients about issues and obstacles to the client’s success about which they are likely unaware. This is the key: providing the customer with previously unknown critical insights. It answers the old customer challenge of “tell me something I don’t already know.” The Challenger element comes into play when clients push back on the rep’s claims, questioning their relevance to their business. Equipped with solid industry research, the rep can state authoritatively that delaying implementation of their proposed solution will unequivocally result in lost sales, higher costs, increased turnover, or whatever key metric applies to the solution.

In short, a Challenger trained rep brings real value to the client relationship, making it more than worth the client’s time to meet. The sales process is shorter, simpler, takes less of the customer’s time and delivers tangible benefits to the client’s business.

Why the SEO Marathon is Worth the Time and Money

Customers often tell us that they want to have their company appear on page 1 of results on Google, Yahoo and Bing. By using search engine marketing (pay-per-click), we can make that happen practically right away. Meanwhile, we begin the long term effort to get the customer higher on organic search results through search engine optimization, known as SEO. The ultimate goal: to get the customer at or near Page 1 on the search engines, and more importantly, to keep them there.

Many independent website developers take a “one and done” approach to SEO by loading site content with keyword phrases, HTML meta tags and a handful of inbound links, add a WordPress plug-in or two and consider SEO a done deal. Will this, help? Sure, a bit. But if the customer is in a highly competitive space like plumbing, personal injury law, pizzerias, bars, salons, car dealerships or one of the dozens of other businesses with hotly contested keyword phrases, one and done SEO doesn’t make it happen.

Improving a customer’s SEO rankings in highly competitive business segments is a marathon. Doing it right requires that the SEO program be managed by a highly skilled SEO specialist. SEO pros go through multiple in-depth search engine certification exams and must recertify frequently. They monitor customers’ rankings closely and frequently test different advanced SEO tactics, including:

  • Site Indexation & Accessibility
  • In-Depth Keyword Research
  • Advanced Link Building from popular, authoritative sites
  • Frequent updates of substantive, high quality, relevant content
  • Advanced Tags
  • Speed and Performance Optimization

SEO experts test these and many other tactics and measure their effectiveness over time, using sophisticated analytics. SEO pros conference with business customers regularly, to discuss what’s working and develop new strategies that fit the customer’s business objectives.

The goal is to achieve dominant positions in search engine results and maintain them long term. If being found online by prospective customers is your business goal, you need a real SEO pro to get you there…and keep you there.