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


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