The Difference Between Strategic Marketing And Business Development


Business development is what market players do to generate business. Strategic marketing is what companies do to win new business away from competitors, increase profit margin, and dominate their market for years.

In other words, strategic marketing is the playbook and business development is the carrying out of the play. One without the other is an ineffective strategy.

Let’s look at that a little bit deeper.

Marketing is all of the actions your business does to create awareness and interest of your brand, as well as, all of the actions you take to acquire and retain customers.

Strategic marketing focuses those actions on specific objectives for the purpose of prioritizing resources and filtering prospects. This kind of marketing is especially important in service companies where much of the business development process requires time from principals of the company who also deliver the services. Strategic marketing helps these leaders prioritize their time most effectively on the business development activities that are most advantageous for the company as a whole.   

Business development (bizdev) looks different business to business, but is generally focused on identifying and developing new opportunities for the business to go after. Bizdev professionals make connections and build relationships to key up the sales team and to provide insight to the marketing team.

Strategic marketing is the underlying premise and plans by which business development acts upon and measures results. Without strategic marketing, business development individuals tend to target the situations and relationships based on their opinions of what is important. These opinions can vary widely. Whereas with strategic marketing, bizdev professionals and the organization’s goals are brought into alignment. Each individual understands who and what to prioritize and what metrics to hit in order to accomplish objectives as an unified team.

Example 1:

Company A is growing very fast because their customers are growing fast. As their customers expand their footprint into other cities, they are creating opportunities for Company A to expand with them. Because of this accelerated growth, Company A is hiring employees to deliver on the numerous projects they have signed on to deliver.

Strategic marketing is required to assist business development teams to figure out:

  • What customers are most valuable to the company and why?
  • What targets to pursue in the new city to establish a strong foundation beyond their current customer base?
  • What marketing tactics to deploy to leverage the momentum of their growth and maximize the impact of their efforts?
  • What talent do we need to acquire now to be prepared for the needs of our customer’s in the future?

Example 2:

Company B is a cash-rich organization that is growing through merger and acquisition of other similar companies. Although this growth continues to keep the company busy, with each new acquisition the company creates more silos. Customers who retain Company B for services are not known in other areas of the business. This creates embarrassing PR issues, as well as, lots of missed sales opportunities.

Strategic marketing is required to assist departments to:

  • Learn about customers retained in other areas of the business.
  • Identify opportunities for cross-selling as a client development strategy.
  • Identify opportunities for developing relationships with newly acquired books of business.
  • Leverage shared databases and networks for business promotions.
  • Create a culture that is attractive to the next generation leaders.

The appropriate marketing program to deploy in both of the examples is called strategic account management. It is a very effective tool for helping all business development professionals and leaders to set, prioritize, and achieve organizational goals.

Want to learn more about strategic account management? Opt-in to our digital magazine to gain access to Jenn Morgan's upcoming training on the topic.