Marketing and Business Development are Two Different Things, But they Need to Work Together if Either are to Succeed

By Jen Newman, CPSM and Doug Parker, FSMPS, CPSM

Just over half of professional service firms say that their marketing and business development groups coordinate efforts. A lack of integration can result in redundancies, waste, and lost opportunities. Without a strategy, all your marketing and business development activities and tactics might be for nothing. Success starts with alignment – heading in the same direction toward focusing on promising prospects, closing deals, and generating revenue. True alignment involves collaboration and integration.  We achieve this with a jointly developed strategy to connect with, engage, and convert prospects to clients to raving fans by working together throughout the client life-cycle.

Why is marketing and business development alignment critical?

  1. We Are Better Together. They work best when they work together. Despite their differences, they still orbit around the same sun with the same mission. Marketers require a business development mentality to produce powerful messages and content, while business development teams need a marketing mentality to approach clients in a compelling way.
  2. Client Focus. Alignment is really about the CLIENT. We have to look at everything we do through the eyes of the client.
  3. Process. They are both integral to the business development process. Alignment improves tracking as it is far easier to track results and make high-impact changes.
  4. Culture. Alignment leads to a better internal culture, which leads to improved employee retention. With alignment comes greater clarity, a better understanding of strategies, and an improved perception of one’s job and colleagues.
  5. Bottom Line. Not only are internally aligned organizations more profitable and efficient, but they also provide a better workflow for employees.

Strategies for marketing and business development alignment?

  1. Plan Together. When marketing & business development plan together, this fosters buy-in and allows business development leaders to work with marketing to create initiatives, and a strategic marketing plan that directly aligns with the strategic direction of the firm.
  2. Develop a Cohesive Strategy. By creating a shared strategy for building a business, all team members buy in. Prioritize the issues you’ve identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them together and holding each other accountable.
  3. Identify Each Team’s High-Impact Activities. The reason business goals become detached from marketing & business development efforts is simple: leadership doesn’t align those goals with daily activities. Clarify the roles and functions of each department and determine which activities make the highest impact.
  4. Agree on a Client Persona. Not clarifying who the ideal client is can lead to ineffective strategies and team disconnect. Marketing may create a campaign targeting one group of clients, whereas the business development team may target a different group. The collaboration will lead to understanding who your ideal clients are, what they are looking for, and what their biggest challenges are so that your content and messaging is on point.
  5. Create a Single Client Journey. The client journey does not separate the experiences from marketing, business development, or even operations and project delivery. Work together with everyone that touches a client to develop a Client Experience Journey Map starting from the awareness to decision to delivery and feedback to brand loyalty – everything should be tied together as an experience.
  6. Gather & Use Client Feedback. One of the most powerful things that you can do together is to develop a client feedback program that allows you to gather, review, and act upon feedback from your clients. Client feedback should not just take place at the end of the project. Utilize your Client Experience Journey Map to identify feedback points along the way.
  7. Join Forces on Client Growth and Retention. Attracting new clients is up to 6 to 7 times more expensive than retaining them. By only focusing on new clients, you could be missing out on profits you should be making from existing clients. Marketing and business development should be working closely together to increase the lifetime value of your clients. For example, once you’ve acquired a new client, content and communication should shift from attracting to growing and influencing a client to stay.
  8. Lean Heavily on Your Brand. As marketing and business development alignment gains steam, brand makes even more of a difference. It gives both sides a common understanding and shared language as they essentially co-create their brand experience. The most successful business development and marketing partnerships align in their commitment from top to bottom – from their brand’s highest-level vision to its most tactical tools.
  9. Keep Marketing Messages Consistent. You’ve experienced it before – the marketing team explains the organizational differentiators in one way, and the business development team does it completely different. With mismatched messaging, you run the risk of a confusing, uncomfortable, and inconsistent journey for your clients leading to a poor first impression of your company. Therefore, a client is less likely to trust you. Alignment leads to messages that are consistent and true to your brand.
  10. Coordinate Content Creation and Campaigns Between Teams. When marketing and business development teams are aligned, content is used far more strategically – rather than being shared sporadically and without reason. Business development knows the client’s needs, and marketing knows what gets people excited. Coordinating will ensure content is relevant and utilized.
  11. Prioritize Open Communication. Create an internal communication strategy to make sure everyone is on the same page. Regular meetings within and between teams create the foundation. Examples of this are team and client onboarding, business development, and client capture plan meetings.
  12. Track Joint KPI’s. Shared KPI’s does not mean the same KPI’s. It means that you should strive to devise KPI’s that depend on each other to achieve the goals of each separate team. Collaborate and agree on shared metrics and review frequently. Incentivize collaboration – reward the achievement of shared targets. For example, both business development and marketing teams could have a “conversion rate” KPI. For each of the teams, this will mean something different, although related to the other team’s KPI.
  13. Analyze Departmental Data. Work together to understand what content and campaigns have been performing best. Dig in and analyze them, and then integrate that information into business development efforts.
  14. Those Who Learn Together, Produce Together. Training together will empower both teams and create an understanding of their shared goals, help them build on their core competencies, and have the added benefit of bringing teams closer and circulating information and know-how.
  15. Walk in Their Shoes. It takes mutual respect flowing both ways to leverage the strengths of both marketing and business development fully – so everyone can reap the benefits of these opportunities.

Co-Authored by Jen Newman, CPSM, Managing Director, and Doug Parker, FSMPS, CPSM, Managing Principal & CMO, Zweig Group.

Zweig Group is proud to offer marketing and business development services. Contact Jen Newman, CPSM for more information jnewman@zweiggroup.com.


As Managing Director at ZWEIG GROUP, Jen Newman, CPSM utilizes her 20 + years of AEC specific experience to help firms grow their people and profits while ELEVATING THE INDUSTRY. Doug Parker, FSMPS, CPSM brings a unique combination of operations and marketing experience specializing in professional services firm management to his role as Managing Principal and CMO at ZWEIG GROUP. He has developed award-winning brand strategies to position firms and key stakeholders to gain market share and increase revenue.

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