Today’s business landscape is more complex and competitive than ever before. Most organizations have a general idea that business development can help them pull away from their competitors, but the specifics often escape them. Here’s a deeper dive into the ways you can use business development to drive long-term value to your business.
What Exactly Is Business Development (and How Does It Compare to Sales)?
Business development is essentially the practice of planning and executing the strategies and tactics that will deliver long-term growth for a company.
Those strategies and tactics are defined by their focus on the long term. These slow-burning initiatives will steadily develop, drive value over time, and help businesses secure long-term profitability (as opposed to short-term gain).
Around 20% of businesses in the US alone fail in their first year. A focus on sustainable business development can help businesses avoid that unfortunate fate. This endeavor secures a business’ reputation, as well as the potential to secure future business.
Those business development strategies and tactics can come in a range of shapes and sizes. They will vary greatly from one business to the next, according to factors like the size of the business and the market and industry they operate within.
Lots of businesses conflate this type of business development with sales. While business development tactics should influence the sales process, it’s important to see how the two fields are distinct.
Sales is more focused on driving revenues upwards. On the other hand, business development is about creating long-term value for an organization.
How to Build a Business Development Plan That Really Makes a Difference
A strong business development plan can help you really capture the big picture and guide the operations of your sales and marketing departments. Here’s a closer look at the steps you should take to develop a robust business development plan, in order to drive long-term value to your organization:
Start with the bigger picture.
The secret to creating a robust business development plan is to start by clearly looking at the big picture. You should try to see your business from a high level and uncover the targets you want to hit over the course of the next year.
These goals should be the large, business-critical ones that will move your business forward. To give you an idea of the scope you should look for, here’s a look at some examples:
- Reduce churn rate by a significant percentage.
- Enter into a new market.
- Elevate the general reputation of your business.
Revisit your targets.
Now that you have a view of the bigger picture, it’s important for you to start getting more granular and digging deeper into those targets. You should take the time to create SMART goals that will help you achieve success.
Let’s imagine that you’ve decided to reduce your churn rate. Your SMART goal might look something like this:
“Customer success will focus on improving after-purchase support to reduce churn by 5% each quarter.”
Develop tactics for your marketing channels.
Your marketing channels are critical to achieving your business development goals. You have to make sure you’re using all of the marketing channels available to you as effectively as possible.
It’s important that you take the time to list all the marketing channels you’re using, then perform a deep audit of each of them. Here’s a look at some of the key channels from a business development perspective:
- Social media
Once you’ve identified all of your marketing channels, it’s time to get a clear picture of the data, in order to see the full story and shape your strategy.
Determine your resource needs.
Now that you have a better idea of what you need to do to act on your business development plan, it’s time to think about the resources you’ll need to activate along the way, in order to achieve your goals.
For instance, you might find that you need to hire an events coordinator, in order to help you coordinate all the fantastic speaking opportunities you plan on booking. Try to be as specific as possible.
Share your plan.
Now that you’ve put together your business development plan, it’s time for you to share it with your team members and get their input. You should put together a presentation that’s easy to understand and hits all your key points.
The best business development plans are developed in close collaboration with the rest of your decision-makers. So give yourself enough time to incorporate their useful feedback and receive your plan.
An Analysis of 5 Proven Business Development Tactics
Now that we have a better understanding of business development in general, let’s dive right into five business development tactics you can use.
1) Slack Group: Buffer
Every business should try to elevate its profile and become a renowned industry voice. A Slack group gives you the power to earn respect from your customers. Then you can put yourself and your product at the center of important industry conversations.
Many businesses use Slack to create groups and bring their communities together, which is what Buffer does. In a masterstroke, Buffer decided to cultivate a thriving Slack community, where its users can congregate and discuss all things social media marketing.
The group facilitates creative discussion and helps its members discover new resources and contacts. It’s also a great place to secure support.
Buffer keeps the community active through the following initiatives:
- Community leaders inspire and facilitate discussion.
- Members are encouraged to share and discuss their goals.
- The Buffer product team actively shares its insight.
- A weekly discussion provides structure for members.
How to replicate this tactic
Slack groups are relatively simple to create and maintain. Here’s a closer look at the steps you should take to create a thriving Slack community:
1. Create your new “team” at Slack.com. You’ll be asked for a few pieces of information and the process will take just a few minutes.
2. Add your chat to the directory over at Slofile. Simply head to the bottom of the homepage and hit “add a Slack team” – you’ll see the three methods you can use to do this on the next page:
3. To add some structure, customize your Slack chat channels. Your new workspace will come with “General” and “Random” channels by default. You might want to add a few channels centered around topics like “industry news” and “introduce yourself”, for instance, as well as one channel dedicated to updates from your business. It is easy to add a Slack channel by clicking “+ add a channel” beneath your list of existing channels on the left.
4. To control permissions and visibility, adjust your settings. It’s important that you protect your community by giving the appropriate rights and permissions. You can do this through the browser – to get there, head to workplace settings as per the screenshot below:
5. Promote your Slack community by using key marketing channels. You should make sure to leverage your LinkedIn network and send out invites to relevant individuals. You can control everything related to invitations by clicking “Invite people” in your channel settings (just below “Administration”). Once you click, you will see the following invite options and manage pending invites:
6. Install community managers and moderators that will shape and monitor the discussion. You can elect moderators and assign privileges to users from your workspace settings.
It’s important for you to stick with your community. It won’t grow right away. Give yourself lots of time to slowly nourish your Slack group, and build its reputation.
As your Slack community grows, you’ll find that it becomes a strong business development tool for your organization.
2) Thought Leadership Content: Intercom
Every business wants to expand its profile as much as possible. The larger the reach, the easier it is for a business to attract new leads. One of the key tactics to expanding that reach is using the power of thought leadership, which is the practice of using your business experience and insight to become the go-to expert and connect with your target audience.
Intercom does a great job with its “Inside Intercom” blog. Each post contains fresh thinking and actionable advice for readers. If you can leverage your own knowledge, you might find that you quickly become a thought leader (a respected voice in your industry).
How to replicate this tactic
Carefully consider the professionals in your organization and the knowledge you possess. What can you share that will add value to important conversations in your industry? Think about the big picture, but also the ways your specific profiles (e.g., developers and marketing professionals) can add to the conversation.
Many businesses find that content produced by team members can be used to form the basis for a knowledge bank. This bank can help you simultaneously reduce the knowledge loss that comes with employee turnover and boost overall efficiency.
3) Podcast Sponsorships: Casper
To spread the word about the product or service, business developers must find new marketing and advertising opportunities. In the US alone, 32% of people listen to podcasts each month. But there’s still a sense that podcast sponsorships are untapped.
Despite the lack of a CTA, statistics show that podcasts are indeed effective. This piece from WebFX explores the key benefits of podcasting from a marketing perspective. Here’s a summary of these benefits:
- More website traffic
- Greater brand visibility
- Search saturation
- A more diverse content-marketing strategy
- Engagement with passive users
- A plan for building a loyal following
For instance, take a look at Casper. If you listen to podcasts at all, there’s a good chance you’ve heard one of their ads. This company is making the most of this unique advertising opportunity. You could unlock a powerful business development opportunity by doing the same thing.
How to replicate this tactic
You should be sure to explore podcast sponsorships in more depth, and determine whether this advertising channel is viable for you. To get a better understanding of the logistics around placing a podcast ad, a range of advertising networks that cater to podcasts have emerged over the years. To get a better understanding of the logistics around placing a podcast ad, you can communicate with these networks.
This piece from Wordstream is a great introduction to the world of podcast advertising. Essentially, you’ll want to follow these four key steps for coordinating a successful podcast campaign:
Find a good fit.
You’ll want to start the process by identifying podcasts that are a good fit for your product or service. Businesses like Spotify and Apple Music will naturally decide to advertise on podcasts related to music. So you should find the podcasts that are the best fit for you.
You might be able to contact some podcasts directly, or you could do some research to find out which podcast network handles the publishing and advertising for that particular podcast.
Decide on your approach.
Once you’ve found appropriate podcasts, it’s important to think about which strategy you’d like to follow: dynamic insertion or baked-in.
You might find that some podcasts will only work with one type. An ad that’s dynamically inserted is served from an ad server to offer more precision in terms of targetability and analytics. On the other hand, a baked-in ad becomes a part of the show itself.
The best strategy will vary according to a range of factors like the product or service you offer, the niche, and the podcast itself.
Calculate your investment.
Now it’s time to talk numbers. To calculate the investment that makes sense for your business, you’ll need to crunch the numbers. You’ll find that most podcasts charge on a per-mille basis.
It’s difficult to find the level of investment that’s appropriate for your business. To calculate the cost per mille of your chosen podcasts, you should make sure you collect as many media kits as possible.
Track your performance
Once you’ve placed your podcast advert, it’s time to track your return on investment. Depending on the type of approach you decided to follow, you’ll have different ways to track that performance.
For instance, you might want to create a vanity URL, which will direct your listeners to a specific landing page. You can track the activity there. But one of the most popular ways to track your performance involves a promo code. Then you can easily track how many times you use that promo code to access your product or service.
4) Content Partnerships: HubSpot’s Co-Marketing Ebooks
Co-marketing is a great way for businesses to build a new audience and create new types of content. Brands partner up and share their expertise, resources, and audiences. This tactic leads to a great win-win situation for everyone involved. You can also leverage and repackage your existing content for a quick win.
For instance, take this example from HubSpot and Aircall: The two brands worked together to create a piece of gated content geared towards sales professionals. This co-marketing initiative will open up new audiences for each brand.
How to replicate this tactic
If you would like to launch your own co-marketing initiative, here are some steps to follow:
- Put together a list of potential partners you might collaborate with.
- Work alongside that partner, and be transparent when creating your goals.
- With your goals in place, it’s time to choose a topic for your content.
- Now that the topic has been decided, it’s a matter of ironing out the logistics. In other words, decide on deadlines, lead sharing agreements, promotion plans, and more.
- With those logistics set, it’s time to decide which team members will contribute specific parts of the content.
- Once the collateral has been completed, it’s time to take care of the publishing and promotion.
5) Speaking Engagements: Steve Jobs
Speaking engagements are great ways for you to elevate the profile of your business, shape industry conversations, and attract new clients. Those engagements are also fantastic PR opportunities, which you can use to fuel your content.
Steve Jobs was a master at making the most of his speaking opportunities. The late founder of Apple understood the importance of thinking big and molding his talks around abstract, inspiring ideas that resonated with his audience. If you want to deliver a captivating speech, his speeches are great sources of inspiration.
How to replicate this tactic
There are lots of speaking opportunities out there for professionals in your industry. For instance, you could find industry events and conferences, and pitch them your idea. Or to surface those opportunities for you, you could work with a PR company.
Here’s a brief outline of the steps you should take to successfully book a speaking opportunity:
1. Identify the goal of your engagement. For instance, are you trying to advertise your services or build your reputation?
2. You should explore key industry topics in depth and put together the skeleton of different speeches. This tactic will help you find good ways to pitch your idea.
3. Approach the conferences/events/groups where you would like to speak, and complete the applications for them. AllConferences.com is a great online conference directory – be sure to keep an eye on the latest events in your area. Make sure that your online presence is established, and that event organizers can get a better idea of who you are.
4. Once your speaking engagement has been booked, think about ways to promote and leverage the opportunity.
5. Consider filming your talk, so you can use it as an interesting piece of content, in order to generate and engage with leads in the future.
Best Business Development Software
The best business development tactics mean nothing without the appropriate tools. Here’s a closer look at some of the best business development software to help you make your tactics a success.
UpLead helps you find, connect, and engage with qualified prospects as quickly and efficiently as possible. When it comes to business development, this powerful lead generation platform puts you in the driver’s seat.
With UpLead on your side, you’ll have the power to build targeted lists, search specifics contacts and companies, enrich your own data, and access the best verified data in the business.
Most important business development features
- Access over 108 million business contacts worldwide.
- Enrich and enhance your existing data.
- Access the cleanest, most verified data.
Without a doubt, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional community. A few years ago, Microsoft acquired this behemoth platform, and this change has resulted in more mature business development solutions.
Today, business developers around the world use the platform to create connections that matter. Groups and newsletters make it possible for those professionals to expand their reaches and elevate the profiles of their businesses. Sophisticated targeting options also make it easier to find your targets than ever before.
Most important business development features:
- Premium messaging features
- Sophisticated searching options
- Over 260 million active users every month
This tool offers a range of features that are very useful for business development professionals. For instance, sophisticated insights and reports help you measure the impact of your tactics, while the ability to track communications and contact histories can help you improve your communications.
Most important business development features:
- Automate repetitive administration tasks.
- Manage your communications in one place.
- Leverage a range of reports.
We hope these business development tactics will help you take your business to new heights. As you can see, there are lots of exciting business development opportunities for you. If you would like our help with these endeavors, be sure to learn more about UpLead today.