In both the cannabis industry and the business world at large, there seems to be much confusion over the difference between marketing and business development strategy. This confusion is the result of a fundamental breakdown in understanding what marketing actually is and how it functions.
Neither marketing nor business development strategy is strictly about sales (though both can and should work together) but rather demand generation. Demand generation is a process of turning strangers to your business into customers by establishing trust. Each part of the process is vital and plays its own unique role.
Read on to learn more about the differences between marketing and business development strategy, and why you need both to create a successful demand generation process.
Marketing vs. Business Development Strategy
Marketing and business development strategy are not interchangeable, but they’re also not completely separate concepts. Instead, they’re two pieces of a larger process that must work together to accomplish the common goal of demand generation.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is the first part in the overall demand generation process, and it’s all about creating demand for your product or services. As such, it overlaps with positioning and messaging in function.
If you don’t approach marketing with the understanding that you must create demand, you’re essentially throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It requires a solid demand generation process and methodology; otherwise, you’re hurting not only your brand but also your business development strategy.
Of course, each business is unique, but demand generation does have a universal foundation. Once you lay that foundation, your brand’s uniqueness comes into play in how you address or approach key elements within the establishment of building trust.
What Is Business Development Strategy?
Business development strategy enters the stage after marketing has already created demand. Business development is not about selling — rather, it’s about solution design and engagement.
Both marketing and business development strategy, then, are at their best when they work collaboratively to accomplish demand, gain permission and building of trust in your brand.
6 Pillars of the Demand Generation Process
The demand generation process has six basic stages, or pillars, and involves both marketing and business development strategy. While marketing takes the forefront during the first three pillars, it pulls back some for the fourth and fifth and reemerges in the sixth.
These are the six pillars of demand generation:
- Pillar 1: Curiosity and Intrigue. Start by building brand awareness through positioning and messaging. Pillar 1 requires a one-to-many marketing strategy designed to reach a wide audience.
- Pillar 2: Targeted Awareness. Pillar 2 focuses on looking for a response to Pillar 1. Based on that response, you begin segmenting and changing the message according to each segment and building trust through dialogue and information sharing.
- Pillar 3: Acquisition. Acquisition is a one-to-one environment where you ask for consent to engage the client and discover the vision of the potential client in a new process. Here, marketing begins to hand off the reins to business development strategy.
- Pillar 4: Solution Design. In this stage, business development strategy is introduced and marketing takes a backseat. The two remain in communication as you analyze what’s working and what isn’t, apply that data to designing solutions, and mature the relationship with the client.
- Pillar 5: Negotiation & Contract. With the client’s permission, you progress to a proposal and contract. We call this an assumed close because before offering the contract, you should have already done all the actual negotiating so all that’s left is to sign.
- Pillar 6: Implementation. Finally, marketing comes back to the forefront to build the next awareness phase. Use successes from working with the current client either to generate future business with that client or to enhance your messaging to attract new ones.
Failing to complete one pillar before moving on to the next, or completing them out of order, will hinder the entire process in its effectiveness.
Common Breakdowns in the Demand Generation Process
A number of factors can cause the demand generation process to break down. One of the biggest is failing to “slow down to go fast” — in other words, skipping straight to Pillar 5 when you get a lead instead of slowing down and making sure Pillars 2 to 4 are built first. Rushing the process risks misunderstandings and broken trust.
Another breakdown occurs when you fail to understand the distinct purposes of marketing, business development strategy, and sales — and that all three must work together to move prospects through the demand generation process.
Finally, breakdown occurs when you let sales resort to cold messaging, be it via phone, email, or social media. Cold messaging eliminates trust before you even begin establishing it. And in the cannabis industry, lack of trust is especially damaging.
Generate Demand Through Trust
Ultimately, the demand generation process hinges on trust between the prospects and your brand. Fail to establish trust — or break it at any stage in the process — and the whole process breaks down.
Seamless collaboration between marketing, business development strategy, and sales ensures that trust is built carefully and steadily, guiding prospects into becoming clients instead of pushing them before they’re ready to give consent for the next stage.
Ready to level up your marketing and business development strategy? Contact us to find out how Higher Yields Consulting can help you assess and implement a demand generation system that works for you.