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Business development vs marketing: What is the difference?

Author: Berci Sirák

Publication date: 12.03.2024

When it comes to growing a business, you may have heard the terms "business development" and "marketing" thrown around. While they are often used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct aspects of a company's growth strategy. In this article, we will delve into the differences between business development and marketing and shed light on their individual roles in driving business success. So, let's dive in!

What is marketing?

Marketing involves comprehending consumer needs, developing value propositions, and communicating them efficiently to target audiences through diverse channels. The ultimate objective is to increase sales, promote customer loyalty. Also guarantee business success and competitiveness in the marketplace.

What is business development?

Business development involves identifying and capitalizing on growth opportunities to drive long-term success. This can be achieved through forming partnerships, exploring new markets, negotiating deals. Furthermore, diversifying product offerings to foster revenue growth and enhance the organization's competitive position.

The differences between marketing and business development:

1.    Focus

Marketing aims to understand customer needs, create value propositions. Afterwards communicate them effectively to target audiences to drive sales and foster customer loyalty.

Business development, on the other hand, focuses on identifying growth opportunities, forging strategic partnerships. Also expanding the company's reach through activities such as market exploration, partnership formation, and diversification.

2. Target audience

Marketing is dedicated to attracting, retaining, and engaging external customers and consumers through diverse initiatives. It's all about building lasting connections and fostering loyalty through compelling storytelling and personalized experiences.

Business development targets both external stakeholders, such as clients and partners, and internal stakeholders. Such as management, employees and investors, to drive growth and expansion.

3. Activities

Marketing activities involve researching the market, creating a brand, advertising, promoting, generating leads, and managing customer relationships. The goal is to create awareness, interest, desire, and action among target audiences.

Business development activities include strategic planning, building partnerships, exploring markets, negotiating deals. Moreover, diversifying efforts to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities.

4. Timeframe

Marketing initiatives often focus on short to medium term objectives. For example, driving immediate sales or increasing brand awareness within a specific timeframe.

Business development efforts may have a longer-term focus, as they involve building strategic relationships. Also exploring new markets and pursuing opportunities for sustainable growth and expansion over the long term.

5. Measurements

When evaluating achievements, marketing typically uses various metrics, such as:

  • sales revenue,

  • return on investment (ROI),

  • customer acquisition cost (CAC),

  • ·customer lifetime value (CLV),

  • indicators of brand awareness.

On the other hand, business development measures success through metrics such as:

  • partnership acquisition,

  • market share expansion,

  • revenue generated from new markets or products,

  • ROI from strategic initiatives,

  • and overall business growth and profitability.

Marketing and business development tactics should complement one another. Professionals in business development need to understand the target market, products, and services offered by their company. They will be better able to spot new business prospects that fit the organization's overarching objectives and strategy thanks to this awareness. Marketing experts must be informed of the new ventures and alliances that the business development team is pursuing. This will assist them in creating marketing initiatives that complement the company's overarching growth plan.


Marketing and business development have some similarities, but they serve different functions within an organization. Marketing aims to attract customers, generate demand, and enhance brand awareness, while business development aims to identify growth opportunities and build strategic relationships. Both are essential for achieving sustained business success. Therefore, instead of creating a competition between them, companies should utilise the distinctive strengths of marketing and business development to drive growth and optimise their potential.


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