Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships.
There are four main steps to take in creating a firm, reliable business development strategy.
Identify your audience
Creating a successful business development strategy starts with identifying your ideal audience. Focus on specific firms or individuals that will propel your business forward. You don’t need to have a large audience, but you do need a high-quality one.
Business development can be a long process, and the relationships you develop may take months or even years to turn into a sale. The last thing you want is to foster a relationship with an unqualified prospect.
Perform market research
Once you have defined your audience, learn everything you can about them. Before you can encourage your audience to work with you, you have to be able to answer the following questions:
- What are their primary issues?
- What specific services do they need?
- How are they solving their problems right now?
- How does your product or service improve their current situation?
With these questions answered, you can start analyzing your competition. Understand what makes you different from all of your competitors. This is the competitive advantage that you will use to communicate your value to prospects.
Determine which channels to use
The next step is to assess your total revenue goals for the year and determine which channels will help you achieve that target. The most common business development channels are a combination of networking, referrals, advertising, cold calls and content marketing.
- Networking is one of the oldest and most commonly used business development strategies. Depending on your industry, face-to-face networking may still be the best way to connect with your target audience and build strong relationships. However, this method of networking can be time-consuming and expensive, so many industries have shifted to primarily digital networking through social platforms like LinkedIn.
- Referrals can be a great business development strategy, as a positive relationship with a satisfied customer can lead you to a whole new network of prospects. Many small businesses get most or all of their business from referrals. However, relying on your clients to drum up business for you is passive and may not always result in steady leads.
- Paid advertising, especially through digital platforms, is another solid business development tactic. The key to digital advertising is to find your target audience on their preferred platform and start there. If your audience are avid YouTube users, create strong, targeted video ads and post them there. If your audience has a high engagement rate with your brand on Twitter, advertise there.
- Content marketing has become one of the best ways for companies to interface with their audience and showcase their expertise. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. It has a strong ROI, and it gives your audience the space to discover your brand organically.
Define S.M.A.R.T. goals
For each channel, set S.M.A.R.T—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related— goals to measure and track your progress. Your business development goals don’t have to be directly tied to generating revenue, but they should involve methods of introducing prospects to your sales funnel.
If you need help or inspiration defining your goals, take a look at these five S.M.A.R.T. goals for business development from Rapidan Inbound.
CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation