Business Development Means Different Things To Different People

I’ve been performing business developments services for over thirty years.  To best describe what I see as the role of business development below are a few real world examples.

But first here is a quote from the Wikipedia page on “Business Development” that fits well.

“In technology-related industries, the term “business development” often refers to setting up and managing strategic relationships and alliances with other, third-party companies. In these instances the companies may leverage each others’ expertise, technologies or other intellectual property to expand their capacities for identifying, researching, analyzing and bringing to market new businesses and new products, business-development focuses on implementation of the strategic business plan through equity financing, acquisition/divestiture of technologies, products, and companies, plus the establishment of strategic partnerships where appropriate.

That definition fits well but doesn’t really capture the complete role of Business Development as I see it.  Of course you want to cerate strategic partner ships. But more importantly a business needs a strategic approach to how it does what it does to get to be successful. It’s like finding a hook, something that differentiates it from others. It’s recognizing the hook and seeing it implemented and succeed I enjoy!

That’s pretty much the way I approached my first job out of college, Alive & Well In St.Catharines Magazine, I didn’t just sell advertising which is what I was hired to do. But rather, I took a strategic approach to promoting the magazine’s potential benefits to key businesses and communities within its reach.  It seemed the best way to sell advertising. Do the first thing right and advertising sales would follow as a natural result. For example, rather than approach one business and try and sell one ad, I targeted a near by business community, (Niagara On The Lake). I started off going to the chamber of commerce and suggested the magazine would like to write an article about community, cover its history what it offers etc. I simply asked the chamber for help getting local business on board filling the “centre spread” section dedicated to the community. It worked so well we over sold the two pages to three, that was a guaranteed three pages of advertising every month.

The same can be said for one of the strategies I used in music business. I didn’t just book bands. I created and marketed concepts. For example, rather than approach a club and try and sell one or two bands, I sold the club on a concept. Specifically I sold clubs on the Classic Rock format long before it became common and popular. The result, since I happened to have a stable of great classic rock bands, I ended up as the exclusive agent for the  club. Often I turned clubs from what they were booking to book what I was selling. I used the same approach with bands. For example, came across a five-piece band called City Band. A five piece band covering what as popular on the radio at the time which was called “New Wave” pop. The problem was the band’s image didn’t suit what they were doing. These guys were all big, certainly not the pretty boy image. Without an image that suited what they were doing they’d never get into the best clubs or command top dollar. I had an idea; it came to me as a gift. Which happens a lot. I saw them as suited to playing ZZ TOP style music, not stuff like Cars, or David Bowie. I suggested they become a ZZ TOP tribute band. I named the band Fandango after one of ZZ Top’s albums. It was an over night success. I was able to take the band from $2,500.00 a week to $4,000.00 a week within three weeks. Oh and now the band booked exclusively through my agency Watkins Talent. So rather than just taking what’s in from of me and trying to sell what it as is, I get creative and move it to something I had a handle on.

I did something similar with James Martell. After being introduced to James, James asked if I would help him promote his live Boot Camp trainings. Rather than do things how he traditionally had done things. I suggested he stop live events but train online. At the time in 2006 not many were familiar with online conference technology. In fact it was new and other than WebX which was extremely expensive and targeted to large companies that had a budget, it wasn’t being done. I had sourced an independent developer who had created an online conference application that I had been using just before I met James, it was affordable.  It was buggy at the time but the benefits were worth it. Plus recording the sessions with Camtaisia created a downloadable product. James could lower the price making his product affordable and widen his audience. Plus students get to learn in bite size chunks instead of cramming what you can to a weekend Boot Camp. At first it was a little rocky, James would come over to my house and set up in my wife’s office and broadcast from there. It took him a while to get used to speaking to a laptop and not having an audience. Somehow having him in the next room was easier for both of us.  No different than a radio host does.  After a couple of months he got quite good at it. So much so he can now if he wants pre record an event online and you’d think he was speaking to an audience.  Just took practice. That little twist completely changed how James approached his business. The benefit for me, imagine how much I learned recording and editing hours and hours of affiliate marketing training. When we began back then I new almost nothing about affiliate marketing. Heck to this day I know fare more than I could possibly implement. I also do tradition business developments for James though. Book speaking engagements, and set up strategic partnerships, and negotiated a book deal with 1&1 Hosting. But the part I enjoy the most is finding or recognizing that twist, the opportunity to do things a little different that will have a positive effect on the business. That combined with sales is how I approach business development.

Phil Watkins