As a follow up to my last post, here is more on the differences between marketing and selling (oops, I mean business development), and the activities associated with each. First, as some people would say simplistically, “marketing” is planning for down the road, and “selling” involves persuading customers/clients to buy what products/services you offer today.

Put another way, marketing is strategic in terms of what your firm should do to determine a client or marketplace need, and to develop strategies to come up with the product or service to meet those needs.

Selling, on the other hand, is tactical, as in what actions are taken to implement the strategic decisions in order to land clients. That is, it involves the tools and techniques lawyers use to persuade clients or potential clients to buy their services.

So, what are some of the activities identified with one vs. the other?  Here goes:


  • Conducting Market research, including from clients
  • Assessing firm’s current capabilities, and what services are needed to meet identified needs,
  • Mergers and acquisitions (to gain identified capabilities firm didn’t have)
  • Strategic planning
  • Seeking market and client intelligence (client feedback programs is one way, and can be a selling technique as well)
  • Obtaining competitor information

Selling (business development):

  • Advertising (brochures, newsletters, advisories, web site, blogs)
  • Speaking (seminars, or otherwise, talk shows)
  • Writing (books, manuals, articles, columns)
  • Entertaining
  • Networking
  • Joining organizations and being active in order to gain visibility,
  • Seeking client feedback (also important for marketing in order to uncover intelligence and needs for additional services)
  • Public relations (another form of advertising, but more effective)
  • Proposals and presentations

Isn’t it interesting that most of what has been referred to as marketing over the last couple of decades is really selling? Maybe that explains why ALM Research and The Brand Research Company reported in a 2006 survey that 2/3 of firms that responded have increase business development staff, and 1/3 have budgets in excess of $1 million.