Business development

A friend of mine wears only Armani eye glasses.

Of course, the glasses aren’t actually made by Armani. Or, if you think about it, designed by him. Perhaps they’re sold by Armani stores, but I’d guess most of them are sold in stores that are totally unrelated to the company.

So what, exactly, explains the success of the line?

Licensing, affiliates, franchises, partnerships, traffic exchanges, joint ventures and co-promotions live in a netherworld. While they are all important marketing techniques, they often come under the rubric of business development, a department where there is little structure and few rules.

Bizdev is hard, but worth it. Hard because there’s no ‘retail’ deals. If I want to license the Armani name I can’t just pick up the phone, get a rate card and use it. No, it takes months or even years. In most cases, there isn’t even an easy way to figure out who to talk with.

So most marketers avoid it altogether. Don’t you think that Pop Tarts filled with Kraft cheese singles would be a hit? (They’d taste terrible, but kids and harried moms would go wild.) So why not a simple licensing deal or joint venture? Because there’s no such thing as simple in this industry.

Take a look at the growth of the web. Most companies end up doing it solo, when it would have been so much easier to grow in concert. My friend Dev worked on a company that figured it could make money on the click after you bought something from a store. That’s a wasted page anyway… you just finished buying, the page says thanks and you go somewhere else. Wouldn’t it be great to just put that page to work? Sure, but doing that deal isn’t so easy.

Next time you make a list of the top 10 things you can do to grow your organization, non-profit or cause, add bizdev to the list.