You’re a business development director…what the hell does that mean?!?

So, here it comes….that seemingly innocuous question; “ Tell me Moshe, what is it you do for a living?”. This should be rather easy, but even after 10 years in the business I still turn into a stuttering fool every time. Think Hugh Grant in Four Weddings, only less charming. In an ideal world I would say, “I’m a business development director at a digital agency” to much nodding, comprehension and maybe even applause. What I am usually greeted with is a blank stare and an awkward silence. So, my challenge now is to describe my job so that finally, even my mum will understand what I do for a living.

To do this, I’m going to breakdown my role into two parts. Firstly the business development bit and secondly, the digital agency bit.

I say business development and I quite often get, “So, you’re a salesman?”.  I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. Us business developers get quite defensive when folk call us sales people. In part, it’s because it conjures up images of sleazy pin striped charlatans who would do anything to part you with your cash. Also, I think it understates and commoditises what we do.

So, what’s the difference? The biggest difference for me is our strategic outlook. Of course, I talk to prospective clients and convince them we can make a meaningful difference to their business. That’s my favourite bit! However, before I even think about going to market I need to make sure that I have a proposition that is relevant, effective and of genuine value. That means truly understanding what keep our clients up at night, as well as their challenges and personal ambitions too. It is the desire to align what we do with what our clients need that makes my role more than just sales.

Now, the other bit. Say “digital agency” to the 0.001% of the population who work in marketing and you’re safe. With the other 99.999% you could be anything from IT support to a telephone engineer. I could take the easy route and say I work in marketing but that really isn’t it either. So if we don’t fix peoples computers or just do online marketing, what is it that we do?

My vision for a digital agency is one that seeks to address and resolve core business objectives through the creative and strategic use of digital technologies. That means we always start with the challenge or the opportunity, never with the deliverables. We don’t just create ’nice to haves’ but rather, help businesses figure out how to use digital technology and platforms to deliver measureable benefit to their business. This could be anything from creating new online services to communication strategies and campaigns, and everything in between.

OK…I think I’ve it nailed.  I’m going to a wedding this weekend when I get that dreaded question I’ll hit them with this bad boy.

“I both develop and sell services that allow our clients to create amazing customer experiences through the use digital technology”


If they still stare back at me with a vacant expression, I’ll go back to the old faithful, ”We do websites”.