There’s a slight misconception that demand generation describes exactly what it does; that is, creating demand for a product or service.
Truth is, demand generation is about a lot more than simply ramping up interest for something to be purchased.
So, what is demand generation exactly? And what can you do to make it work for you?
Defining Demand Generation
Demand generation is an umbrella term for a wide range of marketing activities that are capable of driving long-term engagement. It consists of marketing techniques such as lead generation, demand capture, and pipeline acceleration in a setting where the main goal is to establish better brand-to-customer relationships.
Demand generation works with specific touchpoints that serve the following purposes:
Always keep in mind that demand generation isn’t a shortcut to quick gains. It is a long-term, gradual, and comprehensive strategy that ensures the achievement of marketing and sales goals, as well as the well-oiled functioning of your sales funnel, by employing diverse marketing tactics from social media through e-book campaigns and newsletters to webinars and professional trade shows.
When implemented well, demand generation will allow you to speak about the topics most relevant to your business from a thought leadership position, create a system that helps you close deals with qualified prospects, and turn marketing into a revenue generator.
The Three Pillars of Demand Generation
Before examining the three main elements required for successful demand generation, let’s make it clear that these do not have to follow each other in any given order. Each activity should happen mostly concurrently, supporting each other’s progress as the strategy comes to fruition.
Practically as a step 0 to demand generation, you have to prepare by gathering a group of leads. You will be delivering the elements of this marketing strategy to them. If you already have a following of leads, you can engage them through other demand-generation activities. However, it always pays off to keep lead generation going and not run out of interested prospects.
Early-stage lead generation – even without the pieces of content used later on – can be implemented relatively easily. Use social media, especially LinkedIn, to gain the interest of leads and potential customers (writing posts), make connections via outbound outreach, and add them to your contact database. Once you have gained their attention, these leads are already at the Top of the Funnel (TOFU), ready to be worked on by the sales team independently of your demand generation scheme.
However, this is the point where the real work for generating demand begins.
In case of demand that already exists within the market, you can opt to capture it and maneuver prospects’ attention to your products and services. At this point, with leads having gone through some sales development and hopefully having reached the lower end of the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), you can already involve lower funnel content (case studies, videos, webinars, trials, consultation, etc.) distributed through PPC advertisements and SEO optimization to establish your brand proposal.
By now, you’ve successfully generated or captured demand as viable sales opportunities. It’s time to speed up the whole process through pipeline acceleration techniques!
What do we mean by that? They can be as simple as initiating personalized, relevant conversations with the customer, setting up field marketing events, or creating highly targeted content that is appropriate to the lead’s position in the sales funnel.
The Phases of Demand Generation
At first glance, demand generation might not seem that difficult to implement. However, given its complex, structured nature, the hardest part is to find where to start with it. Unless you’re just getting started and need the first batch of leads generated, in which case it’s actually somewhat simpler for you.
Establishing a working demand generation strategy is a unique journey for each and every brand, however, by using five key components, you can craft an individual roadmap that will help throughout the implementation.
- Establishing Goals
Interestingly, the best place to start a demand generation campaign is to look at the ending you wish to achieve. Identify the goals and results first and you will have an easier time planning the rest of the steps around those.
For instance, you set down the ROI ratio you’d like to see. Then you can work backwards to establish how many closed deals you’d need to meet it, and generally how many marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are needed to find the ones that become paying customers. This will give you a clearer vision of the number and nature of marketing activities you will need to carry out.
- Audience Research & Targeting
No marketing strategy works without the appropriate research on the target audience. As always, knowing who your customers are and building detailed buyer personas (with roles, needs, goals, etc.) are essential steps towards a successful demand-generation campaign. It will enable you to target more precisely and market your solutions to relevant leads directly and in a personalized manner.
And since our society is overloaded with information, strategic audience marketing is more important than ever. Customers have been given an incredible amount of control to regulate their online engagements through ad blockers, email opt-outs, and privacy laws like GDPR, which means you have to be very tactful in your interactions by respecting their communication preferences.
- Content Creation
The next step is creating content, preferably for every level of the sales funnel:
- TOFU (pre-purchase) should be focusing on thought leadership and brand awareness by highlighting a need and sparking a desire in the customer. The ideal content formats for this stage are blog posts, research reports, “lighter” e-books, and white papers.
- For prospects in the MOFU (research and consideration), education about their pain points, challenges, and the ways to solve those problems is proven to be the most effective way to guide them lower in the funnel. Consider providing them with videos, podcasts, webinars, analyst reports, or ROI calculators.
- At the BOFU (purchase), you can deliver company and product/service specific information that is best suited to seal the deal. Such content offer ideas including case studies, vendor comparisons, live demo, trials, and free consultations.
- Content Distribution
The content you create also needs to reach your defined and targeted audience.
You will need robust strategies for two main ways of content delivery: directing your leads to the right place and delivering content straight to their doorstep.
To run such activities simultaneously, make sure that a wide range of platforms will be employed throughout the campaign: email, social media, online events (webinars), and even live events like trade shows.
The distribution method also depends on the stage of the funnel. At the top, remarketing, social channels, and display networks are used more often, while at the bottom, paid search and personalized emails are more common in driving direct response and conversion.
- Progress Measurement via KPIs
Last but not least, you must always measure each facet of the campaign.
In the beginning, you set down specific goals and results that you wanted to achieve. Now, you need to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to see how many leads you’ve generated, how many of those have been qualified, and how many are being worked on by your sales team directly – among a host of other, measurable factors.
The best you can do is to include early, mid, and late-stage metrics that cover everything from the costs, new leads, and cost-per-lead to the number of opportunities—and how much revenue you can anticipate or attribute to it.
Consider using such marketing analytics software (e.g. Google Analytics) to see what KPIs you need to keep track of, and then use reporting infrastructure to illustrate the progress in real-time.
How to Succeed at Demand Generation
While demand generation is a complex, layered strategy, it can bring astonishing results if carefully implemented. Over our years of helping clients succeed in the three pillars and five phases of demand generation, we have picked up three intuitive and actionable tips that can help with the campaign:
- Give Value to Your Leads
Whether it’s a monthly newsletter, an e-book, or a free consultation, make sure that they carry real value for your potential customers.
Provide them with content that is truly useful and relevant. Something that will not only make it easier for them to give you their contact information and become qualified leads but also make your brand more memorable.
Demand generation can’t succeed without strong content marketing, and content marketing is useless without originality.
Getting lost in the crowd is all too easy by rehashing the same old tips, tricks, and thoughts. Standing out of the crowd, however, requires exciting, unique brand stories, a custom approach, research that you do yourself, and expert, unique takes on new trends that shape your industry.
- Don’t Stop (A/B) Testing
Most of the time, marketing is hypothetical. Your marketing team does its research on the target audience, but your marketers cannot know for certain if a message will resonate as intended. For a long time, marketing is a game of trial and error.
Fortunately, digital data has changed the landscape immeasurably, providing insights into the customers’ behavior that seemed impossible a few decades ago. Marketers can work and launch campaigns more confidently. However, reading their mind and knowing exactly what they want and need will remain a thing of fiction for a very long time. And that means that sometimes, marketing will always be like charting unknown waters… but if you don’t go out there and try, you’ll never find the lands with geese that lay golden eggs.
If you are ready to give demand generation a try to increase engagement, improve effectiveness, and raise the quality of your campaigns, now’s the perfect time.
And if you need help in any of the main activities or phases, feel free to get in touch to discuss them in detail. We’d love to take a look at your current marketing strategy and work with you to get the results you want!