What Is Demand Generation?
Demand generation is a catch-all phrase for sales and marketing initiatives that mostly rely on inbound techniques to drive interest and awareness for a company’s products or services. It’s activities often cover the full range of the customer journey from prospecting to brand advocacy.
All organizations should pay attention to their demand generation strategy because, when done properly, it creates a predictable pathway for business growth.
In today’s market environment, where customers tend to seek information from a wide variety of touchpoints, it is critical for organizations to provide the right information, to the right target groups, and at the right time. Gone are the days where forcing demand or using trickery to make quick sales are viable strategies that sales and marketing can use.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
It’s not rare to find sales and marketing professionals interchangeably using lead generation and demand generation. Nevertheless, there is a difference.
In essence, demand generation encompasses strategies to establish awareness, build a trustworthy brand, position relevance, create interest through various methods (e.g., content creation), support validation, and mitigate customer evaluation.
In contrast, lead generation has a narrower focus and is, indeed, a subcategory of demand generation. Lead generation mostly focuses on gathering information from leads, qualifying the leads, and converting the targeted audiences into high-quality customers through nurturing. Lead generation activities primarily focus on the ToFu (top-of-the-funnel).
That said, since the pragmatic and holistic approach for businesses is to convert prospects into customers, their strategy must include both demand generation and lead generation tactics.
- Lead generation tactics to find high-quality leads and
- Demand generation tactics to provide information to the leads at every stage of their journey into becoming customers and advocates.
Best Demand Generation Strategies for B2B Tech Lead Buyers in 2020
B2B, B2C, and business-to-government sellers can all make use of demand generation strategies. As such, different strategies (or a range of methods) can be used to achieve different demand generation goals. In short, the approach a company chooses to use should be unique to its business and the customers that it targets.
For companies targeting B2B tech lead buyers in 2020, below are the top three strategies you should consider. Each plan also includes some of the activities/tactics used to create and increase the demand for products.
Strategy #1: Creating Awareness with Target Audiences
At the core of any demand generation strategy, is a content marketing strategy that involves creating and promoting content. However, when focusing on demand generation (and specifically for tech lead buyers), a slightly different approach must be used from the typical inbound marketing strategy.
With a typical inbound content strategy, the focus is to drive users to a website and from there funnel them through an appropriate call-to-action (CTA). In a content marketing strategy for demand generation, the focus is more on building trust, increasing brand recognition, and positioning the brand as the ‘go-to’ business within a particular industry or niche.
In other words, with a demand generation strategy, generating awareness extends beyond having a large social media footprint or having lots of guest blogs on your website to making people crave your product. The challenge then is to identify a problem to solve (a problem that prospects are currently struggling with) or to identify a problem that prospects have not yet realized that they have.
Below are some of the tactics and activities that are involved in creating awareness.
Demand generation strongly depends on solutions that speak to individual’s unique pain points, their content preferences, their readiness to make a purchase, and their position in the sales cycle. Consequently, it is essential to understand:
- Your ideal prospect
- How they make purchasing decisions
- What their pain points are
- What kind of questions or information these prospects seek at different stages of the sales cycle
Develop Content for the Top-of-the-funnel
Once you identify the right candidates to target, and once you get them on a path towards becoming customers, the goal isn’t to force a sale but rather to educate them and answer their questions. Creating content that is interesting and valuable to prospects as well as positioning your brand as an authoritative resource of information in your industry or niche is crucial.
Figure 3: Connecting personas to action
A smart public relations strategy should help your brand generate interest, build trust, and extend awareness, curiosity, and excitement beyond what your content strategy can achieve.
Create Free Reports or Free Tools
At this stage, you need to address the prospect’s pain points more pragmatically and, in so doing, create demand for your core products. Note that the free tools and resources at this stage are offered with no strings attached.
Examples to demonstrate this tactic include:
- The test webcam and test microphone tools that Drift Video provides as a way to generate leads for Drift Video.
- Other examples of such tools that drive demand towards tech products include SproutSocial’s social media image resizing tool and Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer.
Strategy #2: Capture Existing Demand
After generating awareness, the next focus should be to capture existing demand. The goal is to target people that are actively seeking your products. You can do this through personalized content, Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC), and social ads matching your earlier defined personas. At this point, you should also keep in mind that your demand generation strategy must still focus on casting a wide (but relevant) net to address different touchpoints, including channels and mediums.
The tactics and activities you can use to capture existing demand include:
Inbound Marketing and SEO
Attracting and converting high-quality leads into customers requires a robust inbound strategy that should consist of SEO and keyword strategies. The main idea is to capture audience intent (mainly through conversational/long-tail keywords) so that you can answer relevant questions and address existing pain points that you can solve.
Like inbound and SEO strategies, the goal here is to place your content in front of your target audience. The main difference here is that you are amplifying the content that you already have with paid search ads.
Create and Promote Downloadable Resources
Incentivizing your prospects with offers tailored to their specific needs in exchange for their email and other contact details should eventually lead them back to your website through remarketing campaigns that nurture prospects. The idea here is to provide value to your target customers by offering them tools or information that is useful to them. The difference between offers made at this stage as opposed to the awareness-building stage is that here, the offer has strings attached (the prospects contact details used for retargeting).
Build a Community
There is little doubt that having a social media strategy can positively impact your demand generation goals. That said, how you do it is critical. It is no longer enough to stick to organic posting. Paid promotions are essential for driving target audiences towards lead magnets, long-form blog posts, or even event sign-ups that are all designed to get target audiences into the pipeline. Using platforms like Facebook to build niche communities is also useful because of the powerful retargeting tools that are included to grow custom intent audiences.
Targeted messaging is one of the fastest ways to move buyers through the sales funnel. When you combine targeted messaging with automation (chatbots), you have a winning formula for scaling up the number of personalized conversations. Additionally, chatbots can be used to gather information, answer contextual questions, uncover pain points/intent, inform the buyer about product features, and qualify leads in real-time. The alternative is to direct audiences to static landing pages with forms that can be slow and frustrating to the buyer.
Strategy #3: Marketing and Sales Enablement
A robust marketing and sales enablement strategy can empower the brand to turn solutions-focused interactions into actual revenue. By aligning sales and marketing, the business can provide a seamlessly integrated experience to the customer, which shortens and streamlines the sales cycle. Generally, the idea here is to close the gap between sales and marketing by ensuring that both teams are completely in the loop.
Marketers must know what happens after leads are converted but must also support the sales team in creating content that is consistent and that demonstrates expertise at any stage of the prospect’s interaction with them. The idea is to ensure that both sales and marketing can intelligently speak about any product or service and, therefore, facilitate faster closing of deals.
Examples of resources that can be used to facilitate sales and marketing alignment include:
Case studies. Mapping case studies to specific customer segments and their particular pain points are an excellent way to align marketing and sales teams. Better yet, it connects prospects pain points to real-world data and, more importantly, to the best offer on the table that the brand can provide.
Sales decks, playbooks, and product-specific content. When both sales and marketing collaborate to create this kind of content, they both speak the same consistent language and can demonstrate expertise no matter where they interact with the prospect on their journey.
Testimonials. Brands that approach clients for testimonials have a lot more control over such content because they can conveniently contact their best customers individually and inquire about their experiences. Understanding the buying process from prospecting to purchase and beyond, means that sales and marketing must talk to each other.
Automation. Having the right tools can facilitate the sales enablement by making it easier to find information, reduce the time and energy taken to accomplish repetitive tasks, and so on. Automation assets may include tools that help you to gather customer data and organize it in a central content repository, or tools that remind the appropriate team to take the right action at the right time.
Figure 5: Lead scoring model
Beyond the resources mentioned above, having a lead scoring system is an integral part of a demand generation strategy because it aligns sales and marketing teams to form a shared understanding of what a hot lead/prospect is or is not. Such common knowledge empowers both sides to maximize their resources and reduce wastage, especially when you consider that most B2B buyers interact with marketing content a long time before they ever talk to someone in the sales team.
Demand Generation Metrics to Measure Effectiveness
Discussing demand generation for B2B tech lead buyers without mentioning metrics to measure effectiveness would be an unforgivable disservice to you. So, here’s what you mainly need to know about them.
We all know that ‘what gets measures is what gets done.’ That said, using the right metrics can drive good behavior while choosing the wrong metrics for your needs can reinforce bad behavior. The best approach is to ignore vanity metrics and instead purely focus on metrics that measure the impact of your demand generation initiatives to your total revenue. Examples of metrics that can help you here include:
- Cost Per Lead
- Customer Acquisition Cost
- Customer Lifetime Value
- Number of Meetings Generated
- Number of Opportunities Generated
- Average Deal Size
- Sales Pipeline Value
- Revenue Generated Against Budget Investment
- Time to Close or Average Sales Cycle Length
The demand generation strategies mentioned here are by no means the only ones that are available to you. However, with the strategies discussed here as a guide, you can hardly go wrong. Over to you.