Table of Contents
A demand gen plan aims to drive awareness and interest in a company’s product or service.
In a perfect world, your generation plan should flow from your marketing strategy. Experience has taught us this is rarely the case.
This is a bit tricky because the purpose of a plan is to detail the how and the who.
A strong demand generation strategy will help your business bring in reliable leads and grow your business.
If done properly, demand gen fills the top of the funnel with a stream of new potential leads. A certain percentage of these might immediately translate into quality leads.
However, depending upon your industry and offering, lead nurturing can take months, or even years.
The common misconception is that demand generation is all about creating demand for a product. The clue’s in the name, right? Well, demand generation is far more than that.
If your sales cycle is seasonal or sporadic, check out our blog about how to generate leads more consistently.
This blog will provide you with some of the most effective demand generation strategies we’ve learned from working with leading B2B businesses.
By the end, you’ll have actionable steps to reach more qualified prospects and have more conversations with decision-makers.
What Is Demand Generation?
Demand generation strategies help B2B businesses develop awareness and interest amongst their target audience.
It’s a methodology used by sales and marketing teams to generate interest for a product/service at every buyer journey.
The value of a demand generation strategy comes from better understanding your prospective customers, then systematically applying that knowledge to your investments in marketing.
The result is improved ROI, increased sales velocity, lower customer acquisition costs, and ultimately more revenue for your organization.
Demand gen isn’t about forcing demand or tricking people into buying things they don’t need.
It’s about providing the right information to the right people at the right time so that what you’re sharing is the perfect fit for your ideal customers’ needs.
What Is Lead Generation?
Before any other stages of demand generation can happen, you need to have leads to deliver your strategy.
Generating leads involves gaining the interest of potential customers and adding them to your marketable database.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
The terms “demand generation” and “lead generation” are often used interchangeably, but there is an important distinction between the two.
Demand generation aims to grow your audience by bringing new visitors to your website and introducing them to your solutions.
On the other hand, lead generation aims to convert your audience into qualified leads.
Where demand generation strives to build brand awareness and authority, so potential customers reliably enter the purchase track, a lead generation strategy focuses on turning an engaged audience into leads via direct outreach.
Demand generation requires much more education and tends to work in the inverse of lead gen and inbound marketing.
To create demand, you need to educate your prospects by introducing them to a challenge for them, and explaining why it’s significant enough to invest in a solution.
Lead gen is responsible for driving top-of-the-funnel activity. The role of marketing is to design inbound and outbound campaigns that will get potential prospects to raise their hands.
Demand generation looks at the full marketing and sales funnel. It encompasses lead generation, lead nurturing, and a mutually agreed-upon lead management process.
It is a shared responsibility between sales and marketing.
Essentially, the greatest difference between demand gen and lead gen is that demand gen is a significantly more comprehensive process that takes place over a much greater period than lead generation, involves close collaboration and communication between sales and marketing departments, and incorporates elements of inbound, direct, and email marketing to nurture prospects.
Why Is Demand Generation Important?
A successful demand generation campaign will help your business bring in reliable, high-quality leads and ultimately grow your business.
Customers will flock to companies that possess industry expertise.
Industry expertise means that your brand is seen as an authority in its field from the first interaction with a potential customer.
This kind of expertise helps build client trust, and lays the groundwork for important conversations about customer pain points and the solutions your business can offer.
A solid content marketing strategy that offers timely, helpful insights at each purchasing journey is the best way to build expertise.
How To Develop Your Demand Generation Strategy
Building awareness, creating and nurturing opportunities, and prompting engagement through a deliberate content strategy is essential to growing revenue.
Start your demand generation strategy planning with a clear vision of the purpose and goals, then take on each step of the process.
The best demand generation strategies are driven by data and powered by technology.
Demand generation marketing is about creating a predictable pipeline for your sales and marketing team.
Every tactic you implement will work towards a designated end goal. You’ll reduce wasted marketing spend, increase lead quality, and consistently hit your targets.
There is a multitude of demand generation tactics and strategies you can use. We’ll provide some examples of proven strategies here so you can build your own to fit your needs.
If you don’t know which of your tactics are working and which are falling short, you won’t be able to optimize in the future continuously.
Generating Awareness With Your Target Audience
With today’s competitive landscape, brand awareness is critical for a consistent flow of leads.
And while it may seem straightforward, building brand awareness isn’t simply gaining a potential buyer’s attention.
A true and lasting brand awareness strategy leaves potential buyers with a lingering, positive impression of a company.
It makes them more likely to trust that company when it offers solutions to the customer’s challenges or needs.
People have to know about your product or service before purchasing it, so a successful demand generation strategy begins with brand awareness.
If prospects aren’t even reaching your website in the first place, you could have issues with your brand identity, blogging strategy, SEO strategy, social media strategy, or persona development.
A strong demand generation program builds brand awareness, authority, and produces thoughtful, engaging content that drives interest and cultivates leads.
Your sales and marketing efforts need to generate real demand for your products or services. Otherwise, it’s just wasted time and money.
You’re in the right place if you’ve tried all of the common tactics for generating demand but are ready to invest in new ones and grow your pipeline.
The strategies that you use should be relevant to your business and the demand generation stage you’re in.
Of course, creating and promoting content is a big piece of any demand generation strategy; however, it’s essential to understand that the approach is a bit different from your inbound marketing strategy.
Lead Scoring For Sales and Marketing Teams
However, while lead scoring can be tempting, it may not necessarily be right for your brand.
For example, if you’re struggling to generate enough leads for your sales team in the first place, it’s probably a little premature to be worrying about scoring the leads you do have.
However, lead scoring may be worth considering for brands hoping to take their demand generation strategies to the next level.
Use technographic and firmographic data to ensure you’re targeting companies that will be a great fit for what you sell.
You can then target those accounts with a mixture of tactics, like ads, email and LinkedIn outreach, direct mail, and any other channels that make sense for your business.
You’ll be able to personalize the sales process and ensure your team has all the information they need to close the sale.
If there is existing demand in the market, you can capture it and guide potential clients to your products and services.
This process involves a range of lower-funnel content that will establish your brand proposition, such as PPC advertisements, SEO optimizations, and 3rd party intent data.
Understanding what your leads respond to most will help you shift your demand strategy to attract leads from more reliable sources.
Examine your conversion rates and how they relate to your strategies. Look for a correlation between those rates and who you are targeting.
Conversion rates determine the number of leads you nurture toward being sales-ready.
You can use testing best practices to isolate individual changes in your strategy and review the results.
Address Pain Points
In most demand generation campaigns, your audience will initially be unaware of the pain points that your product or service addresses.
Before you can start generating demand, you need to explain why the challenges your customers are facing are worth investing money in solving.
Engaging With Qualified Leads
Once you’ve succeeded at generating or capturing demand as opportunities, you can speed up the sales process using pipeline acceleration techniques.
These can be as simple as engaging in conversation with potential clients or creating highly targeted content that meets your leads’ pain points and is appropriate to their position in the sales funnel.
So much of demand generation depends on how well you create and distribute content to your target audience.
The success of your demand generation campaign relies on how well you can engage your audience on various channels.
As you move them through the funnel stages, they become warmer and more ready to buy.
To ensure everything runs smoothly, there are a few simple ways to improve your sales workflow.
Your sales team will free up time to focus on what matters: talking to your prospects.
At large enterprises, buyers are locked into vendor relationships that prevent them from looking for alternatives until set times.
Although an audience member may not be ready to talk with your sales team yet, they might want to watch your videos or read your blog posts.
Consuming practical, entertaining, and actionable content builds trust and brand awareness.
So, when that audience member is ready to consider a purchase, you’ll already have a foot in the door!
Traditionally, a marketer’s job ends as soon as they pass leads over to sales — not anymore.
The modern demand generation marketer works closely with the sales team to align lifecycle stages, offer support and develop a holistic strategy for closing more deals and retaining more successful customers.
Develop or revisit your SEO, content, social media, email campaigns, digital advertising, and thought leadership through the lens of your wider demand gen strategy.
Make sure that your teams are aligned on lifecycle definitions, and meet regularly to discuss any ideas or challenges.
Mapping The Buyer’s Journey
After you’ve developed buyer personas—typically three to five that line up with members of the buying committee for your offering—it’s time to consider their process for making a purchase.
A buyer journey map is another strategy document that informs your demand generation planning.
Because a demand generation strategy considers every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey, all the way through customer retention and upsells, you need to make sure you’re marketing to high-fit prospects initially.
If your leads are closing or your customers are quickly churning, you could have issues with your buyer personas.
Once you’ve first contacted a potential customer, your marketing team hands over the lead details to the sales team and congratulates each other on a job well done, right? Wrong.
Healthy, reliable demand generation requires a complete lead nurturing strategy from first contact through decision and purchase.
Think of demand generation as a long-term relationship between a brand’s marketing, sales teams, and prospective customers.
Demand generation starts by identifying and qualifying prospective customers through content and inbound marketing, direct response and email campaigns, and events, before passing these leads to a nurturing team.
Think of them as a more targeted approach to display, rather than the scattershot approach of regular display ads.
As the primary purpose of display campaigns is to raise brand awareness, display can be a highly effective part of a broader demand generation campaign.
You’re not necessarily looking at the conversion rates from display (though it’s always nice), but rather increasing mindshare and promoting your brand, both of which are strengths of display campaigns.
Of course, another factor includes the generation of company revenue.
Your cost per acquisition tells you how much you spent to acquire a single paying customer from a specific demand generation campaign.
To calculate it, divide the total campaign costs by the number of customers acquired when you spent that money.
Inbound marketing campaigns make your brand stand out to people who may not yet need your product.
However, when they constantly encounter your brand in thought leadership posts, on stage at industry conferences, or on social media, those digital demand generation efforts build trust and recognition over time.
Part of your demand generation strategy will create waves right away, bringing your website engaged and interested traffic. A new white paper or a research report can do that.
But, like all awareness generation strategies, short-term movement is just the tip of the iceberg.
An essential part of any marketing strategy is offering solutions that speak to each prospect’s unique pain points, readiness to buy, content preferences, and where they are in the sales cycle.
Create content to build awareness, targeting top-of-funnel (TOFU) queries using informational blog posts and videos.
Investing in content is a crucial element in any demand generation strategy.
Don’t phone it in when it comes to content – double down and only publish the very best content you possibly can.
There’s no point in regurgitating what’s already out there. It’s a surefire way to get lost in the crowd.
Instead, pepper your content with original insights, research, and expert takes on emerging trends—it’s the best way to make sure your brand stands out.
Delivering content to your prospects and directing them to the right place will involve a robust mix of programs covering a variety of channels—email, social, direct mail, even in-person events.
The distribution method will change based on the stage of the funnel. At the top, you’ll likely use display networks, remarketing, and social channels to cast your net.
At the bottom of the funnel, you’ll leverage paid search and email to drive direct response and convert prospects.
An effective content distribution plan involves a targeted outreach to decision-makers and promoting relevant content with paid ads.
None of this could be accomplished without proper leveraging of these distribution platforms.
Email marketing can be an incredibly powerful component of your demand generation campaigns, but many advertisers misuse it or fail to harness its potential.
When it comes to email marketing, A/B testing is essential, and the adage that “Less is more” most definitely applies.
In the past, buyers would introduce themselves to you at one of the regular industry trade shows and events they attended. Today, that part of the buyer journey happens online.
That’s why B2B digital marketing spend was projected to increase by 10.27% from 2020 to 2021, and tapping into intent data will be part of that for high-performing sales teams.
As its name suggests, marketing automation software is used to automate certain marketing activities.
Typically, automation software automates your email process for you by triggering specific email nurture campaigns based on a prospect’s behavior on your website
Customer case studies are an excellent tool for closing the deal, as they connect your prospects’ pain points to real-world data.
The B2B demand generation challenge here is, you’ll need to be careful about mapping case studies to specific customer segments.
Present them with a case study that doesn’t resonate with their problem, and you may end up with more objections.
Use a lead magnet If a free tool feels too complex, creating a more simplified lead magnet can help you achieve a similar goal.
A lead magnet can be anything from a free checklist, e-book, quiz, or access to exclusive content.
Offer Free Tools
Create demand for your core product or service by creating a free tool that relates to the pain point your brand solves. Think free calculators, hashtag generators, or evaluation tools.
Of course, developing a free tool (or app) isn’t cheap, and you’ll have to consider overheads, such as development budgets.
Examples of free tools for B2B demand generation include CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, WordStream’s Google Ads Performance Grader, and Sprout Social’s social media image resizing tool.
Kennected offers free tools like our LinkedIn messaging scripts and targeting mini-courses.
To know if your demand generation strategy is working, you need to be able to measure the amount of impact your strategies are making.
This includes early-, mid-, and late-stage metrics that cover everything from the program cost, new targets, and cost-per-target to the number of opportunities your campaign has generated and how much revenue you can contribute.
This is an excellent indicator of whether your demand gen program is driving accurate results or vanity results.
Knowing your average deal size helps determine the sales cycle length, and the demand gen strategies you’ll use.
By comparing your ACV to your customer acquisition costs, you can calculate how long it takes for you to break even on your marketing spend.
It requires complete visibility into your funnel to identify the gaps and opportunities that can be optimized for improved performance.
Then measuring the number of opportunities that turn into paying customers tells you whether your demand gen campaign brings real results.
Measuring demand can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
There are a few ways to set expectations accurately and analyze the results of your demand generation campaigns.
Depending on your company, sales cycle, and goals, the metrics you care about will vary.
Demand generation should be rooted in research into the accounts you want to attract and grow.
That research can originate with analysis of your existing sales data, qualitative interviews with sales reps, web and advertising analytics, customer surveys, analysis of competitors, and broader data on the markets you serve.
The marketing organization then brings value to this research by making it actionable.
What Is Account-Based Marketing?
You may want to fast-track high-value leads as you begin to see a reliable trickle of leads coming in from your demand gen strategies.
This is where an account-based strategy can set teams up for success.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a must-have for B2B businesses looking to increase demand.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy in which a supplier targets a select group of accounts representing significantly higher expansion or growth opportunities with tailored marketing and sales support.
Everything in an account-based strategy depends on a deep, reliable understanding of the accounts and audiences you’re targeting.
ABM requires marketing and sales teams to strategically select accounts to target and nurture through customized engagement and support.
Marketing teams should design target company personas based on high-value clients that are most likely to convert and/or grow.
When done right, ABM is a proven way to generate demand from decision-makers in your target accounts.
B2C vs. B2B Demand Generation Strategies
B2C companies typically have to get buy-in from only one person: the customer (and maybe their spouse or family).
B2B marketers, on the other hand, usually have to get the buy-in of entire teams, key decision-makers, and sometimes even an entire department.
Where Does Kennected Fit Into All This?
Demand generation isn’t a quick fix.
It’s a gradual, comprehensive, holistic approach to engagement that comprises dedicated inbound marketing tactics, social interactions, e-book campaigns, weekly newsletters, pop-up events, webinars, etc.
Even though demand gen has a broader focus than lead generation, a well-executed plan creates more leads.
For more resources like these, or to learn about our lead generation software and connect with our sales team, check out Kennected.