We talk a lot about lead generation as marketers, but we don’t talk nearly as much about demand generation and how it fits into your marketing strategy.
Lead gen can take you a long way, but demand generation takes things a step further. Let’s take a look at how a demand generation strategy can help your business and improve your overall marketing strategy.
What is Demand Generation?
As any good marketer knows, lead generation is finding people who want your product. Demand generation, on the other hand, is about finding people who don’t know they want your product.
Sometimes called “demand gen,” it’s very much about letting people know that your product exists and that you exist. It’s also important for businesses that offer a service rather than a product, even those of you providing a service everyone needs (we’re looking at you, plumbers).
Utilizing a demand generation strategy not only makes people more aware of you and your brand, but it also allows your lead generation efforts to be more, shall we say, focused.
Instead of seeking random people, you should, in theory, have people come to your door who already know you exist, what you offer, and why they should be talking to you about it. It means using inbound marketing tactics that bring the customers you most want to you.
So, What Generates Demand?
Where do you even start when it comes to generating demand? Demand generation marketing requires the use of tools that are particularly valuable for creating brand awareness.
Here’s the thing: If you’re doing content marketing, if you have a blog, then you’re already doing demand generation, even if you aren’t calling it that. You probably think about all of this stuff as inbound marketing.
Which it is, but it’s also demand generation. Salespeople tend to talk more about demand generation, while marketing teams refer to inbound. There’s overlap.
Content Marketing v. Demand Generation
Key and central to demand generation is content marketing in all of its forms, but demand generation specifically includes:
- Guest blogging on a reputable site such as LinkedIn or trading blog posts with another company.
- Writing articles and blog posts about industry trends.
- Providing free resources to your customers. This might mean tips and advice related to your industry, ebooks that explain how to do something, etc.
- Contests or sweepstakes.
- Webinars that demonstrate your company’s expertise.
- Articles or press releases that explain how a new or obscure product works.
- Using influencers to get your product noticed.
- Informative white papers that are designed to educate, not sell, and which make you look like a thought leader.
- Outreach through charity campaigns and similar tactics to demonstrate your company’s values and attract new customers aligned with those values.
- Most social media marketing can be seen as demand generation.
SEO is also part of demand generation. By using SEO correctly (remember your customers aren’t AIs), you can direct people to the resources you offer in the first place. You need to make sure that you are producing content that is optimized for SEO, but not stuffed.
A successful demand generation strategy may not include all of these practices. You should tailor your strategy to include the tactics that your potential customers are most likely to appreciate and respond to.
Outbound marketing, while it can be important, is generally not part of demand generation. For the most part, you are aiming to get inbound leads. One goal of demand generation is to improve your email marketing by encouraging the right people to subscribe to your newsletter (you do have one, right?)
How to Develop a Demand Gen Strategy
Part One: Setting Goals
So, how do you move from “we do this stuff” to implementing a strategy to generate demand? In part, bring together your various demand generation tactics (like the ones we mentioned above), so they work properly together.
To begin, you need to understand your target audience. For more established businesses, it helps to understand the demographics of your existing customer base. Look at the kind of people who really buy your product.
Some business owners are surprised by this; they might find they are not attracting the customers they expected. Buyer personas have to be constantly tweaked to keep them up to date. With demand generation, you’re looking at the very start of the customer journey.
If you’re newer on the block, then you’ll need to do your research, but you need to be ready to keep working on it. For that matter, we all need to keep refining our understanding of our target audience.
You also need to work out why people want your product or service, but that should be easy, right? If you sell gardening tools, then you know people want them because they have a garden. Ah, but back up.
Why do they want your tools? Or, if you sell tools they could get somewhere else, why do they want to buy those tools from you? If you don’t have a good answer to this question, then your demand generation efforts (and marketing strategy overall) will suffer.
To stick with our garden tools example, let’s say that you sell garden tools from two or three brands that you know well. Somebody could go to another store and get the same, say, trowel they can from you. You need to make them want to go to you for their new trowel.
That means you need to let them know why you know which trowel they should buy. That’s the heart of demand generation – you need to understand the precise details for you.
Next, you need to work out what kind of content that will find your target audience where they already are and let them know why they should be buying from you.
You need to work on both your messaging and how you are going to deliver that message to get the best quality leads.
With this information in hand, you can set goals for your demand generation strategy.
Part Two: Establishing Your Calendar
Many companies set goals, then chase them in an ad hoc manner. That isn’t how agile digital marketing works, it isn’t how you build consumer trust, and it definitely isn’t the way to get the most out of your marketing campaigns.
It’s easy to avoid this chaos and confusion when you use an editorial calendar, which is made easier with a good marketing automation platform like Welcome. Your editorial calendar is key to your content marketing strategy.
Your editorial calendar focuses on three things: What, where, and when.
What is the content you send out. This can include articles, scripts, infographics, etc, that will help support the pain points you’ve already identified. Go broad.
Think of creative ways your product can be used and weird things you’ve been called out to fix. For example, a vet might share funny stories about the things people’s dogs do to themselves (a bit of humor is really good for marketing).
Case studies are a great way to collect customer experiences and testimonials for content. They are most useful when they are specific and even a bit offbeat, but make sure to respect the privacy of your customers.
The research will help inform how and where you are going to distribute that content. For example, you may discover in your research that a good chunk of your target audience likes to exercise and need things to listen to while exercising.
For this example demographic, a podcast is awesome. Podcasts also work well if you have a lot of customers with longer commutes.
Remember, the where also affects the what; good writing for a podcast isn’t the same as writing a series of short social media posts.
When is, of course, the exact timing and how often you intend to send out a piece of content. It’s critical to keep a regular schedule so that your prospects hear from you when they expect to hear from you.
That’s another purpose the editorial calendar serves; it makes sure that your team knows when the content needs to be finished so it can be distributed on time.
It’s a good idea to hold a brainstorming meeting to come up with as many demand gen ideas as possible. These can then be distributed to the appropriate team members.
Try to “write ahead” so that you have a good two to three months’ content in the can, but also be ready to change your plans at the drop of a hat. Pre-written blog posts can be rendered tone-deaf or obsolete by the news.
Having a backup article ready to go will save time, and if you don’t need it, you can always use it at another time.
Finally, you need to make sure that your efforts are properly tied into events such as sales, releases, holidays, etc. This involves coordinating across the entire company to make sure sales are ready for events and to work with production on the perfect timing for a launch.
Part Three: Measuring Success
We’re all agile marketers here, so we know that we can’t just set a strategy and forget it. Make sure to bake in ways to measure the success of your marketing efforts.
Separate landing pages for each of your demand generation campaigns will help you track the metrics you need to establish what is working and what isn’t, including bounce rates, conversion rates, etc.
You should neither be afraid to drop something that is performing poorly nor so quick to move on that you throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Establish your KPIs, and then use a platform like Welcome to record the metrics you need to help you determine whether your strategy is effective. Look at the quality of your new leads and how close they are to your ideal customer.
Remember that with demand gen, you are working at the very top of the funnel. That means that a lot of your touchpoints will be with people who aren’t going to buy your product regardless of your efforts because they have no need for it. They were just browsing.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up the optimization! The better your message, the more it will attract people whose problems you can solve.
At the same time, remember that demand generation is about immediate customer acquisition and growing brand awareness. Only when those people come to you should you start worrying about lead scoring as your customers move through the sales funnel.
Welcome can help with all of your demand generation strategy needs and efforts. We provide free tools that support your content marketing by providing digital asset management and both editorial and communications calendars to get everything done on time.
Feel like giving it a try? Get your free Welcome account today.