Demand generation is not a new concept. Because it recently found its way into the spotlight, however, people approach it with a bit of confusion and trepidation. At its core, though, the ominous-sounding phrase really boils down to this: use marketing to make more money.
See, the bottom line for a demand gen marketer is the bottom line. As Big Data becomes a more critical part of the marketing landscape, marketers are now in a unique position: for the first time, they can prove, with data, that their efforts can contribute to the bottom line.
But you can only contribute to that revenue stream once you’ve properly structured your marketing efforts around demand generation. Here are six fundamentals around B2B demand generation marketing that you’ll need to keep in mind.
Know Your Audience
Your high school speech class taught you to pay attention to what interests your audience—otherwise people won’t listen. After all, how do you start talking before you know who you’re talking to?
However, Marketo reports that 31% of B2B marketers don’t have buyer personas in place. They don’t know who they’re talking to, so they’re just talking.
Demand generation doesn’t work this way. Before your campaign is even a twinkle in your eye, you must create your buyer personas.
Who are your buyers and decision makers? Who are your “assists” in that process?
Define what you want your audience to look like: everything from age demographics to job types to industry focus to personal interests. Don’t start talking until you have something interesting to say to these people.
If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
I recently heard a whole panel of social media managers tell an audience that it wasn’t that important to plan out a monthly social media calendar; that the world changes so much every day that you really just need to “manage the chaos.”
This is 100% wrong.
If you only exist to manage the chaos of the day-to-day, the market runs you . . . you don’t run your market.
The point behind demand generation is to generate demand. You can’t create demand when you’re too busy catering to the demands of others.
When you’re planning out your demand generation campaign, I recommend planning for the whole year at one time. Implement specific campaigns each quarter, use that to inform your day-to-day inbound and outbound output, and evaluate your data each quarter to see if you are on track with your goals.
But Danielle, you may say, how can I be flexible without “catering to the demands of others?”
Well, it’s often a precarious dance. But the reason you need to evaluate your campaigns against the data each quarter is to see if you’re saying the right things.
If your audience isn’t listening and isn’t engaging, notice that and change gears slightly if need be.
Conversely, if they are listening and engaging, keep doing the things driving that engagement!
Do More than Co-Exist . . . Embrace Your Sales Team
Many marketing teams don’t think the sales teams use the leads given to them, and sales teams often don’t think the marketing leads are all that qualified.
Here’s the thing: your demand generation cannot succeed without the buy-in of your sales team. Why? Because all the demand you generate has to become something more than demand to prove your contribution to revenue.
Don’t sit on the sidelines and point fingers at the sales team . . . get them involved.
Ask them what goes on with the leads you send over to them—which ones work well and which ones aren’t as good? Enlist their help with buyer personas. They are the people in the field closing deals every day: make them your partner to help drive the bottom line.
Ditch the Funnel
The “Marketing Funnel,” although used for decades, is becoming worn out. As marketers seek new ways to define the awareness-to-buying process, the concept of a journey has come up several times. Why? Because the “funnel” implies linear movement—something gets poured from the top and makes its way down the bottom and out.
People don’t work like that.
Not everyone you’re talking to is going to come onboard in the same place. Are you talking to everyone at each phase of the buying process? What about people who come in at the halfway point?
When we think of marketing as a journey rather than a funnel, we allow for more conversation with people at all points in the awareness-to-buying process—even ones who pop out and pop back in—because we aren’t treating their buying habits like a linear equation.
Have conversations that are relevant to leads in the moment they’re in, in the location they’re in, and you will coax them closer to the buying phase of their journey.
Always Keep Score
Demand generation is not an intramural sport: you must score your leads and figure out who is at what point in the process and how to speak to them.
Your content marketers will thank you because they’ll know who to talk to.
Your sales team will thank you because they won’t spend time on leads that aren’t sales-qualified.
Your boss will thank you for showing that you’re tracking your efforts and wins/losses.
And you will thank yourself because you’ll have data to mine for your next campaign.
Figure out what makes an MQL (marketing qualified lead) different from an SQL (sales qualified lead). Work with your teams to determine this. For more on lead scoring, check out this post.
Remember, always, that the goal of marketing is to increase revenue year over year. Yes, there is the brand-awareness phase, but the ultimate goal of demand generation is really what the ultimate goal of marketing has always been: to contribute to the bottom line.
Keep these fundamentals in mind when planning your 2016 campaigns, and see what a difference it makes for your strategy!