Organizations around the world are increasingly taking a more strategic approach to their marketing and sales efforts. Considering the highly customer-centric environment companies are now required to do business in, it is crucial to continually find ways to optimize the customer experience at every relevant touchpoint. And demand generation plays a critical role in achieving this.
The results of a 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey indicated that 70% of B2B marketers planned to invest in demand generation over the next two years. With the lessons of 2020 still fresh in the minds of future-focused organizations, it is expected that this imperative will continue to drive sales and marketing efforts in the next few years.
What should your organization be doing to take better advantage of demand generation, and what strategies should this involve? In this article, we’ll dig into the specifics of where demand generation fits (or should fit) into organizations, the strategies that can deliver success, and the role of good recruitment within this framework.
Demand generation is a broad-based approach that covers initiatives aimed at generating awareness and interest in an organization’s products, to attract and retain high-fit customers. The core purpose of demand generation is to provide high level strategies that improve how new customers find a business, and how long they remain with the business.
One of the fundamental roles that demand generation plays is to create alignment between sales and marketing teams. Silos can form very easily in organizations, leading to a misalignment in the goals, strategies, and metrics by which sales, marketing, and customer fulfillment achieve and measure success.
This leads to a situation where marketing collects hundreds of leads that sales cannot convert, customer fulfillment has to deal with constant complaints from customers over expectations that don’t fit your business, and every department thinks it’s the other’s fault.
As explained by the team at Drift, “a dedicated demand generation department can focus on connecting marketing and sales activities to increase revenue and retention, serving as a bridge between the two teams and ensuring all strategies focus on exceeding customer expectations.”
Many organizations make the mistake of seeing demand generation as being similar or the same thing as lead generation and inbound marketing. However, this is wrong, Lead generation is a subset of demand generation, which focuses specifically on tactics marketing can employ to attract more leads. Inbound marketing is also a subset of demand generation, but instead focuses on strategies that help drive visitors and prospects onto your platforms, and into your sales funnel.
Demand generation envelopes these two strategies, and in addition, extends to every other aspect of the customer lifecycle in your business – from first contact to repeat sales. As a result, while lead generation and inbound marketing are assessed in terms of physical metrics such as number of qualified leads, bounce rate, cost per conversion etc., demand generation is assessed in terms of financial metrics, including revenue and lifetime value per customer.
Although demand generation should be a mainstay of every organization’s marketing and sales strategy, there are critical points where it is imperative to immediately start looking to implement the strategy.
While these situations are not exhaustive, they provide a picture of what organizations considering demand generation can reflect on as indications that something new is required. Next, we’ll explain strategies that you can adapt to set the foundations for and begin unlocking the benefits of demand generation.
The key to getting the most out of demand generation is maintaining laser-focus on the role this initiative should play in your overall marketing and sales strategies. Demand generation is there, not to reproduce your marketing or sales tactics, but to improve upon them by enriching and seamlessly connecting the sales process. Here’s what that should look like:
Your entire demand generation initiative should flow from an accurate understanding of what your buyer base is like, and how they currently experience your sales pipeline. Developing consistent buyer personas and aligning them with your (current and ideal) buyer journey will help here. Leverage on information available from your sales and marketing teams, as well as outside research to understand who your buyers are, how they buy from you, and what cues or strategies they are most likely to respond to.
When you know the end target, you can begin planning actionable goals that get you there. Set sales and marketing goals that align with the research you have conducted and are focused on thoroughly fulfilling your buyers’ needs.
SEO and SEM are already critical parts of most lead generation and inbound marketing strategies. Enrich these tactics with data you have gleaned about your customer, with a firm focus on the buyer experience you want to create for them. Account-based marketing (ABM) will also be vital to help you go after your highest-value buyer personas through its potential for ultra-personalized, highly-targeted content.
Due to its “whole of firm” approach, demand generation does not stop at online marketing strategies. You should also actively consider and take advantage of real-world marketing opportunities such as attendance at conferences, business fairs, summits, etc.
Finally, while the traditional marketer ends their job once a lead passes on to sales, demand generation should go further. Work closely with sales and customer fulfillment to align lifecycle stages and work to develop the ideal strategy that helps close more deals and increase customer retention.
Understanding the value of demand generation and knowing the best strategies to implement it is only half the fight. You should also work to hire and retain skilled and experienced talent that can help guide, improve, and enrich your demand generation initiatives. A team of superstars helps connect your marketing and sales efforts, then supports both departments to create happy, engaged, and loyal customers.
At Cowen Partners, we are happy to assist in your demand generation talent search, whether that involves prospecting for C-suite positions such as VP of Demand Generation, or lower level engagements like Demand Generation Specialist.
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