What is Demand Generation?
Demand Generation includes all the activities that help you to create positive buzz and awareness about your products such that new users want to have them and long-time users continue to purchase from you. This is distinguished from other marketing concepts, like inbound marketing, in a few clear ways:
- Demand Generation is never quick-and-easy; well, it may occasionally not be so difficult, but it implies a longstanding effort to connect with your potential customers and help see them through the entire sales funnel.
- Demand Generation is not just about new customers; it’s about getting any potential leads, including new and former customers, to re-engage with your offerings and become loyal customers.
- Demand Generation is about showcasing the expertise you have such that people want to have the products or services you have to offer; it is literally generating new demand for your product, because the PR, e-Books, seminars, or newsletters you create make people more excited about your product or more convinced of its relevance.
Why is Demand Generation Important to B2B Companies?
B2B companies often operate in competitive markets that require something that helps them to stand out; you need to have as much information available as possible to distinguish your products and services from the competition’s offerings. Demand Generation for B2B companies involves more than just touting the products and services – though you definitely should do that! It really means showcasing thought leadership, knowledge of your customers’ needs, and a willingness to invest time and energy into relationships with clients.
Demand generation in B2B companies often also involves helping a lead answer the question, what will this product or service do for my company? Rather than the typical B2C questions of how to connect with a customer emotionally, demand generation for B2B companies is all about demonstrating your knowledge of the customer’s circumstances and showing exactly where your product or service solves a problem.
Without clear guidance, for instance, many customers of SaaS companies find that they don’t know enough about their new software to make great use of it. So, a major part of demand generation is continually evolving your documentation and training so that more of your customers get everything they can out of your product or service.
Demand generation is long-term, in the sense that the goal isn’t just to sign that first contract or click “buy now!,” but instead to build loyalty. Seeing new products or services from you should make customers excited to continue to be part of your organization’s family because they’ve had such a good experience with you so far.
How Has Demand Generation Changed in Recent Years?
One of the big trends in Demand Generation is a shift in focus from gaining as many top-of-the-funnel leads as possible (quantity leads to yield), to keeping a much higher percentage of leads in the funnel (quality of relationships).
It is wonderful if you produce a demand generation document, such as an informational e-Book about your industry, that goes viral, gaining you a substantial new email list to work with. However, there will also be times when a demand generation document only yields a few leads, but they are intimately acquainted with your product and are excited to continue learning more as they make the journey to becoming a long-term customer.
As demand generation shifts, focusing on a version of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has become the more common strategy, and the one that reflects a higher ultimate ROI. Your best demand generation, as it turns out, are prominent clients who unabashedly love your product and customer support; focusing your demand generation efforts on a few key accounts may actually produce more value for your company and more long-term income.
Dos and Don’t of Demand Generation
- Foster collaborative relationships with other brands that aren’t direct competitors. Demand generation is all about having something to announce and share; if you can find a collaboration opportunity with a complementary brand, you can announce your partnership, host a web event or party to celebrate, and publish joint content; all of these items are able to be shared on social media and create buzz.
- Focus on the forms of demand generation that have worked in the past. Using your analytics and the particular strategies that have moved the needle in the past, create your next campaign to build on your successes and avoid any mistakes from the past.
- Create smooth channels of communication between sales and marketing. Even if marketing is in charge of almost all of the demand generation production, get the input of the sales team and see what the potential customers are asking for. When sales starts working with customers, they should also reach out the marketing to see what kinds of information is already known (or access it through a clearly-organized account description in the CRM). Often, each team has valuable information to share with the others.
- Settle for low-quality data or quick analysis of what to do next. If data analysis is worth doing at all, it is worth doing right, and quick, shallow evaluation of the data can often yield slipshod or somewhat random choices. Sophisticated demand generation really needs clear data showing why the next effort is building on the previous one.
- Silo your teams! Demand generation needs information from the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel, since no effort is complete if it only yields tons of leads or if it only closes with the one or two people who get to the bottom of the funnel. Part of the value of the term “demand generation” is that demand for a product is sustained. It starts when interest is expressed but it never finishes, since ideally each customer is also a repeat customer.
- Be afraid to scale. Yes, demand generation requires time and attention, but as you produce better and better results, always look for ways to automate processes that won’t sacrifice any personalization. This allows marketing and sales teams to focus on the most personal parts of the process, keeping the human elements that are so effective at closing deals.