It’s been more than a decade since the word “demand generation” began to get used by marketers and sales people primarily to depict a more holistic and relatively sophisticated process of acquiring and qualifying leads and working closely with the sales team on turning these leads into closed business for the organization. Before Demand generation was plain old indiscriminate lead generation.
Over the last few years, demand generation has become much broader, covering a number of marketing and sales disciplines such as search marketing, social media and content marketing, data, etc. But the fundamental principles and purpose of Demand Generation has remained the same, which is to create and drive demand for the goods or services offered by the company.
And so, for those who are actively involved in demand generation, or those not so familiar with it, here’s a review, recap or refresher of what a fundamental demand gen framework should consist of.
- MARKET SIZING
The beginning of creating demand starts with an understanding of the audience and of your product. We start by finding the addressable market. The addressable market is the part of the market that might be interested in your product and can afford to buy it. The addressable market is then divided into three additional segments:
- People or businesses familiar with your brand and/or use your business already.
- People or businesses who use a competitor’s product.
- People or businesses completely unfamiliar with your brand or products.
Demand creation properly belongs to the last category, though it can bleed over into the other two. In fact, there’s confusion in the industry about exactly where demand creation ends and disciplines like lead generation begin.
- PAIN POINTS AND SOLUTIONS
Each of your market segments will have particular problems. Your product or service must be marketed as a solution to those problems. Let’s take one example from our business. Medical offices that don’t have an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system yet are in danger of legal trouble, but some offices are still stubbornly holding onto paper because that is what they are used to or because they feel they can’t afford the switchover.
To market our EHR solution, we have to explain the benefits of switching to EHR, how it can save costs in the long run, how the office can avoid legal trouble down the road, and offer a way to provide a smooth transition and training period.
Your marketing has to address the pain points of each segment in a compelling way and persuade them that your solution is the best option.
- REVERSE ENGINEER RESPONSES
In order for your product or service to succeed you will need to generate enough demand for people to buy it. The people who approach your company will fall into several broad categories based on their behavior.
- Respondents are all the people that have had some response to your marketing, from the website visitor to the person who books a demo of your product.
- MQLs (Marketing qualified leads) are people who have shown sufficient interest in your product but aren’t quite ready to buy yet. They need more persuasion from marketing.
- SQLs (Sales qualified leads) are ready to buy and need to speak with a salesperson to close the deal. From a marketing perspective, once someone is an SQL you’ve created enough demand for them.
At this stage, the important questions are to figure out the signals that move a respondent to the MQL or SQL stage for your particular niche, as well as how many respondents you need to bring in to get enough conversions to make a profit. This forms the basis of your sales funnel. See Step 10 on one metric we use to qualify an SQL.
- DEMAND CREATION STRATEGY
There’s one more piece that is needed before you can create an overall plan. You need to develop persuasion strategies to get different types of people to respond to your messages. We have four main ones that we use:
- Chase – Court the potential lead until they convert.
- Come – Let the potential lead know the door is open but let them come through on their own.
- Community – Create a presence in the industry that lets your audience know you’re an active participant.
- Co-create – Tell the audience that you’ll help them build a custom solution to their problem and that they can be an active participant in the process.
You will need to understand the audience and your industry well enough to know which approaches will work.
- INTEGRATED PLAN
Once you have all of this in place, now is the time to make an integrated demand creation plan. The end plan not only has to make sense on its own, but it also needs points where the rest of the business can hook in to harness the new demand to generate revenue. For instance, If you generate a lot of demand and the SQL qualifications are poor or there’s no good hand-off to sales for new leads, then the demand creation won’t be as effective.
- CREATE AN AUDIENCE DATABASE
Now we’re getting into the nuts-and-bolts. If you have an existing CRM, you probably have a pretty good audience database to begin with. But demand creation is about spreading awareness to people outside of your existing database. This means that you’ll need to do more market research to see who qualifies. Still, you can use your CRM software to identify disinterested businesses to target. Your new strategy may be just the thing to get them to become interested.
- GENERATE A CONTACT LIST
Landing a B2B contract isn’t just about knowing which businesses to target. It’s also about finding the right individuals within the businesses to target. You will need to discover who is responsible for purchasing decisions or who has leverage in the company to generate demand.
Sometimes the information you need can be found on the web, but more often you’ll need to do a little research. Sometimes you can buy or rent contact information for people inside of businesses so you can pull the right titles and roles from the start.
To walk people down the sales funnel, a variety of offers are used. For instance, you might ask for a name and an email in exchange for an information packet about your product. Inside that packet may be an invitation to a webinar or to talk with a representative. The acceptance or rejection of these offers can be powerful clues to see whether or not a particular respondent is should be an MQL or SQL. Leading the customer down the funnel with a series of enticing offers is a common and accepted way to get conversions.
- LEAD AUTOMATION
CRM software like Salesforce is a necessity in today’s marketing and sales environment. There are too many potential customers and too many different interest signals to track without the help of software. We like to use Salesforce thanks to its lead scoring and lead nurturing software. We use these features to automate the qualification of leads and to deliver our different demand creation strategies based on the lead profile.
- DEMAND MANAGEMENT
One of the problems with creating lots of demand is that only a certain amount of those people will be ready for sales. Marketing may want to create as much demand as possible but sales only wants to talk to strong leads. That’s why we follow a 10 touch methodology. We require our potential leads to have at least ten touches from marketing before passing them on to sales. Touches include things like:
- Sending an email
- Leaving a voice mail
- Sending direct mail
- The lead accepting an offer from the website
- Multiple visits to the website
By requiring many touches before sending a lead on to sales, we weed out those who are merely curious from the truly interested. This creates better synergy between marketing and sales.
- SALES TOOLS
Speaking of sales, your demand creation strategy should also involve input from the sales team. Beyond the information in your CRM software, you may need to create sales tools for the sales reps that take advantage of the information generated from the new marketing strategy. Your sales team knows what they want to see in a good lead. Help them get that information.
Finally, you can’t forget metrics. Metrics is the heartbeat of all online marketing. It is the proof in the pudding. Each step in your demand creation strategy should be measured so that you can see where improvements can be made and where people may be falling out of the funnel. Good metrics will also show upper management what the ROI of your demand creation efforts is.
Each one of these steps could have an article all to its own, but this is what we believe a demand creation strategy must have in order to be successful. What demand creation tips do you have to share with your fellow marketers? Post them in the comments!