Everyone wants to be noticed, and brands are no different.
No matter what your role in your company may be, the end goal of all company efforts circle back to generating qualified leads and closing sales.
But finding prospective customers who are a good fit for your brand? That's easier said than done. Before you can sell a prospect on your company's products, you need to make them aware of what you do and gain their trust.
Demand generation is considered a top-of-funnel marketing strategy that acts at the first step in a customer's experience with your brand.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation of content to build your brand awareness and create interest around a new product or service.
When your team uses demand gen, they’re focusing on the buyers. These potential buyers exist at the top of the funnel and may not even know that they need your product or service. This is where your content comes in and educates them on why they need what you offer.
The key to creating content for your demand generation strategy is how you distribute it. At such an early stage in the sales pipeline, it's important to keep your content free. Potential customers will be drawn to free and useful content more than content that may be gated or sold for a price.
Here are some of the different types of demand generation content types:
Social media posts
By offering it to them at no cost, you give them a valuable resource while simultaneously starting a brand-customer relationship. It builds trust, loyalty, and gives them a reason to want to come back.
All of this helps create multiple channels with which customers can interact with your brand, understand how your product can help them, and strengthen the sales enablement process.
TL;DR: Demand generation is a marketing team's way of keeping a stream of high-quality leads interested in your company's products or services.
Lead generation vs. demand generation
If you work in marketing, chances are you’ve heard these two terms used interchangeably – but they are not the same.
Demand generation and lead generation are two different methods of marketing and they take place at different stages of the sales funnel. The reason they’re often confused between one another is because of the similar characteristics they share.
Although they may share these similar qualities, the goals and deliberate tactics each method uses differ:
Demand generation is an inbound marketing method used to build brand awareness and create demand for your business’ product or service.
Lead generation is a marketing method used to qualify potential buyers into leads and send them further down the sales pipeline to convert them from visitor to buyer.
Another big difference between lead generation and demand generation is the type of content marketers create for each of these strategies. Because lead gen and demand gen happen at different stages of the buyer's journey, you'll want to utilize the correct marketing tactics for each strategy.
Best demand generation strategies
A good demand generation strategy has touch points along every stage of the buyer's journey. From the first time visitor to your website to the customers you're looking to upsell during their next renewal, demand generation can be used to strengthen relationships with your prospective customers.
The following strategies should not be used in a silo. Play around with a different mix of each one and find the right combination that works for your business. Remember, your business is unique. Your demand generation efforts should be, too.
Focus on customer needs
Understanding what your customer needs is the first step in any successful marketing campaign. One easy thing you can do to start this process is to create a customer persona of your ideal consumer.
You can do this by focusing on things like audience demographics, psychographics, socioeconomic status, and brand affinity. Once you do that, think about the pain points your customer might be facing, and build that into your customer profile. These will be your guiding light as you go about creating content.
Create a value-add within your content
Once you’ve figured out what your customer needs, you can turn to creating content that adds value for them.
A value-add is something extra your customer gets when they consume your content or do business with you. Even when you’re not trying to sell a customer, there’s still a level of salesmanship that should go into your content. Create an experience that provides extra value to your consumers.
The key to creating a great value-add is to give it away for free. Seriously. People are so used to filling out landing page forms and forking over their email that they might be deterred if you ask for those things too soon. Value-adds are about building authority and trust with your reader.
Example: If you’re writing an article about how to ask for a promotion, you could create a downloadable script that walks the reader through what they should say. This provides the reader with something free that other content doesn’t include.
Provide a free tool or resource
If you’re looking to take your value-add to the next level, you should consider creating a free tool for your consumers. You’re probably familiar with free tools already. Whether it’s percentage calculators, URL shorteners, or hashtag generators, free tools are designed to get new users on your website.
Once they make it to your landing page, you can include links to other relevant resources and help guide them through your other content. Eventually, the goal is to have the consumer lead themselves through the sales journey and contact your company about your services.
Your free tool should always relate back to the work your company does as a whole. You don’t want to create a free rent calculator if you sell pet accessories. Make it easy for the consumer to make the connection between your free tool and your paid services.
Develop co-marketing content with other brands
Sometimes the best value-add can come from collaborating with other industry leaders.
If you’re struggling to reach your target audience or maybe you want to tackle a project that seems too big to handle on your own, collaborating with other brands could be the perfect solution.
Collaborating with other brands will help you:
Expand your reach beyond your current audience
Lend credibility and authority to your content
Create new contacts at larger, established brands
It can seem counterproductive to collaborate with someone you might see as a competitor. Instead, you should see this more as putting the customer first. Creating value by working with leaders in your industry can benefit the customer and help them make more informed decisions.
Plus, these collaborations are already happening. Would you rather reap the rewards or stay isolated?
Double down on content marketing
You’ve heard it before: content is king.
But doing content the right way can be challenging. The companies that are seeing success are the ones who have invested in a comprehensive content marketing strategy. Content marketing is a specific type of marketing that prioritizes the creation, production, and distribution of original content.
Its primary focus isn’t to advertise the brand, but to garner interest in a brand’s products or services – and it’s that distinction that makes content marketing a perfect addition to your demand generation strategy.
How can content marketing boost demand generation?
Drive organic traffic, visitors, and sessions to your website
Work cross-functionally with other digital marketing strategies
Create social shareable conversations
Increase brand awareness and build brand loyalty
Content is the primary offering you’ll need for demand generation. It’s the first step in creating the value-adds, free tools, and resources we spoke about earlier in the article.
Some might argue that demand generation is impossible without content marketing. At the very least, it’s difficult to pull off without a dedicated content marketing plan.
Invest in the right technology stack
Managing all of these demand generation strategies at once can be tough without the right tools. Luckily, demand generation is so popular that a variety of advanced software options are available to anyone who might need them. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to streamline the demand generation process, you’ll need the right tech stack.
Here are three tools you can use to optimize your demand generation strategy:
Marketing automation software
Marketing automation softwareis perfect for automating repetitive, time-consuming digital marketing tasks like triggering email marketing campaigns or scheduling social media posts. It saves your team time and frees them up to focus on more technical aspects of their job.
A key component of marketing automation tools are the included analytics features that allow users to measure the impact of an entire campaign across segments and channels. These features measure anything from KPIs, campaign metrics, and conversion rates for your biggest marketing campaigns.
This tool allows users to generate, manage, and publish content on their websites without the aid of developers. This is ideal for any team that doesn’t have a full-time developer on staff. It’s also perfect for anyone looking to shorten the time needed from writing to publishing.
Lead scoring software
It's not enough to generate demand, you need to ensure the contacts you're sending to your sales team are worth their time. Lead scoringis a method used to determine the quality of a lead based on how likely they are to make a purchase.
Lead scoring software allows you to manage every stage of the lead generation process, from sales prospecting, to lead nurturing, and more. If you're working on a marketing team that manages both demand generation and lead generation, lead scoring software can make tracking everything in one place easy.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
CRM softwareis probably one of the most important tools you’ll need for demand generation. Once you’ve moved your demand generation prospects over into lead generation, you’ll need a place to collect and categorize their contact information.
A CRM software will record interactions between your business, prospects, and existing customers. It’s also great for tracking prospects and contacts throughout the sales pipeline and facilitates an enhanced customer experience.
Having the right tools for the job can make or break your demand generation strategy. Exploring your options and choosing the right tech stack for your needs is crucial to success.
Collaborate with internal marketing teams
The biggest mistake your company can make is assuming that demand generation is the job of a single department. Every team can benefit from demand generation, so every team should be involved.
As you build your demand generation strategy, loop in your sales reps and prep them with talking points. New leads might reach out to them after reading a piece of content on your blog, and your sales team will need to know how to receive their questions.
You should also involve your researchers to ensure the data you’re including in your content is fresh, relevant, and focused on user-intent. Original data and research will help edge out the competition and give your customers that extra value-add.
Use brand ambassadors to your advantage
Here’s a harsh truth: consumers don’t trust brands at face-value.
What consumers lack in trust in brands, they make up for with trust in each other. Influencers and brand ambassadors are becoming the de facto authorities online about which brands to trust and which ones to ditch.
trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
People trust other people more than they trust companies talking about themselves. Why? They think it’s more authentic and relatable.
Use this to your advantage by creating a brand ambassador program to activate your biggest fans. Don’t discount someone just because they aren’t on your payroll. Activate the influencers who really care about your brand and help them sing your praises.
Generate quality leads with real-time buyer intent data
The purpose of demand generation is brand awareness and ultimately, converting strangers to customers. If you’re not already utilizing buyer intent data in your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to convert leads into sales.
Buyer intent data tracks the online activity of your consumers, both B2B and B2C, and allows you to see where along in the marketing or sales funnel they are. User intent data is powerful because it better informs you on how to keep customer attention, tells you how close they are to making a purchase, and whether or not they’re looking into your competitors as well.
Understanding those things can help you convert warm leads into sales or possibly even poach a competitors client. Putting hard numbers behind your work will help increase sales and prove the ROI of your demand generation strategy.
Keep your brand in high demand
Staying top-of-mind is hard when you’re competing with other brands for attention. With these tips and tricks of the trade, you’re well-equipped to revitalize your demand generation strategy and take your team to the next level.
Ready to put all of these tips into action? Discover how G2 Buyer Intent Data can give you real-time insights into what prospective customers really think of your product.
Lauren is a Content Marketing Manager at G2. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and on the G2 Learning Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching true crime shows and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene. (she/her/hers)
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