by Phil Huzzard | Sep 03, 2019
Demand driven marketing strategy
Demand generation – a key component of any high-performing marketing strategy
Demand generation is not a new concept. But how demand generation can be intentionally configured as part of an Inbound Marketing and sales strategy remains unclear for some.
To be clear, Inbound Marketing has revolutionised the way we market and sell – an approach that is seen as a compelling innovation with clear and measurable performance outcomes. But Inbound Marketing is just part of an optimal buyer journey. If the X axis is conversion, the Y axis has to be lead volume.
And because your sales outcome is always a product of lead volume and conversion rates, it’s worth understanding why demand generation is an essential part of any Inbound Marketing driven strategy.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a collection of programs or strategies that attract buyers to the top of your sales funnel, then keep them as engaged as possible as you convert them to customers and advocates.
Demand generation strategies create interest and preference for your brand. They earn you a position on your customer’s evoke set (ie. a preferred list of brands to explore and consider). It also means developing approaches to new markets, promoting new and innovative products, building up the brand preference and, not least, engaging existing customers in a deeper relationship.
Demand generation programs should touch your potential customers throughout the conversion and sales funnel. They are best applied at the decision makers’ ‘moments of truth’ - those times when the buyer is most open to a message of reassurance or value.
Demand generation activities should be applied across the full spectrum of communications activities – brand, retail and direct response advertising across all media, opted in content campaigns via email and social media, service desks and contact centres, and at point-of-purchase.
So, whether it’s an on-screen, radio or social campaign, an e-book campaign, a weekly newsletter or a breakfast seminar, demand generation is a key component of lead generation. So, what is it that really differentiates demand generation from Inbound Marketing?
The distinction between Inbound Marketing and demand generation
Inbound Marketing is simply a subset of demand generation activity. While demand generation encompasses all the tactics that establish your business as a thought leader/innovator in the industry, Inbound Marketing is the means by which you eliminate the distance between the company's sales and revenue activities.
We, believe that demand generation provides the context for the purpose of Inbound Marketing: Attracting leads, creating opportunities, and converting these opportunities into consideration and brand preference.
Within this context, it’s worth exploring how demand generation can be dialled up to enhance the performance of your Inbound Marketing.
How to combine demand generation with inbound tactics
1) Develop strategies to reach those people who do not know your business and your products or services
Simply getting potential customers to know your business exists and that you have a solution to their need is a demand generation imperative. This is further complicated if the potential client doesn’t know that there is a solution to their problem at all.
This is what we term the pre-awareness stage, the stage before the potential customer is aware that there are products or services that can solve their problem. It is only after awareness is created that Inbound Marketing can begin to assist them in the buying process.
If prospects are unaware (and keep in mind that very few potential customers have the awareness or preference for your product that will drive them to an instant buying decision – especially for a high-engagement purchase), demand generation activities bring them into the orbit of your firm and its value proposition.
One of the most concise and targeted ways of achieving this is through account-based marketing.
2) Account-based marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) focusses on a group of prospects you consider to be of strong potential. By defining contacts in each company, the opportunity exists to engage them with customised, relevant content, for example, personal emails or targeted content in social media.
While inbound is about creating content that will attract the right people and help them through the buyer’s journey, it is especially effective if you have an established understanding of your target, even if only a formative one.
Also, ABM can be used as an activity management tool. When inbound lead generation slows (for whatever reason), diverting your team to ABM activity is a great way to maintain your sales pipeline.
This mix of inbound and outbound also allows you to connect more efficiently with companies and industries you want reach without having to make cold calls where the prospect has never heard of you.
By creating content that is relevant to the people you want to reach, you help them uncover and solve challenges – a win-win situation.
3) Advocacy Marketing
Few things are more successful in establishing a client relationship than when an existing customer recommends your business to others.
The implied trust that comes with a referral means the sales process proceeds faster because the prospect is less likely to have concerns and questions. It is also far easier to close the sale because the relationship is based on an established understanding of reputation and trust.
The key here is to engage your current customers to become more involved in the sales process and reward them for their participation.
As an example, by creating content featuring case studies that demonstrate what your customers actually think of you and the solutions you've provided, there is an automatic and implicit 3rd party endorsement of your product or service.
Demand generation and Inbound Marketing – a compelling combination
With its focus on creativity and storytelling, demand generation is both the context and fuel for high energy Inbound Marketing. In combination, they offer the most effective means of acquiring large numbers of pre-qualified customers.