Demand Generation is the process of telling your brand’s story and generating demand for your products and services. As an integral part of inbound marketing, the strategy is to make potential buyers aware that you have the solution to their problem and direct them to your website where you can build a relationship with them.
Simply put, you’re letting people who have a problem know that you 1) exist and 2) add value to their lives by solving that problem.
So, what’s the rule that many marketers break when it comes to demand generation? Build your demand generation strategy on earning awareness of your company and the problems you solve. Focusing on the product too early in the buyer’s journey breaks this rule. When you present your product during the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, you are putting the cart before the horse. Buyers want to know that you have in-depth knowledge of their concerns and needs and that you empathize with their problem. They want to know that you care, that your company exists to help them, and that you have the answers and resources to help them solve those problems.
When companies take shortcuts and jump right into lead generation without doing good demand generation first, they bypass the opportunity to build the brand awareness, trust, and credibility that is needed when the buyer is ready to make a purchase. Not only that, they end up with a contact list full of unqualified leads.
Good lead generation is a byproduct of good demand generation. If you have poor lead generation, you have a problem with demand generation.
- Solomon Thimothy, CEO of ClickX
Good demand generation focuses on buyer awareness, attracting the right people, and building relationships with them through empathy and education. Let’s look at how marketers can build a solid demand generation strategy that helps marketing and sales have a pipeline full of prospective customers.
Lead generation is a function of demand generation, and the two work together as part of a holistic marketing strategy with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue. As such, marketers must get better at demand generation if they expect to increase the number of qualified leads they can pass to sales to close deals. Aligning marketing and sales on the bottom-line metric of revenue will help them work backward to determine the demand generation goals needed to increase revenue.
The first step in determining demand is to talk to people about their problems and what they need from the market. You likely did this when developing your product or service. Use this research to develop a crystal clear vision of what’s on your buyer’s mind – their day-to-day life, the problems they face, the places they go for information, and the ideal solutions to their problems. From this customer-centric perspective, you will formulate a compelling brand story that resonates with your buyers.
Good demand generation makes people aware of the problem and the solution. Once you have developed a solid brand story through the lens of your buyers, it’s time to share it with the world. Be the best thought leader in your market, without talking about the product and without expecting leads. Create buzz about your solution to the problem that needs to be fixed. This top-of-the-funnel awareness of your brand is a sustainable way to get leads. Interest in your product will come naturally through awareness of how your brand solves your customers’ problems.
Great marketers learn fast and take risks. Be willing to try something new, seize the moment, and be the quickest to get your message out on your channels. Don’t wait for the perfect content or the perfect timing.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Measurement and trends are important, but sometimes the outliers can reveal crucial information about your buyers. Look at the tweet that gets unexpected engagement or the email that gets a huge response to learn what the market wants and what resonates with your buyers.
A consistent brand message, focusing on your unique story and how your company solves their problem will help you stay top-of-mind when your buyers are ready to purchase.
Keep your pulse on your customer acquisition to learn where your brand messaging is having the most impact. Sales should ask every customer how they became aware of you, and share this information with marketing so they know what channels are working best.
“You know you’re doing demand generation right if your buyers tell your sales reps, ‘Oh yeah, I know who you guys are.’”
– David Gerhardt, CMO at Privy.com
The modern buyer has endless information at their fingertips, and new opportunities for demand generation are continually emerging. Evaluate how your company adapts to new marketing opportunities. You must expand your footprint beyond your website. Explore review sites, social channels, guest blogging, and video platforms to reach your potential customers in new ways. The trust signals from these channels go a long way toward developing confidence in your brand and your ability to solve the buyer’s problems.
“Anyone can find content about you online. The content that’s not on your website can be more important than what you say about yourself.”
– Ellie Mermin, CMO at Crayon
What are the paths to your website? Are you eliminating friction in connecting with your brand? When someone arrives on your website, is it clear why you exist, who you serve, how you help, and how to take the next step in building a relationship with your brand? Dig deep into your customer experience to make sure you’re telling the right story that will attract the right buyers and lead them toward conversion.
A great place to start is following the principles Bernadette Jiwa lays out in her book, Difference: The one-page method for reimaging your business and reinventing your marketing.
Make it easy for your buyers to connect with you in ways that are meaningful to them. For example, create a path that allows for self-purchase of products. On the flip side, make yourself accessible for those that don’t want to do research and want to jump to a demo, phone call, or chat session.
Your current customers are your best brand advocates. Continue to add value to their lives by checking in with them about their needs and how you can improve your product and services. Nurture them through email messages that empathize with their day-to-day issues and offer solutions. Make it easy for them to share your brand across their email and social channels. Offer a referral program and content that they can easily share with their colleagues.
I’ll bring it back full circle by recommending a recent LinkedIn post by Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs. This eye-opening discussion (debate) of Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation, explores how a focus on demand generation yields better leads in the long run.
One commenter eloquently summed it up with this:
lead generation = generating leads
demand generation = generating customers
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