Earlier this month, DemandGen CEO David Lewis introduced the Demand Generation Framework, a holistic model for driving revenue growth across Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service. Comprised of three essential functions — Demand Creation, Demand Management, and Demand Expansion — this framework has the added benefit of strengthening Marketing’s role within the organization.
Since you can’t bring anything into the funnel if you don’t first create demand for your products and services, I’ll be focusing on Demand Creation in this post.
First, let’s define what it is exactly so we’re all speaking the same language:
Demand Creation involves efforts focused on generating new awareness, engagement, and leads from prospects and targeted accounts through inbound and outbound marketing programs.
And how do you generate new awareness, engagement, and leads? With content. The sole focus of the Demand Creation function is to provide the fuel (content) to capture attention — and create demand — for your company’s brand, product, or service.
More than just generating leads, it encompasses the immense amount of effort required to generate revenue by making sure we create the right demand and build a strong pipeline with the right leads and accounts.
Now that we’ve defined what Demand Creation is, let’s examine how to do it successfully using what I call the 3 Ds of successful Demand Creation.
Contrary to popular belief, Demand Creation isn’t something the marketing team can just create in a vacuum. The most effective Demand Creation efforts result when marketing and sales leaders work together to define an integrated Demand Creation strategy that is specific to geography, solution, industry, and channel — for both new business and the installed base.
To create demand — and do it well — you must understand and define your buyer personas. As much as some marketing teams skip this step (in the interest of time, budget, leadership support, etc.), you just can’t develop relevant, persona-centric content until you’ve defined your buyer personas. And to do it well, you have to work closely with Sales.
Before you can define your buyer personas, though, you must first work with Sales to understand your market. A best-in-class Demand Creation function will leverage the go-to-market foundational building blocks to outline use cases, competitive differentiators, and value drivers to help you develop programs and content that are meaningful and relevant.
Laying this initial groundwork will help you develop the right content for Demand Creation (the second D) with both cooperation and buy-in from the Sales team.
Once you’ve worked hand in hand with Sales to understand your ideal customers’ needs, you can develop content that is relevant to them. Your buyer persona research helps to ensure that you’re creating the right demand based on solving a specific problem in the market, speaking your prospects’ language so that it resonates, and delivering a consistent, targeted message as a business.
Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign is a perfect example of developing the right content for successful Demand Creation. Even though we didn’t work behind the scenes with Steve Jobs and Apple’s creative firm, we instinctively understand their ideal buyer persona based on the differentiation clearly spelled out in their ads: If you’re a PC, you’re out of touch, slow, and susceptible to viruses. If you’re a Mac, you’re intelligent, quick, tech-savvy, and you get it.
Apple was able to create strong demand for their product because they did such a good job of identifying a clear gap and defining what the product meant to their market. All of Apple’s content during this multi-year campaign supported this particular message.
Not everyone has Apple’s unlimited advertising dollars, so how can a more resource-constrained organization achieve similar results? Stick with the basics, like constructing a buyer behavior model. This provides insight into the steps or phases of the customer buying process, guiding the content that needs to be created and delivered to support value conversations.
Developing a content message map provides direction for the specific content that needs to be developed, in what format, in what timeframe, and by whom (in-house or third party), in order to engage with prospects (both individuals and accounts) in a meaningful and relevant way.
Demand Creation focuses on driving awareness and engagement at the very top of the funnel, which is when your personas are first becoming aware they might have a problem you can solve. At this stage in the buyer’s journey, the most successful Demand Creation content includes (but is by no means limited to) the following:
Keep in mind that Demand Creation should not be a series of one-off events, such as a standalone webcast, the occasional email blast, a blog post, banner ad, or some halfhearted effort to generate some likes or retweets. Successful Demand Creation requires a cohesive strategy that provides a clear path for those prospective buyers to learn more and take the next step.
Now that you’ve developed all this great, super-targeted content, it’s time to get it out there so your audience can find it. At this very early stage of the buyer’s journey, though, your target audience may not even know you exist yet. Or, they may have heard of you, but don’t know why they should bother to learn more about you.
If you only publish content on your website and social media pages, they may never see it. If you send an email campaign without taking the time to build up your credibility, it may take a one-way trip to the trash bin.
We recommend first publishing top-of-funnel content on your corporate websites and social media pages. After distributing your content organically, put a paid search and advertising budget behind the best-performing content to get more traction.
Different personas may read different publications, visit different websites, and even use different social media platforms. You’ll learn the best distribution channels when defining your buyer personas. It might make sense to target one buyer persona through LinkedIn and a relevant industry publication, and another through Facebook and a guest spot on a popular podcast series. The point is that your personas should determine the appropriate channels — not your gut, your best guess, or where you’re most comfortable spending your marketing dollars.
Once you’ve established that you understand their industry’s and role’s unique challenges by showing up in the print and online communities they already frequent and trust, you’re much more likely to get a second look (and maybe even a third).
Demand Creation sets the stage for everything that follows
In order to successfully drive revenue growth, you must ensure you’re attracting the right leads and accounts to the business and continuously building a healthy pipeline. That’s what makes Demand Creation so critical. And in order to create the right demand, you must dedicate the time and resources at the front end of the sales process to determine the best path forward.
Working together is the most efficient path to success for Sales and Marketing. Integrating Demand Creation efforts into the business process requires goal alignment, a common terminology, clear roles and responsibilities, common systems, a team approach, and a singular focus on generating revenue — not just leads.
A solid Demand Creation strategy improves trust and strengthens the relationship between Sales and Marketing, making future efforts that much smoother (after all, you’ve still got more work to do!).
Yes, it’s quite a bit of work. The good news is that when you’ve increased ROI by focusing marketing spend on the right prospects and decreased the length of the sales cycle, you’ll know it’s paid off.
Patti Heath is a Consultant dedicated to partnering with clients to achieve their business goals. She focuses on developing demand generation strategy, including lead generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing, and lead management. She enjoys staying on top of the ever-changing digital industry and identifying the best new technological advances.