Demand generation is a marketing practice that’s often misunderstood and underutilized by small businesses and startups. In this guide, I’ll show you how to implement a demand generation strategy for your business, even if you’re just starting.
What is demand generation marketing?
Demand generation marketing is a process of creating demand for your products or services. It’s one of the four steps in the sales funnel, and it helps you attract leads who are interested in what you have to offer. More importantly, demand generation helps position a new service or product. Demand generation is accomplished by targeting specific customers that would find value in your product or services and then educating the potential customers on your value proposition.
Demand generation marketing is also known as inbound marketing, as opposed to outbound marketing (also called outbound). Although outside the scope of this article, a combination of inbound and outbound marketing is imperative to revenue growth.
The process of demand generation is divided into three stages:
Awareness—getting people interested in your product or service. Part of building awareness is targeting a specific customer segment—additionally, timely and consistent distribution of content.
Interest—building on their interest, they become aware of its benefits and how it solves their problems or improves their lives and businesses. Building interest is critical. It’s the “foot in the door” technique and allows business owners to close a sale.
Conviction—converting those interested into leads by convincing them that working with you is the next step. Your product or service needs to provide value. Remember, you are not selling but giving expert advice on the subject. During the initial call, you want to position the conversation on solving a pain point and providing value. Don’t position the conversation from a position of price.
Why is demand generation important?
Demand generation marketing helps organizations build a pipeline of potential customers. It gives business owners and RevOps professionals visibility on forecasted revenue. For instance, using a weighted pipeline, managers can gauge which deals will close within a specific timeframe: the more granular and clean the data, the more accurate the revenue predictions.
It helps you generate leads that are qualified.
Rather than having the marketing generate hundreds of unqualified leads – i.e., using gated content – demand generation educates the potential client at the top of the funnel. This education continues until the client reaches the bottom of the funnel before they are handed over to sales. By taking an educating and consulting mindset, demand generation tends to generate more qualified leads than other tactics.
What’s the first step in demand generation?
The first step in demand generation is to know your audience. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating a new marketing campaign that we forget this simple principle. To define your target audience, take the time to assess who they are and their current needs.
Who are my customers? What are their demographics?
What are their challenges or problems?
Do they have any unmet needs you could help solve with solutions related to your products or services?
How can I build trust with them so they’ll feel comfortable sharing information about themselves (and/or referring others) when they come across relevant content on social media or elsewhere online?
These questions are imperative. Demand generation marketing is laser-focused on one thing: the buyer. By getting granular and answering these questions, you better understand the buyer’s behaviors.
How do you execute a demand generation strategy?
Define your target audience.
Create a content strategy.
Create a content calendar and distribution plan.
Review and refine your plan quarterly.
What content topics?
You can use content to drive demand generation in various ways, but it’s worth noting that some common topics lend themselves to this type of marketing.
The most common content topics for demand generation include:
Hot new products or services
How-to guides and tips/tricks articles (for example, “Effective Business Development for SMBs“)
While these are all excellent topics for demand generation, they might not be the best fit for your business and its audience. If you need help deciding which is best for you, consider asking yourself questions about your industry and audience before deciding what topic will work best.
How can you make your content stand out?
Use data to support your content. You don’t want to seem like an amateur marketer—you want to be taken seriously by your readers. Using data to support your claims and recommendations is one way to do this. For example, if you’re writing about how much time employees waste on social media daily, back up this claim with statistics from reputable sources. You might also consider using an infographic or a chart that gives readers a visual representation of the problem at hand so they can understand just how big the issue is and why it needs addressing immediately.
Use visual elements to make your content more engaging.
Content isn’t just text anymore; there are many other ways for companies’ stories and messages about their products or services to reach customers: videos, photos, GIFs/memes/animations. The list goes on! And sometimes, adding visuals like these will help keep readers engaged longer than plain old text would!
What types of content should you create?
It’s important to remember that your content should be interactive and engaging. Demand generation aims to help people achieve their goals, not just promote your product or service.
You’ll want to design the following types of content:
Interactive landing pages that educate users about your brand, product, or service. Design these pages to help users understand how you can help them achieve their goals so they’re more likely to buy from you.
Use fact-based articles on blogs and websites related to topics relevant to your business (and competitors). These articles should convey the value of using your product or service in an easy-to-understand way while also educating readers about the industry and competitors’ offerings. Hence, they have all the information they need before making a decision.
How do you use SEO to make your content searchable?
You must use keywords in your content, title, URL, image alt text, and meta description. You can get a free tool called Google Keyword Planner that will show you the most searched-for phrases related to what you do.
Suppose you have a product or service that’s designed for small businesses like restaurants or retail stores. In that case, keyword research will be valuable because it’s easier for people searching for these companies to find them online using the right keywords.
If you’re doing demand generation marketing – i.e., email marketing or advertising on social media platforms like Facebook Ads or LinkedIn Ads – then make sure your audience needs what your business offers.
Where can you distribute your content for maximum exposure?
Placing the right message in front of the right person at the right time is challenging for any business. But it’s essential to any marketing strategy, especially if you want to get new customers without spending a fortune on advertising.
Here are some ways that small to medium-sized companies can leverage their online resources and audience:
Good content and consistency is the key. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram offer content syndication that reaches millions of users and can be used to promote your content even after you’ve published it on your website or blog. You can also use social media as part of paid advertising campaigns.
Email marketing offers another chance for you to reach existing customers with news about special deals or promotions—or keep them engaged with your brand’s story or educational newsletters about the industry.
When is it time to look at paid distribution options for your content?
When you need to reach a wider audience, paid distribution options are great for getting your content in front of more people, but they can also be expensive and require a lot of work to set up and manage. If you’re unsure whether a paid distribution is suitable for your company, starting with organic strategies is best.
When you need more time or resources to invest in an organic strategy, paid distribution strategies takes time and effort to set up correctly—and even then, there’s no guarantee that they’ll perform well enough to justify their cost.
Be realistic about where your priorities lie as a business owner or manager—if you can’t devote enough time and attention towards creating an effective marketing plan. Then I suggest doing some research and hiring someone who specializes in demand generation rather than trying something new on your own (shameless plug, TrailBlazer6)!
It’s never too late to start a demand-generation strategy.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a large, established company to benefit from demand generation. Many of the biggest companies in the world got their start small and grew into their current size over time. You can do it too!
There are plenty of examples:
• Google started as a research project at Stanford University.
• Amazon was originally an online bookstore.
• Apple started out selling computers in Steve’s parent’s garage.
While these companies may have grown into some of the most recognizable brands in history, they all began with humble beginnings.
Demand generation marketing is a powerful way to build your business and increase revenue. It’s also an essential step in the sales funnel, with many companies seeing a 20% increase in leads when implementing this strategy. There are plenty of ways to start a demand generation strategy, but it all starts with knowing what you want to accomplish and creating content around those goals.