Is It Different Than Marketing Strategies For Other Types Of Marketing, Like Inbound Marketing?
You’ve sat down with your management team to assess your current market, competition, target prospects and business goals. You’ve discussed your options, which include inbound marketing, account-based marketing and demand generation. You’ve decided that demand generation is right for you and your team agrees.
Now what? Are you ready to jump in and start with the paid advertising, email outreach, website redesign and sales calls? I’m going to suggest that there’s one important step before you hit the street with your marketing. Regardless of the approach you want to take with your marketing, putting the time, energy and investment into your marketing strategy is going to produce a 10x improvement in whatever results you end up generating.
Instead of 10 leads a month, you could be looking at 100 leads a month. That should be enough incentive to slow down, read the article and consider applying some of the thinking here.
Here’s what marketing strategy for demand generation should include. Remember, demand generation is about awareness, not conversion like inbound marketing. Thus, the planning structure is adjusted accordingly.
Who Do You Want To Know About You?
This is always the easiest part of the strategy process. Almost everyone knows about target marketing and personas. It’s also not difficult to create the target persona profile. Who is this mythical prospect we want to snag with our marketing? What is their title? What size company do they work at? What’s their background? All simple and basic questions used to create this profile.
When it comes to demand generation, I’d suggest you dig a little deeper. What are the psychographic characteristics that go with the demographic characteristics? What are their opinions and attitudes toward your type of products or services? What have their experiences been with similar solutions? What information are they consuming to stay up to date with changes in their industry?
You’re also going to want to dig into their minds (just a bit). What problems or challenges are they having in their roles? Then you want to match up your solutions to those problems or challenges. We like to refer to these as pains, because if you can solve their pain and do it in an interesting way, you have a very good chance to land a new customer.
Where Do These People Spend Their Time?
It’s not enough to understand the personas, their pains and the solutions your company offers; it’s also important to know where these people spend their time. Where are they going for that information? What blogs do they read? What emails have they subscribed to? What websites do they visit regularly?
Since demand generation is about awareness, you might want to stop once you find the places your target prospects are spending their time, but keep moving forward. Get additional information on their behaviors on those sites. Do they download stuff or just read? Do they sign up for events? Do they share information? It’s not enough anymore to just get the media kit and buy an ad. Today, you need to have some expectations of performance, and understanding historical performance data on certain properties should help you make better decisions about the placement of your media.
How Are You Going To Get Their Attention?
This is where marketing strategy work gets interesting and this is where most people go wrong. We’re talking about getting the attention of people who are not interested in giving up their attention. This is the big difference between demand generation and inbound marketing. Inbound is focused on people who are already looking for you and demand generation is focused on getting the attention of people who might not be looking.
To get that attention, you had better be armed with something interesting to say. Human beings are wonderful at putting your messages in a box and thinking, “that sounds like what we already do, so I don’t need it,” even when it’s not even close to the truth. It’s a defense mechanism that prevents us from changing our environment because that might be dangerous to our existence; it’s an innate fight-or-flight response.
Your messages, story and content have to be amazing at disrupting their status quo and getting them to say, “hmmm, I should look into that, or I should learn more about that, because if I don’t I might be at risk.” To be clear, I’m not suggesting we scare people. When I use the term “risk,” it could mean simply making sure they’re doing a thorough job, with the message moving them to consider action. That’s what I’m talking about. What do you need to say to get your target prospect to think about what you’re saying?
Here’s an example from a cyber security company we did work for:
“Eighty percent of breaches happen weeks before the actual damage is done. Hackers could be in your network RIGHT NOW waiting to take action. Let us take a look. We’ll tell you if you’re at risk.”
It makes you think, right? “Did I do everything? Am I at risk? They can tell me? I want to find out for sure.” Mission accomplished. This type of disruptive messaging takes thought, work and time to create. But it makes a huge difference in whether your marketing works or not.
What Action Do You Want Them To Take?
Once you get their attention, then what? What action do you want them to take? I know you’d like them to schedule a call with one of your salespeople, but that’s only going to interest the 10% of the people seeing your ad or content who are ready to take that step. What about the other 90%? Just remembering your name isn’t enough (or at least it shouldn’t be enough).
This is where demand generation can take a page from the inbound playbook. By creating offers for people at all stages of the funnel, you increase the effectiveness of your demand generation program. By coupling it with lead nurturing for those people not ready to buy today, you get a much bigger bang for your buck.
Thinking out those offers is part of strategy and planning. By understanding the questions people have at each stage (those questions are different), you’ll get a better, more effective picture at ways to turn that interest into business.
How Are You Going To Measure The Success Of The Effort?
Even demand generation should come with some quantifiable metrics associated with success. Today, all types of marketing are data-driven and results-oriented. Demand generation is no exception. When you’re doing your planning, how are you going to measure success? Is it impressions? Wow, I hope not. If it’s not, then you want to look at page views on your site, conversions on that page, leads from the conversions, sales opportunities, and finally new customers and revenue.
During the planning process, put these numbers on the table. Make sure your numbers are connected to your overall revenue goals and make sure you’ve allocated enough budget to build a demand generation program that’s big enough to support your revenue goals. Another mistake we see often is under-budgeted programs with very lofty goals. This almost always produces disappointing results that could have been avoided by simply adjusting down the goals or adjusting up the budget.
I can’t encourage you and your management team enough to take the time to work through your strategy before you jump into all the sexy tactics. I know starting a pay-per-click campaign, working on a new website design, purchasing lists and sending emails sounds like the attack plan that gets results. But based on over a decade of experience, I can tell you that all this produces is bills for services rendered and very little in terms of business results.
You want leads, you want sales opportunities, you want new customers and you want to exceed your revenue projections. To get what you want, you need to properly plan some of the unsexy stuff first. What you say, when you say it, how you say it and who you say it to is the most important part of marketing. It’s the difference between success and failure. Choose success, and choose strategy before tactics.
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