How Tech Startups Can Build a Balanced Demand Gen Program
Demand generation is an important part of your marketing plan that employs several complementary methods using content and marketing tools in different ways. Combined effectively, these methods create something greater than the sum of their parts. Demand generation does exactly what it says: creates demand for your products or services. It's not necessarily the same as lead generation, because demand generation includes interactions that take place before a lead is passed along to sales.
Demand generation includes marketing activities that build awareness of your products or services. It's marketing-centric and is a mixture of inbound and outbound marketing techniques, plus sales prospecting. Demand generation rests long term on providing outstanding content to potential customers in the form of blog posts, white papers, product videos, etc. But it can also include outbound marketing, like a booth at an industry event, to jump start brand awareness, as well as the hard work of sales prospecting.
Inbound Marketing for Demand Generation
Inbound marketing leads potential customers to the thrill of discovering that you can solve their problems. The primary activities involved in inbound marketing are:
- Creating exceptional content
- Optimizing content for search engines and target personas
- Promoting content through a well-planned social media strategy
Getting started with inbound marketing is remarkably easy. Continuing with it requires work, but it pays off. Initially, much of that work is a matter of testing out what content works and doubling down on what does. Both your tech team and your content development team should have a basic understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) to guide topic generation and so your content team knows which phrases and concepts resonate with your site visitors and buyer personas.
If you're at a loss for what the "right" content is, lean toward content that shows how people or businesses solve problems. Monitoring website and social media analytics can give you clues about what reaches people effectively and about which content is more engaging. Once you determine that, you can repurpose it in numerous ways, like using a blog post as the basis of an e-book or video tutorial.
Creating inbound marketing content can be a challenge, even for teams that are used to delivering great services and products and have experience with all kinds of traditional marketing collateral. Making your website a magnet for potential customers can be bewildering for companies new to inbound marketing, but fortunately, there are several great online tools that can help get the ball rolling.
Outbound Marketing for Demand Generation
Early in the process of demand generation, outbound marketing tactics like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email, and events can help get things going while your inbound marketing content is gaining traction. An early outbound marketing push can help you accomplish several things:
- Test your list sources (like trade publications) for effectiveness and to identify campaign variables that get results
- Test different offers such as demos, e-books, and white papers to see which are positively received
- Drive leads quickly to fill the opportunity pipeline and help you build your reputation with customers
Trade shows, public relations activities (like press releases and articles in trade publications), and PPC advertising can all, in circumscribed doses, kick start demand generation. But you don't want to over-invest in these outbound activities to the point that they detract from your efforts to build a strong, long term inbound marketing strategy.
Sales Prospecting for Demand Generation
Though the marketing team is working hard to build demand generation, your inbound marketing initiative may take time to start bearing fruit. In the meantime, there's no reason why your sales team can't be talking to people, making calls, and building a pipeline. Your product development research should have led you to some early adopters who may be valuable sources of referrals, and there are countless online sources for targeted sales prospecting.With these resources, and a solid marketing infrastructure, you can map out a strategy. List a couple hundred firms in the right industry segment and start calling. It's hard work, and your team will get "no" as an answer many times. However, even one or two yeses can put your people in the company of decision-makers with problems your business can solve. This type of early sales prospecting is not for the weak, and it may highlight glaring inadequacies in your sales scripts and value propositions, but working out these issues as you're building the lead generation engine helps your sales team be better prepared when inbound and outbound marketing efforts start yielding results.
Sales prospecting is also a matter of earning prospects' attention and trust and allowing them the opportunity to self-qualify. But you need to be ready with outstanding marketing offers that address prospects' concerns and motivations at multiple steps in the sales process, so they're guided along from initial interest to becoming a qualified lead. Deliver something of value at each step, and you engage more of your prospects' attention. You never know when a clever utility you develop as a giveaway will be a hit and turn into a powerful lead generator with amazingly low (or free) per-lead costs.
Put Demand Generation to Work for You
The old marketing and sales models are crumbling under the weight of fast, easy internet research and leads that sometimes pre-qualify themselves. Some of the rote aspects of sales, such as cold calls, are much the same, but demand generation as a building block of your overall marketing plan enables personal touches that simply weren't possible a generation ago. Your prospects may not look or act as you imagine them, and that's why you have to be committed to an exceptionally good content mix - so you can get inside the heads of today's diverse stakeholders.
You can provide more effective demand generation if you have the right platform to put to work on your behalf. Getting your marketing infrastructure built before your launch allows you to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise. Scholes Marketing knows how to help your business optimize demand generation through outstanding website design, as well as marketing infrastructure made for generating leads and revenue. Let's talk, and get your demand generation engine up and running.