We hear a lot about different generations—their wants, needs, and preferences. You’ve probably read dozens of blogs over the years waxing poetic on the differences between Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials. But have you heard about the demand generation?
We’ve heard marketers talk about “lead generation” for years, and it’s exactly what it sounds like—generating leads for your business. Obviously, this is an important concept for anyone in B2B marketing or business to grasp. But there’s a new player in town taking this concept to the next level.
It’s time to meet the demand generation:
- What is Demand Generation
- Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
- Understanding The Marketing Funnel
- Why Demand Generation
- Begin Building Demand Generation
- Demand Generation Strategies
What Demand Generation Really Means
Demand generation takes things to the next level. Creating leads for your business is necessary, but creating a demand in the market for your product, service, or offering—that’s a whole other level.
If you create a demand, the leads will naturally follow, and this is the whole premise behind this focus in marketing and why it works.
At its core, demand generation focuses on taking people and turning them into prospects. People who are strangers to your brand need to be introduced, whether through paid ads or organic social, event marketing, public relations, or influencer marketing.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
Demand generation is about generating leads for salespeople and this includes lead nurturing, which is the process of converting leads into customers. Lead generation is about finding potential customers who want to purchase your product or service. Both demand generation and lead generation require similar activities such as identifying target markets, conducting research, and developing strategies. However, they differ in terms of how much effort needs to be put into each activity.
For example, if you’re trying to generate new leads, you don’t necessarily want to spend too much time searching for relevant information because you may not be able to tell what kinds of information you’ll find. On the other hand, when you’re looking for ways to increase demand, you need to invest more time in understanding your customer. While demand generation is the process of identifying and capturing leads for salespeople to follow up with, lead Generation focuses on generating leads based on a website visitor’s search criteria.
Both processes turn potential customers into buyers. However, they’re not the same thing at all. Sometimes marketers use these terms interchangeably, but this distinction is important if we want to fully grasp the true nature of the sales funnel.
Understanding the Marketing Funnel
To put it even more simply, demand gen focuses on awareness while lead gen focuses on turning people into qualified customers.
The marketing funnel works like this—at the top of the funnel, you have awareness. This is the entry point and a foundational aspect of what we do (because if no one knows who you are, they certainly aren’t going to do business with you).
Once customers have reached a level of awareness, we move on to the consideration or interest stage. In this stage, marketers cultivate a relationship and teach the customer more about their product or service.
Once you’re sure the customer is interested, you can progress toward consideration—the stage where they are closer than ever to closing the deal with your business. Then we move into intent and action—the final stages before a purchase is made.
Demand generation and lead generation work hand in hand throughout this process. But even though demand generation is at the top of the funnel, here’s why it is so essential for marketers.
Why You Won’t Go Anywhere Without Demand Gen
At the end of the day, lead generation is simply the result of your efforts toward demand gen. It’s a trickle-down effect. Focusing on what comes later—lead gen—is simply less effective than starting at the top of the funnel.
The more people that are aware of your brand, the higher the statistical likelihood you have of getting more leads. That’s why we advise all of our clients to focus on demand gen at the outset of our relationship. The higher number of possible customers, the better—and that’s just good business sense.
3 Steps To Begin Building Demand Generation
The best B2B brands in the business (some of whom are our clients) have an excellent grasp on demand gen and what it can do for their company. Here are some tips for building demand gen to ultimately reach success.
Step 1: Build Awareness With The Mixed Marketing Method
Your demand gen strategy has to begin with identifying your audience and focusing on outreach. At Zen, we do this through our Mixed Marketing Method. We include each facet of a strong marketing and PR strategy—Owned, Earned, Paid, and Shared, to make sure our clients achieve results both in the short term, but continuing into the long term. Combining each of these marketing tactics helps us grow our client’s reach exponentially, and gets some buzz going about who they are and what they do.
Step 2: Develop a Content Strategy
Once you’ve used our Mixed Marketing Method to build brand awareness, it’s time to develop a B2B content strategy for your growing audience. Develop a strategy that positions you as a reliable expert in your field. This helps build trust between you and those interacting with your company. Utilize retargeting through paid ads or email marketing campaigns, so they never forget about you.
One thing is true in life and business: timing is everything. Once you’ve put in the work to develop trust with your audience, hopefully, you’ve gotten some leads. Make sure you’re sending them the right messages through the right platforms at the right time. A targeted nurture campaign can help you accomplish this.
Step 3: Nurture high-quality leads
Lead nurturing is about building trust with prospects and keeping them engaged along the entire buying process. This includes answering questions, sharing relevant content, making offers, and providing follow up.
Marketing teams should work alongside sales during the entire lead nurturing cycle, staying in touch with buyers via email, phone calls, social media messages, and conversations across multiple channels. Focus on creating engaging content that provides value to prospects and helps solve problems. Content should address issues and concerns, provide solutions, and encourage further interaction.
At the end of the day, if you have a larger pool of leads to choose from, you’re more likely to find success. That’s why we focus on demand gen. In a world full of a lot of noise, this new “generation” of marketing will go far in making a difference for companies, no matter their size.
6 Demand Generation Strategies To Further Grow Your Brand
1. Provide a Free Tool, App, or Resource
As a new brand, it’s tempting to think that you need to offer something up front that costs money to make people interested in your product or service. But what happens when you do that? You end up spending a lot of money on advertising without getting much traction.
The truth is, providing a free tool, app, or resource can actually work very well for new brands. In fact, it’s probably one of the most cost-effective ways to generate interest in your product or service among potential customers. There’s countless instances where a new brand offers a free tool or resource to build awareness about their product or service. And guess what? They don’t even need to pay for traffic. These tools often rank high in Google searches, and they bring in plenty of leads.
For example, WordStream developed the AdWords Performance Grading system in response to the lack of tools out there to help people analyze their account performance. They wanted to make it easy for anyone to run reports and see how well their ads performed across different keywords, ad groups, and even locations. As they got feedback from customers, they added features to the tool to allow advertisers to easily grade their campaigns and set goals for improving their performance. Since then, they have been able to leverage the success of the tool to develop many other products, including an iOS app and a training program called PPC University.
2. Optimize Your Email Marketing Strategies
Email marketing for B2Bs can be an incredibly effective tool for generating leads and driving sales conversions, but far too many businesses use it incorrectly or fail to leverage its full potential. In fact, some companies even turn to spamming their email lists because they don’t know what else to do. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to generate high levels of interest and engagement simply by tweaking your email strategies.
The key to optimizing your B2B email marketing efforts lies in A/B testing everything from subject lines to design elements. For example, you could test different call-to-actions or headlines to see which one generates the highest conversion rates. You could also try changing the color scheme of your emails to see how each affects open rates. Ultimately, every aspect of your campaign — including the type of content you send out, frequency, timing, and copy — should be optimized based on performance data.
3. Implement Omnichannel Strategies to Expand Reach
Omnichannel is a term used to describe the idea of having one integrated marketing strategy that covers multiple channels. This type of approach requires businesses to think about how they communicate with consumers and what they do to capture leads and convert prospects into paying customers.
The key to omnichannel marketing is to ensure that your audience sees the same message regardless of the medium used to communicate. If you post something on Twitter and Facebook, make sure that your message is relevant to both platforms. In addition, make sure that your design and copy is optimized for the specific channel. While consistency is important across all channels, you must tailor your messaging to each individual platform.
Omni-channel marketing also helps businesses improve conversion rates. Because they don’t rely solely on traditional marketing methods like print ads and billboards, omni-channel campaigns help businesses attract potential customers who might otherwise ignore their messages.
4. Improve Your Return on Ad Spend with Niche Targeting
Niche targeting allows advertisers to target specific audiences based on interest areas like hobbies, age groups, gender, location, education level, income, and even product preferences. This type of targeting makes it easy to find people interested in topics that align with your brand.
Google makes it easy to find specific audiences based on these interest areas and more. You can use these criteria to build custom audiences that deliver relevant ads to specific groups of people. Once you’ve built your list, you’ll be able to test different versions of your ads. And because each version targets a specific group of people, you’ll be able optimize your campaign for maximum effectiveness.
5. Use Chatbots and Marketing Automation
Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular among businesses because of their ability to automate repetitive tasks. A chatbot is a computer program designed to converse like a human being. With the help of artificial intelligence, it can perform complex tasks such as customer support, payments, email replies, etc.
Marketing automation tools are another way to implement AI into your digital strategy. These programs allow you to manage every aspect of your lead generation process including nurturing, segmentation, targeting, and conversion. You can even set up automated campaigns based on certain triggers.
6. Build Authority with Virtual Events Marketing
Despite in-person events being rare nowadays, there are still plenty of virtual events happening around the world. The good news is that even though people aren’t meeting face-to-face anymore, they still want to connect with others in person. So, don’t let that stop you from getting involved in virtual events. You can use those connections to build authority within your niche.
As an event participant, you gain access to potential customers, partners, and influencers. You get the chance to network and establish relationships with people who could become future leads. And as an organizer, you can use events to build authority within your field.
It’s no secret that demand generation has become one of the most important functions within any organization today. Whether you’re looking to generate new business opportunities, increase revenue, reduce costs, or improve customer service, demand generation is critical to success. In fact, according to Gartner, “Demand generation is now a core competency of every enterprise.”
Interested in upping your demand gen efforts? Contact our team of happy, hungry, helpful, and high-performing experts to take your company to new heights.