What is demand generation?
There are multiple steps involved when it comes to marketing a product, no matter what that product might be.
If you want to look at it from a high level, however, there are two: you have to develop a great product, then you need to promote it. That promotion aspect is where demand generation comes in.
Of course, having a winning solution for your customer’s pain points is a critical component of marketing a great product. When your product is effective and well-liked, the job of marketing becomes that much easier.
But great products or services rarely succeed in a vacuum. You’ll need to build awareness as well.
That’s the role that demand generation plays. It makes people take notice of your brand and the product that the brand supports.
With the right plan and marketing platform in place, you can use demand generation to foster relationships with your audience that are built to last.
Let’s take a closer look at how demand generation works, what it is, and how you can leverage it to build a marketing strategy that works for your business.
A Definition of Demand Generation
First, let’s drill down on what demand generation actually means.
You’ve heard of the rules of supply and demand. One must rise to meet the other.
Demand generation represents marketing strategies you can implement to help foster better demand among your target audience.
According to HubSpot, “demand generation captures the umbrella of marketing programs that get customers excited about your company’s product and services.”
That means it goes beyond simply creating a need for your audience to hear about your product. It also follows the customer through their buyer’s journey, continuing to elicit interest in your product.
Think of how you engage with a customer, from beginning to end (or think of the oft-cited “sales funnel“).
Your customer starts out with an issue. They search for a solution, and (ideally) encounter your offering as one of their potential choices.
They then engage further, performing research to evaluate how well your product meets their needs. Finally, they decide whether or not to buy from you.
With lead generation, you employ strategies to develop potential customers. Demand generation acts similarly, only it leans on touchpoints throughout the customer’s entire interaction with you.
If executed correctly, demand generation marketing is geared to support long-term relationships with customers.
What Is the Goal of Demand Generation?
One goal of demand generation is, you guessed it, to generate demand: drum up interest with the right audience for your product.
But it extends beyond that as well.
Demand generation is really about cultivating and nurturing your relationship with your audience. It’s about establishing yourself, in their mind, as a brand they’ll plan to do business with for months or even years.
Keep in mind that demand generation isn’t the same thing as lead generation. When looking to develop leads, you’ll engage in activities such as lead nurturing and lead scoring to target customers who are most likely to buy from you.
Demand generation is different in that it’s about more than attracting a lead. It’s about continuing to attract and retain that lead well after the first sale, opting for a more committed, longer-lasting engagement.
Your outreach efforts should do more than simply court new prospects (though don’t forget to do this, as it’s important!). It should also target existing customers, creating new enthusiasm for your product or service by offering new, exciting features or solving additional problems.
Demand generation is often used in support of B2B marketing and account-based marketing. B2B is when businesses sell their product or services to other businesses; account-based marketing (or ABM) is when marketing teams align their efforts to encourage long-term growth alongside their clients.
While B2B demand generation isn’t necessarily easy, the principles behind it are the same as with traditional marketing: place a strong offer in front of the right person and demonstrate why it brings value to their lives in one way or another.
Examples of Demand Generation
There are numerous ways you can engage in demand generation with customers who have different levels of experience with your brand. Demand generation can be supported by either traditional or digital marketing methods.
Demand Generation Tactics
Below are some potential tools and examples of demand generation tactics in action:
- Landing pages can promote your product, serving as the first point of contact between you and your prospect.
- Social media often plays a role in not just establishing a relationship with your prospect, but also helping it sustain and grow (more on this below).
- An email marketing strategy may use the customer’s inbox to both promote your product and continue to follow up to offer them information, discounts, or other tantalizing offers that will keep their interest.
- Partner with brand influencers to promote your product via their popular social media channels, tapping into already established audiences to lend credibility to your offering.
- A webinar intended to position some of your company representatives as experts in their field, drawing both attention and prestige to your brand while delivering educational value to your prospective customers.
- Using case studies, you can leverage academic research to validate the need for your product or service. You can help your audience understand why the need for it exists with the help of independent work conducted outside your purview.
Demand Generation Execution
After setting out to incorporate demand generation into your overall marketing plan, you can use these strategies and more:
- Through marketing automation (supported by a marketing platform), move ahead with a “set it and forget it” approach to posting content you’ve planned.
- Drive site visitors or other prospective customers who were hooked by the content you’ve developed to sign up for your email list, thereby getting their contact information.
- Adopt a multi-channel approach, pairing several of the tactics listed above to determine which combination works best for you and your marketing plan.
There are no limits to how demand generation programs can be implemented or how they can serve you. Any type of marketing tactic you use can be deployed in service of demand generation.
Why the Sales Cycle Matters for Demand Generation
Have you ever heard of a sales cycle?
It’s everything a customer goes through in terms of the sales process, from the time they realize they have a problem to the time they buy from you. It also extends past that initial sale, covering their feedback and the retention process.
Demand generation considers your prospect customers well past the time they’re considered a lead. It simply repeats the sales cycle continually, appealing to your customer with more persuasive information while accounting for the fact that they’re no longer new to your brand.
Even if demand generation moves beyond what we traditionally consider to be the sales cycle, it’s still critical to understand the principles of that cycle and how each aspect of it should function.
How Demand Generation Fits into Your Marketing Strategy
When do you want to use demand generation? It’s simple, really: anytime you’re looking to build awareness for your brand, or a particular aspect of your brand.
Looking to launch a new product? You’ll want to engage in strategies that drive attention to your brand as you approach the big day.
Do you want to support a charitable cause? Developing content highlighting that cause can help people associate it with your brand and consistently donate money to it.
Just looking to drive sales in general? You can call upon your sales team to help you develop content that turns leads into customers and customers into repeat customers.
To encourage optimization of your demand generation strategy, you’ll want to weave it into your overarching marketing plan. Develop your goals, objectives, and tactics with demand generation in mind.
That means that you’re thinking beyond just the initial attention or the first sale. You’re looking to foster a meaningful relationship between your customers and your brand, one that will sustain itself over the long haul.
So, how do you do this? By developing messaging for multiple touchpoints throughout the customer life cycle.
The messaging and content you use for a high-quality lead will differ from what you use for a returning customer. You’ll need to calibrate your approach for the stage the person finds themself at when they encounter your brand to optimize your conversion rate.
You’ll also want to use search engine optimization (SEO) to lace the right keywords into your content for demand gen. Those keywords will also vary depending on where the person is in the customer journey.
Tracking your overall marketing strategy and content development with demand generation in mind isn’t easy, but it certainly gets easier when you have a marketing platform you can trust to help you manage the process.
How to Use Social Media to Drive Demand Generation
One of the biggest benefits of using social media is the ability it gives brands to interact with their customers instantaneously. This can be used for demand generation as well.
One example of how social media could be used to drive demand is the practice of engaging with customers via social networks like Twitter or Facebook. Customers who frequent your pages may have feedback on your product, and not all of it is positive.
Rather than hide from the possibly negative input, embrace it. Encourage honesty from your customers, asking them to leave feedback on your social media channels.
This kind of transparency builds trust and leaves customers feeling heard. It’s different from a tactic you’d employ to draw a new customer in but it creates demand for your brand just the same.
Instead of using social media for short-term wins, look at it as a powerful tool you can use to build trust by encouraging honest (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. Not only will it help you improve as a company, but it will also leave your customers happy.
How to Use Content Marketing to Drive Demand Generation
Content marketing can also play a pivotal role in your demand generation efforts.
Content marketing can be an effective tool for establishing authority and providing value to your customers. It goes beyond looking to make a sale – you lay the groundwork for earning your customer’s trust by providing them with the information they may find useful, even without paying for it.
This is obviously useful before your customer has bought from you, but it’s equally valuable later in the interaction. You can use content marketing to continue to produce interest from your customer in what you have to offer as a brand.
Sure, this is helpful when trying to generate leads. But even after you’ve converted the lead, there’s no reason content marketing can’t help you continue to generate demand.
Using thought leadership — the development of content that puts you at the forefront of your industry with new, inventive ideas — you can separate yourself from others and strengthen your relationship with existing customers.
Imagine having a blog your customer consults for advice or guidance in their industry on a daily basis. Such a customer would clearly trust you and value your opinion.
Building that relationship is how you encourage customer retention. With powerful and effectively managed content in place, you can deliver consistent value in a way that keeps your audience returning for more — and looking to buy more from you as well.
Use Welcome to Generate Demand
Of course, figuring out how to effectively manage your content requires you to have a platform in place that will help you do so. Welcome is perfectly suited to strategically manage content over a long stretch of time.
Welcome has a comprehensive set of marketing capabilities, enabling you to partner with a marketing platform that lends itself to demand generation.
There’s no shortage of marketing and demand generation support Welcome can provide. So what are you waiting for?
For more on how Welcome can help you change the way you look at marketing, contact us for a free trial today!