An Introduction to Strategic Demand Generation Planning

Let’s face it. Demand generation is a big topic. It is also vital to the lifeblood of your organization’s growth. It is the place where all of the players in the marketing department come together. Communications, branding, operations. It is also the place where tools like Pardot and Salesforce shine. But when marketing departments are asked what the hardest part of demand generation is the answer usually starts with...

Planning and executing to that plan.

That doesn't mean that some organizations don't plan well and others are pretty darn good at executing. This is true in our private lives too. We may do a great job of creating our annual goals on January 1st and then going at it hard in Q1. By Q2 we are running hard but rarely reviewing our annual goals. If for some reason our management team asks us how we are performing to our annual goals in, let's say, October, it leaves us scrambling to pull data out of Salesforce and Pardot to support our results.

I firmly believe in a 5 step process that you may find laborious at some point but I believe they are the keys to success. Again, not just in your business endeavors.

ANALYZE -> PLAN -> EXECUTE -> REVIEW -> REPEAT

This may not be earth-shattering to you. You may have heard it in many different formats. But how are you doing with it? What does this look like on paper and in practice for your endeavors? Does everyone in your department or your organization have a clear vision of exactly what this looks like?

In future posts in this series, we will dig into the details and the steps in each of these but for now, the key is to lock these in and keep them simple. If you build out each of these pieces and have trouble remembering which spreadsheet or slide deck certain data is on then I would propose you are doing it wrong. If you can't articulate it without visual aids then you might need to go back to the drawing board.

What do I propose are involved with each step? Here are my down and dirty;

Analyze

  • What do our customers say is the value we bring to them?
  • Where do our customers currently come from?
  • What does our customer journey look like?
  • What do we need to do to be successful?

Plan

  • How we generate leads
  • How we nurture leads
  • How we convert those leads
  • What content and activities are involved in doing those three things?
  • What are we doing to keep current customers engaged and maximizing revenue?

Execute

  • Doing the "How's"
  • Daily and weekly tactical planning to knock things off of the list, strategically
  • Coordinating with all stakeholders to be on the same page
  • Actually doing the work, creating the content, setting up Pardot landing pages, Pardot email templates, and Pardot Engagement Studio programs

Review

  • Being strategic about our reporting; measuring what matters
  • Put mechanisms in place to review the reporting and drive action from it
  • Share results, promote the victories, assess the failures
  • Ask the question, are we improving ROI?

Repeat

  • Continually review new trends in technology and processes
  • Implement what will help, laugh and the ones that are silly
  • Keep doing the good things, daily - new is cool but continuing to do the stuff that works = $$
  • Look for areas to expand and repeat what is working there

Lots to think about, right? It takes time and effort, focus, and passion to dig into these things. None of it is done overnight and none is done without the effort of the whole team and outside sources. If you are struggling with where to start or struggling with keeping it going it may be time to bring in outside help. Let us know if we can be that resource. As Pardot consultants, we can help in setting up Pardot and implementing your marketing automation campaigns.

Next time: Analyze - Where do we start - How do we know when we are done?


Man celebrating demand generation wins

Evaluate Your Current Marketing Effectiveness

Introduction

Organizations come to their Pardot demand generation strategy from many different places and stages. It would be unfair to say this organization is doing great and this one is doing poorly by benchmarking against one set of numbers or outcomes. My belief as a Pardot consultant, is effectiveness is measured by getting to that next step. Growth. Otherwise, everything you do will be mired in a feeling of ineffectiveness and being behind the curve.

The key to leveraging Pardot for demand generation is understanding where you are today and where you need to get to. This involves an honest and transparent audit of the current situation.

We’ve created a matrix and ebook to give you a framework for having those discussions. Download it now to follow along.

Who Should Be Involved?

Everyone! Ok, well a lot of people. As a marketer, I have learned one thing about data analysis. The more data points you receive the lower the possibility for error and bias from one person. If you involve 3 people vs 30 people the chances you are surfacing biases more than truths are greater. Bring various departments into the process and ask individuals in those departments to be involved not just because of their status in the department but also based on their potential to be invested in giving you valuable feedback.

Not everyone in your organization knows all of the things the marketing department is doing. Use this opportunity to not just elicit feedback but to also educate other departments on current initiatives.

What is the Process?

Define the Ask

The end goal is to get meaningful information on this matrix. The matrix is designed to measure your demand generation journey in five key areas; Strategy, Measurements, Organization Adoption, Budget & Tech, Sales & Marketing Integration.

I purposely do not use a rating system with numbers or grades. This isn't about good or bad it is about where are we at and where are we going next.

Instruct your team to identify where they believe your organization is at in each of the five areas based on the four-part continuum. Feel free to change up the headers to something you believe will resonate with your group.

Tip:

Provide some "guiding" text to help your participants understand what it means to be at each stage. Use wording that is specific to your organization and current Pardot demand generation initiatives.

Be prepared to answer questions

Instruct the team to ask any and all questions of you. Keep in mind this is a two-way educational process. This is a chance for them to educate you on where others see the marketing department's effectiveness. It is also an opportunity for you to share what the department does and how it affects the overall organization. Keep in mind; give factual answers and not ones that will sway their input one way or the other.

What do you do with the Results?

Of course, all of this is for naught if you don't do anything with the feedback. Keep in mind this is the very beginning of the demand generation strategy process. You are only looking at where you are and how effectively you are leveraging Pardot. This won't tell you what programs to put in place. It won't tell you how to redesign Pardot. It is truly your starting place, which is why there are no wrong answers.

Step 1 - Identify what it takes to get to the next level.

This is VERY important. Do not identify what it takes to go from "Haven't Started to Strategic Doing." I guarantee that is the fastest way to ineffectiveness. Only identify the next step.

As the philosopher, Princess Anna of Arendelle says, "Do the next right thing."

You may currently be sending out newsletters via Pardot and measuring KPI’s such as open rates and unique clicks. The next step wouldn’t be a full-blown multi-channel demand generation program that measures full-funnel effectiveness.

Step 2 - Choose a champion for each of the five core areas.

Let's face it, in a small organization all five may be one person but in a larger organization, it may be five different people. In an enterprise organization, it may be five teams. Even if it is a group of teams still identify that one person that is the champion responsible for the next level.

Step 3 - Either as a team or as the champion of the five core areas identify specific and measurable results that will constitute you have reached that next level. It isn't just about the numbers and knowing you’ve reached a goal. The numbers should represent what you are trying to achieve as an organization. A higher open rate and click-through rate isn’t nearly as important as knowing that a higher click-through rate on top of the funnel emails increases the rate at which prospects complete Pardot forms.

Step 4 - Party a little! Growth is hard work. People will get feathers ruffled. Everyone will have an opinion. When you get to the next level in any of the core areas, celebrate.

Celebrating provides everyone with some motivation to keep going and mark a milestone. It is also a great PR tactic to let the rest of the organization know you are accomplishing things over here in the marketing department!

Conclusion

First of all, remember to download the ebook and matrix. Keep in mind as I've mentioned before, this is a journey. An honest assessment is the first part of the journey. But it isn't the end of the journey. In fact, if this is as far as we get we are going to be falling short of our overall goal. We want a world-class organization with a world-class demand generation strategy leveraging Pardot.

That strategy is going to get in the weeds as you build it out. Warm and fuzzies are great but at some point, you are going to need to build content calendars, demand gen playbooks, and the like. Reach out to us, as your Pardot consultants, if you would like to discuss how to implement the rest of the strategy in more detail.