“Should we do demand generation or account-based marketing (ABM)?”
It is a question I am often asked by customers and prospects alike. The answer I give is . . . yes.
While I will not use this post to discuss how ABM fits into a demand generation strategy, I will contend that there are key elements that are needed for demand generation even if your strategy of choice is ABM.
However, before we start, it is important to define what I mean when I use the term demand generation as for years there has been a lot of confusion and misuse of the term. At Invado Solutions, we define demand generation as follows:
“A strategy developed by marketing and sales that aligns to buyers at every stage of their purchase journey using content and channels that are preferred by their buyers.”
This definition is important because it informs what elements are needed in order to create an effective demand generation strategy that you can then enable with Pardot and Salesforce.
With this definition as a foundation, here are the four key elements that you need for your demand generation campaigns to be effective.
1. Buyer Insights
“We have personas”. This is something I hear often when speaking with CMOs and heads of marketing. However, when digging a bit deeper into how those personas were created, it is clear that the personas are not buyer informed. What I find most often is that personas have been created by the marketing team with little input from sales, their customers, or any outside research.
While these personas are a good start, they only provide one perspective and in order to be truly actionable they need to be informed from the outside in. This is only done by interviewing customers and understanding your customer’s market conditions.
In addition to personas, buyer insights includes the documentation of a buyer’s journey. This is far different from a demand generation funnel as the B2B buying process is not linear. In fact, it is rather complex and when you add around 7-9 buyers on a committee, the complexity only increases.
If you want to begin to lay the foundation for your demand generation success, you have to begin with buyer insights.
2. Alignment With Sales
I remember a time early in my career where I was working in a tech company and had a meeting with the VP of Sales. I asked him about the leads from marketing and he replied, “what leads?” I was intrigued so I kept asking questions and he finally said, “marketing has never asked for our involvement in the development of campaigns so we do not look at the leads we receive as valuable.”
Whether he was right or wrong was not the issue. The issue was we clearly had an alignment problem that needed to be fixed if we were going to begin generating revenue through our demand generation campaigns.
This scenario is not uncommon in many organizations and it is why marketing and sales need to align on the following:
- A common lead management process that includes lead qualification, lead scoring and service level agreements
- Shared metrics that marketing and sales track and are compensated for
- Lastly, if you go back to our definition of demand generation, you see that sales is involved in the development of the strategy. This means that marketing proactively seeks sales inputs and insights and includes them in the process
If you are intent on demand generation effectiveness, marketing and sales alignment is a must.
3. A Buyer-Aligned Content Architecture
The common refrain from B2B marketers is “content is king”. While it is a fun little line to put in presentations and put into tweets, I fundamentally disagree with the statement. The customer is and will always be king. This is not to downplay the importance of content, but multiple reports state that up to 70% of marketing generated content goes unused. This only goes to show that we do not need more content, we need better content. We need content that is contextually aligned to our buyers and aligns to their buying patterns.
My encouragement is that before you develop another piece of content, ensure that you are developing a demand gen strategy based on the buyer insights you have completed. This is the foundation for effective content. However, many organizations still have not taken this step as only 43% of marketers have documented their content strategy.
4. A Revenue Mindset
I once had a co-worker roll their eyes as they proclaimed that “sales was so coin operated!” I asked if they would then be willing to work for free given they were not interested in generating revenue? They quickly got the point.
The goal of any demand generation effort needs to be about generating revenue for the organization. While there will be other outcomes, marketing needs to assume the role of revenue generator and not shy away from it.
When you begin designing your demand generation programs, be sure to outline the forecasted revenue you expect to generate from the investment.
Generating demand is no easy task given the sophistication of today’s B2B buyers, but with these foundational elements in place, you will be well on your way to a highly effective demand generation campaign.