Back in the early 2000s, my marketing professor used to say “Marketing is a field where practice precedes theory”. How true!
Marketers are experimenters. They try new ideas every week to engage with their audiences. Some of their experiments work and scale well. The theory then catches up with what works and labels it.
What is demand generation?
As the name implies, demand generation is a set of activities that engage your prospects and customers across their journeys from being unknown leads all the way to key accounts that need to be constantly nurtured.
Isn’t it common sense that one would engage with prospects and customers all the time? Yes. But, our marketing departments, more often than not, are focussing on generating leads than engaging with existing customers. If anything it’s easier to retain a customer than win a new one.
So, marketing has to focus on existing customers, be on the top of their mind, and reassure that their decision to stick around with us is the best decision they’ve made. Our customers need to realise that we are forward-thinking and that our products reflect that approach.
‘Account based marketing’ programs help you win a customer but ‘demand gen’ programs help you continue the conversation from thereon and reinforce that the customer has much to gain by staying with us.
Demand generation is about doing a series of activities across the lifecycle of prospects and customers, that engage them in manners appropriate to their stage in the buying process (be it first time buy or continued buying after they’ve become our customers).
How is it different from Inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on prospects. It is about engaging prospects at various stages of their buying process.
SEO, Pay per click, Blogging, OpEd-like articles in reputed magazines, sponsorships all drive those prospects who ‘put their hands up’ indicating a need (for our product) or a nod (for what we stand for). The effort of a marketer is to qualify the need enough to pass over to the sales teams.
Once a lead goes to the sales team, inbound marketing team plays the second fiddle, chipping in with content where asked for. This is what happens almost in all organizations.
Marketing and Sales de-couple once sales starts engaging.
Theorists needed a better phrase to capture the notion (and rightly so!) that organizations are better off with marketing departments engaging the (once) prospects all day, every day even after they have become customers. Ergo, Demand Gen!
How is it different from content marketing?
It’s all about articulation. Demand generation as a phrase was coined to discuss ‘customer engagement strategy’ while ‘content marketing’ is a tactic. It is about writing the best content and distributing the heck out of it. Good content marketing is a prerequisite for ‘demand gen’ to succeed.
To summarize, Demand Generation sets the tone for engagement strategy. Inbound marketing focuses largely on funnel building. Content marketing feeds both inbound marketing as well as demand generation.
The bedrock of a good demand generation strategy is a very well done segmentation and persona modeling of your customer base. What follows is building ‘data and insights’ about the focus segments and personas (or rather, people that fit those personas).
PipeCandy helps you segment your customer base and generate insights about your top accounts for which you’d then be running demand generation initiatives.