Moving your Organization to a Strategic Demand Generation Strategy [Guest Post]

Today's post is provided by Carlos Hidalgo, CEO and Principal at ANNUITAS. You can follow Carlos on Twitter, @cahidalgo.

I had the privilege to present on a webinar sponsored by ReadyTalk and the American Marketing Association.  The topic of the webinar was Strategic Demand Generation.  My favorite part of any speaking engagement is the questions that come in from the audience.  The questions challenge me to think deeper about the recommended approaches and also give me insight as to the day-to-day world of marketing practitioners.  

To recap the webinar, each of the questions that were submitted are below with a corresponding answer on how your organization can move to a Strategic Demand Generation Strategy.

Q1. How Do You Define “Strategic” Demand Generation?

A.  As stated in the webinar, Strategic Demand Generation Consists of the following elements:

  • A perpetual,  always-on process
  • A process that Engages, Nurtures, Converts buyers aligned to their buying process not that of a sales funnel (there is a big difference)
  • A discipline that must be practiced for both prospects and customers
  • It must be Buying-Process-driven and aligned
  • It is designed to both educate and qualify buyers through their purchase process
  • Strategic Demand Generation includes the work of both marketing and sales
  • It must be Operationalized and optimized across People, Process, Content & Technology
  • Strategic Demand Generation is designed to drive sustainable revenue and maximize Customer Lifetime Value.

Q2.  What are some of the most effective Demand Generation campaigns you've seen?

A.  The most effective Demand Generation programs are those that begin with a deep understanding of your target buyers.  Understanding their challenges, pain points, responsibilities, what triggers their buying process, content consumption patterns, etc.  And then designing content that not only Engages your buyers, but makes Nurturing a holistic part of the entire program.  This is when Demand Generation will be effective – it is all about the Buyer and not our products and services.

Q3. What are some examples of how you've seen sales and marketing efforts aligned effectively?

A.  The best approach to have marketing and sales align is to simply work together.  Too many marketing organizations are in the practice of designing their Demand Generation programs and then as a final step “informing sales” of what is to come.  This is a fatal flaw in the execution by marketers.  It is necessary to have sales be part of the development of buyer personas, review of content and input into defining the buying process.  Also having common goals and objectives that are measured ensures collaboration in the design of these programs.  As these steps are taken, alignment begins to happen between the two teams.

Q4.  Can you talk a little more about Nurture content?

A.  Any Strategic Demand Generation program must consist of content that Engages, Nurtures and Converts. 

Engagement Content is written to build trust, address the buyers top of mind issues, educate the buyer on challenges and how to address their pain points.  It is designed to assure the buyer that the vendor is an expert and understands what the buyer is experiencing.

Nurture Content is a bit more specific in that it that is addresses solution categories and to specific offerings within these solutions as the nurturing process continues.  This process is perpetual and allows the buyer to consume the content on their terms and cadence, not by a time-based, pre-determined drip approach.

Conversion Content is focused on the close of the prospect and is more direct and is a mix of automated and live interactions from your sales team.  This underscores the importance of sales enablement and providing and educating them on product level content that they buyer is now ready for given their progression through Engage and Nurture content.

Q5. What is the difference between nurture and drip?

A.  As mentioned previously, Nurturing is a perpetual activity that is aligned to the buyer and allows them to move at their cadence.  A buyer can consume multiple pieces of content in any given timeframe and receive communications so long as there is continual action.  Drip is a time-based sequence often spaced out over a period of days or weeks.  Drip is determined by the vendor not the buyer and therefore is not buyer-centric. 

Drip can be useful and effective when used to target those buyers who may have stopped progressing through a program and it’s intent should be to send periodic content to them in an attempt to get them re-engaged.

Q6. How does a long sales cycle impact Demand Generation?

A.  There is truly no impact to Demand Generation with a longer sales cycle as long as the content developed and delivered aligns to that buying process. Too many organizations look at their sales cycle as synonymous with the buying process, which is so far from factual.  The key is to uncover the detailed approach your buyers take to purchasing and align content to that process.  If it is a 45-day process or 18-month process, ensure your content aligns to it, as that’s what the buyers need and require.

Q7. What's the most important thing for marketers to do to engage buying committees?

A.  It is important to note that most B2B purchase decisions are conducted by committee.  CEB reports that there are five plus stakeholders in the average B2B purchase each with their own view and biases.

In order to engage these buying committees, marketers must understand the dynamics of each role in the buying process and do the work to collect the needed buyer insights – getting into the mind of each buyer on the committee.  This is when relevant content can then be developed. 

At the same time, it is important for marketers to understand the common views of those on the committee and produce content that can be used to align the buying committee around that of the purchase.  Again, this can only be done by speaking to your buyers and collecting the insights on what is driving their purchases.

As B2B marketers look to improve, it is vital that the time is spent to make Demand Generation a Strategic endeavor.  Executing on tactical campaigns is not effective and does not align to the buyer.  It will not be fixed overnight, but it will be more effective and drive customer lifetime value.


Carlos is an innovative thought-leader with over 20 years’ experience as a B2B marketing practitioner and industry visionary. Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic content marketing, Demand Generation, Demand Process Transformation℠ and marketing automation.  As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Carlos drives strategy and leads core practice teams to Transform Demand℠ for enterprise clients globally.  

How to Target a Demand Generation Audience vs. a Nurturing Series

How to Target a Demand Generation Audience vs. a Nurturing Series


A basic marketing funnel includes three phases: demand generation, lead nurturing and sales. It's like a person who decides to go skydiving. They initially have an interest in extreme sports and dangerous activities; followed by generating an interest in potentially going themselves; finally they choose the company that suits them best and jump out of the plan. Just like in this skydiving example, you wouldn't use the same type of advertising message in each of these phases. Moving customers through the funnel represents the challenging part–marketers need to alter their content in order to specifically target the correct audience and guide them through the entire funnel.

demand gen--> lead nurture -->sales

The first step in this process is to develop content geared towards the demand generation audience—a broad audience composed of people who have expressed some type of interest in your content. That being said, hammering your specific product and all the precise details of it isn’t the ideal tactic for this group of people. Instead, slowly guide them into understanding your company and your product. Back to the skydiving example, you wouldn't want to jump out of a plane without a parachute or any preparation, would you? This phase is like prepping the prospect by providing general information about skydiving and finding a way for them to trust you enough to jump out of a plane with you.

When designing a webinar targeted towards the demand generation, it is important to focus on thought leadership and best practices for whatever topic you are presenting on. If you say your webinar is about how to promote a webinar, then your webinar should be about ways to promote a webinar. Of course mention your company and offer a place at the end for customers to learn more about your company, but absolutely do not change the topic when the audience is not expecting it. You will lose an audience twice as fast as it took you to gain it. It is important to create a trust factor with your audience. If they like your content, even though it is not about your product, they will continue to come back to watch more of your webinars. Overtime they will trust you, and when they are ready to learn more about your specific product, they will make that move themselves. That trust factor will lead them to believe that you are an actual expert on the topic and not just another sales person. Without honing your product down their throats and actually focusing on other topics that interest them, you will not only seem trustworthy, but also like an expert on the topic. Believe me, if they trust your information and find your content worth their while, they will keep coming back to listen to different webinars.

The goal of content designed specifically for a demand generation audience is to stimulate conversation among people and to set up awareness for your product. Through this process, you will position yourself as the subject matter expert. You have the knowledge that others need, so why not use this opportunity to address common challenges people deal with and give them advice? Consider this: if a random person on the street asked you to jump out of a plane with them, would you do it? How about if a skydiving professional befriended you and answered any questions you have about skydiving without forcing their company on you? This example may be a little extreme, but seriously who would you rather jump out of the plane with?



Once prospects trust you and develop a need for your product, they will progress on to the next stage of the marketing funnel—the nurturing series. This audience is much more segmented and narrow, which gives you the opportunity to advertise your product in a more obvious way. Patience really is a virtue. Now is the time to show off your company’s accomplishments through customer examples, case studies, etc. Your webinar language can become more sophisticated with a diction that relates directly to your products and services. At this point in the process, you are seated at the skydiving office of your newly found friend who previously helped you with all of your challenges. They are currently explaining their specific skydiving equipment and sharing previous customer experiences with you.

Keeping your company top of mind for your prospects since they are now interested in the type of product you sell represents a prominent goal for a nurture series. A good trick to help prospects keep your company at the top of their minds is to create multiple recording clips and separately distribute them over a long period of time to a nurture series.  This is the time for you to look at detailed attributes of your webinar registrants and compose tracks specifically marketed for them. Potential customers now not only know you, but are interested in your product. Absolutely do not let them forget about you. They may come to the conclusion that another company’s product suits their needs more proficiently, but that’s okay, it will happen. However, you have all the power to stay in their evoked set—whatever you do, do not be forgotten.

Following the lead nurturing series, sales will take the reins and try to close the deal. In order for sales to close a deal, they need qualified leads—those leads come from you and your marketing team. Give them customers they can work with—give them the people who want to jump out of the plane, potentially with your company, not the person who is terrified of heights.

Always remember, that webinars are not one size fits all. There are different phases of a marketing funnel that prospects pass through, and those phases should be treated and advertised to accordingly. Keep in mind which phase of the buying cycle your listeners are in and target them appropriately with content that is relevant for them.

To learn more about the differences in targeting demand gen compared to a nurturing series check out our webinar clip: “Demand Gen vs. Nurturing Series.”

For the full webinar, check out our slide deck: From Demand Generation to Making the Sale.

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Cost Analysis of Webinar Leads

 Cost Analysis of Webinar Leads

Webinars have gained popularity as a cost effective lead generation tactic in the past couple of years. Depending on your webinar strategy, the average cost of a webinar is anywhere between $100 and $3000, with the exact cost depending on technology, equipment, staffing and promotions. Here’s a breakdown of what some of those costs might look like:


The Cost of a Webinar LeadThe technology costs involve the license fee for the webinar infrastructure, cost of conference recording and archives. Actual costs would depend on what software you choose to use, such as free/inexpensive Skype or VoIP service, or opting for a dedicated webinar solution, such as ReadyTalk, which offers guaranteed bandwidth and sound quality.

Tip: Most listeners place importance on the audio in order to keep them engaged. Having a dedicated webinar solution is a better choice to retain listeners (and prospects!).


Equipment costs relate to the physical infrastructure, which also varies considerably. If you already have a computer with speakers, then the equipment cost might not be a consideration for you. However, if you’d like to conduct your webinars on a separate computer and with a microphone, then you need to include those costs in your upfront analysis.


Developing the webinar content, setting up the infrastructure and conducting related promotional activities require time and effort. To get an accurate cost of the webinar lead, it is important to quantify the time and cost it takes for your staff to manage each webinar, even if the entire process is done in-house. Another key staffing cost is fees for guest speakers, should you choose to have any.


There are many ways to promote a webinar, such as PPC ads, social media postings and email lists, each with varying costs. 80% of marketers use email, with recipients generated from website promotions, sales records, list buys and third party content syndication. 20% of marketers use partners, banner ads, SEM and social media.

The technology, equipment and staffing costs associated with webinars are fixed costs, meaning that the cost per lead goes down significantly with every additional lead generated from a webinar. Promotional costs, however, are variable, with greater investment increasing the probability of more leads.

There is no right or wrong figure when it comes to the cost of a webinar lead. Take a look at your budget, the resources you already have and what will work for your company to figure out a good number for you. The optimal figure depends on the potential returns per lead.

Want to learn more about the factors that contribute to webinar leads? Download our whitepaper, The Cost of a Webinar Lead






Webinar Promotion Q&A with Marketing Experts

Your Webinar Questions Answered by HourlyNerd's Dan Slagen and ReadyTalk's Shawn Cardinal

On August 19, Dan Slagen, the CMO of HourlyNerd spoke on ReadyTalk’s webinar series about the different ways to promote a webinar. He touched on five key components including:

  • Ways to market through your speakers
  • How partnerships can increase webinar attendance rates
  • How to blog about your webinar
  • Reasons not to be afraid of paid media
  • The importance of promising and delivering high quality content

Following the session, both Slagen and ReadyTalk’s lead trainer Shawn Cardinal took the time to answer questions asked by the listeners. Q&A Symbol

  1. How do you recommend advertising webinars in a B2B scenario?

While advertising webinars in a B2B scenario can be slightly more challenging than simply a B2C situation, the overall strategies are very similar. One of the best ways to attract other businesses is through paid channels. Spending money to promote it and attract an audience is almost as important as creating the content that will be presented in it. Often times, the easiest way to reach businesses through paid channels is LinkedIn. The use of this professional networking sight is becoming more prominent in the business world and is looked at more favorably compared to Facebook and Twitter.Webinar Promotion

However, when companies strategically utilize Facebook, it can produce great results. While companies tend to prefer LinkedIn, Facebook is starting to show more B2B activity. Unfortunately, the results very greatly, as some companies respond positively to Facebook and others do not. It is a channel that will require a lot of time and effort and can ultimately be expensive.  If you have someone in-house with knowledge on the different areas of performance marketing such as paid search and analytics, then you can allow them to dedicate their time to Facebook and Twitter. Otherwise, it might be more cost efficient to really only focus on B2C marketing through those two mediums.

Another great online method recommended for both B2B and B2C marketing would be cost per click. This will allow your company to track results and understand the advertisements that are working and the ones that aren’t producing as many results. Overall, the best way to advertise webinars is online. Whether you decide to use LinkedIn, cost per click, emails or Facebook, the best way to gain more registrants is through the Internet because online promotion leads to click-throughs and registration pages. It makes it more convenient for businesses to signup, and gives them the immediate opportunity.

  1. When do you recommend that we should start promoting our webinars?

The promotional time frame depends on the overall goal of the webinar. There is no set date, however, we recommend that promotion for most webinars should start two to three weeks in advance. Studies show that 64 percent of registrants actually register the week of the webinar, and 21 percent wait until the day of to register. As long as you are using strong promotional tactics, then waiting until two weeks prior to the live event, will still generate satisfying results. Less than two weeks, might be pushing it and not allow you to fully gain your maximum audience. While we typically suggest promoting a webinar two to three weeks in advance, if you are aiming to gain a large audience of over 1,000 attendees, more time and effort will need to be spent toward marketing the event, and you should start working on it about a month before the webinar to ensure that you target all prospects.


  1. Do you have any recommendations to endure attendance? We have a bunch of registrants, but then the actual live attendance rate is very low. What are some tips as to get people to show up?

Now before you get discouraged from your attendance rate, alter your expectations to become more proper and accurate. In general one-third of your registrants will most likely not show up; so don’t expect a 90 percent attendance rate because that is just not realistic. We all prefer participants to listen to the live webinar in order to spark conversation and to provide a better overall experience for them.

One of the best ways to encourage registrants to be present for the live date is running a contest and giving them an incentive to show up. We are not talking about offering them a free iPad or 100-dollar gift card, but make the incentive something industry related. Make the prize something industry, subject or training related such as free tickets to an upcoming conference. This way you do not attract people who simply want the “random” gift, but instead you start to accumulate an audience generally interested in your content. Even if people do show up just to receive the free giveaway, at the end of the day the most important thing is that they will be there to listen to your speaker and learn about your content.

The number one way to attract people to your webinars is by advertising exclusive and intriguing content. Big surprise! If people are interested in your topic and the content you will be offering, then they will register and hopefully be present at the start time. The more interested they are, the more of a “can’t miss” status your webinar holds. However, things come up and people sometimes have other obligations causing them to rely on the webinar recording, which leads us to our next question.


  1. How do you promote a webinar and offer a recording to an audience without cannibalizing your own live attendance?

 Recording a webinar is a very important promotional tactic that many companies use because it allows multiple people to benefit from the information and increases brand awareness. However, to increase the live attendance rates, it is important that you are careful and strategic in promoting the recorded aspect of the webinar. Avoid sending very blunt and obvious messages advertising the fact that your company will be recording the webinar and sending it to registrants. Instead, inform participants at the start of the presentation that there will be a recording sent to them at the conclusion of the webinar.

The recording of a webinar can be as useful in generating leads as the live event, if people are able to easily access it. It is vital that you put recorded webinars on your company’s website. This way, when people are clicking through your company’s website, they will have the opportunity to watch it. Use the recordings to your advantage. Offer the recorded piece to the public, but before they can watch it have them fill out some type of form with their information on it. Ask them to provide their name, company, email, etc. just simple information that could benefit your company and increase your database. This way, both your company and the viewer both benefit from the webinar. Give as many people as possible access by making it easily available to everyone. Make the information that you are providing interesting and compelling and have it out there for people to discover and learn about. They may not buy your product from one webinar, but it will certainly increase brand awareness and company credibility.  


To learn more about promoting a webinar, check out the full webinar recording here: Guarantee Nobody Misses your Next Webinar.


Watch your audience go from yawn to yay!

ReadyTalk Hosts Susan Stewart on our Webinar Series

Time and time again people eagerly register for webinars, to only drift off from the live event and leave the webcast wondering if it was really worth their time. Don’t let your audience wander off to check their email, explore other websites or even take a short lunch break nap. Keep your attendees engaged the entire time. ReadyTalk recently featured Guided Meetings’ Director of Online Learning and Collaboration, Susan Stewart, on the webinar series to share her valuable insights on how to create participatory webinars that will keep an audience engaged the entire time.

Webcasts vs. Participatory Webinars

It is important to first understand Susan’s distinction between “live webcasts” and “participatory webinars”. A live webcast usually features a presenter who talks to the attendees about a particular topic. They result in a one way flow of information and provide attendees with the opportunity to comment and ask questions at the end of the presentation during a Q & A section. On the contrast, a participatory webinar includes a facilitator who both presents on a topic and invites participants to engage in the webinar. The flow of conversation is back and forth, and the learning occurs in a more interactive way. In order to create a participatory webinar, Susan suggests that the facilitator actively involves the participants during the entire duration of the webinar and encourage them to share their ideas.

Hosting a participatory webinar starts the moment you start designing your slide deck. As you gather information, keep your listeners at the forefront of your decision-making. Think about what your audience wants to learn—maybe even ASK your audience what they want to learn. If they learn valuable information that they originally wanted to hear, they will always leave a webinar satisfied. To figure out if your webinar has relevance, it is often useful to meet participants beforehand or include registration questions. If you go into the presentation confident that you have relevant content, you will be able to focus more on participant interaction, which will make it more impactful. Since humans are both powerful and natural learners, creating a participatory webinar does not mean transforming typical classroom activities into an online format. Design your webinars in a way that online learners can explore the content.

That leads us to Susan’s next section–the different ways to design the webinar experientially. Studies have shown that participants' attention and engagement are the greatest during the first 15 minutes of the webinar. This means it is extremely important to grab the attention of participants early, but also keep them engaged and do not let them drift off at the 15-minute mark. Susan recommends using the 10-minute rule—regaining the attention of participants at the nine-minute mark. In order to do this, inject something emotionally relevant every 9-10 minutes. This could include group 

3 components of a participatory webinar

discussions about the topic, a relevant video, an activity such as a poll or survey or sharing a relevant story with them. While this is a crucial time-table, Susan explains how you can go even further and actually grab their attention every three-five minutes before they even begin to doze off. You might be thinking, “That’s a lot… I’m not sure I can do that.” However, you can and you should.

There are two types of activities that Susan recommends facilitators do every three – five minutes. First, ask your participants to do something. This can range anywhere from demonstrations, viewing videos or web tours, looking at resources, taking notes or answering polls. Second, create interaction between the facilitator and the participants through sharing examples, collectively brainstorming, asking and answering questions in chat and venturing off on webquests. It is important to remember when constructing the webinar that these activities take a lot of time. A good starting point, is to cut your content in half, add your activities, and then make adjustments from there. When planning the activities, focus on your content and think about how the activities can help you achieve the overall outcome of your webinar. Remember to breakout of habitual thinking and find new ways to work with your platform.

Create interactive webinars

As Susan points out, “Brain Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses—vision is our primary sense.” Your slide deck matters—if it is boring, your audience will be bored. No question. In order to make visually engaging slides, it is important to understand that people cannot listen to someone talk and read at the same time without missing information. Instead of piling words onto a slide, selectively choose the most important ones, and then thoroughly discuss them during the presentation. While pictures are necessary, they are only effective if they have a purpose. When it successfully serves a purpose, they make powerful statements. They need to further people’s understanding of the concept being discussed. Images also create emotional relevancy and allow participants to develop an emotional connection that will help them remember the content better. Susan advises that you  change the visual field every 60 – 90 seconds in order to keep the presentation intriguing and dynamic.  

Go beyond creating a webinar that just talks to an audience, and actually include the audience in the presentation. It will develop a deeper learning as well as encourage attentiveness and engagement with the participants. Not only will people stay engaged, but content will also become richer and people will retain more information.

            Watch Susan Stewart’s full webinar to learn first hand how to develop a participatory webinar here.

           To learn more about Susan Stewart and her company Guided Meetings, click here.