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.  

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