You know what lead generation is. It is the process of building up interest and inquiry in a product through email sign-up forms other contacts. So then what is demand generation and why in the world do you need it?
Similar to lead generation, demand generation is the process of creating a great demand for your product, usually done by marketers. Before the lead is passed to your sales team, your marketing team is out there engaging in conversations and activities that will hopefully lead to your eventual lead generation.
This process is a little more in depth and provides more scrutiny than lead generation. The leads it generates are usually a bit stronger. Because lead generation often focuses on getting people into the ‘top of the funnel,’ it primarily uses content and inbound marketing to drive your sales. Demand generation is a more technical and analytical process, and its main focus is on lead nurturing, scoring and measuring your overall Return on Investment (ROI) for confirmation.
So again, why do you need demand generation? In this article, we will look at what this process entails and why it can help your sales team reach new heights.
Technological advances over the last few years have changed the way we think about selling and marketing and, more importantly, what we expect from a sales team. Before the Internet and social media, your only contact with a company was with the one sales person, and as soon as you became a lead, your contact information was passed to the sales department.
Nowadays, consumers have more ways to find the information about a product, service or industry, and it does not involve calling your sales person and asking them. In what is known as the age of ‘information abundance,’ consumers can check review sites, blogs, social media and other site to get all the information they need. In fact, Forrester Research says that today about 60 to 90 percent of the buying process is already done before the consumer wants to speak to someone in sales.
This means that the role of the marketing department is no longer just about passing on email addresses. It is about creating relationships with customers and nurturing them. For example, if you are a property developer, then you need to be aware of who is looking for property right now and what is driving them to buy? Are they people near retirement looking to buy a rental house to supplement income? Or are they families looking for homes in an in-demand school district?
It is now the marketing department job’s to find out who is researching the company, the product or service and what they think of both.
Content and demand
Perhaps the best way to get started fostering these relationships is to make your company a respected industry expert, one that consumers feel comfortable going to for up-to-date information on the latest trends and guides. As in lead generation, content marketing will be your best tool for generating true interest and demand in your product.
Through content, you can actually start building a demand for your product or service where maybe there was none before. With free access to blogs, readers can get an insider view of your industry and learn the basics. These types of blogs are crucial for showing off your knowledge. If you can help consumers solve their little problems, they just might return to you for the bigger ones.
At the middle stage of demand marketing is the gated content, the tools that will help them finds solutions to their problems. This might include eBooks on certain subjects or white papers. The information gated only because the consumer must give you their email address or phone number before being able to access this information.
Let’s say you are a financial firm. Your blogs might cover topics such as how to effectively balance your chequebook or how to start saving for retirement. Your eBooks and white papers will be more in depth. You might have an ebook series devoted to effective retirement planning strategies or the best financial strategies for small businesses that are younger than five years.
The best way to start creating the best content is to think about what questions your consumers are asking.
Social media and demand generation
Of all the places to nurture relationships, you will have the best opportunity on social media. Social media is built around good conversation. It is up to you to start creating conversations with customers and encouraging them to open up about their thoughts on the industry and what sorts of questions they have.
So what are the best methods for demand generation on social media? We can break it down into three main categories:
- Social Ads: Facebook, Pinterest and other social networking sites have their own PPC services. They can help you target your audience better and quicker.
- Access to content through social ads: Paying these sites to put your content in the streams of different consumers can greatly expand your reach and engage with new consumers.
- Nurture slowly: Social media demand generation involves more patience and time. You should not only be posting viral videos and funny images, nor should you be posting only about your company. Remember to teach, inform and inspire them, and if you have time, make them laugh too.
Content and social media marketing build up sales every day, but in some cases, paid programs can get your strong results in demand generation.
Events, such as trade shows, are especially useful in generating demand for your product. Not only can you show off your product’s effectiveness or usefulness, but you can also talk directly with consumers and tell them why your company is great. Rather than thinking of your company as an entity, this will help them see your company as one run by helpful, caring people.
Trade shows and events can be especially useful for higher education institutions because many students crave the one-on-one interaction. They want to talk to a physical person about what a school can do for them and what they need to do to begin the application process.
In order to judge the effectiveness of a tradeshow or event, think of it in terms of ‘percent new,’ which means the percentage of people who stopped by your table or exhibit and gave you their names and contact information. If 90 percent or more of your leads were new targets, the event should be considered a success. If the number is smaller and most of the people are already in your database, the event might not have been such as success.
As with any type of marketing, demand generation is a lengthy, ongoing process. Continue building relationships with new, potential clients and you will see your business begin to expand in all sorts of directions.