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5 Demand Generation Trends to Ignite Your 2021 Growth

Can you believe it’s already the start of a new year? Is it just us or does January 2020 simultaneously feel like it was 1,000 years ago and also only yesterday?

For the sake of this article (and our sanity), let’s put 2020 behind us and focus on what we can do as growth marketers to ignite our efforts in 2021. 

While some of these five demand generation trends may surprise you, we believe these ideas will supercharge your marketing efforts in the new year.

Why do we feel so strongly?

We’ve had our ear to the ground over the past few months. These are the biggest trends we’ve seen emerging in the top growth marketing communities, podcasts, social media, and Slack channels. 

Marketing campaigns that are genuine and human first

The Biden campaign tested its videos and found that their impromptu, behind-the-scenes footage was far more effective than the professionally produced ads. 

We see something similar with our social media posts at Chili Piper. Week after week the posts that generate the most engagement are the ones featuring our employees having real experiences. Here’s an example of a recent post.

Why? Because it’s easier for people to relate to something genuine, then an ad that’s overproduced.

“When people get to know your story, they make a connection. Those connections will lead to a strong sense of loyalty from your customer base. Use social media and other routes to let people know who you are, what the mission of your company is, and why you do what you do.”

Hank Frecon, CEO of Source Digital

In 2021, connect with your target audience by taking a raw and real approach to creating content assets. This will lead to a more authentic connection that will make it much easier to build a loyal customer base. 

Focus on creating demand versus capturing it

The people actively looking for a new product are only a tiny percentage of the audience that would benefit from said product. 

Yes, it’s important to capture prospects at the end of their buying journey who are looking for your product on review sites and Google. However, if you only focus on the end of the journey you’ll leave out a large share of your potential customers. 

For prospects higher up in the funnel, we recommend generating awareness through these demand creation techniques:

  • Book speaking engagements
  • Act as a thought leader on social media
  • Interact with your target personas in communities

Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs, is an excellent example of creating demand through thought leadership, and the video below is his explanation of this concept.

Let’s be bold in the new year. Be proactive and reach people at the awareness stage of the funnel, instead of waiting until they’re ready to buy. If you wait, likely, they’ve already been influenced by a competitor.

Turn your customers into advocates

If you have a great product, then you have customers who love working with you. 

You get messages like the ones below that are from happy Chili Piper customers — sent through direct messages and one on one emails. 

However, customers sharing this with you privately does not lead to more sales. 

This is why you need to focus on turning these users into advocates in 2021. Here are a few ideas for generating champions for your product:

  • Create a customer advisory board (CAB)
  • Form partnerships with communities that consist of your target personas
  • Start a referral program for existing customers

Peter Kaznjy, founder of Modern Sales Pros, explains the value of a CAB in a recent article.

“With a Customer Advisory Board (CAB), you essentially have a captive audience of folks who are fired up for your success, and who you can leverage on an ongoing basis to build the best product possible,” Kaznjy says.

Not only are existing customers the best people to test and give feedback on your product, but you can also leverage them to recommend your offering to their peers. 

Keep them excited about being advocates by rewarding them with gift cards, dinners, and access to exclusive networking events.  

Invest in emerging channels

As a growth marketer, you’re already familiar with posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. 

These are tried and true platforms that can generate a lot of demand for your product. However, they’re also overrun with marketers thinking along the same lines as you are. 

A new year is a great time to try out new distribution channels.

“I’ve noticed more marketing teams talk about identifying channels that haven’t hit the mass market yet. Where Linkedin organic reach is slowly starting to drop off, there are other, more suitable channels gearing up to take its place.”

David Oragui, Senior Growth Marketing Manager, Chili Piper

What are some exciting new channels for you to test out? We’re glad you asked. 

  • TikTok – There are an estimated 80 million active TikTok users in the United States. Sixty percent are between the ages of 16-24, and 26% are between the ages of 25-44. If you’re targeting a younger demographic, this is a great platform to share short, personal videos that connect with your target audience. 
  • Twitter fleets – Twitter recently joined Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat by adding the ability for users to publish short, temporary videos, called fleets. These videos show at the top of a user’s feed. Since this functionality is still new, very few brands are using it, which means it’s the perfect time to guarantee your spot at the top of your follower’s feed by posting a fleet. 
  • Industry-specific communities – Online communities are places for people to share advice, ask questions, and learn about new technology. Identify your target audience, and then look for communities they are participating in. The more niche you can get, the better, as these will be the most targeted and least crowded spaces.

By being one of the first marketers in an emerging channel, you can establish your brand while there’s less competition. Be the big fish in a small pond while you can, and you’ll have time to figure out a strategy that works for when the competition gets more fierce.

Be smarter about scoring leads

Most SaaS companies use scoring to determine whether a marketing lead has engaged enough with their company online to justify sales reaching out. The prospect will get a certain amount of points depending on actions taken (opened an email, downloaded an ebook, etc), and once they’ve hit a point threshold the lead is marked qualified enough for sales to reach out.

While the idea behind lead scoring makes sense (more engagement = hotter lead), the way marketing teams implement the system doesn’t always tend to work in practice. Here are a few reasons why:

  • While the prospect is interested in your content, they do not need your product
  • The prospect doesn’t resemble your target customers
  • Marketing is too lenient with lead scoring because they’re trying to hit MQL goals

The whole practice starts to feel like Drew Carey doling out points in “Whose Line is it Anyway?”.

Instead, make your points mean something by using predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics is revolutionizing lead scoring in new and exciting ways. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze historical and current data to build comprehensive lead profiles. Due to the power of machine learning, this enables a greater level of detail and accuracy than traditional manual lead scoring.

Matt Bertram, CEO & SEO Strategist at EWR Digital

By analyzing the online patterns between your leads that have turned into closed wons, you can create a model to better target new prospects coming to your site. That way, the leads you send to your sales team will have a higher chance of converting.

Bottom Line

Where we are now is extremely different than where we were at the start of 2020, and your marketing practices should reflect that shift. We challenge you all to try at least one new demand generation trend in 2021. It may be your most successful strategy yet! 

About the Author

Maggie is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Chili Piper. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Tulane University, and has been published in Investopedia, Fundera, and Fit Small Business among others. With seven years of experience in digital marketing, her primary goal is to create the most helpful resources for growth marketers. Her secondary goal is to get Taylor Swift to agree to a content collaboration.

Profile Photo of Maggie Aland