An ideal demand generation strategy creates interest in a product or solution for an audience that’s already looking for what your business offers but may not know what to look for. It’s a long-term approach that uses a combination of marketing strategies you’re likely already using.
So, is demand gen the same as lead gen? Not exactly.
You don’t want just any old lead. You want qualified leads.
You’re still going to use brand awareness, pay-per-click advertising, and content, but the goal is not just to market your business. It’s to highlight why specific audiences need your products or services.
Here are some demand generation strategies to get you started:
1. Identify Pain Points & Educate
Surveys and keyword research are nothing new to a marketer, but if you aren’t doing it already, you should start. You need to figure out what your audience needs to solve a problem they have. It might be elusive at first, but get creative. Create customer profiles and figure out what pain points they have and just live with.
Once you know what your customers need — even if they don’t — it’s your job to educate them. You can use a variety of methods to get the word out, including email campaigns, organic social media posts, and paid ads.
A great B2C example of a company building demand for an audience that didn’t know what they needed is Lume, an all-natural deodorant. Lume targeted audiences that are health-conscious, but also don’t want to smell bad.
The brand used humor, health studies, and a little bit of feminism to spread the word that regular deodorant sucks. It educated its audience that bacteria makes you smell in various places — not just under arms. The result: Lume increased purchases sevenfold after its Facebook ad campaign.
2. Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is at the heart of demand gen, and it’s a long-term strategy, so don’t expect results immediately. And there are so many ways to increase brand awareness.
Not everyone grew up with Moon Pies, so many people probably had no idea it was a snack cake brand. Until @MoonPie hit Twitter. This is a great example of brand awareness retargeting and gaining a whole new audience.
You’re likely sending out email campaigns to prospects and leads as you nurture them through a funnel. You don’t need us to tell you that you should segment and cross-test emails. But maybe you need a nudge to consider display ads.
Display ads may sometimes get a bad rap, but they can be effective in a demand gen strategy prioritizing brand awareness. It’s a subtle reminder to someone who knows you exist that, well, you exist.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is another great way to subtly reinforce brand awareness. Even if a prospect knows your business’ name, they might not type your URL directly. They may not click on one of your ads, though — paid ads are only 15% of web traffic.
We all know someone who has literally gone to Google and searched for “Facebook,” rather than simply going to facebook.com or using a bookmark. More than 50% of site traffic comes from organic search.
3. Facebook Marketing
Before you scoff at the idea of using Facebook for a B2B demand generation strategy, we want to remind you that every decision-maker is a human. They’re not going to only scroll through LinkedIn. So, meet your prospects where they are, and they’re likely on Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter).
Facebook ads can be expensive, depending on your keywords and your audience (but they’re more affordable for B2B). You don’t want to show your ad to literally everyone on Facebook, obviously. Don’t apply too many qualifiers to narrow your audience too much either.
You’re looking to optimize your advertising, and qualifying prospects and leads is one way to do that. Consider painting with a slightly broader brush, with Facebook’s lookalike audiences. Chances are that people who share similar traits to your business’ audience could be interested in your product or solution.
4. Content Marketing
It’s still important to create content that will rank on Google. That’s not likely to ever go away. More importantly, though, your content should contain way more value than longtail keywords. What’s different about content in a demand generation strategy in 2021 and beyond?
Create content for your audiences that is:
It’s why you’ll find so much tailor-made content for B2B buyers that’s full of case studies, research, statistics, tips, and proof. Your content needs to not only speak to your audience, it also needs to be useful and credible. Great content not only ranks for its keyword, it also builds trust and loyalty for a brand.
You could create gated content, or give your good stuff away for free (more on that soon). Test both ideas to see which works best for your business and audience. Sure, gated content may result in higher lead generation, but don’t get too hung up on that KPI. Ungated content can be more effective in a demand generation strategy that can evolve to capturing leads.
5. Give Away Free Stuff
Trade shows were always fun for B2B crowds because they’d end the day with bags full of free stuff. Some of that free stuff sucked, though. How many stress balls and flash drives do we really need?
There were always a few companies that got it right, though. They’d give away lightly branded socks, t-shirts, or interactive gadgets. And we remembered their names.
When Sales Hacker and Outreach tested the theory that swag works for B2B audiences, they found it effective. They started with two groups of 500, and gave branded products to only one group. The result: The swag group was 3x more likely to meet with a sales rep.
So, yes, give away free stuff, whether that’s knowledge you can share with an audience that’s looking for a solution, a t-shirt someone will actually wear, or a tool they’ll use.
Chili Piper gets this one right with Instant Booker. The one-click meeting scheduler is easy to use, it saves time with fewer clicks, and integrates with multiple calendars. You can add meeting times to your email, so whoever you’re trying to meet with just needs to click on a time that works best for them. Oh, and it’s free.
There are paid plans available for Instant Booker that make it easier to use for teams, integrate with CRMs, and include routing features. Instant Booker is one of those demand generation tools that’s kind of a gateway to Chili Piper’s powerful scheduler for sites and forms.
Give. 👏Away. 👏Free. 👏Stuff. 👏
6. Smart Email Marketing
Once you have email lists and they’re segmented, it’s time to start those email marketing campaigns. Following the AIDA marketing model is important: awareness, interest, desire, action.
Email can further brand awareness, especially as it pertains to your company’s mission or identity. If you’ve given something away for free, you can sweeten the deal.
For example, Dropbox made it easy for anyone to use its file storage service when it offers 2GB of space for free. Within its app and in emails, it offered more space for free if you referred Dropbox to a friend. The more people that signed up and listed your email address, the more space you could get for free. It was kind of brilliant.
Don’t forget to personalize emails and newsletters. If people open emails with personalized subject lines 50% more than generic emails, why wouldn’t you personalize?
7. Lead Scoring
OK, lead scoring is important (depending on your org), but it isn’t necessarily the most important thing for marketers who are at the early stages of a demand generation strategy. In which case, you could simply segment your prospects and leads.
Having a lead scoring system in place can be vital for some businesses, so you can quickly route the hottest leads to the sales team. After all, speed to lead is a thing. In fact, Chili Piper has a whole ebook of surprising stats about speed to lead. And a webinar that kinda proves if you aren’t first, you’re last.
So, if you’re still generating demand and interest, lead scoring is an important metric to see where a prospect is in their journey, but it isn’t urgent yet.
8. Social Media Engagement
You’re already using social media to find out what content your prospects are sharing, the topics they’re talking about, and the brands they’re recommending. Social media should be used for more than trend research.
Get involved in the conversations. Ask questions and provide answers. Create campaigns with polls, contests, and offers (discounts or freebies work well).
Keep your goal in mind when you use social media for a demand generation strategy. You’re working to spread the word about your business, or a particular product or service. Your work on social media platforms should build up to lead generation.
Guess which social media platform B2B marketers use most? Was LinkedIn your answer? Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Every audience is different, but the trends are what you might expect:
<10% Pinterest, Medium, Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok
9. Join Forces with a Brand
The old idiom that there’s strength in numbers rings true for brand partnership. Let’s use marketing software and tools as an example. You’re likely using a CRM, email marketing software, and other automated tools to help you reach your goals. If one of those tools integrates with another, it would behoove those two brands to join forces.
Starbucks partnered with Spotify. GoPro and Red Bull made sense together. Impossible Foods teamed up with Burger King for a product launch and successful brand awareness campaign with the Impossible Whopper.
And then there’s Chili Piper + HubSpot. Chili Piper integrates with HubSpot, which means marketers can take inbound leads and route them to the right place. Plus, any info that comes in through the Chili Piper integration gets an automatic update in HubSpot. So, no more manual entries and easier lead distribution.
HubSpot has its own audience, but like Facebook lookalike audiences, they share traits with Chili Piper’s audience. Now the two groups are introduced to a new-to-them brand. It’s win-win-win (for the end user, Chili Piper, and HubSpot).
Even if you don’t have a product or service that works with a brand you want to partner with, there are other ways you can team up. Consider guest blog exchanges, co-sponsoring a webinar, or a tit-for-tat newsletter mention with links and calls-to-action.
Measure Each Demand Generation Strategy (Rinse & Repeat)
How do you know if your demand generation strategy is working? Well, to start, it won’t be just a single strategy, and it won’t be a single metric to tell you whether you’re successful.
In addition to analyzing your typical KPIs, marketing and sales should work together to understand why certain campaigns worked to close deals. Just as you rank leads, consider ranking the marketing campaigns that worked well. And then do it all again.