Suppose you’re taking a new product to market. How can you find potential customers? Where do you direct your marketing strategies? What should you do to align your marketing and sales teams?
This is where demand generation comes in.
What Is Demand Generation?
Demand generation answers a fundamental question: How can I make my target audience want my product or service?
Furthermore, it refers to the (long and often painful) process of nurturing a lead from first contact *hopefully* all the way to brand loyalty.
This is especially important as even good products can get killed by bad marketing.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
Lead generation is just one component of a demand generation strategy.
A simple way to put it is this: lead generation (or lead gen for the cool kids) is finding customers likely to buy your product or service, whereas demand generation is actually getting those customers to do that repeatedly and consistently.
This is best illustrated by the demand generation funnel below:
Image from Imagine LLC
The biggest challenge with demand generation is selling people a product they don’t think they need, so a lot of the work is centered around: (1) convincing them they need your product or service, and (2) convincing them that you’re the best of all the options available.
Here are some proven demand generation programs to help you do just that.
1. Give Before You Take
Some brands are like vampires—they suck the life out of customers and disappear after they’ve made a sale.
Don’t do that
The key to successful demand generation and establishing loyalty, trust, and understanding with your customers is by giving before taking. That is, by providing value long before you’ve made a sale. This signals that you care and it’s also a great opportunity to showcase some cool things about your brand.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is an incentive you give customers in exchange for their contact information.
Examples of lead magnets include content like e-books or white papers, promos like coupons and discounts, or even free versions of products and services.
This strategy is particularly effective for SaaS companies like Spotify and Netflix, who offer free trials and free versions to get potential customers on board then upsell along the way.
It’s like dating—you get to see what a person is like before committing long term.
Just how effective are lead magnets? Count the number of paid Spotify and Netflix subscribers.
2. Try Facebook Lookalike Audiences
What does a potential customer look like? Chances are, they look just like your old customers.
Facebook has something called lookalike audiences, which allows you to send ads to people who resemble your existing customers.
Just go to Facebook Ads Manager > Audiences. Under the Create Audience dropdown and select Lookalike Audience. You can create a lookalike audience based on your Facebook pixel data, mobile app data, or even an existing customer database (which you can upload in csv or xlsx format).
We won’t get into the nitty gritty, but here’s a step-by-step guide in case you need one.
3. Let Influencers Do The Influencing
Back in the day, big name celebrities used to drive brands. Today, people want authenticity and attainability—they’d rather listen to people who look like them.
Influencer marketing has proven effective for the millennial demographic. A Shareableesurvey found 22% of people aged 18-24 made a large purchase after seeing an influencer endorse a product.
Image by Marketing Charts
Here are the top reasons influencers, erm, influence people:
- They are honest about their beliefs and opinions
- They seem knowledgeable about the topics they discuss
- They share the same passions and interests with their followers
One thing to remember when choosing an influencer. Choose people who align with your brand over those with lots of followers—a thousand engaged followers are far more valuable than a million passive ones.
Besides, the market is moving away from big influencers (i.e. Instagram and YouTube stars with multimillion followings) towards niche micro-influencers.
4. A/B Test Your Email Marketing
Digital marketers hardly pay attention to email marketing now that they have a lot of new toys to play with.
But it’s hard to knock Old Reliable.
An important thing to note when it comes to emails: test often and learn quickly. Email marketing like other channels can benefit from constant tweaking. See what works and what doesn’t by A/B testing a variety of factors like your audiences, subject lines, text, and CTAs.
If you A/B test fast and often, you’ll eventually arrive at an email that’s on the money…until a better option pops up again.
5. Create Content That Adds Value
Blogging is an effective and tasteful way to convey expertise and establish thought leadership in your domain. It’s also a good platform for responding to your potential customers’ most burning concerns.
A thoughtful and well-placed piece of content can go a long way. In fact, brands that blog are 13 times more likely to see positive ROI and 5 times more likely to convert a customer (HubSpot).
There are three secrets to good blogging: relevance, timeliness, and distribution.
First, blog about something your customers might be concerned about. For example, if you sell handmade knives, your customers might want to know what makes a good knife; or if you’re in the business of digital marketing, they may be interested in a cool article on demand generation (ahem, ahem).
Second, make sure your content is timely. In the digital world, evolution is the norm: either you keep moving or fall off the map. One smart strategy is to produce evergreen content or content that isn’t time-bound or tied to a fad—think exhaustive how-to guides and white papers.
Last, make sure your content is right where people can see it. How you distribute content is just as important as the content itself. You could have the most awesome blog but if there’s no one visiting, you’re just wasting your time. Here’s a cool content distribution guide by The Neil Patel.
BONUS: Implement A Lead Scoring System
The late-great Peter Drucker once told us, “what gets measured, gets managed.” It’s a tired old quote, but there’s a reason people always go back to it.
If you want to run a successful demand generation program, make sure you keep track of your leads or, better yet, implement a lead scoring system.
What is lead scoring?
Lead scoring is the practice of ranking leads in order of importance (i.e. separating high-value leads from low-value leads). Leads are often ranked by their likelihood to purchase based on a combination of demographic (age, sex, civil status), behavioral (purchase patterns, social media activity, website behavior), psychographic (brand preferences, price sensitivity, political beliefs), and environmental (culture, place of residence, languages spoken) factors.
Here’s a more comprehensive article on lead scoring.
Now that you know what demand generation is and have a few strategies in your pocket, all you need is to get started.
Get your sales and marketing teams involved and follow the strategies we outlined above. You might be surprised at how many people actually want what you’re selling.