If you want leads to chase you like a fly ball, you’ve got to put some work into it. In B2B marketing, it can be a challenge to create demand for your products or services, and this is especially true for newcomers or niche industries. Your future customers need to know what your business offers and why you should be trusted to fulfill their needs. That’s where demand generation comes in.
Demand generation is a B2B marketing strategy that builds awareness and drives interest in your offerings. The goal is to establish your business as a go-to within your industry by building authority over time and ultimately usher high-quality leads through the top of the funnel. Demand generation can also help prove marketing’s value while setting up sales to win new business.
To help you get started on your own program, we’re sharing our expertise and seven elements you’ll need to create a successful B2B demand generation strategy.
#1 - Marketing & Sales Have to Play Nice
It’s business’s worst kept secret that marketing and sales are often at odds. However, it’s important to remember that we’re all playing for the same team. Think of these two departments like a quarterback and a receiver on a football field–you need both these positions to score. Neither can win alone.
Ultimately, we all want the same thing: to earn revenue. The more often sales and marketing act as a cohesive unit, the more likely your company is to win new business. If you’re not already pushing for sales and marketing alignment, your B2B demand generation strategy is a great place to start.
Bring in leaders from both departments to help identify goals and develop a strategy to meet them. For example, your goal may be to convert a certain percentage of total leads. Your demand generation strategy can help you reach this by improving lead quality and nurturing prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
#2 - It's All About the Audience
Listen up, this is a big one. We talk a lot about the importance of knowing your audience, and that’s because this can’t be overstated enough. In B2B marketing, you have to know your audience like they’re your childhood best friend. You need to know what they’re after, what makes them tick, and what influences their buying decisions so you can develop a strategy that serves them exactly what they need to take the plunge.
This is where ideal customer profiles come in. These handy ICPs will help center your entire demand gen operation, providing your team with need-to-know information about your target audience. The best thing about ICPs is that they’re founded on data collected from your most successful accounts and the marketplace. No one can argue with cold, hard data.
Again, this is a sales and marketing operation. Sales has hands-on experience with prospects and marketing brings the data to the table. Together, they’ll identify the key characteristics that make up your ICPs and create a document that can be distributed to your whole organization.
#3 - Your Program is Nothing if Not Measurable
Tracking your B2B demand generation strategy’s performance is as important as the execution. It’s how you know what’s working and what needs work. Every push (ads, emails, landing pages, etc.) should have tracking connected to it so you can continually evaluate program performance. Now, what you’re likely wondering is, “What do I need to track?” While your sales and marketing team will have input on this, here’s a few things we suggest:
- Cost per acquisition
- Customer lifetime value
- MQLs, SQLs, SALs
- Pipeline velocity
- Average deal size
In addition to these metrics, you’ll also want to make note of things like how your targets behave on your website, which content performs best, and which emails get the best responses. These seemingly smaller metrics say a whole lot about the success of your campaign.
Your program should also make it easy for you to test. Taking various headlines, content options, channels, and deliveries for a whirl can help you pinpoint what performs best with your ideal audience. And remember, B2B marketing is not an exact science, no matter how hard we try to distill our efforts into numbers. Mistakes will be made, but as long as you learn from them, your strategy will prevail.
#4 - Align Your Tech Stack to Your Demand Generation Strategy
You wouldn’t try to dig a tunnel with your hands, right? No. You’d use proper tools. Similarly, you need the right tools to plan, execute, and track your demand generation program. Before you start the search for the right software, you’ll first need to determine your goals. For example, if you’re hoping to distribute highly segmented content, you’ll need a solution that can handle that kind of targeting at scale.
Keep in mind, B2B demand generation spans multiple channels, meaning you may have to invest in more than one tool. When choosing a martech stack, make sure each solution integrates with the core software your business already uses. This will save you a number of headaches down the road.
#5 - Develop Great (Not Good) Content
Content is a cornerstone of any B2B demand generation program. Used in different ways to help usher future customers through the buyer’s journey, great content benefits your business as much as it does your audience.
Since demand generation is all about attracting high-quality leads, you’ll need top-of-the-funnel content that helps drive awareness. The goal here is to establish your business as the expert in whatever it is you do with smart, engaging thought leadership that provides real value to your audience. It’s not all SEO (though it’s a definite plus). This type of content should be accessible, meaning it should be ungated and easy to follow along with. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Awareness content doesn’t need to include a sales pitch. We’re not there yet.
- In your content, identify a common problem and offer a solution. Be specific and detailed.
- Content syndication can help you get in front of your ideal audience more easily than you may with your website alone.
- Make your content skimmable. People love some bullet points and bold headlines.
#6 - Lead Nurturing Turns Demand Into Results
Demand gen isn’t just about the initial touchpoint. To help move the prospect further down the funnel, you’ll need to employ a strategic nurturing strategy. This is especially critical in B2B marketing, known for its lengthy sales cycles.
Lead nurturing is all about building a relationship with the prospect. When the prospect is looking for services like yours, you want your business to be top-of-mind. You may hear people arguing about which method is the best for lead nurturing, but the truth is: they’re all wrong. That’s because there is no one way to build a relationship with a lead. Instead, you need a multi-pronged approach targeted to each buyer persona.
Need a little inspiration to get started? We’ve got you covered. Try implementing these elements into your lead nurturing strategy:
- Use Multiple Touchpoints
Set up a healthy marketing mix with remarketing, email, social ads, whatever works best for your industry. Hitting the prospect on a variety of channels ensures you’ll get maximum exposure and, with a little work, maximum results.
- Send the Right Message
Focus your messaging on what you can do for the client, not just what your business can do. They know what you do. They want to know why they should care.
- Develop Targeted Content
If you’re using account-based marketing, you already have a leg up here. Personalize your lead nurturing strategy with target content for each audience bucket.
#7 - Make the Sales Team's Lives Easier
Sales is not for the faint of heart, especially in the B2B space. It takes a lot of patience and persistence to cinch the deal. However, sales is not just a sales department issue. It’s a company-wide issue. When we win, we all win. When we lose, we all lose. Let’s act like a team and tackle generating revenue together.
Your B2B demand generation strategy can help keep the pipeline flowing and the deals coming. One way to do this is to invest in sales enablement. By setting sales up for success, you can expedite the sales cycle and use resources more efficiently.
Marketing contributes to sales enablement in a big way. Using data, buyer personas, and insight from sales, your team can create content for every stage of the funnel. This can include ebooks, case studies, pricing sheets, sales presentations… there’s almost no such thing as too much content.
In the sales department, comprehensive and continuous training is key. What good are resources if your team doesn’t know how to use them? Conduct training sessions at a regular cadence and make sure your managers have an open door policy. No one should be operating in a silo.
Bonus Tips: Implementing B2B Demand Generation
Introducing a new B2B marketing strategy can be a complex endeavor. Between meetings, resourcing, content creation, and more, you’ll need to allot your demand generation time to ramp up before you can expect to see results. We’ll leave you with a few additional tips to keep in mind as you develop your B2B demand generation program.
- Every department should be on board with this plan. Transparency will help marketing prove its effectiveness over time.
- You can always outsource. BOL is a leading demand generation expert with the experience and tools B2B companies need to improve marketing ROI. Learn more about our demand generation services here.
- Practice patience. Even the most successful B2B marketing programs don’t produce results overnight. However, be aware of when elements need to be changed by analyzing performance data regularly.
Want to learn more about what BOL can do for you? Get in touch with us now.