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Nicola Peaty

What is demand generation and why does it matter?

By Nicola Peaty

leads to prospectsHow can we create a genuine demand for our products/services? This is the all important question most companies ask their marketing department. This is where demand generation plays a key role. It’s much more that raising general brand awareness and goes into more strategic, longer term aspirations for building customer relationships.

Demand generation engages and nurtures quality leads that can be passed onto the sales department to convert to actual purchases. Campaigns have to be thought through and focused on a target audience with a specific product/service. The process and communications must be based on an understanding of what the buyer needs and how your product/service matches their requirements.

The first stage is to build a knowledge of the target market for your particular product/service. This can be based on research or an analysis of customer trends, and should give you a clear picture of what these customers are looking for. This way, you can focus your messaging and personalise your communications as much as possible.

Data management throughout the marketing process, will allow you to track your target contacts from initial selection through to how they respond to content and nurturing and assess whether you are ‘connecting’ in a positive way in order to move them closer to the final buying stage. All intelligence gained throughout the campaign should be captured for both positive and negative outcomes as a learning for your chosen target market. If unsure of potential offers or outcomes, you can always test reactions by splitting lists with different offers and analysing the results for future reference.

Content marketing comes into its own when strategically planning demand generation. Messaging will be specific to the goal in mind, whether that be promoting a new product, re-engaging lapsed customers or upselling to loyal customers. Together with the knowledge acquired about your target prospects, content should play to their interests and inform and excite them about what you have to offer them. This is where quality content delivered using the appropriate channels will reap far better rewards than generic mass marketing via blanket emails or advertising.

Another crucial part of demand generation is nurturing the prospects. This means keeping a close eye on them and tracking their responses, engaging with them through conversation and interaction and responding when necessary. Reports, ebooks, blogs and webinars are great tactics at delivering key information and encouraging a response and questions, which will help to build an understanding of both what they need and your relationship with them. All the while through this process you are aiming to personalise more content, time the right sort of communications and determine when the prospects are qualifying to become ‘sales ready’.

A critical success factor in demand generation also relies on the way in which marketing and sales work together. In order for marketing to pass on qualified leads to sales, there must be a certain ‘status’ which has been reached by the lead and agreed by both departments at the start of the process. According to the campaign objective, the prospect should meet the agreed criteria by which they were first selected, and have responded with actions and behaviour throughout the campaign according to the predetermined goals.

The measurement of success will rely on how well you manage your data, set out your success criteria, engage the right messages with the right prospects and pass to sales at the optimum point at which the lead is ready to purchase. A full analysis of the campaign will identify areas for improvement, points which reaped great response and potential messages/offers which generated the least reaction. This learning can obviously then feed into future campaigns, where you can possibly short cut the process or indeed spend more time on nurturing a lead.

The ‘obvious’ return on investment can be measured by the amount spent on marketing the campaign versus the sales generated at the end. However, this should factor in previous experience of this type of campaign and with the chosen target market. Budgeting and forecasts should become more accurate following more campaigns and a deeper understanding of the market and trends.
Below is a chosen infographic which helps demonstrate the main stages in the demand generation process:

demandgenprogram
Please refer to associated blogs:
Content for your audience: http://www.vgandassociates.com/how-to-write-content-for-your-audience/
Sales and marketing: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-how-to-build-a-more-productive-marketing-sales-relationship/

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