The Demand Generation Strategy Guide

Messaging, distribution, reach, and optimization. These are just a few pillars that define demand generation. Learn more about how a successful demand generation strategy can help to nurture the long-term relationship between your brand and customers.

What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is the process of building awareness and interest in a brand’s products and services. Marketing teams work in a cross-functional capacity to develop ongoing, omnichannel strategies that utilize a portfolio of tactics to connect value propositions to the right audience.

Demand generation is programmatic. It is not a singular campaign or strategy; nor is the goal limited to new customer acquisition. Rather, successful demand generation connects a brand’s value proposition to potential customers from the beginning of the buyer’s journey when they first start looking for your product, to the point of purchase and beyond. 

Simply put, demand generation constitutes any activity a business undertakes to contribute sales pipeline, most often through the following steps:

  1. Create awareness of products and services 
  2. Nurture key prospects through the conversion optimization process
  3. Move the prospect through the sales cycle
  4. Retain, up-sell, and cross-sell the customer after they make the purchase 

A well-executed demand generation strategy can have a number of outcomes, but in general works to broaden your audience, keep your brand top-of-mind for your ideal customer, drives them to convert on your website, and ultimately encourages them to buy into your offerings.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: What’s the Difference?

Does demand generation sound similar to lead generation? You aren’t the only one to think so. While the two terms are somewhat synonymous, demand generation strategies span the entire funnel. On the other hand, while it is aided by top-of-funnel awareness that demand generation drives, lead generation is the process of converting sales-ready prospects into qualified pipeline. 

Demand Gen = Sales + Marketing

Demand generation is a joint effort between a business’s marketing and sales organizations. To successfully execute a demand gen strategy, demand generation managers must facilitate collaboration between marketing and sales teams. The goal is to target the right prospects, as well as bring them along the buyer’s journey. 

Who works on creating demand generation campaigns?

A demand generation manager must work cross-functionally with teams across the organization to build out a demand generation plan. Several functions must be looped in and aligned to execute activities that include but aren’t limited to:

  • Digital Marketing
    • Content Marketing
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Design and Creative 
  • Core Marketing Functions
    • Product Marketing
    • Segment Marketing
    • Marketing Operations
    • Customer Marketing
    • Partner Marketing 
  • Customer-Facing Communications
    • Corporate Communications 
    • Public Relations 
  • Events 
  • Business Intelligence 

What are some of the core responsibilities of demand generation?

Demand generation core responsibilities involve building and developing specific programs that will help you achieve your strategy. Developing a demand generation plan provides clarity on:

  • Account Mapping: This is the process of aligning companies and personas to define your business’s targeted account universe. Sales leadership in your organization is then able to determine your Total Addressable Market (TAM). 
  • Distribution: It is critical to determine which distribution channels are the best way to reach your target audience. Search, social media, advertising, and email are all valuable distribution channels that must be developed to carry your unique message to prospective customers. 
  • Segmentation:  The key to understanding your target audience is finding out their unique pain points and where they find the necessary information about products or services that might solve them. Defining segments and buyer personas in detail and developing a database of their characteristics goes a long way in how you target and speak to them. 
  • Messaging: Teams must carefully consider how they speak to their target audience at every stage of the demand generation funnel. Clear, well-timed communication that is developed with its channel in mind is a key element in successful demand generation. 
  • Journey Mapping: Once each target persona is identified, it is important to figure out how they might arrive at your product or solution. Clear journey mapping helps to reduce the number of steps between a buyer having the intent to purchase and becoming aware of your product or service. 
  • Behavioral Scoring: This involves monitoring your target audience’s intent, search behaviors, and what content they engage with. Behavioral scoring can include a combination of third party and first party data. For example, third party intent data aggregates web consumption related to relevant keywords from company IP addresses.

    First party intent data, meanwhile, is sourced from activity happening across your web properties. This includes activity like high-value web visits (e.g. pricing page, case studies).  Regardless, behavioral scoring aims to pair a prospect’s actions with a lead qualification score and establishes a benchmark to achieve Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Lookalike modeling: Businesses can use previous performance, based on some of the above variables to find their next target prospect so that you are systematically attacking the market. 
  • Funnel measurement: This involves ensuring that metrics align with expected results while working with sales leadership to escalate issues with follow up, lead response time, and pipeline health. 

Demand generation activities should span the entire length of your sales and marketing funnel and not just focus on adding new prospects at the top of the funnel. 

How to Develop a B2B Demand Gen Strategy 

After establishing initial alignment within internal teams and doing the necessary research, businesses can begin the process of generating demand in a planned and data-driven way. 

1. Start with the goals and work backward

If you plan your demand generation from the end goal, you are always driving towards specific and measurable goals keeping benchmarks in mind. Once you establish what your sales booking revenue goals are, you can build out a demand generation strategy that specifically caters to achieving them.

Fig: The Demand Generation Process

This process is easier and more accurate if your company has historical data it can rely on to establish benchmarks. Most companies will carry out this process every quarter.

2. Persona building

The demand generation process relies heavily on having clearly defined personas. An in-depth understanding of your target audience’s pain points goes a long way in helping to create a demand for your product and services. To do this, make sure to define the following:

  1. Who are your personas? Is there only one or many? How are they different from one another?
  2. Where do they live online and get the information they need to make buying decisions?
  3. What problems do prospects face when it comes to the products and services you offer? What are their unique pain points?
  4. What are the most frequently asked questions your personas have?

Once both sales and marketing have a clear understanding of what prospects are looking for, you can proceed with establishing the demand generation programs that would best target them. 

When carrying out persona mapping, it is important to understand that there may be multiple decision-makers when it comes to making a B2B purchase decision.

According to Gartner, “The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision-makers.”  This makes it vital for brands to take multiple members within an organization and their specific roles and responsibilities into consideration when targeting their personas. 

Additionally, any marketing activities can be enriched by considering additional data points about your target audience such as firmographics or details about their firm, technographics or information on which technology solutions they are already using, as well as things like their business model, funding, headcount, and locations.

3. Decide on a type of demand generation strategy 

The demand generation strategy you select for your business should be based on your target audience. B2B demand generation strategies tend to be one of two kinds: 

  1. Broad-Reach Marketing: This is an ongoing approach that works on improving the demand generation incrementally. It is the most commonly used strategy and relies heavily on inbound marketing tactics. It aims to cast the widest possible net to bring in as many prospects as possible into the top of the funnel to generate as many wins as possible at the bottom of the funnel. 

    Brands that use a broad-reach marketing approach tend to focus on optimizing their digital marketing engine by utilizing their website, email marketing, paid ads, earned media, social media, and content marketing. 
  2. Account-Based Marketing (ABM): This is when marketing activities are carried out based on trying to win specific accounts.

    This strategy is somewhat the opposite of broad-reach marketing in that it aligns marketing and sales efforts to penetrate a specific list of accounts. ABM is not necessarily about amplifying the brand voice widely across your target market but rather approaching specific prospects and engaging with them directly.

The Demand Generation Funnel

Demand generation tactics run alongside each stage of your marketing and sales funnel. You might be familiar with the modern sales funnel that most marketing and sales teams have ingrained in their minds and processes. 

Fig: The Demand Generation Funnel

By developing data-driven multi-touch programs that address each stage of the funnel, you can begin to optimize conversion from one stage to the next. 

Tactics for TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, and Beyond

Top of the funnel (TOFU) tactics 

TOFU is where businesses typically engage in marketing activities that create awareness and interest. Essentially, you are trying to reach prospective customers with content that will educate them and answer any questions they may have regarding your offering. 

TOFU is the part of the funnel where you can establish your brand as a thought leader, provide prospective customers with a ‘sample’ of your products and services, and gain visibility amongst your audience. Some marketing activities at the top of the funnel include:

  1. Content marketing: This involves producing valuable, educational, and actionable content such as blogs, eBooks, videos, whitepapers, and videos. The idea is to expose TOFU prospects.

    Content that targets prospects further down the funnel should be gated so that they convey qualified interest by sharing their contact information. Once they have done so, they may be considered MQLs. 

    Your branded content should help to position your product and services. Focus on explaining how your product or services work, how they compare to other alternatives in the market, and your product or services’ unique benefits. It can then be shared widely across different channels such as email and social media. 
  2. Public Relations: Dedicating time and effort to public relations activities can reveal a lot about where your audience gets its information online. Knowing which websites, publications, and resources your audience uses can help you spread awareness where it counts most.
  3. Offer Free Trials, Demos, Tool, or Samples: Offering a limited but valuable version of your product or services for free so prospects have a chance to genuinely evaluate it. Providing a demo also helps with giving your prospective customers a full-on experience and gives them the chance to ask any questions they may have along the way. Here are some examples we use at ZoomInfo
    • Free Trial: Prospects who sign up for a free trial receive access to an operational but limited version of the ZoomInfo product so they can evaluate the value it would add to their business. 
    • Revenue Calculator: Prospects can use this free revenue calculator to see what the business impact of adding ZoomInfo to their tech stack would be based on their internal business model.

Middle of the funnel (MOFU) tactics 

When prospects arrive at the MOFU stage, they have become aware of your brand and offering. MOFU is all about engaging and converting leads. It is the part of the funnel where marketing hands over qualified leads to the sales team so that they can be taken to the finish line. 

  1. Nurture Programs: These are arguably one of the most effective tools in the arsenal of demand generation managers. A nurture program uses personalized, targeted, and cadenced messaging that focuses on converting leads.
    Nurture programs are not just limited to email campaigns but also loop in other tactics such as sending prospects to landing pages with gated content or signing up for webinars
  2. Multi-Channel Nurture: This is the practice of targeting leads across different channels based on how they engage with your initial outreach attempts. For example, if a lead ignores your nurture email content, you might target the same lead with the same offer on social media to get better coverage. 

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) tactics

Once leads reach the BOFU stage of the funnel, MQLs and SQLs are converted into paying customers. The tactics used at this stage must focus on demonstrating the value proposition of your product or service and the impact it can have on the customer’s bottom line.

  1. Case Studies – Providing potential customers with hard data about how your product or service helped to solve a problem for one of your paying customers is a great way to demonstrate your value proposition. 
  2. Discretionary Offers- These types of offers can help to tip potential customers who need a bit more convincing. By collecting data about the customer throughout the funnel, you can make strategic offers that focus on their unique pain points. 
  3. Education, Resources, and Helpdesk – Offering comprehensive content and resources such as educational blogs, eBooks, webinars, and videos that help your customers properly implement and use your B2B solution is a great value proposition, especially for complex B2B products.  Not just because it can help to convert potential customers to purchase, but also to retain them after the sale. 

Beyond the Funnel 

It is far easier to sell to an existing customer than to a brand new one. Focusing on creating demand generation even after a customer has already made a purchase is great for retention and making the most of brand trust. Tactics that can be used to generate revenue from customers who have already purchased your product or service include:

  1. Upselling – This is a sales technique that presents customers with a more expensive, upgraded, or recent version of a product or service. 
  2. Cross-selling – This is a sales technique that encourages customers to purchase products or services that can be paired or used with a purchase they’ve already made. 
  3. Bundling – This is a sales technique that encourages customers to purchase several products or services altogether for one price so that they buy more.

Key Demand Gen Success Metrics

To measure the success of your demand generation campaign, you must measure everything. By keeping the key performance indicators (KPIs) in mind at every stage of the funnel and measuring the outcome of every activity, your company’s demand generation process can be improved by adjusting along the way. Here are some important metrics to keep track of:

  1. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – Keeping track of your customer lifetime value is a key to knowing the profitability of an account over the entire length of its relationship with your business. It provides insight into the quality of your company’s account management capabilities.
  2. Closing Percentage – This is a measure of how well your organization is converting MQLs to SQLs who finally buy your product or service. It provides a clear indicator of where the discrepancies lie along your funnel and can help shed a light on what is going wrong from the top of the funnel to the very bottom. 
  3. Conversion Rates – It is very important to measure and track the conversion rates of every tactic used along the stages of the demand generation funnel. Knowing how many MQLs were converted at the top of the funnel, how many of those were converted to SQLs further down the funnel, and how many were finally closed are all key indicators of your demand generation campaign. 
  4. Average Deal Size – This metric gives you the average dollar value of new customers once they’ve been through your sales cycle. 
  5. Cost per Acquisition – This metric can be calculated by adding together all marketing expenses and then dividing by the number of customers acquired within the same period. 
  6. Cost per Lead – This metric can be calculated by dividing the cost of advertising by conversion. It can be used to determine the average costs per campaign, channel, or persona.

Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions around demand generation and its relationship with content marketing.

How does thought leadership impact demand generation?

Thought leadership is a marketing effort to position a brand as an authority about a particular subject matter. Your position as a thought leader can be conveyed through content that aims to help or solve problems for your audience. In this way, brands can establish trust with prospects, making them top-of-mind. 

What makes valuable content for demand generation campaigns?

Content quality is central to generating demand for your products and services. Branded content should aim to: 

  • Provide actionable data and insights 
  • How-to content, templates, and helpful resources 
  • Content that solves a problem for users