When I used to work in an Italian restaurant, we spent hours cooking and prepping prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and charcuterie plates. But by the end of the day, food that was out for more than four hours had to be thrown away to avoid food-borne illness. Similarly, your demand generation strategy has a shelf life.
If you don’t want to make your prospects sick with day-old demand gen, you need to revamp your strategy and work to ensure freshness. What will it take to generate demand in 2020? Truth is, the platform that will give you the most conversions in the next decade may have not have even been invented yet.
Is your demand gen strategy industry-specific? Persona-based? Personalized? Omni-channel?
*If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you probably have room for improvement.
Considering that our modern digital landscape is ever-evolving (along with the preferences of your buyers), your demand generation strategy must be dynamic. This means it must be fluid enough to adapt to and embrace change.
Where do you start? With a few guidelines you can make sure your demand generation strategy is fresh and ready to serve:
STEP 1. Know your data
Data sets the foundation for all successful campaigns – email, direct mail, calling, etc. Unless you first analyze, clean and maintain all prospect and customer contact data before you start, your campaigns will fall victim to bounce backs, business challenge relevance, and a mishmash of inconsistent results. Evaluate your data to ensure your efforts get off to a strong start.
STEP 2. Identify the gaps
Gaps. Every strategy has them. Understanding where you fall short will help you address the issues faster and eliminate the huge mess you’ll have to clean up later. Audit your technology, processes, and personnel gaps to see where you need help. According to Accenture’s Turbulence for the CMO report, 39 percent of CMOs say they do not have the right people, tools, and resources to meet their marketing objectives. Talk to your team and come together with sales to see different perspectives and brainstorm bridges.
STEP 3. Ensure alignment
Many restaurant faux-paus can be attributed to a lack of alignment between the front and back of the house. When submitting a new order to the kitchen, there needs to be agreed-upon definitions for abbreviations. For instance, does “ALL NUTS” Mean ‘all kinds of nuts’ or ‘nut allergy’? I am sure you can imagine what a misunderstanding like that could mean for a customer.
Alignment is also critical to your sales and marketing departments, and they must work together to establish the definitions of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (sales qualified leads). How many times have you hit a road-block because everyone wasn’t on the same page? Whether your title is in sales or marketing, the end goal remains the same – revenue. Have your sales and marketing leaders come together to co-define the following:
- End goals
- Lead-qualification definitions
- What a hot lead is
- Who you want to go after
- The different responsibilities of marketing and sales teams to nurture a lead to close
STEP 4. Know your buyers
Conduct research on your existing customers and your best prospects most likely to buy before you try to communicate with them. What’s their content flavor-of-the-week? It’s as simple as mining your CRM for people who bought in the last year, those who didn’t, and any notes to indicate how they flowed through the process. That coupled with customer and prospect interviews to learn preferences will inform your campaign strategy.
STEP 5. Solve your buyers’ biggest challenges
Your prospects are hungry for solutions to their problems, so practice a solution-based approach to your engagement. Get to know your prospect’s pain points and identify what process or function is broken. Then, introduce how your product or service can specifically help them. Create persona-profiles for customers based on the business challenges they expressed during the research phase.
STEP 6. Center your marketing universe around your buyers
Build marketing campaigns and content based on the expressed needs, content preferences, contact methods, and research outposts identified by your prospects and customers during the research phase. This is part of an omnichannel approach, which puts the buyer at the center of your marketing universe. This approach to marketing and sales ensures that your information reaches the right people, in their preferred channel at the time of need.
STEP 7. Track. Measure. Optimize.
Simply put, you need to be able to see how campaigns are performing and how your marketing spend is helping you meet revenue goals. Review early returns with key stakeholders and work together to attribute the tactics that are yielding the closed/won deals. Keep in mind that you must consistently optimize and update your strategy to make sure it doesn’t go stale. What works wonderfully today could be archaic tomorrow.
You have your vision for your ideal campaign, but that vision can become blurry with so many fast-moving pieces needed to get you there. While there is no one-and-done recipe for effective demand generation, there are steps you can take to keep your strategy up-to-par.
We know it’s not easy, but by following this set of guidelines you have the fundamentals you need to continuously move forward with a strong foundation.
If you methodically follow these seven steps for demand generation success, you will see higher engagement in your campaigns, a lift in lead quality, a shorter sales cycle, and a clearer view on how marketing has impacted bottom-line revenue.
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