Back to Basics: A Demand Gen Checklist for Marketers

Most marketing teams today have a demand gen challenge. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Your demand gen initiatives are producing few leads or poor-quality leads.
  • Your demand gen campaign started out with good results, but you are noticing a drop-off.
  • Your audience uses many different resources to research, and you must consistently stay on top of where your audiences are and how to reach them.

One of the most significant hurdles marketers face is conveying their products or services in a way that is tailored to unique audiences, as demand gen aims to do.  That’s why it’s important to periodically review your demand gen strategy to discover what’s working and what’s not, as well as how to more effectively reach your target audience.  As the saying goes, you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Demand Gen Strategy Review

When you are ready to review and rework your demand gen strategy, make a point of involving both your organization’s sales and marketing teams at the highest levels. With marketing offering an arm’s length perspective and sales bringing a direct viewpoint of what’s working, this discussion can help reveal the pain points that trigger a response, as well as the specific keywords that are generating interest. You should also reach out to outside agencies –public relations or advertising – to find out what they are hearing from clients. They may be noticing something that isn’t crossing your radar.

Here are a few steps to follow when reworking your demand gen strategy.

Review what works and what doesn’t. 

Good or bad, you can learn a lot from your campaign results. Review your bottom line and talk with front-line account executives and sales development representatives (SDRs). Specifically, review the campaigns, the messaging regarding the prospects they spoke with, and which ones came through or fell out. Discuss what keywords worked and which pain points drew the most interest.

From there, isolate who fell out. If it was someone midstream, it could be attributed to budgeting – does your product cost more than a competitor’s? In this case, you would know you need to circulate additional compelling content that describes how the return on investment (ROI) is greater with your product and provides more bang for the buck.

Another common issue is bad data going into the campaign or into the CRM. This problem should be easy to diagnose with marketing and sales working together and comparing notes. Solutions may include cleaning up and normalizing the data in your system, implementing new campaign workflows, or seeking out a more reliable data source.

Misdirected campaigns or messages that are askew can also cause poor demand gen results. It’s important to stay on top of industry best practices and understand the current trends and tactics, including subject line testing, how much creative to include in an email, testing cadence, and much more. Read case studies about B2B campaign performance to compare how your organization stacks up. You can also give yourself a benchmark by following similar companies.

For instance, how do their websites compare? What content are they pushing out? Where are they visible? Look at these comparison points from the perspective of a buyer. Are you up to par with the competition?

Reach prospects with compelling content. 

After reviewing past campaigns, you will have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t with your audience, and you will have hopefully fixed any issues with data and workflow. The next step is to review your demand gen content from a couple different perspectives – what message are you sending and are you sending it at the right time to the right place?

Your content should focus on the pain points your solutions address and the benefits of the product from the prospect’s point of view. Instead of touting product features, explain what problem you are solving, and be as specific as possible. You may want to talk with your sales team and get their feedback based on the conversations they are having with prospects.

Make sure you are targeting the right person at the right time (i.e., their place in the funnel) and the right place. Consider questions such as the following with regard to your audience:

  • What are they reading?
  • What are they clicking?
  • Where are they spending their time?
  • Is your audience a CEO listening to a podcast while exercising at the gym?
  • Or, is it a young professional who works from home and uses the Internet to research products?

Also, think back to where you reach people – at a trade show or across multiple social channels, via a webinar or email campaign. In addition to tailoring your content to your audience, you need to tailor it to fit each particular platform.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different mediums, or inject some personality into your content, such as video introductions or headshots in email signatures. By always taking the same approach, and using the same channels, it is unlikely you will generate the same results again and again. Instead, determine another way to break through and create awareness about what your brand is doing to help customers.

An effective demand gen strategy comes down to messaging and understanding how your product fits into the marketplace. Through conversations with your account executives and SDRs, find out what is happening in the market, and create your message around the offering you have that can meet that need. Keep in mind: you can message any product or solution you want, but if it doesn’t fit with the prospect and their needs at the time, it isn’t the right message.

Evaluate your new campaign strategy. 

Essentially, step three is the same as step one.

  • Did your new campaign work?
  • Did it reach the right audience at the right level?
  • At what point in the funnel did you lose your prospect’s attention?

If it is at the top of the funnel, you may have an awareness problem. In this case, strive to create content that is short and easy to consume.

When prospects drop out from the middle of the funnel, it could be because you only spoke with them once and something in that conversation turned them off, like budget or complexity of your product or service.

When evaluating your efforts, it is important to remain objective. You may think a costly and time-intensive trade show that doesn’t produce many leads is a wasted effort. However, if you take the time to evaluate the cost per lead thoroughly, you may find it provides an ROI similar to that of a less costly and less time-consuming webinar.

Remember, a few quality leads are better than a lot of leads that aren’t a good fit for your solution. So even if you only get a few prospects out of a very targeted campaign, there is a strong chance you are doing the right thing as those prospects are likely the right ones. It’s not worthwhile to get 1,000 leads with only 100 that qualify when you could get 250 leads with 200 moving through your pipeline.

Change is in the Air

Whether it’s a drop off in results, few leads or poor quality leads, or losing your audience’s attention, there are many reasons why you might need to rework your demand gen strategy.

Depending on your company’s size and the pace of your industry, you will likely need to reassess your demand gen strategy annually (larger companies) to every quarter (smaller companies and fast-paced industries).

For startups and small to mid-sized businesses, plan to test new tools every quarter and roll out fresh campaigns as well. This schedule can vary based on the ebb and flow of your specific industry, as well as general timing. For example, never roll out a new campaign during a time when people tend to be busy with families, vacations and other “standard” activities and holidays that take prospects away from their devices, and hence, your campaign.

Demand gen strategy isn’t a “once and done” task or a “one size fits all” approach. To be successful, you must stay on top of changes in the market, in your business, and in B2B marketing, and adapt your demand gen strategy as needed.