By Jack Carnahan, Content Marketing Coordinator, Altitude Marketing
A solid B2B demand generation plan is foundational to B2B marketing. But what does this mean, how do you know if it’s working, and what does it really look like in action?
What is B2B demand generation?
B2B demand generation is a marketing approach that seeks to drive awareness about a product or service.
There are many reasons why a B2B company would want to drum up demand for a product or service. Sometimes they’re looking to build awareness for a new product or solution in an existing category, or they could have an entirely new category altogether. Either way, a focused demand generation plan is always a worthwhile endeavor.
But before we get too deep in the weeds, let’s cover how to measure the effectiveness of any demand generation campaign.
How do you measure demand generation?
If you want to know if something’s working, you must be able to measure it. The same rule goes for B2B demand generation – which is why we are looking at how to measure the plan’s effectiveness before we even get into how to create one.
The caveat is that it can be a bit trickier to measure a broad category that encompasses many tactics like “demand generation.”
Yes, there are relevant quantitative metrics you can measure. But there are also a lot more nebulous qualitative metrics that require some assumptions on the part of the people judging the effectiveness. Let’s dive into both.
When measuring the effectiveness of your B2B demand generation efforts, you have plenty of quantitative metrics at your disposal.
You can look at flat metrics like total impressions, which measure how many people saw something of yours – whether that’s your website, an ad or a social post. The more times people in your target audience see your brand, the more likely they are to remember you.
Another useful metric in the world of demand generation is share of voice (SOV). Essentially, SOV is a measure of the market that your brand owns compared to your competitors.
The idea here is visibility. The more SOV your brand has, the more likely people will recognize you and hopefully gain demand for your offering.
Hard data is great. But there is a lot of “feel” in B2B demand generation. That’s why you need to go beyond the quantitative realm and into the qualitative if you want to understand how successful your demand generation efforts are.
Get out there. Talk to your target audience at trade shows. As your company or offering matures, you’ll begin to see a tangible difference in the reception you get and form an idea of where your company fits into the market. Then, with some agility, you can respond accordingly.
Any marketing strategy must start with defining metrics. Now that you know how to measure B2B demand generation, let’s talk about how to actually form your plan.
How to Generate Demand for B2B Companies
If your company is just starting out or if you have a new product or service offering, you need to start with a solid demand generation plan from the ground up. Here is a high-level overview of the steps your company should take to start on the right foot.
Step #1: Conduct Market Research
Before you start anything, you need to vet your product or solution in the market by conducting thorough market research.
- Find and define your audience: Find out if there are people out there who could use your new offering. If there is, form your buyer personas around these audiences. Figure out their pain points and how your offering can solve them.
- Identify competitors: Learn who your competitors are and how you stack up against them.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis: Based on your personas, your competitors, and the value of your offering, form a SWOT analysis outlining your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
- Determine pricing: Based on this research and analysis, verify that you can produce your offering profitably at a price the market will bear. If you can’t, you need to go back to the drawing board. Don’t price based on what it costs your company.
Step #2: Develop Positioning and Messaging
From your market research efforts, you should have a better idea of the conditions of your target market, the needs of your buyer personas and how your company can address those needs. Now’s the time to position your offering in that market.
The way you do this is through building a positioning and messaging framework. These frameworks should not be externally facing. Rather, they’re designed to help get your team on the same page about what your company does and how you talk about it.
Your brand positioning is a concise statement that explains why your brand or solutions is different. It should be backed by your market research. The messaging that follows uses your positioning statement as a north star. When creating messaging, you expand on your positioning by creating three to four core value statements.
These value props are the ways you address certain pain points. They serve as the things that separate your company from your competitors. With positioning and messaging well defined, you need to figure out how to get this message in front of the people that need to see it.
Step #3. Build Your Strategy
In the strategizing phase, you want to figure out first where your buyers are. Do they attend tradeshows? Do they follow certain accounts on LinkedIn? What relevant terms are they searching on Google?
Next, figure out the types of content that will most resonate with your target audience. Do they read white papers, trade publications and academic journals? Or do they watch videos or webinars?
Once you figure out where they are and the content they consume, you can begin allocating time and energy to create content and ad campaigns that meet them where they are with the right message. It’s important to view your marketing strategy as an integrated effort, not a single piece stands alone.
Think of the buyer’s journey. A blog you wrote may pique someone’s interest. They then might search a related term and see one of your search ads. You get their email address after they download a piece of content offered in the ad, which puts them in a nurture campaign. Later, they go to LinkedIn and see some of your sponsored posts on their feed. Eventually, they may end up on your website, and only then do they fill out a contact form to set up a meeting with you.
All of those touchpoints played a role in building that demand and converting that prospect into a lead.
Step #4. Execute
With the strategy nailed down, now it’s time to get to work.
Start creating the content that will grab people’s attention. Make those killer trade show graphics that perfectly encapsulate your company’s value. Build search campaigns that put you right in front of people searching for your solution.
All these tactics will begin to build that demand for your offering. See what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust the previous three steps as needed.
3 Key Tips About B2B Demand Generation
We’ve covered the overview of how demand generation works and informs the rest of your marketing efforts. But, let’s clarify a few things.
#1 Check your ego
From the start, you must check your ego at the door. Demand generation is not about you. The entire goal of B2B demand generation is to think about the buyer. You must meet their needs for your solution to be viable in the marketplace.
There are plenty of companies that did a lot of hard work building an offering, developing messaging and planning campaigns, all to have it fall flat for one reason. They didn’t listen to their prospective buyers. They built something that buyers didn’t need.
Demand generation isn’t about you, your product or your company. It’s about the buyer. You need to make something for them to get excited about.
#2 Don’t conflate demand with a lead
Lead generation and demand generation are two similar terms, but they’re quite different in practice.
A lead can only be generated after someone has exercised demand. Leads are further along in their buying process. They are actively vetting your company against other vendors.
Make sure you’re not putting the cart before the horse.
#3 Don’t forget about the sales team
One of the often-overlooked results of effective B2B demand generation is that it helps give air cover to your sales team.
When done correctly, demand generation forms an educated target audience that is aware that they have a problem, knows that there is a solution and knows that you provide that solution. That pre-knowledge helps your sales team have informed discussions with prospects and convert more qualified leads into customers.
When weighing the benefits of a demand generation effort, always keep your sales team in mind. The downstream effects will benefit them and your company.
Start Building Demand
B2B demand generation is not as complicated as it sounds. Mostly, it takes diligence and keeping your audience top of mind at every turn. Take a walk in their shoes and see how your solution can help them. If it needs work, go back to the drawing board.
You’ll find that time will be worth it in the end when you start turning that demand into qualified leads.
About the Author
As Content Marketing Coordinator, Jack Carnahan assists in developing and executing B2B content strategies that are uniquely tailored to clients’ brand and business needs. His writing and research skills are put to use creating a variety of compelling content for Altitude and its clients. A graduate of Auburn University, Jack holds certifications in HubSpot, Google Analytics and Google Ads.
About Altitude Marketing
Altitude is a full-service, B2B integrated marketing and communications agency that puts your company on the map. Our proven methodology ensures that we get smart quickly about highly complex concepts, so we can translate them into meaningful market positioning, compelling brand messaging and lead-driving strategies. The result is a fresh approach that distinguishes your brand in a marketplace that’s cluttered with hard-to-differentiate businesses.
Altitude provides clients with a full suite of integrated digital and traditional marketing services. With Altitude, all of your efforts work together, multiplying results and delivering swift, measurable ROI. Visit the Altitude website.