Why Demand Generation Should Be Perpetual

This is the second year that ANNUITAS has conducted its Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Survey with the goal of gaining better insights into the approach that enterprise organizations take to demand generation. There was a lot of information to be reviewed from the responses, but once again, what aspect stood out was the tactical approach that marketers are taking to demand generation. In this years study 59% of the respondents stated that they run approximately one campaign per month, with almost half running 15 campaigns per year.

shutterstock_308721050While this is an indication that marketers are increasing their activity, the data that follows in the study does not show that marketers are necessarily increasing the value of their campaigns.

When you look at a marketing campaign, it has a starting point and an ending point. I recently spoke with one marketing executive who told me they run multiple demand generation campaigns for 90 days. However, there is a fundamental problem to this campaign or tactical approach – buyers do not stop buying just because the campaign has ended and they certainly do not pause their buying process while vendors plan to launch their next campaigns.  Buyers in an audience segment are in a continual buying state and therefore, our demand generation programs should be as well.

In order to align with our buyers, organizations need to design demand generation programs that are perpetual i.e. “always on” so that the buyer can engage with the vendor according to their preferred cadence. When companies take a tactical campaign approach, the vendor is forcing the buyer to adopt to their cadence, which may not map well to the buyer.

There are a few things that organizations must do in order to build demand generation programs that foster an ongoing dialogue with their buyers:

  1. Get into the details about their buyer:
    Many organizations do not really know their buyer and as a result, their content and demand generation approach is rather generic. In order to develop content that is relevant to the buyer, it is necessary that we understand their pain points, challenges and what problems they are trying to solve. Once this is understood, content can be designed that Engages, Nurtures and Converts through their buying process.
  1. Look to educate and not just qualify:
    Demand generation is about more than just qualifying leads. Strategic demand generation also seeks to educate buyers. Many buyers know their problems, but are unaware of solutions or approaches that may exist to solve their problems. In the early stages of a program (Engage Stage), marketers should look to develop content that educates their buyers without trying to sell to them. Content that helps frame the problem and speaks to ways to solve the problem without discussing products or services is what buyer’s want and very few organizations are producing this type of content.
  1. Design content for every buyer persona:
    According to our 2015 study, only 34.9% of B2B marketing organizations design content specifically for each persona that is on the buying committee. By not differentiating the content for each individual, marketers are more than likely to be irrelevant to one, if not more of the people that serve on the buying committee. Think about the different roles that may serve on a buying committee such as IT, Procurement, HR, each with their own view and perspective and each with their own content preferences. By not developing content for each persona, organizations are cheapening their demand generation efforts and reducing the effectiveness.
  1. Map to the buying process:
    Understanding the discrete steps buyers take to purchase is necessary to develop perpetual demand generation, and it is necessary to map content to that process. Despite what many believe and do as best practice, simply mapping content to a funnel or waterfall is not mapping to the buying process. What is necessary is to understand the “trigger event” that ignites a purchase path and the multiple steps taken by the buyers during that process. Without this buying insight, organizations will at best guess at what content should be delivered throughout the buying stages.

B2B organizations need to align to their buyers and move from a tactical, one and done campaign approach to a programmatic, strategic approach if they are going to find success with their demand generation programs. It is a change that is needed as buyers are not buying in a start and stop manner, therefore, our marketing should not be conducted in that way either. Programs are perpetual, like the buyers journey, campaigns are not.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo CEO/Principal, ANNUITAS

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