The Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan – Part 3: The Strategy Phase

In part 1 and part 2 of this blog series, we have covered the definition of strategic demand marketing and introduced you to the first phase in our process, the insights phase. This week, we take it a step further as we share how the insights phase builds a foundation for the strategy phase. It is at this stage that we define the critical customer journey and begin to build the Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. 

The Strategy Phase

Through the previously discussed Insights Phase, we gathered information on people, process, content, and technology through a myriad of sources to better understand your buyer. At Strategy Phase, we translate these insights into a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan in a layered effort, all built on top of the customer journey.  

Demand Process

The basis is the customer’s buying process, specifically the sequence of information requests that drive this journey. We then want to build people, process, content, and technology on top of this process.  

This starts with constructing Conversation Tracks and Content Marketing Models to drive buyer dialogue. Eventually there should be a clear dialogue that spans all engagement channels, both inbound and outbound, and these channels must work together.

Our Lead Management Framework should then support this dialogue. Essentially, our lead qualification process should focus less on demographics and firmographics, and instead prioritize building sustained buyer engagement and understanding where the buyer is in the buying process. 

Our organizational models and systems should further support this model. The entire organization and tech stack should be process rationalized with organizational stewardship and the concept of driving buyers through a data value chain. This is a very different view of how marketing and sales is built today, but when we take this approach, we can achieve a critical and relentless focus on buyer outcomes.

The result is a fully integrated Strategic Demand Marketing Plan, operationalized around customer journey. 

The Core Elements of the Demand Marketing Plan

Buyer Dialogue Logic and Conversation Track Architecture
Based on initial insights, the backbone of a scalable Demand Marketing Plan is the ANNUITAS Conversation Track Architecture™. To start we begin defining Buyer Dialogue Logic – i.e., the information requests throughout the buyer journey. Then there is consideration and grouping of the differential stakeholders in the process. The cross-product of Buyer Dialogue Logic and persona segmentation is the Conversation Track Architecture, which essentially defines the major information and qualification flows throughout the end-to-end Demand Process. 

Content Marketing Model and Engagement Channels Model
Given a Conversation Track Architecture, it’s critical to develop a content matrix that assigns groups of content to different stages and tracks of the customer journey. This model is holistic and should take into account content being delivered via multiple channels. Additionally, it should take into account existing content (and assigning/normalizing this content to the model), as well as content gaps and new content that should be created. The result is a matrix that powers multiple inbound and outbound channels, and the Content Marketing Model thus is also aligned with an Engagement Channels Model. The further result is the ability to drive customers forward in their buying process in a coordinated fashion across channels – vs. simply sending them a drip email.

Lead Management Framework
Progression through the customer journey and consumption of content should be aligned because together they provide critical, predictive signals. This is the goal of a Lead Management Framework – to detect when a buyer is right place, right time through a combination of sustained engagement and journey progression. This is possible through account and role-based alignment and through evidence of lower-funnel actions. The Lead Management Framework should be fully integrated with the Buyer Dialogue Logic and should leverage progressive qualification elements. Similarly, it also should consider a Demand Process to continue beyond delivery of a Qualified Lead – fully integrating into the Opportunity Management process through to Closed Won status.

Demand Process Model
The Demand Process model ties together content, channel and lead management elements via an operational logic that defines the buyer’s journey on an inbound and outbound basis via Engagement, Nurturing and Conversion stages and activities. It ties together marketing automation, CRM, and CMS and informs the organizational model required on a marketing and sales level. This helps it to transform buyers from lead to revenue. Essentially it is the end-to-end process model for Demand Marketing and sales Opportunity Management.

Quantitative Model and Optimization Planning
In a live operational state for your Demand Marketing Program, metrics and KPIs are the keys to optimization and delivery. the waypoints. On the front end, we develop a detailed ‘reverse funnel math’ model that helps build a quantitative hypothesis for the numbers of leads at various qualification stages that must be driven through the funnel to hit opportunity and revenue goals on an ongoing basis and over a ramp-up period. This then translates into a basis for longer-term optimization planning. As a resource, check out “Demand Marketing KPIs and Metrics You Need to Monitor.”

Process-Rationalized Organizational Design
Too often marketing and sales organizational models are functionally-driven rather than process-rationalized; a key outcome of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan is a new view for organizational design – one defined by and anchored to customer journey. That means rationalizing stewardship of the customer journey at every stage, and aligning this to ‘who is doing what’ at each stage between marketing and sales stakeholders. To learn how this operational structure look, read How Your Org Chart Can Make or Break Your Demand Marketing Transformation.

Demand Technology Architecture
Technology is without a doubt the last layer. Its goal should exist to enable the Strategic Demand Marketing Plan while being holistic. This is done by considering all engagement channels, CMS, MAP, and CRM. Additionally, there should be a concept of a ‘data value chain’ flow through the system architecture, supporting the Demand Process. As a resource, check out “Is Your Martech Stack Orchestrating Buyer Engagement or Just Blasting Outbound Emails?”

How it Happens

So far we’ve covered the key elements of insight and strategy phases, but how do we attack this work? ANNUITAS typically completes this process over a nine-week period.

There is a two-day, intense kick-off on the front end, which we refer to as ‘week zero.’ The goal of this step is to rapidly learn everything our client already knows about their business and go-to-market programs. That is the baseline we start from, ensuring all subsequent research, benchmarking and insights are value-added and build on this baseline. During this period we engage all major stakeholders in the business including key leaders across functions, sales team, product team, marketing team, operations and technology.

Mid-point Insights
After going through the details of Context Analysis, covered above, we spend typically one-to-two days doing a deep review of the insights that have come out of research, interviews, benchmarking and audits. We discuss the implications of these insights for the client’s go-to-market and on the blueprint for Strategic Demand Marketing. Then we dig into what these insights mean for the core Buyer Dialogue Logic and the Conversation Track Architecture that will underpin the blueprint. All of the stakeholders who were present for the Kick-off, are typically also present for the Mid-point, including key leaders across functions, sales team, product team, marketing team, operations and technology. We want to end this session with stakeholder alignment around where we are headed with the blueprint.

Final Strategy
Our nine weeks end with another one-to-two-day deep dive into the resultant Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. We start off by re-aligning on the core Buyer Dialogue Logic and Conversation Track Architecture underpinning the strategy. Then we dive into specific strategy plan elements, including Content Marketing Model, Engagement Channels Model, Lead Management Framework, Demand Process Model, Organizational Design and Demand Technology Architecture. The intent at this stage is to present a ‘straw man’ model, that in the implementation phase will be solidified. This then allows us to put together implementation planning. This is the final piece of Final Strategy — walking through a draft implementation plan and getting stakeholder alignment — again, with the same stakeholders who were at Kick-off and Mid-point Insights.

This is the beginning process that we take all of our clients through, and it’s absolutely critical that these steps are accomplished before any implementation work begins. If you’re interested in seeing how we implement our Demand Marketing Plans, continue reading The Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan.

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