The prevailing approach to demand generation is characterized by a significant budget and resource investment in campaign-focused marketing tactics. The output is leads that may yield a few big wins but fall short when it comes to consistently generating demand.
Organizations suffer when they treat demand as episodic events rather than as a perpetual (i.e., always on) engine. Once marketing has exhausted its internal database, maxed out its pay-per-click (PPC) spend, and is running into the “usual suspects” at every event, it has few options for generating incremental demand.
Simply put, it’s not sufficient or strategic to focus only on short-term pipeline because once the pipeline trickles to a halt, it’s too late to review and launch new plans. Moreover, when marketing is always focused on the next campaign, the organization cannot see out more than a few quarters to forecast opportunities and revenues. Perhaps such an approach helps explain why the average tenure of a CMO is the lowest of all C-suite titles according to a 2017 Korn Ferry study.1
The answer is to embrace ANNUITAS Perpetual Demand Generation® (PDG).
While a campaign might deliver a short-term bump in key metrics, the effect is usually temporary: periodic bursts in lead volume, with little emphasis on quality.
The Drawbacks of a Campaign Approach
Leading analyst firms report average aggregate lead-to-revenue conversion rates ranging from 0.3% to 0.75%. It’s no surprise that organizations relying on a one-and-done, tactical approach are realizing such low conversion rates. These types of marketing campaigns have starting and ending points, and typically focus on a specific moment in the buyer’s journey. However, buyers are in a continual buying state. In other words, this marketing approach doesn’t align with how customers are buying.
While a campaign might deliver a short-term bump in key metrics, the effect is usually temporary: periodic bursts in lead volume, with little emphasis on quality. The result is continuous feast-or-famine scenarios. Not only does this approach fail to deliver desired sales outcomes on an ongoing basis, it undermines any attempts at being strategic about marketing and sales planning.
The Benefits of Perpetual Demand Generation
Even if their current marketing efforts seem acceptable, organizations must act now to transform their approach. Since buyers are in a continual buying state, demand marketing programs should be as well. Perpetual Demand Generation programs provide a foundation for a continuous and long-term relationship with buyers, enabling them to engage with the vendor according to their preferred cadence.
Embracing a strategic approach is the only way to build a repeatable, scalable, and perpetual demand engine that yields the best lead-to-revenue conversions, and does so on an ongoing basis. Such an engine makes it possible to operationalize and orchestrate marketing and sales resources around the buyer’s journey to continuously deliver predictable results.
How to Get on the Path to Perpetual Demand Generation
Any CMO not forging a strong relationship with sales, thinking long term, and putting “the right gas” in the demand engine will always struggle to prove their value to a C-Suite focused on sales and revenue. In fact, they will soon find themselves part of the statistic in the study mentioned earlier on “short-timer” CMOs.
Perpetual Demand Generation could be the solution for a revenue-driven CMO, providing a strategy focused on pipeline and sales, and the closed-loop reporting to prove performance. The following outlines the core elements that ANNUITAS has found essential to buyer-centric demand generation programs that drive sustainable revenue.
- Prioritize strategy over technology. Many companies let their technology architecture dictate the marketing tactics they use, the campaigns they run, and the way they handle leads. Forcing marketing to operate in a certain way based on out-of-the-box technology capabilities is a good way to fail. To succeed, organizations need to first start with a demand marketing strategy and support it with the right tools – whether new or customized. Putting strategy first ensures Marketing generates demand the right, most effective way, rather than the easy way.
- Conduct research. One of the first steps to developing that strategy is conducting buyer research. After all, content is the key fuel for a Perpetual Demand Generation engine. More than half of all B2B buyers view at least eight pieces of content during the purchase process, and an additional 30% view five to seven pieces.2 Marketing builds “buyer personas” as the foundation of their content strategy, and does so by asking customers and prospects these types of questions:
- Who – as both influencers and decision-makers – is involved in the decision-making process?
- What are the buyers’ pain points?
- Where do they look for information?
- What steps do they go through in their purchase process?
- What triggers them to make a change?
To develop the most effective content, marketing must conduct this buyer research to understand buyer journey steps, the types of content buyers prefer, and the engagement channels they interact with on their way to purchase. This research helps define buyer personas, which serve as the basis for content models that will create the most compelling, engaging dialogue for both decision-makers and influencers.
PDG could be the solution for a revenue-driven CMO, providing a strategy focused on pipeline and sales, and the closed-loop reporting to prove performance.
To supplement this research, marketing should also identify champions within sales who are ready for change – those that will embrace a strategic, long-term approach and vision to demand generation. Interviewing these champions for buyer insights is the best way to ensure well-rounded personas.
- Establish a buyer-centric lead management framework. An effective lead management framework is a vital component in an effective Perpetual Demand Generation engine. Issues to work through:
- Aligning lead qualification stages to the buying process
- Lead scoring that successfully combines important demographic data with the behavioral components essential to identifying where the buyer is in the process
- Handling leads as they move from one stage in the buyer’s journey to the next
- Handing leads to sales: Is there a documented process in place for lead acceptance, rejection and follow up? What are the steps for accepting, converting, and/or handing a lead back to marketing?
- Defining KPIs for measuring success
- Moving from campaign-based tactics to Perpetual Demand Generation requires planning. Oftentimes, companies aren’t ready organizationally to support Perpetual Demand Generation. In addition to securing buy-in for the more strategic approach, they might need new roles (e.g., SDR/inside sales), new tools, and new processes. The goal is to drop the campaign mentality while reviewing these key areas to determine what it will take to successfully enable Perpetual Demand Generation.
Once the organization addresses these core elements, it should define a training plan for its new demand generation process and related technologies.
The time is now to move from episodic demand generation and uncertain results to a predictable, perpetual engine. If you’re ready to send your growth plan into turbo drive, request a consultation with an ANNUITAS strategist to discuss a shift to Perpetual Demand Generation. Let’s Connect.
1 Korn Ferry, Age and Tenure in the C-Suite: Korn Ferry Institute Study Reveals Trends by Title and Industry, February 14, 2017
2 The Boston Consulting Group, How Digital Leaders Are Transforming B2B Marketing, April 26, 2017
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