The Anatomy Of A Strategic Demand Marketing Plan
You have a growing gap in your opportunity pipeline. You need ‘lift.’ What do you do? Implement a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. But unfortunately for most, that isn’t the first course of action.
The first instinct for far too many marketing and sales leaders is to pivot and deploy stop-gap demand marketing tactics. It is likely that you ‘will’ close the near-term gap with this approach. Yet these immediate, ‘random acts’ of marketing are unlikely to carry you into the next quarter, next half or even next year. The tremendous amount of time and energy spent on these efforts will wind up becoming a perpetual distraction, and the result is that you will continue to fail to develop future pipeline.
What your opportunity pipeline really needs to drive true lift over the longer-term is a sustainable, perpetual demand engine. Instead of random, tactical acts, you need an ongoing strategic demand marketing program that delivers sustained, predictable and optimizable opportunities for your pipeline.
How do you make this shift? You need a blueprint. Specifically, you need a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan.
And if you are going to both continue responding to rapid shifts to digital in the marketplace and build a solid foundation for go-to-market, you need it sooner rather than later.
But what goes into this blueprint?
This is at the core of the work we do here at ANNUITAS, and so we thought it would be helpful to lay this out in detail – in effect, walking through “The Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan.”
What you will find below is us sharing our playbook – exactly as we do it for clients – and hopefully through this process it will help you begin to make the shift from tactical ‘demand generation’ to strategic demand marketing and build a firmer foundation for your go-to-market programs moving forward.
DEMAND MARKETING AND STRATEGIC DEMAND MARKETING
A starting place is to make sure we are aligned on what we mean by demand marketing.
Demand marketing is about more than just leads – i.e., it’s more than just finding names of people for sellers to call. Demand marketing is about cultivating and educating prospects who are engaged, who are in an active buying process, and who are at the right place and time to talk to your sellers about their needs.
Here is the definition laid out in a recent blog post:
“Demand Marketing is the discipline through which companies 1) orchestrate customer engagement and 2) provide lift to pipelines. It is a strategic component of a company’s overall go-to-market motion — complementary to and collaborative with a company’s sales and channel organization(s).’
This definition is broader than simply ‘lead generation’ or ‘demand generation.’
Building on this, strategic demand marketing is an approach to achieving this outcome in a sustainable, perpetual and high-performance way – by operationalizing go-to-market around customer journey.
Strategic demand marketing thus is the science of ‘orchestrating’ and ‘providing lift’ to pipelines via an outside-in, versus inside-out approach. Strategic demand marketing is about driving buyer dialogue based on the customer’s place in his/her buying journey. It’s about qualifying based on predictive factors and intent and it’s about orchestrating marketing and sales touchpoints across multiple channels in support of education and qualification.
Strategic demand marketing contrasts with tactical demand marketing, which is too often defined by product push and interruptive campaigning and which more often than not is in the ‘wrong place’ at the ‘wrong time.’ We call this approach ‘random acts of marketing’.
Accenture notes that the perils of tactical demand generation are real – hitting customers ‘wrong place, wrong time’ 82% of the time: “CMOs … report that of all the individuals they reach with their marketing messages, fewer than 18% are actually in the market for the product or service on offer.”
The secret sauce of strategic demand marketing – and the baseline of our methodology at ANNUITAS – is this critical approach of operationalizing go-to-market around customer journey.
The benefits of this approach are significant. Check out the numbers:
- According to SiriusDecisions, the typical lead-to-revenue conversion rate ranges from 0.375% to 0.6%, depending on the type of market.
- The average ANNUITAS client undergoing Demand Marketing Transformation starts at a lead-to-revenue conversion rate of 0.44% — growing to 0.99% in the first twelve months of their transformation program. Over the longer term, the average ANNUITAS client sees lead-to-revenue conversion rates reach 1.68%.
Quite simply, random acts of marketing require more investment and deliver less return; whereas, strategic demand marketing delivers sustainable, repeatable ROI — serving as an engine of growth.
So how do we get there?
CONTEXT ANALYSIS: INSIGHT PHASE
The starting point in developing a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan is what we refer to at ANNUITAS as ‘context analysis.’ Specifically, developing those insights that we need to understand the customer journey and shape our go-to-market around this journey.
We also need to differentiate these insights. Many organizations believe they know their buyer well. They have built personas and they have detailed product marketing plans. All of this documentation describes how the customer interacts with the product or service, but it fails to document how the customer buys, what content they consume as they conduct research, and what frictions your marketing and sales interactions need to overcome to better align with the customer’s pre-sale needs. These are the insights we need to underpin strategic demand marketing. (As a resource, check out “8 Deeper Questions to Ask to Understand Your Buyer.”)
Our insight phase thus focuses on six areas:
1. Macro trends: This is where we define the major marketplace factors that are driving customer needs. This is a critical element of understanding the chain between marketplace stimulus, pain points and subsequent buyer actions.
2. Buyer pain points: We look into the specific motivators that drive the front end of the customer’s buying processes. These are ‘catalysts’ that drive initial buyer actions and should be aligned to the content and channels where we begin buyer dialogue. We also dig into the differential motivators among stakeholders within the buying cohort.
3. Decision-making process: We define the key stakeholders in the buying process by asking and answering: who are the decision-makers, the coaches, the influencers, and how do these stakeholders differentially engage in the buying process?
4. Content consumption: We uncover how different stakeholders conducting research. Where do they go and what digital and live channels will be the most effective ways to connect and influence?
5. Optimizing conversion: This is where we identify the points of friction inherent in the go-to-market process today that must be overcome. We look at the marketing and sales interactions today that drive customers away more than they cultivate them and detail what needs to change and how to change it to better align the marketing and sales organizations around an end-to-end demand process.
6. Change management: Finally, we assess what will it take to change. What are the core insights that will shape Demand Marketing Transformation and what are the key points of stakeholder value that should be the focus of transformation?
We develop these insights through a number of mechanisms, examples of which are listed below:
- Primary-source interviews. We dig into these insights through interviews with business stakeholders, customers and prospects. We ALWAYS interview current customers AND non-customers; we never let clients intermediate this research.
- Secondary-source industry research. We conduct outside research specific to the company and/or its industry.
- Detailed audit of current lead-to-revenue processes and of the end-to-end marketing and sales technology stack.
- Benchmark performance using existing program data against industry targets and ANNUITAS targets so that clients can get a sense of where they stand today against their peers, and what type of improvement demand marketing must drive.
STRATEGIC DEMAND MARKETING PLANNING: STRATEGY PHASE
We translate these insights into a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan in a layered effort – all built on top of customer journey.
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 (we’ll break these concepts down in the next section). 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. Our 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.
So, let’s break this down into the core elements – the core steps – of building this plan:
Buyer Dialogue Logic and Conversation Track Architecture
Based on initial insights, the backbone of a scalable Demand Marketing Plan is ANNUITAS Conversation Track Architecture™. The start is defining Buyer Dialogue Logic – i.e., the information requests throughout the buyer journey – and then there is consideration and grouping of the differential stakeholders in the process. Combining the of Buyer Dialogue Logic and persona segmentation results in a 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, 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 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 customer journey and consumption of content should be aligned. Together they provide critical, predictive signals. This is the goal of a Lead Management Framework – to detect when a buyer is in the right place, at the right time through a combination of sustained engagement and journey progression. This is achieved 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. 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 it informs the organizational model required on a marketing and sales level 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 Strategic Demand Marketing Program, metrics and KPIs are the keys to optimization and delivery. Thus, 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 customer journey at every stage – and aligning this to ‘who is doing what’ at each stage between marketing and sales stakeholders. As a resource, read “How Your Org Chart Can Make or Break Your Demand Marketing Transformation”.
Demand Technology Architecture
Technology is without a doubt the last layer. It should exist to enable the Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. It should be holistic – considering all engagement channels, CMS, marketing automation, and CRM; and 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?”
WORKFLOW: INSIGHT AND STRATEGY
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 – key leaders across functions, sales team, product team, marketing team, operations and technology.
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, and we discuss the implications of these insights for the client’s go-to-market and on the blueprint for a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. 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.
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 implementation will be solidified – but that gets an approach fully defined. 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.
WORKFLOW: PHASED IMPLEMENTATION
Taking a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan from insight and strategy phases into implementation requires a clear sense of two key factors: 1.) the change management that will be required and 2.) the approach to phasing.
1. Change management: Change management covers several key elements. First, understanding the stakeholders required to drive transformation – who is key? Second, having a plan for continuously communicating with and enabling these stakeholders. Third, is ensuring that change can be driven bottom-up – meaning that the communication and stakeholder engagement needs to ultimately motivate individuals to change, which requires personalizing the incentives and outcomes. Coming out of strategy phase, it’s critical to have a change management plan as part of implementation. One of my colleagues covers this in greater detail here: “Aligning Your Stakeholders to Achieve Demand Marketing Transformation Success”.
2. Phasing: Transforming demand marketing does not happen overnight, and it does not happen in a single step; rather, it’s a series of steps. To make it the most effective and impactful – and to deliver more change faster – ANNUITAS breaks it up into phases. As a resource, check out “The Case for Rapid — Not Gradual — Demand Marketing Transformation”.
We leverage a model we’ve built that looks at major ‘maturity’ phases as a guidepost. These phases include:
- Basic Demand Process
- Predictive Demand Process
- Inbound PDG
- Multi-channel PDG
To read more about these phases, visit our How We Do It page.
The other element of phasing is to consider the major workstreams, including:
- Strategy and Optimization
- Demand Process Implementation
- Perpetual Demand Generation (PDG) Conversation Track Deployment
The final note about implementation is that strategy must stay an integral part throughout. We are not merely implementing the Strategic Demand Marketing Plan as articulated at the end of week nine; rather, we are taking that as a straw man and continuously adjusting and tweaking with stakeholders AND we are at the same time focusing on strategy continuity management – so that the original aims are not lost as we iterate.
HOW DO YOU GET GOING?
So now we’ve covered the anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan. It’s wholistic in every sense of the word, touching every facet of your process, people, content, data, and technology. And the results are incredible.
The average ANNUITAS client undergoing Demand Marketing Transformation starts at a lead-to-revenue conversion rate of 0.44% — growing to 0.99% in the first twelve months of their transformation program. Over the longer term, the average ANNUITAS client sees lead-to-revenue conversion rates reach 1.68%.
Stop wasting time and start your Demand Marketing Transformation today. Let’s connect to get the conversation started.
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