Demand Generation – What is it and Why it’s Valuable

How to build Demand Generation for startups
Mark Donnigan

Today’s startups are, at their core, disruptors. They try to change the way things have been done for years or for decades, often through the use of new technology no one has seen or even thought of before. 

Given this high level of ingenuity of product design, founders should take care not to be overly enamored by their product, its outstanding features, and how it “change the world.” You and your team understand every facet of its product design and what it can do, but now it’s your job to make that known to potential buyers. And this is where marketing, more specifically, demand generation, comes in.

Today, startup failure is more often attributable to a lack of sales execution than failure of the product or technology to deliver. It’s easier than ever to build a product. What required a million dollar investment, can now be built over the course of a few months with a small team and nothing more than an AWS account and this makes the market more noisy and crowded than ever. 

No demand, no sales. An article in the Harvard Business review states that 42% of 108 startups analyzed failed due to “lack of demand for the product or service being offered.” 

But was there really no demand? Or did the founders fail to clearly communicate the problem that their product solves? This is why demand generation must be in your company’s DNA from day one.

Demand generation is the fuel that will drive your startup to achieve success in its sales goals. To do this, your marketing efforts should focus on one task – to drive business outcomes. Marketing efforts should be measured against their impact on revenue and not on traditional marketing ROI and campaign attribution methods. 

The right marketing approach can establish your company as a Category King by defining a problem and naming the category for the solution that your product delivers. Doing this allows you to dominate the market and will make your product the standard that all others will be measured against.

Demand Generation – How it is Done

Demand generation involves a series of steps, which if done correctly, will allow you to consistently capture leads and convert them to buyers. Note that demand generation is more valuable than lead generation where the outcome is usually nothing more than a name and email address. Here at GrowthStage Marketing, we have distilled this process into a flywheel that explains what we do at each step to help your company’s go-to-market strategy.

Capture

Unlike B2C, the focus of B2B is to capture the attention of key decision makers that your product can provide a solution for. You have to know where your potential customers are online. Utilizing digital channels, we can establish your presence on multiple digital spaces ranging from search engines to select social media platforms. 

This can be done through highly coordinated social pushes and paid traffic on LinkedIn, search engine optimization for your website and content, and paid search ads on Google. Leaky traffic from your website can be retargeted using LinkedIn and other social platforms. We can also put out email alerts, triggered, and segmented content and messages.

The goal is to make your company appear as if it’s everywhere, and exist in the mind of your potential buyers as a possible option for their needs. Think of your online presence as seeds that will eventually grow in the minds of your customers. Be visible! Remember, a business with no sign is a sign of no business.

 

Educate

Let’s face it. Buyers will be looking for many possible solutions and your company will be only one of them. Their attention will be divided and, chances are, they will not understand what you are offering at first glance. Once you get a buyer’s attention, the aim is to keep their attention by delivering value through the content you publish. Give them useful content and they will reward you with more attention.

Your goal is to explain how your product works and how it can solve their needs. Make the buyer feel that you understand their problems by stating the problem clearly and how your product fits the solution they are looking for. It also helps to establish that your startup is a player by leveraging hot topics and trends in the industry in the content you publish. 

Formats could be case studies, application guides, ISV/CSP/VAR resources, which can be delivered through different content types such as video, whitepapers, blog posts, podcasts, or audio summaries. People learn through different ways, so why not make your content as accessible as possible to your target audience?

 

Engage

Now that you have their attention, it is time to keep them engaged. You now exist in their mind as a potential partner, so take this opportunity to impel them to dive deeper into your product by delivering more useful content. A regular email push, delivered via drip-feed, still works as long as it’s done right. Online events, webinars, virtual conferences, and podcasts, are always useful to maintain engagement.

On the back end, the effectiveness of your engagement efforts should be tracked by metrics that indicate intent such as views, downloads, opens, and specific actions taken by viewers of your content. Provide intelligence to your sales team regarding actions taken by identified prospects. Tools that you can use to drive lead scoring/grading include Google Analytics, CRM, and marketing automation systems. The important thing is to measure how your efforts are translating into actions that will ultimately lead to a purchase.

 

Convert

You’ve given your potential buyer reasons to choose you. Now it’s time to convert. Keep in mind that demand generation is a cradle to the grave activity and does not stop at the sales qualified lead phase – it should follow through to the purchase order. Demand generation can and should play a role in ensuring success for your customer in order to increase usage of your product and allow for future follow-on revenue.

Methods to increase conversion include irresistible time-bound offers such as a sample simulation of a real life workload pre-configured and ready to run. Keep your potential customer engaged by engaging in live chats through your website or through other applications, and reduce content gates but always keeping a close eye on how each content is performing (data telemetry and analysis). As stated before, the goal is to make your company omnipresent (be everywhere!) but do not oversaturate any one channel. Distribute your content in different channels to increase your share of voice and enhance your brand perception as a Category King!

 

Success in today’s winner take all market means that demand generation must be at the very core of your marketing and go-to-market activities. Every person in the company should embrace this. Done correctly, it will propel your company to dominate the ecosystem and the category that you have defined. The road is littered with startups that had good ideas but failed to execute properly. The bottom line is that demand leads to sales which leads to revenue. You are holding your company’s future in your hands, and its success or failure is something that you can entirely control if you invest in building demand.

Watch me talk on The Startup Junkies Podcast about Demand Gen for Startups:

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