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B2B marketing 101: What is demand generation?

Posted by Chris Hokansson on Apr 15, 2013 5:47:00 PM

Demand generation is just what it sounds like—getting people to want to buy what you’re selling.

First off, you need great products and services. But that’s not enough. You also need a demand generation marketing strategy to build awareness of what you offer—and why it provides value.

Demand generation includes traditional outbound marketing such as advertising and trade shows. But it also means modern inbound marketing, which uses digital technology to provide valuable content to prospective customers—creating awareness and building relationships that eventually lead to sales.

Demand generation is somewhat of an art, but only just a little bit. When done right, it’s a business process that can be standardized, automated, and repeated.

Why Is This Important?

Demand generation is nothing new—it’s what marketing has always been about.

But a well-rounded demand generation system that includes inbound marketing has never been more crucial. That’s because today’s information-overloaded buyers aren’t interested in engaging sales until they’re almost ready to buy, and they’re tuning out advertising and other traditional marketing methods.

Without a demand generation system in place that begins when potential customers are in the exploration stage—and that takes into account people’s reluctance to be “sold”—your sales team is likely to find itself with a dwindling amount of genuine leads.

If that’s already happening, you’re not alone!

What Can You Do?

We believe marketing automation software is essential in demand generation. Automated lead nurturing and lead scoring features enable better demand-generation management, with less time investment.  

Automating routine tasks frees marketing and sales to focus on higher-value activities. And leads will never be lost; they will always be flowing to sales or back to marketing—with quick adjustments possible.

Market automation software can automate the management of diverse marketing campaigns—from “old-school” tradeshows and live events to Internet-age SEO and social media strategies. And one of the niftiest things about market automation software is that it’s built for continuous improvement. By constantly aggregating and analyzing critical data, it facilitates the ongoing development of smarter demand-generation strategies.

Automation of demand generation is a big-time competitive advantage.

But hold on…

Before you automate anything, you first need to understand three key things about your demand-generation strategy:

  • Who you are.
  • Who you’re marketing to.
  • What process you’ll use to reach them.

Only until you answer these questions should you begin searching for a marketing automation solution that’s right for your company, target market, and process. Particularly for SMBs, this solution may involve a marketing services provider (we’re one!) to help with planning, implementation, and ongoing process management.

The Bottom Line

Demand generation is a vital marketing function that requires systematic lead management and planning. Marketing automation software is necessary, but no software will get results if you don’t first understand what you’re marketing and to whom you’re marketing—and then develop the right process to do it.


Topics: marketing automation, strategy, lead generation