The products and services catalog is growing non-stop, and therefore, consumers’ standards and expectations are growing higher. To become (and stay) relevant, brands must be up to the challenges that ensue. But how do you stand out? How can you put yourself at the front of their minds? We sat down with B2B Marketing Expert Chris Walker to talk about Demand Generation and how you can start leveraging it in your marketing efforts. Here’s 5 ways you can start reframing the way you think about marketing:
1. Get to know your ideal customer
Sometimes your super-users are not who you’d think of as your typical customers. Look to understand what’s driving these users towards your brand, and look beyond what you’re used to. If firmographics aren’t giving you the answer, look past these. Go deeper, and go qualitative. Get to know them and find out what’s making them choose one product or brand over another.
Get to know who you’re selling to. It’s so much easier to get along with people you know well, right? It’s the same with your customers. Find what you have in common, what makes them tick, what their pain points are, and how you can be (a part of) their solution. Simply put—try to understand them.
2. Build your marketing funnel
To have quality brand content and marketing, you need to set some solid ground first: a strong and clear visual identity, your brand’s story and how you tell it, a mission for your company, and your stance in today’s world. When this is all set, it’s time for execution: ask yourself, “where are the people I’m going after paying most attention and how do I capture it?”. Find your audience’s preferred channels, gathering places, and put yourself in their shoes.
Continue to optimize your efforts and distribution: focusing on one particular conversion point is a good way to do this. Always experiment, find out what your best-performing conversion point is, and put your energy into directing people to it. Build your marketing funnel around it and bring all your traffic into this one point to see how other channels help you towards this goal and analyze each of them on their own terms and metrics.
3. Consider each marketing channel
Trial and error might not be the most efficient option in many circumstances, but with content, experimenting is crucial. Each channel is a field that has a million ways to be played in, so you need to find what works best in each one for you and your audience. This is especially true for organic, since paid doesn’t give people a choice. But in order to perform well organically, you need a 100% audience-centered approach. You need to listen, observe, try and see what works best for them, understand their thinking and actions, and visualize when and where they’re likely to receive your content. How they may or may not receive it and how to get them to click comes down to how well you’re able to capture their attention. Understand where, how, and when they’ll be potentially consuming your content based on channels and formats, and put these insights at the core of your content production.
The keys to organic success? Think audience-first, be engaging, behave more like a community, and listen to feedback. Have a good grasp on which channels you want to distribute content and how they differ from each other.
4. The problem with marketing attribution
Attribution is a problem. Metrics and data are extremely, indescribably useful, but there are some things that cannot be tracked. In many cases, conversion tracking will give all the credit to SEO and Google because people looked up your brand or product and bought after that search. But the thing is, sometimes the first touchpoint where people “meet” your brand happened on another platform when they weren’t looking to buy. This is how content works its way through your audience’s attention, but doesn’t get credit for it.
For example, let’s say you’re watching an educational video from a brand on LinkedIn showing their latest case study. The brand is telling you how their software helped Coca-Cola, for instance. You’re not looking to buy anything. You watch this, see that a huge company succeeded with this product, and remember it somewhere in the back of your mind. Then, one day, you need that kind of product/solution and you’re ready to buy, so you go and search for that brand because you remember it from that LinkedIn video. So to assess this video, it’s not about the video directly converting, but about who’s watching it: is it the people I want to talk to? How much of it did they watch? Did my audience become aware of us through this video? This approach is non-transactional and difficult to measure, because it doesn’t normally lead to direct conversion, like influencer marketing. And what can’t be measured, can’t be put on a chart and made a point towards, right? But these non-trackable initiatives are the way to generate demand.
Marketers are often restricted to capturing demand, which is basically getting people who are already solution-aware and looking to buy something, but to succeed nowadays, you need to create demand, building a brand that goes beyond the moment when someone’s looking to buy from you. Especially for SMBs, you need to be smart. Pay attention to how you get into the market, drive your narrative, create demand for your product and build affinity to your brand. It’s everything.
5. Create demand, not just sales
If you give people information no one else does because you really “get” them, then they will actually consume it, which will raise their awareness of your brand as a source of truth. Companies tend to think too transactionally. They’re too concerned about selling and forget to show how useful they are, how well they know their customers, and how to engage with them when they’re not in “buy-mode”. Go beyond JUST building a sales funnel and differentiate from your competitors while doing so.
Change from lead generation to demand generation and update your metrics to reflect interest on a larger scale than single leads generated. Consider creating a separate team of four people who really know your customers, have resources and aren’t tied to metrics. Have them focused on how to deliver content your audience loves, needs, and consumes. Marketers are too often pulled into metrics and transactional, traditional B2B lead generation best practices, and forget about delivering useful content. If you measure the success of a podcast based on leads, you won’t be considering a LinkedIn message that acknowledged it, for example. This qualitative feedback is what fuels and improves the kind of content that creates demand for your brand. Match your strategy with how the buyer wants to get to their desire.
The number of options consumers have are growing. Products are becoming more and more alike, so it comes down to which brand you prefer and have an affinity for. Branding will become more and more important each year and we want to change how B2B companies do their marketing and stay with the times.
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