Successful demand generation requires a strategy. Yet, when it comes to planning their approach to data-focused demand generation, many B2B marketers are at a loss as to how to proceed.
1. Research. The key to uncovering relevant audience variables is as simple as augmenting secondary research with primary interviews. Find current customers—including detractors and advocates—and interview them. Ask them about their influencers, buying processes, decision making processes, and so on. Ask salespeople the same about their customers to get additional perspective.
2. Buyer-centricity. Understand buyer prospects both in terms of their role as individuals and in terms of their part in the collective buying process. A useful abstraction is to develop personas that represent each buyer and include the influence vectors that inform the relationships between personas within the context of the buying cycle. It is then possible to structure the conversation threads that will inform the content strategy.
3. Operational mind-set. Address business processes that impact the ability to push an unknown prospect from a marketing automation platform through to a CRM system and then to a closed deal. This is a non-trivial exercise that typically requires substantial change within an organization, executive sponsorship, and collaboration between marketing and sales.
4. Content. “Content is king” is only useful within the context and planning that make content relevant to the audience. Within the context of a demand generation strategy, this translates first into understanding the content consumption patterns of the target audience. Where do prospects consume information and at what stages of the buying cycle: search, social, peers, analysts? This understanding leads to content strategies with specific assets and media vehicles that are relevant and timely.
5. Lead nurturing. With an understanding of the audience, relevant dialogue threads and business processes, and a content strategy in place, lead nurturing then comes into play. The process of building programs that successfully marry insights and operations is both an art and a science. The key success factors include the length, depth, and breadth of the content being offered; the logic that determines how a prospect moves through the buying cycle; the cadence of offerings; and, perhaps most important, whether the program is perpetual.
6. Analytics and optimization. Analysis of the data gleaned from marketing efforts can provide real value to validate, refine, or change a demand generation strategy completely. Segmentation and testing are two examples. Consistent, results-oriented optimization of demand generation programs is a key factor in extracting the greatest possible value from them.
7. Sales readiness. Marketers should work with sales to develop frameworks that help salespeople have relevant, highly targeted conversations with qualified prospects. The intelligence that marketing has gleaned should be available for sales to use as part of these conversations.
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