Enterprise Demand Generation can be summed up as a coordinated set of activities that drives demand for your company’s product or service. On the surface level, this can sound simple enough. But successful Demand Generation requires near-real-time synchronization across teams, tools, processes, and strategy. Plus, in the wake of COVID19, your Marketing budget and team capacity are unlikely to increase next year: According to Forrester’s latest report, overall Marketing spend at the start of 2022 will be almost 30% lower than it was in 2019. In this context, meeting or exceeding your Demand Generation goals may seem like an uphill battle.
There’s no question that CMOs face tough decisions when building a Demand Generation strategy for today’s market. But it doesn’t need to be an impossible task. Think of Demand Generation as an engine. Make sure the right parts are there, check the oil regularly and it will take you to your destination. Forget those steps and you’ll find yourself wondering why there’s smoke billowing out from under the hood.
Thankfully you don’t need the skills of a Formula 1 mechanic to build the engine you dream of. At Fjuri we focus on two parts of Demand Generation: 1) the components needed to build a functioning engine and 2) the maintenance necessary to keep it running at maximum efficiency.
Let’s start with the components of a best-in-class Demand Generation engine. With decades of collective experience under our belt, we believe that all engines need five core elements: 1) Target Audiences, 2) Lead Acquisition and Nurture Programs, 3) Sales Development and Conversion Processes, 4) Data & Analytics and 5) Demand Center (also referred to as Revenue Operations).
1. Target Audiences: As a B2B professional, many of your customers make high-consideration purchases with the help of cross-functional buying groups. Gartner estimates that the typical buying group for complex B2B solutions includes six to ten people, each of which comes to the table with four or five pieces of information that they’ve gathered independently. These individuals are likely to have different questions and concerns as the group is driven down the Marketing funnel.
To connect with and address such different needs while pushing the opportunity along, start with identifying the different roles involved in their purchasing processes: What criteria influence their perceptions of your product or service? This information should take the shape of buyer personas and should form the foundational targeting criteria for the targeted messaging in your Demand Generation activity.
2. Lead Acquisition and Nurture Programs: Most marketers are particularly concerned with this area – and rightfully so. Acquisition and nurture have the clearest tie-back to revenue and comprise the lion-share of Marketing budgets. Given the volume of work and manpower that this effort requires, we often find opportunities to create greater efficiency here. The goal is to establish a Marketing ROI model where all Demand Generation activities can be attributed to revenue and optimized accordingly. First, demand generation stakeholders need to align on their vision for how to attract unknowns, convert them to leads, and nurture them up until they are handed to the Sales team.
A thoughtful lead acquisition and nurture program will consider how the following elements will contribute to driving opportunities down the funnel:
the paid, earned, and owned media that is used to build awareness and attract people to the site
the content offers that convert them to leads
the nurture tracks that move them to the point where they become Marketing Qualified Leads
3. Sales Development and Conversion. Best-in-class Marketing organizations don’t check out once an opportunity becomes an MQL. In fact, both Marketing and Sales should be actively collaborating on the process and tactics used to validate qualified leads and manage all of the opportunities that are in the pipeline. According to Hubspot, misalignment between Marketing and Sales can cut revenue at B2B companies by as much as 10%.
Depending on the size of the team and the volume of opportunities they are pursuing, Sales should be focusing on the opportunities that are the most promising (i.e. those with the highest value opportunities with the highest probability of closing) while continuing to improve the Sales process through ongoing testing, coaching, and training. If the pipeline is small, and the Sales team has enough capacity, then they might opt to engage every opportunity. The Sales team should be tasked with forecasting Sales volume in order to identify potential shortfalls versus targets that might need to be addressed. A big component of this is effective mentoring/training and the sharing of best practices. The Sales team should engage in ongoing testing to look for ways to improve their closing rates.
4. Data and Analytics: Most organizations collect lots of data but fail to properly analyze and take action against it. A Harvard Business School study revealed that on average, less than half of an organization’s structured data is actively used in making decisions—and less than 1% of its unstructured data is analyzed or used at all. Everything starts with having a clean, centralized data set that everyone uses to analyze performance the same way. Once that's in place, you can start running analyses to determine what is going on and test hypotheses for how to improve performance. A mature company should build a tech stack of automated dashboards and BI software to make cursory analysis fast and widely available while freeing up analysts to focus on more complex work like predictive models or other forward-looking analysis.
5. Demand Center: The heart of the engine – what keeps everything running at optimum performance – is the Demand Center. This group comprised of key Sales and Marketing players in your company’s Demand Generation motion is responsible for the governance of all the engine’s components and works through virtual, agile teams based on a shared set of objectives. This keeps teams from splintering off into separate motions that are redundant or counterproductive.
Depending on the maturity of your organization, the strength of these components may vary, and this is where the real work of Demand Generation happens. One of the most-uttered phrases we use with our clients is “test-and-learn optimization.” Your highly complex engine isn’t going to come off the assembly line in perfect working order. And 100,000 miles later, it’s probably ready for a tune-up.
For successful Demand Generation marketers, optimization is happening constantly - on every component of your engine. The three components we laid out here will need constant tuning and will require that Marketing and Sales teams feel comfortable constantly challenging the status quo and embracing change. With a healthy Demand Center driven by advanced data and analytics, you’ll have the discipline and feedback to support those teams. And with this engine in place, you’ll feel ready to take the steering wheel with confidence.