A common misconception inside companies is that Demand Gen purely refers to one sub-domain of marketing (e.g. paid media or ABM).
Examples of mistakes inside these companies:
-Content and Demand Gen teams are separated inside marketing and operate almost independently
-Some activities get way more of the funding than others -- this is why some companies over-index on Events while spending nothing on Paid Media
-The team lacks skill sets to deliver on the other areas of demand gen (e.g. SEO or Customer Marketing or Product Marketing)
-The team is not revenue-driven and is constantly distracted by the organizations needs for other activities (e.g. Sales Enablement, Corporate Comms) that do anything but drive demand.
What this thinking misses is that Demand Generation is the overall outcome of all kinds of marketing activities coming together.
ABM alone is not Demand Gen.
Paid Media alone is not Demand Gen.
SEO alone is not Demand Gen.
Nurture Content alone is not Demand Gen
It's not Paid vs. Content. It's Paid + Content.
Paid Media without content hits diminishing returns. Content without Paid caps out its distribution even after finding an audience.
Paid + Content finds infinite scale through increased distribution.
Examples of plays on paid social that companies should be running today:
1) Promoting an ungated educational piece of content to drive awareness / traffic from ICPs on paid social platforms.
2) Doing paid social "PR" where you promote new product releases, partnerships, capabilities the way you would use a wire service but instead use paid social as your distribution platform.
3) Nurture campaigns on paid social where prospects in MCL / MQL / SAL / SQL stages see content in the form of promoted content or ads on Facebook and LinkedIn instead of just email nurture programs.
These kinds of campaigns have poor ROI / CAC when looked at through the lens of traditional marketing metrics. But they're the new way to do marketing and inevitably...
Focusing all company efforts around resolving the pain points of 1 customer drastically increases the odds of success.
This is why some of the biggest companies are often started by people trying to scratch their own itch (e.g. Basecamp).
An effort like this involves:
1) Product teams clearly defining the person all features and roadmap items need to solve for.
2) Service teams clearly identifying areas to support new and existing customers on their journey.
3) Sales teams clearly mapping out the ideal buying persona and targeting them with focused outreach.
4) Marketing teams clearly outlining the messaging, content and distribution required to reach that ideal persona.
Focusing on one specific person may seem like it has a huge opportunity cost. But the market size of solving a very specific problem for one specific person is almost always a lot larger than you think.
The exercise also opens up adjacencies that were previously invisible.
For some reason, IT departments have authority over what marketing tools are chosen inside some companies.
"We think you need to switch from HubSpot to Dynamics because we are getting a bundle on our Teams / Office / Azure package."
Why this makes no sense:
1) Switching Marketing systems because you're getting bundled pricing from a vendor is asking for your Marketing team to fail to meet their pipeline targets.
2) Shows how little authority some Marketing teams have inside their organizations when systems they use every day are being chosen by other departments who have no understanding of the day-to-day reality of the function.
3) Demand generation and growth is the primary objective. Capturing cost efficiencies on bundled pricing is not.
4) Avoid infrastructure / switching system projects at all costs. (If you're on Dynamics, don't switch to HubSpot just because either).
The most common reason VPs of Marketing / CMOs are fired in their first 12-18 months is that they blow their political capital on things like:
-Building a new website
-Adding more tech to their marketing stack
NONE of these things actually do what the marketing leader is hired for: to grow demand.
What should be focused on in the first few quarters on the job:
1) Nailing doing messaging and positioning
2) Creating more high quality content
3) Ramping up distribution across all platforms
The end goal of all of these being: generate more pipeline and close more deals.
For bonus marks: improve data tracking and board reporting (this doesn't matter if there isn't more pipeline to report on).
Too many companies start their GTM planning based on Search Volume instead of their Ideal Customer Profile.
If a term has 10 searches a month, search-driven marketers will ignore the content asset required for that item on the roadmap. This is the classic hammer looking for a nail scenario.
In a Google Search driven world, the approach has some validity. But we don't live in a search driven world.
When you start with ICP, you build content based on what will help your ICP resolve their biggest pain points. Only then do you think about distribution.
In a social-driven world where search volume is not the north star, GTM planning then focuses on finding the right channel / platform where the ICP can be found with the right message.
It may turn out that you end up on search through this approach anyways, but you're far more likely to end up with the right outcome at all times.
One of the biggest ways in which Sales and Marketing can make an impact is by collecting of feedback from the market and by communicating / championing that feedback to product teams.
This is how:
1) Major roadblocks in the sales process are overcome
2) Critical missing features impacting close rates are uncovered
3) Ideal pricing structures are created to be in alignment with customer interests
4) Growth opportunities to scale are found (e.g. additional products and services requested by customers)
Having a formalized feedback mechanism to channel this input to product teams can create significant ROI on Marketing and Sales well beyond standard Go-To-Market activities.
Leaders focus on people as their primary means of influencing the business.
As you help develop and support the growth of people on the team, the people help grow the business.
This is why the job of the leader is to:
1) Find, convince and hire talented people to join the team
2) Align the team around an inspiring vision to collaborate on
3) Give the team all the support and resources they need to succeed
4) Help level up team members’ skills, mindset and capabilities
5) Coach team members through challenges and growth plateaus
6) Build the right environment and culture to help team members thrive
7) Remove people who put 1-6 at risk and cannot be coached out of it
Do all of these and the business will grow all by itself.
The best companies treat Positioning as an ongoing, ever-evolving loop influenced by their market and customers, not as a one-time exercise with an end point.
Each time you tell your company's narrative and story, more prospects are found and more deals are closed. Each cohort of customers reveals additional information about:
1) What types of customers are ideal fits
2) Who has the most success with the product
3) What type of messaging resonates with those customers
4) What pain points the product still fails to address
5) What other solutions those customers are looking for
As more information is uncovered, it needs to be fed back into positioning to change the overarching story around a company / brand.
With every cycle, more scale is found because more opportunity is uncovered (e.g. more TAM, higher LTV etc.)
Organizations that over-rely on Sales and Events for pipeline put their sales targets at risk.
This is most often seen inside Sales-led organizations where Marketing has a limited budget.
How can you expect to hit aggressive sales projections when you aren't engaging with your buyers on channels where they are spending most of their time?
Instead, investing into digital and buyer-centric channels increases the odds of hitting pipeline targets.
Growing Marketing Generated Pipeline is the key to hitting aggressive sales projections.
When Marketing stops over-relying on events and begins building new channels to acquire customers, it forces the organization to be less Sales-led.
This takes time which is why Marketing leaders need to lobby CEOs and Boards with the right budget asks to invest in the right channels to become more Marketing-led.