Demand Generation’s Secret Sauce? Strategic Content.
By: Gurdeep Dhillon
When mastered, demand generation can help transform even an underdog brand into a market leader.
But getting there requires patience. The goal of demand generation isn’t an overnight success, but a gradual, methodical shift in perception among your audience.
And content is key to this shift. In fact, you could argue the whole reason demand generation exists is due to the rise of content and inbound marketing.
Sure, people have always advertised their wares, but the traditional approach followed a model we’ve come to know as push, or interruption, marketing. Think telemarketing calls, radio ads, or postal campaigns.
But then we all went online, and everything changed.
Quality over quantity
The internet has leveled the playing field for consumers. They’re no longer dependent on marketers telling them how they should spend their money. Instead, social media allows just about anybody to share their thoughts on a good or service.
We live in an era where opinionated YouTubers and impassioned online influencers can make or break a product—in some cases before it even launches. This means today’s marketers have their work cut out for them, which is why relevant, strategic content created with your prospects in mind is so vital.
By providing this, marketers can successfully drive brand affinity, capture mindshare, and generate the kind of leads that turn onlookers into lifelong, loyal customers.
There’s always a “but”
As many as 87% of enterprise B2B marketers are using content marketing today, yet only 3% say their application of content is “very effective.” Surprisingly, only 35% of organizations have even documented their content marketing strategy.
But why? First, content marketing is still in its infancy. Many organizations are finding their footing with it. And despite the inexorable link between content and demand generation, many companies manage them separately with little collaboration between their teams.
This misalignment can lead to many missed opportunities. Not only will demand generation teams lack visibility into content ideation, planning, and scheduling, but content teams will lack the insight into the buyer’s journey they need to create relevant timely content.
One solution is to create a strategic content committee made up of key organizational stakeholders. By holding monthly or quarterly meetings, both teams can:
Determine a content roadmap
Support company-wide content requests
Ensure consistency of message and voice
Streamline content creation for scalability
Reduce duplicate efforts and resources
This way, both teams can identify which types of content work best and ensure the content they create always has a purpose.
What content works?
To understand what content resonates when it’s important to first make the distinction between demand generation and demand capture.
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but that leads to confusion about the buyer journey stage as well as misaligned content.
With demand generation, you’re acquiring net new names for your database, nurturing leads, and accelerating their progression to “qualified”—when they can be handed off to sales.
Demand capture does just what its name implies: captures active demand. That means people who are ready to talk about your products and solutions.
And they require different approaches. As you’re drumming up interest among your target audience, demand generation content needs to be clever, creative, funny, unique, eye-catching, and maybe even a little controversial.
This content should rarely be gated, so stick to formats that are shared and consumed, like blog posts, videos, listicles, and infographics.
Demand capture content, on the other hand, can be gated because you’re catering to an audience with active interest. This content can also include lower-funnel pieces—whitepapers, webinars, and solution sheets—that explicitly discuss your products and services.
When people engage with this type of content, it indicates they’re ready to speak with sales.
Mobility comes first
By 2021, the number of global smartphone users is expected to pass 3.8 billion.
And while it’s easy to get caught up in the marketing narrative that only young people expect seamless mobile experiences, it’s safe to say that anyone with a smartphone is familiar with mobile content. In fact, 58% of site visits were made from mobile devices in 2018.
So, what does this mean for your content? At a demand generation level, all content must follow a mobile-first mindset. Think about how it’ll be viewed and shared, on what devices, and how it’ll appear on various screen sizes. You want it to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, so craft it to fit the most common source of consumption.
Of course, once your prospects are further down the funnel, you can begin rolling out whitepapers and more long-form content best enjoyed on a desktop with a cup of coffee.
But for now, think snackable.
Back to basics
Content is the lifeblood of effective demand generation. So, think smart, think exciting, and think mobile. Master your content strategy and you’ll be in the ideal position to raise awareness, draw in prospects, and take them on a powerful, lifelong customer journey.