Demand Generation: Science, Not Art
A Well-Oiled Machine
Demand generation is a well-oiled machine; a calculated and scientific process that starts small and grows tall. Or at least that’s the way it should be. When I speak of demand generation I’m referring to an organization’s process to manage the flow of inbound marketing leads into an internal database. From there, the ideas transfer through a workflow that leads go through before it ends up in the sales CRM pot.
It’s no easy task, and let’s face it: you might not run your demand generation process all too well. Accepting that reality opens the path towards fixing it, putting that machine to work.
To build a robust demand generation process, you must first have a solid foundation. Here are some required building blocks that’ll bolster your overall strategy.
Start the design of your process by focusing on the one or two chosen segments. For more on the definition of customer segmentation, check out Mark Barry’s “Customer Segmentation is like Drilling for Oil.” In that article, Mark breaks down Bain & Company’s customer segmentation methodology. It’s a must-read.
Segments can be customer profile based, industry based, geography based or use-case based. Pick one segment to target at a time; don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Here’s a SlideShare presentation on the fundamentals of customer segmentation that you might find helpful.
Once you have your customer segment, delve deep and build detailed, analytical profiles of your target personas. A minimum set of personas should be the Influencer, the Buyer, the User, and the Decision Maker. Include in your profiles a made-up name, photograph, and a step-by-step assessment of that persona’s work day and week. Highlight the pain points. You’re building a person here—a character that could grace the pages of a novel.
Alan Cooper’s The Inmates are Running the Asylumdelves into the tech industry’s burning need for simplistic user interfaces. Cooper—the man behind Microsoft’s Visual Basic—provides key ingredients required for birthing a thorough target persona.
Message to the Persona:
Sounds crude, but here’s where you want to hit ‘em where it hurts. You have your persona’s pain points—now use them. Hit each persona in each segment, one by one. The social networking site LinkedIn provides a good—and positive—example of targeted messaging. The site’s sponsored messages lead members not necessarily towards products and services, but rather employment opportunities suited for their credentials. LinkedIn clearly worked out a system wherein it could parse through its member’s profiles to determine what worked best, and, in effect, created a targeted messaging program that avoids the pratfall of obnoxiousness.
Refresh Your Lead Database:
Without a constantly refreshed lead database, all of your hard work segmenting and targeting personas go to waste. A refreshed lead database ensures that you won’t be clicking links to dead sites, you won’t be trying to contact people who have left the company or moved departments and you won’t be contacting companies who are in a different industry to the type you’re interested in. Your lead database must reflect the persona and segment of each contact to ensure that all of your individual contact touches are highly targeted around the persona pain points and messaging.
Compelling marketing campaigns don’t follow the “one-and-done” approach anymore—a lead needs to be touched several times in order for genuine campaign interest to emerge. These are called multi-touch campaigns, wherein leads are directed through several different channels—each personalized in an attractive manner—so as to integrate them not only through the message, but the process itself. Send out a mailing that brings your lead to a personalized URL, which, in turn, brings them to attractive offers crafted specially by your understanding of the target persona. New leads will emerge from successful multi-touch campaigns, thus creating a self-perpetuating cycle.
Score Your Leads:
Start with a simple scoring mechanism and then work your way up to more complex methodology. For instance, the simplest score profile can be created by asking the sales team: “What is the profile of a lead that would get you excited about calling it?” It’s vital that your sales force understands it, agrees to it, and buys into it—without them, you’re essentially lost.
Once you have the basic scoring system in place, take the next step: use regression analysis—a statistical method used in business to predict events, manage product quality and analyze a variety of data types for decision-making—to create a complex structure. Remember: don’t lose your sales team—regression analysis can be tricky.
Qualify, Qualify, Qualify:
Again, keeping the sales team close by your side is a key element to a successful campaign. Before sending any leads to sales, ensure your scoring method is in place and that you’ve qualified each lead. Depending on your volume of leads, sales cycle time and deal size, consider implementing a tele-based lead qualification process prior to engaging sales. Other excellent methods include: website inquiries (Google is your best friend), trade shows, webcasts, white paper downloads, and online referral services.
Automate the Process:
Now you’re ready to invest in a marketing automation tool, as long as you possess a fundamental understanding of the demand generation process. It’d be foolish to leave all the decision-making to a software program. Who’s to blame if something goes wrong?
Obviously, not all demand generation software is the same. Take a look at this extensive comparison chart to see what key features your business will need. And definitely don’t just go by someone else’s recommendation: there are many other factors to consider as well, such as scale, functionality scope, key features designed for your target audience, and more.
Sometimes even the best laid plans crumble; you might need some help. This is where the experts come in. There are tons of demand generation consulting practices out there—again, be sure your research is thorough before signing any dotted lines. I recommend Bulldog Solutions and Left Brain Marketing.
It should be clear to you now that the demand generation process doesn’t happen with the flick of a wrist or a magic wand—there’s a deep-rooted process behind it. Though it may look like art in the end, demand generation is definitely a science.