10 Keys for using Demand Generation to “Bounce Forward” from COVID-19.
As businesses “bounce back” from COVID-19, they need to use Demand Generation to “bounce forward” to drive better customer engagement and higher sales growth.
All businesses will need to continue to be nimble in navigating future crises, so developing flexible playbooks (e.g., sales, marketing, customer success, etc.) helps execute and pivot to future strategies. Many leaders reported that they tossed out old playbooks in response to current crisis and rightly so. As they shift to expand to new markets (and bounce forward), they need to plan accordingly. And, if you’ve never created a playbook before this article is for your business and consider working with a partner that has expertise in this area – demand generation.
When it comes to business, a playbook is essentially a collection of different strategies, processes, and workflows that a company uses to achieve a particular objective. This article highlights some tips for rolling out your Demand Gen program or simply fine tuning your existing efforts. It lays out not just the framework and approach, but also the specific roles and responsibilities of the different “players” involved.
Today’s business world is extremely competitive, intense, knee deep in uncertainty. When it comes to diversifying revenue streams and tracking programs, your Demand Gen program needs to rely on data tracking, agility and continually optimized. As a Marketing & Sales leader, you have your work cut out for you, but that’s why marketers love challenges.
10 critical elements for a successful Demand Gen program:
1. Customer analysis
2. Buying process
3. Company offer/Value Props
4. Competitive analysis
5. Sales process and methodology
6. Tips for Blogging & Social Media
7. Outbound vs. Inbound
8. Marketing Database/Growth/Segmentation
9. Building a high performing team
10. Metrics for Success
1. Customer Analysis
There is absolutely nothing more critical in Marketing than understanding what is relevant to your customer – the Ideal Customer is whom you should invest money in targeting unless there are other priorities for growing within a market segment. A buyer persona represents your ideal customer (Decision Makers, Influencers, Users) based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Some of the information to include in your ICP profile include:
• Demographics (e.g., age, gender, educational attainment, marital status, employment role, income level)
• Behavior patterns
• Pain points
• Critical business issues they are trying to solve
Mapping your buyer journey to lifecycle stages in the funnel is critical to determining marketing and sales opportunities to engage prospects.
2. Buying Process
Awareness Stage. Your buyer persona realizes that they have a problem, but they do not know what it is yet. They begin to do some research based on the signs and symptoms that they experience to figure out what the problem is.
Consideration Stage. In this stage, your buyer persona has now discovered what is precisely the problem he or she is facing. So now, he or she begins to research to find what are the possible options available to solve this problem.
Decision Stage. At this point, your buyer persona has come up with a list of the possible solutions to the problem he or she is facing. Now, your buyer persona is trying to decide which is the best option to choose.
3. Company Offer & Value Prop
The value proposition section explains why you launched your company and, more importantly, how your business can make a difference in what could seem to be a saturated marketplace. This is where you provide answers to the following questions:
• Why should your target customers that buy your product or service?
• What value will they receive when choosing your product or service, and the benefits of not selecting a competitor?
Identifying Personas & Roles helps you match specific value props that will trigger stakeholders to move into buyers as you educate them in progressive marketing programs. This exercise is critical for integrating consistent value-based messaging into your content marketing programs. For example, we’ll develop a campaign track based on persona and ensure that all value props addressing business challenges are carefully articulated in campaign assets.
Telling Better Brand Stories
Now, that you understand your target audience and their challenges, you are ready to follow a shore-fire way to tell more effective stories. StoryBrand marketing demonstrates to customers that they are the most important character in the story (the hero). Validating their problems and empathizing with their pain. Letting them know that your firm is their advocate and can help guide them to overcoming a business challenge.
(1) A Character (Hero)…
(2) Has a Problem (Villain)…
(3) And Meets a Guide (YOUR FIRM)…
(4) Who Gives Them a Plan…
(5) And Calls Them to Action…
(6) That Ends in Success…
(7) And Helps Them Avoid Failure.
Important Note: Be very specific to the problems and benefits that you address in stories. Do not regurgitate because you want your stories to be authentic and offer unique ways to differentiate your brand.
4. Performing Competitive Analysis
You must track, compile, analyze and deliver key, real-time strategic insights. Remember to audit the internet using SEM tools like Moz or SEMRush. You can uncover troves of competitive intelligence to develop a solid competitive strategy for differentiated messaging.
The SWOT Analysis is an excellent tool, but there are many other activities necessary to perform competitive research and make the information actionable across your company. A simple view is to classify competition in three categories:
Direct competitors. These are the companies that offer the same products and services that you do and have the same or similar value proposition.
Indirect competitors. These are companies that provide the same products and services you do but have a different value proposition.
Replacement competitors. These are companies that offer products and services that serve as an alternative to your products and service.
Set up inputs and outputs to make your analysis actionable for your team. The abve templates are easy to set up and after the initiatial research are managable for updating monthly. Below are critical areas for creating a comprehensive Competitive Analysis tracking engine. If you’re starting from scratch, create a master spreadsheet with representative tabs for each focus area, then create summary reports that can make the data actionable for the rest of your organization.
10 Competitive Intel Tracking Tips by a Product Marketing veteran
The Goal: Provide competitive, market, and consumer research to optimize and differentiate your product and services in the marketplace.
1. Recommend the development of new marketing materials and assets as appropriate.
2. Sales Differentiation Tools (Battle Cards, Pitch Decks, Talking Points)
3. Market/Customer Intelligence (Surveys and comb websites for key information)
4. Macroeconomic Trends
5. Governmental/Policy/Health Developments
6. Industry-Specific Changes & Covid-19 Impacts: Competitive Intelligence (Websites, press, marketing)
7. Pricing/Packaging Changes by competitor
8. Messaging/Positioning Shifts: Empathetic organizations are shifting their messaging right now to address everything happening in the market. To stay differentiated, watch your competitors’ websites, press statements, and marketing campaigns like a hawk.
9. Competitive Website Analysis (Traffic, DA, PPC, Keywords)
10. M&A/Funding Activity in Market
Product Pivots (Future perspective) – Product development and marketing boils down to creating something unique and valuable and then convincing the marketplace that it is unique and valuable. Get a handle on what other valuable offerings to bring to the market.
5. Marketing process and methodology
The sales funnel is a model that describes the different stages of the journey a prospect goes through from being a visitor to a paying customer. Unlike the buyer’s journey, the marketing funnel is designed from a marketer’s perspective. The diagram below shows the difference between the two.
Why is this the case? The reason is that there are a lot of different strategies that you can do about this. However, the most effective is through content marketing. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their inbound marketing strategy. And, content is equally important support your Outbound strategy. Developing the foundational content marketing framework helps achieve consistent story-brand messaging across both models and all marketing channels. Create a content and campaign deployment process and manage to it. Even if it’s a simple checklist because then you have a solid ground to negotiate priorities when other departments ask you to drop everything for their emergency…
6. Why Blogging Matters and Social Media tips.
Creating blog posts gives your Website an additional page that could be indexed by search engines. The more web pages your site has indexed, the higher domain authority and pages will rank on page 1 of search engine results pages (SERPs). This, in turn, makes it easier for your target audience to find you.
Having well-written blog articles also gives you more opportunities to rank for power keywords that will convert. This is the reason why I prefer creating long-form blog posts. Long-form blog posts and other types of content allow you to use a particular keyword more frequently within a piece of content without compromising its quality. At the same time, the in-depth information that you provide helps establish you as an authority in your market.
Blog articles based on topic and persona are critical sources for re-purposing into other marketing campaigns (e.g., drip email campaigns, sales outreach engagement, associated content for micro sites, industry hubs, added resources, webinars, and so forth.) The blog, if constructed correctly, becomes your Voice and Resource in the Market.
At my last firm, leveraging keyword-driven data into the weekly editorial calendar enabled the website channel to grow into the number one revenue stream; increasing traffic from approx. 2400 to 140,000 monthly visitors in just under three years. This marketing channel grew from 10% to 84% of the revenue mix in a B2B mid-to-enterprise marketplace. This takes commitment and discipline to achieve such remarkable stats. However, you also need to focus on creating website content for the funnel (Awareness, Consideration, and Decision) and optimizing for better results.
The best keyword research that I recommend to power your SEO-content marketing machine are:
SEMrush. I like this keyword research tool because it gives you the stats on not only your chosen keyword and a list of related keywords but also a list of websites and even paid ads that are considered the top performers. With this tool, you can then visit these websites and study the content to replicate this for your inbound marketing strategy.
Google’s Keyword Planner. Although it is not as exhaustive as SEMRush, it does provide the competition level and lists of related keywords that rank the highest in Google, which is the number one search engine used today.
Ahrefs is another helpful tool for keyword research – Ahrefs is an All-in-one SEO toolset, with free Learning materials and a passionate community and support.
Social Media for B2B
Being Active, Engaging, and Social with a plan and consistent messaging. Many B2B companies struggle with these platforms because of the lack of revenue generated. In a supporting role, social media can be quite successful for promoting live events (virtual and onsite), white papers, how-to materials and generating discussion. Each platform has a unique language to master.
• Identify your target audience and influencers and begin an active campaign to connect and follow them.
• I’m sure you’ve never been advised to be passive on social, but many brands think that all they need to do is post pretty pictures and gain a loyal following. Ignoring your audience is never the way to go.
• Making a plan to be more engaged is the first step. You just need to research to figure out where your audience likes to spend time on social.
• Make a list of where, when, and how you will engage with your audience and use a calendar; track the results. Start a dialog and look to differentiate yourself from your competition! Starbucks Coffee didn’t become the leader because their coffee is better than Dunkins. They did it by carefully understanding/engaging (and evolving) with their target audience, delivering on a brand promise – “Let us add a little joy to your day.” “How can you deliver on your company’s brand promise is the critical question to answer across your entire organization. Social is great way to execute this on a daily basis.
7. Outbound vs. Inbound
If your managing mixed models, you need to map your funnels differently and track the velocity of leads and their respective lead sources. Always integrate your campaigns (email, call, direct mail, media, etc.) and set different benchmarks. For example, Outbound campaigns accompanying follow up SDR calls provide lower response rates. Also, make sure that you have clearly defined lead channel sources and classifications and workflows for follow up.
Marketing and Sales Alignment along the BUYER CYCLE is crucial.
You need to align your marketing program workflows with the Sales team and create accountability goals! Create and gain agreement for the “Rules for the Road,” “Lead Definitions,” “SLAs” for Lead/SQL/Quality tracking and required Sales field updates. Draft governing guidelines for how both departments will work together for Inbound and Outbound programs. For example, Sales reps should add competitive install or “why a MQL was disqualified.” The sales team’s systematic feedback (entered into the CRM) is crucial for lead, program and process optimization as well as mitigating cross-org friction through continued collaboration.
• Weekly Sales Enablement and Mktg/Sales process meetings are highly recommended!
• Always meet to kick off marketing programs and highlight the goals for both teams! Send weekly updates on progress against targets and SLA infractions. If the Sales team agreed to X number of calls, but delivering short of this commitment, address it expeditiously.
Types of Outbound Marketing
1. Database records – Identify Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and third-party data sources (Bizable, Hoovers, ZoomInfo, etc.)
2. TV/radio/Digital advertisements.
3. Telemarketing/cold-calling 2.0 (Outreach following sequenced emails.)
4. Email marketing.
5. Channel marketing.
6. Trade shows.
7. Newspaper advertising.
8. Press releases.
9. Direct mail (brochures, postcards, catalogs)
8. Marketing Database & Growth
Scaling the growth of your marketing database should be implemented and managed as an initiative. This means it requires strategy, goals, and objectives as well as assigned resources. The assets delivered also need to be attributed to revenue growth to justify the investment in resources.
One method for mapping revenue is to partially assign it to Outbound lead sources (e.g., Hoovers, Netprospex, association list) etc. Multi-touch attribution and cost tracking these sources should include data source subscription, partial SDR employee costs and other marketing campaign costs that assist in the customer acquisition.
9. How to build a high performing team
If you can’t afford to hire full time marketing employees, hire a partner such as Peritus Marketing to augment your business needs. You need to have the right specialists to get the job done, but for the Marketing Automation Specialist, Content writers, PMMs, a Demand Gen Manager, SEOs, and digital experts to perform at a high-level, you need to develop philosophy. A philosophy centered on your customer. Why not? Your company survives and dies because of your customer.
The four principles I prescribe for empowering the team to perform at a consistently high level include:
(1) Customer-Driven, living, and breathing the impact of your solutions and services from the user, business, and market impact perspective. Every team member gets immersed in understanding the customer’s experience and needs – Onboarding and continual training to essentially become SMEs.
(2) Accountable, all KPIs are in alignment with business results and accountable for their consistent performance. Clear expectations of the rewards and disciplines for performance are clearly outlined and discussed weekly. There are no surprises, and your job as a manager is to ensure each individual is successful.
(3) Transparency is how marketing’s contribution to the company’s success is achieved. The results of campaigns should always be accessible across departments. The progress of initiatives should be common knowledge across departments. Weekly company updates are excellent tools for achieving transparency.
(4) Ownership and pride to do their job with opportunities to grow into new positions. No one wins with micro-managers, so if you align goals and objectives, communicate weekly with deadlines, staff will be empowered, and ownership will help them see achievement.
10. Success Metrics
Marketing is driven by many KPIs to be successful. Clear definition of which metrics to track and report to various stakeholders is critical. For example, your CEO doesn’t necessarily want to review email campaign metrics but these are crucial for improving click-thrus, opens, and generating leads. Marketing automation like ActiveCampaign provide response tracking so you can engage with audiences more effectively after the first campaign.
Metrics and KPIs are crucial for the success of your Demand Gen operation, so you need to create Dashboards and make them available to the management team. If you cannot track it, you will not be able to optimize your investment in channels, tools, and resources to meet your firm’s revenue goals. I also recommend your Marketing Ops person get focused on pulling these together, so the reporting and dashboard reporting are seamless. Continually perform QC on data and reports to ensure accuracy. There is nothing worse than being in a meeting and getting your credibility blown out of the water.
Below is a checklist of KPIs to consider:
1. Qualified Leads / Lead Status / Lead Quality Scores
2. Organic Traffic
3. Lead Velocity – Stages, scoring progressions
4. Call-In Leads (even if it’s manual tracking)
5. Social Media Traffic and conversions
8. Bounce Rate (page, forms)
9. Conversion Rate (pages, landing pages)
10. SDR Call Volume, Connect Rates, Demos Scheduled
11. Campaign Metrics – Email, Event Attendees, Drip campaigns
12. CAC (Mktg costs + Sales time spent cost/formula)
13. LTV (Amount of average sale per customer) x (Average number of times a customer buys per year) x (Average retention time for a typical customer (whether that’s a year, a month, or more))
14. CAC/LTV Ratio: $3 to $1 (ROAS = Digital and SEO $10-to-1)
Demand Generation playbooks can be scaled to be successful for any size of business. This playbook is a comprehensive guide to help you fine tune or launch your “Bounce Forward” plan. Managing strategy, people and processes requires planning, diligence, and execution. Remember that your demand gen plan requires nimbleness and agility to execute each month’s priorities. And leverage as much data as possible (without overload) so you can optimize programs and marketing spend to generate a high Return on Investment.
Peritus Marketing specializes in designing market-specific Demand Generation programs for Startups and Mid-sized businesses needing to jumpstart sales and marketing engines.
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