Oct 18, 2012

Two Stages of Demand Generation

Creating demand (or leads) for your brand has two fundamental components: attraction and engagement. Each on its own is not enough. You’ve got to put them together to make your brand more findable, referable, memorable and desirable.

Attraction: Stand out

What differentiates your firm from the competition? Do you have a unique approach, or unique capabilities? Are you cheaper? Do you provide better service, or a broader product selection? What is that thing that makes you stand out in your industry?

The first step in demand generation is to be able to stand out in your industry like an orange tree in an evergreen forest. If you look and act like everyone else, then you’re going to get lost in the clutter. The brands that draw in the most new customers are easy to find, easy to refer and easy to talk about.

The challenge is attraction does not originate in marketing or sales. It’s strategic, and it’s an executive responsibility. True differentiation is drawn out from the business model, culture and values of the organization.

Marketing plays two key roles in attraction. First, they are responsible for packaging and communicating what makes the firm unique. And second, they can help lead and encourage the organization to bake marketing into the fabric of the business.

Be a brand ambassador, and get everyone on your team working towards making your firm stand out like an orange tree in an evergreen forest.

Engagement: Be the first choice

Once you know what makes your firm unique, you’ve got to communicate it. But more importantly, you’ve got to use it to build relationships.

At any given time only 3% of your market is buying, the rest are not. Your market is made up of customers, prospects and past clients—these are the companies that can and will buy from you. And this is the group you need to purposefully engage so they call you first when they’re ready to buy.

I use the term engagement over promotion, because the goal is to connect with your market early and often—the earlier the better. I try to seed relationships with my prospects upwards of three years before they need my services. This helps me to develop a relationship based on like and trust so when it comes time for my prospects to buy, I can focus on solving a problem versus explaining what makes us better.

Creativity separates the men from the boys

Ultimately good content drives effective demand generation. Keyword laden, promotional content is not effective. It’s spam. But content and experiences that attract and engage your market will drive sales.

It comes down to three key questions:

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. What kind of relationships are you building with your market?
  3. How will you engage your market even when they’re not buying?

The final question is dependent on good creative. If 97% of your market isn’t buying, then you’ve got to have good content and experiences that will speak to your market whether they’re buying or not. Good content that resonates with your market will drive far more leads than promotional stuff.

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