Building a demand generation engine: The content : Episode 11

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In this episode, we break down the three essential elements to building out content that drives results. Listen in for advice on how to use your ideal customer profile and unique point of view story framework to hyper-focus your topics, build out content for each stage of the buyer’s journey and stretch the content to build a large digital footprint.

[00:00] Show intro

[00:24] The role content plays in building out a demand generation engine

[00:59] Create hyper-focused content to fuel your engine

[05:08] Common mistakes organizations make with their content efforts

[18:31] How to create consumable content in many different formats

[23:26] You must iterate and reiterate your content to make the story stick

[25:58] The ultimate goal is to build out your digital footprint to become your BEST sales rep

[29:41] The key takeaways

[30:33] Outro

The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Visit to learn more about us.


Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to the Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.


Welcome back to the Demand Gen Fix with GrowthMode Marketing. I’m here again with Deanna and Erica and we’re going to continue our discussion about building out your demand generation engine. As we discuss in a previous podcast, there are three pillars to building out a demand generation engine. We talked about strategy, content, and distribution. Last week we dove deeper into the strategy portion. Today we want to talk more about the second step, and that is content. Content is the core of your engine.


Content is important, it really is the fuel to your engine. A key to building out a demand generation engine that creates a growth catalyst for you is having really good content. We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the fact that the strategy work that you did is really important to driving what that content is. The strategy is the map that gives the direction for all the future content that you’re going to create. Content is the fuel and the engine.


The types of content that you need to start creating need to be part of that strategy, you need a variety. You have to have consumable pieces of content that come in different formats, things that are pillar type pieces such as white papers or different how-to guides, videos, or a podcast series. Then you’re going to also have some more bite sized or consumable pieces of content that you can take from those pillar pieces and slice and dice that type of content. So it’s more consumable for your audience.


Think about quality over quantity. You need a lot of content out there of course, but if it’s just fluff and if it’s not really interesting to your ideal customer, then it’s not going to do you any good. It has to be quality that really talks to your unique point of view and really talks to your ideal customer profile.


You need to iterate your content. I looked up the definition of iterate last night on and it was literally to utter repeatedly. When we say you need to iterate your content, it’s about you wanting to tell your story over and over and over because you want it to stick. Ultimately it comes down to building out your digital footprint. We’ve said it before, it needs to be your best salesperson. It’s taking a look at the content and saying, okay, I’ve got an ideal customer profile, so I know who I’m creating content for. I’ve got a unique point of view, so I know what the story is that I’m going try to weave throughout every piece of content that I create. Now it’s about going out and actually creating that content.


It may sound like a broken record to you because you’re saying it over and over and over again. You have to realize that all of your customers or all of the people you’re trying to reach are not going to be hearing you say these things every single time. You’re going to be lucky if they hear you once or twice. We need these people to hear this message over and over and over again in order to get the point. You may get sick and tired of your message, but no one else is getting sick and tired of your message.


When you create your unique point of view and you have the story that you’re going to tell, you’re trying to figure out every possible way that you can flip that story around and tell it over and over and over. You probably don’t have to stretch it as far as you think you do because not everybody is listening to every single thing you say. They’re not absorbing everything you say. It can be in one ear and out the other and they need to hear it 50 times before it really starts to resonate. Think about hearing a song on the radio. If you hear it over and over and over, you’re not like, here we go again. Unless you don’t like the song, but sometimes you say you don’t like the song and then you catch yourself singing it. It’s like that with your content too. I’m not saying people won’t like your song, but I’m saying they’ll hear it over and over and before you know it, they’ll start saying those things too.


You don’t even realize you knew the words until all of a sudden, you know the words.


Let’s talk about the mistakes that companies make that we’ve seen at GrowthMode Marketing that they’re doing with their content.


The biggest one, one that we see often is not starting with the foundation and starting with that ideal customer profile and really understanding that audience that you’re really trying target. So not focusing your content around that ideal customer profile and hyper focusing your message on that particular audience using your ideal customer profile. That’s really the direction that you need to go. So that’s one mistake that we see pretty often is that either our clients don’t have an ideal customer profile identified or they’re not really sure, or they continue to try to build content to appease all audiences regardless of what they have identified as that ideal customer profile. That’s one thing that we see often and it’s a challenge definitely to get people back on track.


Even when they have an ideal customer profile it is so common to say, Ooh, but we need to create some content for these people over here. It takes discipline to be really focused and to say no to creating the content that is for everybody or to not jump in other lanes and start creating content because you see an opportunity suddenly. There’s a healthcare company we really want to get, we should do some content here. But no, plant the flag. You picked your ideal customer profile. One of the keys to being successful with your demand generation engine is staying hyper-focused to be able to build that out. The other area where companies will lose focus a lot of times is also with the unique point of view.


When we at GrowthMode Marketing work with a company to build out that unique point of view, it’s a framework that has the general unique point of view that your organization has, and then there’s pillars underneath it and points under each of those. You’re basically creating this framework for the story. You’re going to go out and tell. When you’re creating content, you’ve got all these things in your arsenal that you can say, okay, today we’re going to talk about this piece and go through it. So really all your content you need to be looking at that unique point of view. It’s so common that we see an organization, we’ll go through this exercise with them, they’ll go off and they’ll start using it and then they’re like, oh, we’ve already written about that. Let’s go create this content.


They have all these other ideas that come in that don’t actually support that unique point of view. It’s like you’re missing the point, you’re not being hyper-focused because what your intention is with the content that you’re creating is that you’re trying to attract your ideal fit customers, which means you need to be hyper-focused in the content that you create. You need to consistently tell that story and get it out in front of them. You need to iterate and reiterate that story over and over to that specific audience instead of getting distracted in random acts of marketing to start to try to talk to other audiences as well.


Talking about the one and done thing flows into another mistake that we see and that is not keeping up on your demand generation engine. You have to be constantly feeding it and putting new content out there. You’re going to reach people at different stages in their buyer’s journey. You don’t want to just have one piece out there and be one and done and then they look at it and it’s three years old or something like that. You need to be relevant, you need to be up to date, you need to keep it fresh, and you need to keep on, even if it’s just reusing some of the information you have and putting it out there in different ways. You have to keep it fresh all the time and always be feeding into that engine.


Part of the demand generation strategy is you’re building a following. If you’re not putting content out there on a regular basis, there’s nothing for them to follow. I built my engine, I’ve got all this content out there, we’re good to go, we can sit back and wait for the leads to roll in. That’s not how it works. You build the engine and then you keep feeding it and keep fueling it and keep bringing more content through there so that they have a reason to continue to watch or listen or read and view the content that you’re putting out there on a pretty regular basis.


Another thing is just sweating that content or we refer to it as sweating or slicing and dicing the content. Something we also see often is that you might be able to continually produce content and get these different things out there, but rather than just writing an article and posting that online somewhere and letting it go, check that off the list. Take that and figure out what ways you can create other pieces off of that same information so that you’re not recreating the wheel. People want to consume content differently. Not everyone wants to read that blog article, but you could take pieces from that and create other formats of content with the same types of information sliced and diced out of there that then now you’ve created. Let’s say five to seven pieces of content or different things from that one article that now can be used across different platforms.


I think as a marketer, you should never create a piece of content without thinking what else can I create off of this content? It’s so easy to get in this kind of factory mode of cranking out content and putting it out there and creating a thing and moving on to the next thing and continuing to create things. And before you know it, you have this massive pile of content, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lot of work went into it. You probably could have reduced the amount of work and had just as much content and had it more aligned with the story you’re trying to tell, your unique point of view, if you would’ve actually stopped after each piece you created and said, what are five more things I can do on this topic to spin this piece into more. That multiplier effect actually adds up pretty quickly if you’re doing that every time versus going out and writing a new white paper every time and creating a new webinar every time and having one-off articles.


People like to consume their content in different ways. Let’s say you have this big blog article and it’s a long article and it’s a lot of reading and there’s a lot of people out there that either don’t have time or don’t want to read something like that. If you were to take all the different points from that article and you do an infographic here and you do a social media post here and you do a video, you have all these little snippets and maybe that person who didn’t want to read basically got all of the information from that article just in different ways. They’re not necessarily sitting down and reading it, but they’ve gotten the gist of it and all of your content is out there for that person or that customer.


Let’s say you did this big research report on the state of employment in the industry, and you put that out there and you want HR managers and HR buyers to read it, not everyone’s going to take the time to read your 30-page research report. So, then you have to think about how do I get that content out in front of people who I know are very, very busy in their roles and have a lot of challenges within the HR industry to deal with? If you’re feeding them bite sized nuggets of it, you could take that research report and you could break it down into video clips that are two minutes long each. You could do social posts, you’d probably create a few articles out of that 30-page report. The list goes on and on what you can actually do with that content. They may not get the full 30-page report in one sitting. You spoon feed them all of that information just over a longer period of time because there’s benefit to you if you’ve done this content really well, to get them to consume that content, whether it’s all at once or over a period of time.


You’re doing the work to rally up the troops internally to get this content created and you pull in your subject matter experts, you have all these moving pieces to get these things created. Think about all the work that went into each individual piece of content. If you could take that one report and all of that information you got from those subject matter experts or all the research that you did, you can go back and show your team we have X number pieces based on all of that information. Not only is that using your own time wisely and it makes your life a lot easier, but I guarantee the rest of your team is going to appreciate the fact that all that effort that went into that was then maximized. I know from experience that’s one thing that people start to appreciate.


You’re not reinventing the wheel every day or every week because once you created that state of the employment industry report, you’ve now got all the background information you need. You don’t need to go interview more people, you don’t need to go do more research to be able to create all the other spinoff content pieces from it. It not only saves you time, but it also saves other team members time as well because you’re not chasing them down trying to get the information that you need while you continue to create content for them getting more bang for your buck. One last mistake that we see a lot is not building content for every stage in the buyer journey. Companies tend to either focus on top of the funnel content, so brand awareness stuff where nothing goes very deep, or they tend to focus just on bottom of the funnel.


We’re writing all about this product stuff and getting our content out in front of people because we want to bring leads in the door. That can be a mistake because companies are at different stages in the buying process, and you want to support the full buyer journey. As you’re creating your content, it’s not just about, oh, we’re going to create a bunch of top of funnel content or we’re going to create a bunch of bottom of funnel content, which I think a lot of companies don’t even step back and think about their content that way, but they should because if I am not interested in buying your product right now, you darn well better have some content out there that they can consume to build brand awareness and trust with you. If I’m ready to buy today, I don’t want that fluffy top of the funnel stuff, I want to go deep into your product, how it’s going to benefit me, the problems it solves for me, how does it compare to the other options that are out there? Because you don’t know when someone starts consuming your content where they’re at, you’ve got to have it available to them, like a buffet. Choose your own adventure. Let them self-guide themselves through the buying journey.


The more you develop this foundation and the more you can fill in the gaps of where the content pieces are, types of content are missing, the more control you have in understanding the buyer’s journey and understanding how somebody travels through that journey with your spec, with your content specifically. It’s really hard to do that or to describe how you feel the buyer’s journey works for your customers when you don’t have anything to look at. You don’t have content that you can tell is compelling at those different stages. The more you build out that digital footprint and the more you can start tracking how people are consuming your content and the more you can understand your buyer’s journey, you are going to maximize the pieces you know are working. In turn that’s what drives a successful demand gen engine in the long term.


Let’s dig into the three elements that are important for the content pillar of your demand generation engine. It’s about creating consumable content, iterating your content and building out your content to become your best salesperson. So, building out that digital footprint, starting with that first piece, which is creating the consumable content. Why do we need to create consumable content and what does that mean?


All different consumers, all different buyers out there have different ways of learning, of researching, of looking for content out there. Especially online, you have so many different things available to you. Some people like to read, some people like to listen to a podcast, some people like to watch a video, some people just want to get the little, short blurbs. Some want to sit down and read a 30-page report. You’ve got so many different people out there that you don’t want to eliminate any of them, and you don’t want to alienate any of them. So, you want to have all different kinds of consumable content out there for people to find.


You don’t want to just create one type of content always, because while some people like to go deep into a topic, some people like to go much lighter into a topic and it probably sounds overwhelming when we’re talking about it where it’s like you’ve got to create all these different types of content in order to support the way that each individual wants to experience that buying journey. I get why it sounds overwhelming, but if you go back to our advice before of if you create a piece, take a step back and figure out what else you can do with that piece. It’s actually not as overwhelming as you think because it’s changing. Instead of reinventing the wheel each time, you’re just shipping pieces of that original content piece off. Sometimes that content, it’s social posts, it’s not like you’re creating these massive pieces for every type of content you’re creating. You’re taking that content and you’re saying, one of those pieces could be that cobblestone piece, which is a major content piece that you can spin off into multiple smaller pieces and then the rest can be more bite size and consumable.


As an example, this podcast that we’re doing right now, we’re videotaping it. So, it’s going to be out there as a video, it’s going to be out there as a podcast, so you could listen and watch, we can take the transcript and write a blog article about it. We can make social posts about this topic. There are so many different things that we can do with today’s podcast that could hit all of the different kinds of consumers and buyers that are out there today.


It’s overwhelming to think, I have to create all these different things. The more that you can think through your strategy, the more that you can put this in your plan and in that map essentially of how you’re going to get to your end goals. Start to identify what are the big pieces, these cornerstone pieces or pillar pieces of content that are going to make for a ton of other content. And then at that point you can decide how to slice and dice and what formats to use at that point. But the more you can start to identify those really key pillar pieces upfront, the simpler it’s going to get as you start to build and generate content. Sometimes it gets overwhelming when you forget to identify those key topics and you forget to focus on those bigger pieces. And then you start to create those one-off random pieces all the time. You think, well this wasn’t quite deep enough to spin off in a whole bunch of ways and this wasn’t quite deep enough. If you would’ve thought about that bigger piece first, it would’ve made all those other pieces simpler.


I think people will realize when they start to do this slice and dice method that we’re talking about, your content actually adds up quickly. Going back to our example of we’re doing a podcast here, suddenly, we’re creating little video snippets from every episode and we’re creating social posts and all these things, and before you know it, we’re going to get through a year of this, we’re going to have 300+ assets, and we certainly didn’t record 300 podcasts in one year. That would be pretty insane. But we’re finding ways to take the heavy lifting that we’re doing with recording a podcast on a weekly basis and figuring out how we can easily leverage that to put it out there in other places so that we can demonstrate to client, this is how you slice and dice and this is the kind of results that we’re seeing from it. It’s pretty fun to start to see it all come together and see how much the content is building up quickly when you do it that way.


The next element of content that we need to think about is iterating your content. To weave that message or that stance or those statements that you’ve come up with as a company starting to really weave that through all of your content that you’re creating. It seems very repetitive, but you need to start looking at these things from all different angles. You should be repetitive, and you should continue to drive these messages towards your audience and get them to understand that you want this message to stick, you want people to recognize you, your brand for that stance that you’re taking or that unique point of view that your company has. The next thing is figuring out how can you leave that message and continue to be repetitive about it in everything you’re doing.


It’s all about being consistent, keep producing content to fuel your engine. You want people to follow along, and they need something to actually follow if you’re going to do that. An interesting statistic that came out of research from Gartner in the past few months was that it takes on average 66 touches of your brand to a prospect before they’re willing to take a sales meeting with a sales rep. Think about that, 66 times. That means, if you feel like you’re being really repetitive, it’s not sticking until they’ve seen it over and over and over. It’s got to be relevant to them and it’s got to resonate with them, which if you’re very hyper focused on your ideal customer profile, you’re much closer to making that happen. But they need to hear it again and again, and they need to see it again and again.


And it’s not, I say the exact same thing every single time I get in front of you, but I say the same story, maybe told a different way, maybe told in a different order. There are ways you can continue to spin that story, but don’t be afraid to sound repetitive. Gardner spends a lot of money on their research and talk to a lot of different people out there. Research shows that it takes a lot of touches to hear the same thing over and over in order to even be compelled to talk to that salesperson.


This goes into the third pillar of demand gen engines, and that is building out your digital footprint because that’s where everybody’s going nowadays. It’s not phone calls, it’s not magazine ads. It’s everything is online. You really need to build out your digital footprint, have all of your content out there, make sure that you’re hitting companies where they’re at, where they’re looking and where they’re in their sales process.


They’re all at different stages in the buying process. At any given time 95% of companies in your total addressable market are not going to be in a buying mode. They’re at that awareness stage. Studies have shown only 5% of companies will actually be in the consideration or decision stage, meaning I’ve got budget, I’m looking to buy, I’m looking at my options right now. And it’s highly unlikely you’re going to convince someone if they’re in the 95% who are not currently buying to come and buy your expensive HR technology right now. If you have something that’s lower cost, you probably have a better chance of convincing someone. But if you’re selling enterprise software or even mid-market software, there’s a process. They’ve got to be there no matter how many times your S D R calls them, no matter how many outreaches the salesperson does, no matter how many lead generation programs you do as an organization, you’re not going to convince those people.


So, you have to make sure that you’re also creating content and programs that speak to those people. I strongly believe that those future prospects are really, really critical to your future growth. And you’ve got to build a brand awareness and trust with them now so that they raise their hand when they actually are in market. But you’ve also got to be able to speak to the 5% of companies that are in market, and you’ve got to be able to find them and you’ve got to have content that’s built out for that as well. In the demand generation model, that’s the demand capture portion of the work that you’re doing. Something to keep in mind as you’re building out that content and building out your digital footprint is that in a year like 2023 where there are a lot of economic concerns out there, many companies, especially in the technology space, have been pulling back on spend, which means that 5% that are in market is probably much less. In fact, I read an article where it said it was 1% of companies will be in market in a year like this year, which means your digital footprint needs to be really good and you can’t lose sight of future long-term growth because you’re panicked about the short-term. So, you’ve got to find a balance in the content that you build out.


Take this opportunity while people aren’t buying to peak their interest with other kinds of content.


Being able to fill this void that you have in your digital footprint during a time like this and really focus on making sure that you have the content that someone needs to do that research online. Someone might need 66 touches before they want to talk to sales. Well think about that and think about that as you start to build out your footprint and your content and start to develop that digital presence and make sure that, again, all of this is taken into consideration as you might feel like there’s a downturn, there’s concerns in a year like this. But as marketers we can also take advantage of that as an opportunity to really take the time to build these things.


There are three steps within that content piece of your demand generation strategy. It’s about creating consumable content that supports the way different people want to experience it. That’s really important. It’s about iterating your content over and over and over to make sure that your story sticks and it’s about building out your digital footprint to make it your best sales rep. When we talk about content here at GrowthMode Marketing, that’s what we’re looking at and how we’re coaching our clients to help them build out the Demand Generation engine. So we’ve covered two of the three pillars in a Demand Generation engine. Next time we will talk about distribution, which is all about how do you get that content out in front of people now that you’ve built it all up.


Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe from more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we’ll see you next time.

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