Building a demand generation engine: The strategy : Episode 10

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The strategy elements are critical to ensuring your execution is hyper-focused on the right audience, the right story and the right channels so you can get maximum traction.

The strategy includes:

· Identifying your ideal customer profile

· Defining your unique point of view

· Developing a content marketing and demand generation plan

When you start with these building blocks, it sets the stage for high growth and influences all other steps in your demand generation engine.

[00:00] Show intro

[00:22] Number one in building a demand generation engine: strategy

[01:02] Get hyper-focused with the right strategy

[05:05] Identify your ideal customer profile

[11:18] Define your unique point of view

[15:25] Building a plan to stand out and resonate with your audience

[20:46] Where content should be placed

[25:44] Key takeaways

[26:20] Outro

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


Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from Growth Mode Marketing. You are listening to 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 HR tech industry.


Welcome to the Demand Gen Fix podcast by Growth Mode Marketing. In our last podcast, we covered the three pillars to building a demand generation engine strategy, content, and distribution. Now, in our next three podcasts, we’ll do a deeper dive into each step. Beginning today with strategy, Deanna and Eric and I will talk more about the strategy that is involved in building your demand gen engine. Here at Growth Mode, we know that to build an effective demand generation engine strategy is the starting point. This is the compass that provides direction to ensure your marketing is impactful and drives growth for your organization. So let’s jump right into the strategy.


Yeah, yeah. All right. So step one of building a demand generation engine, like you said, Jenny is really about strategy, and it’s about defining a strategy to get your team hyperfocused. So that means we’re looking at an ideal customer profile. We’re looking at a unique point of view framework, and then of course, the content marketing and demand generation plan. And I really think when companies skip this, that they’re doing an injustice and ultimately not gonna have as impactful of a demand generation program. And it seems kind of obvious, right? But I have talked to prospects and clients who have been like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t wanna pay for strategy. Let’s just focus on getting immediately to the results. I get that. But if you skip the really important steps, you are going to not get the results that you’re looking for because this is really like how to get hyper-focused. And if there’s anything you take from today’s conversation away, I hope it’s that we need a strategy because it’s gonna define the direction. It’s basically the compass for our demand generation engine.


So aside from skipping strategy altogether, there are other common mistakes that people make while they’re building out their strategy as well.


Another one I think that we’ve heard before too is, you know, we’ve, we kinda have a strategy or we have a direction, we have that ideal customer profile, or we know what our unique point of view is, or we know, you know, what our stance, our messaging is in the market. Another thing that is a common mistake, I think when people are talking strategy or demand gen strategy is really not giving enough thought into each of these elements and making sure that, you know, it’s ultimately it needs to be a very well-rounded strategy, which takes a lot of focus in each of these areas. And I think that’s something that we see as a common mistake as well, in addition to building a strategy and feeling like, okay, we’ve gotten everybody’s buy-in within the organization and everybody’s on the same page. This is our strategy, and then we start executing on random acts of marketing, and nobody refers back to that strategy. I think that’s also very common is that, yes, we built a strategy because leadership told us to build that strategy for 23 and present it, but then we don’t, you know, everybody agreed and bought into that, and that was our direction. And then we set that aside and we get busy and start to do other things, and people forget that we had a strategy and that we had that foundation in place.


We need a sales sheet, we need this, we need that. Well, why do you need that? Does that tie back to what we’ve been talking about in the strategy or doesn’t it, you know, or is it just be you’re doing it because it’s something you’ve always done?


Absolutely. And it’s so common, so, so common for companies to do that strategy, whether they pay someone like growth mode marketing to do it, or they do it internally, like a lot of time and resource goes into that and thought, and there’s a reason you did it, but then it kind of gets put aside, it collects dust. And you get to the end of the year and you’re looking back and you’re like, all right, let’s pull out that strategy and see what we got done. And it’s like, Ooh, crap. We got 30% of the things on the strategy started all of those random acts of marketing, you know, to your point, Erica, that’s what they are. They add up to an unimpactful marketing program, which isn’t what any of us wanna see, you know, whether you’re on the corporate side or the agency side, like you’re making these investments in, you know, your time and your resources to build this out for a reason. So it’s really important that this is a priority as you’re building out your demand generation engine or any other marketing strategy that you’re chasing after. And


Yeah, just not setting it aside and for getting it, somebody should be held accountable for referring back to and keeping, I think, the team on track to meet that. So


Now that we know that, uh, strategy is very important, it should not be skipped and it should not be ignored. Let’s talk about how to get started. So at growth mode marketing, we talk about the first thing to do is to define your ideal customer profile. And we actually have a full episode all about, uh, identifying your ideal customer profile that you can listen to. You can find it on our website. It’s a very important topic, so we’re gonna touch on it here because it’s the first step to creating your demand generation strategy.


Like Jenny said, that’s really the first piece you really need to focus on. Every other piece of that demand gen strategy or plan is gonna be built around this first piece. Without this, it becomes difficult to really a focus in your message within your content, and b, understand really who you’re targeting and how to get to that, get in front of those people. Um, your ideal customer profile is really a description of your best fit customer. Rather than thinking about a buyer persona where it’s focused on the person within that company who is gonna be a decision maker, ideal customer profile is really focusing on the best fit companies or accounts or companies that fit into that


Profile. Yeah, and I think it’s important to kind of call out in a really cluttered market where there’s a lot of competitors, like the HR technology space, for example. This is helping you narrow down your focus so that you can increase your tract, because I think it’s natural for marketers and, and organizations in general to be like, our product works for everybody, you know, and if you’re like an HR tech vendor or you know, even any of the other B2B technologies out there, a lot of times that technology technically could be valuable to and used by every company out there. So your total addressable market is really big, but when it’s very competitive and you’re getting lost in the crowd, you’re not standing out to people, you’ve gotta find a way to resonate with a subset of those individuals by being more specific. Because I think when you go in and you try to be everything to everyone, it doesn’t work.


If it’s really competitive out there, if the market’s really cluttered, if there are so many companies, it, it’s like your message starts to get diluted. So with that ideal customer profile, what you’re really doing is setting the stage for your demand generation engine by narrowing down and hyper-focusing on a specific set of companies. And those companies, when we talk about an ideal customer profile, I think the best way to explain it is these are the best fit type of companies that you wanna attract to your organization as you’re building out all of your content, as you’re distributing that content, as you’re building a community. And that’s what’s gonna kind of help you stand apart from everyone else that’s competing for those same dollars.


And I think it, you may think it sounds simple, like, hey, this is my biggest client, or this is my most profitable client, and so of course that’s my my best customer, and that’s who I should go after from here on out. But there’s actually a process to finding out who your best customer is. And it involves digging up and analyzing actually a lot of data. So the better data you have, the easier it’ll be to narrow down who your best customer will be. It may not be the one that makes the most money. It may not be your biggest, it may be the one that you work the best with, or your longest customer, or, you know, there’s a lot of different things that you can look at to figure out who that best customer is. The first thing to talk about in the process is firmographics. And this is kind of the nitty gritty, the numbers, right? The things that you can quantify.


Yeah, when we talk about firmographics, it’s the details of the ideal customer or the ideal company that you want to target. So that’s looking at company size, revenue, number of employees, industry, location, customer base, those type of data pieces to help you figure out, you know, theme of, okay, we’re gonna go after organizations, let’s say that have 500 to a thousand employees, specifically in the healthcare space, and the revenue size is this, you know, like all those different kind of numbers around an organization. Another thing to look at is the technographics. And that’s really looking at, you know, are there specific technologies that they have that your HR technology might integrate really well with? And so you wanna target companies that you can figure out they have that, or they have complimentary technologies that when they have this technology, it also makes sense to have our technology because they play really well together.


And then I think the third thing really there is to think about, you also need to take into consideration buying triggers. What are the traits that are, you know, sometimes they’re time bound or situational that are indicating somebody’s readiness to convert or readiness to buy. Starting to pay attention to things like ideal customer profile. Do within that, does the company have a new round of funding? Do they, you know, did they recently have a merger or an acquisition? Is there a new internal structure? So maybe some new leadership at the C-suite level, you know, maybe the company’s expanding, things like that, or some things to take into consideration as far as buying triggers go and understanding different activities like this happening within an organization might add up to a buying trigger and something that triggers somebody to actually be looking for solutions like this as they grow


Pretty high level, uh, vision of how to identify your ideal customer. And as I said, we do have a full podcast about that, so you can dig a little deeper into that if you wanted to listen to episode eight. The second part of strategy is developing your unique point of view, and this is a framework for the story. You’re gonna weave through everything that you do from here on out. You need to resonate with the right HR tech buyers in your space. You need to really hit your ideal customer profile. Defining and constantly delivering a unique point of view helps you to break through that clutter that we talked about and really stand out in that overcrowded HR tech market. How do we, um, define our unique point of view? Like what are some tips and tricks on how we can get to that point for our


Client? I think, you know, if, if you’re an organization that doesn’t have really strong differentiators, that’s where a unique point of view can really be beneficial in helping you ba break through the clutter. And what I mean by not having strong differentiators, you know, a lot of times organizations, you’re putting technology out there in the buyer’s eyes, it’s not necessarily significantly different from the other technologies that they’re looking at. And so, you know, if, if you don’t have the ability to go and change your product to make sure that there’s these very clear, very meaningful differentiators, tomorrow, let’s look at that unique point of view and let’s help you take a different perspective. I think what it can do to make you sound different, like it should challenge the status quo. It’s about how your company views a really important issue to your ideal customer profile within the market.


It’s okay to be controversial, because if you’re controversial, you know, in the statements that you make, some people may not agree with you, but some of them are, and the ones that agree with you, it’s gonna build trust with them, and they’re gonna start to follow your story because they like what you’re saying, they agree with what you’re saying, you know, and I think a really good unique point of view really gets people thinking, whether they’re, you know, agreeing with you or disagreeing with you, like if they’re thinking about what you’re saying, they’re thinking about your brand, it’s kind of like the old adage, no press is bad press. Like you’re more memorable that way. How


Do you start to define this unique point of view? So if someone isn’t familiar or they determine that their differentiators really aren’t just, aren’t there and they have the same differentiators as others in the market, how would you start to define that unique point of view?


You know, , I I always think of it as, you know, if you went to an industry conference and at the end of the day after the trade show is closed, you’re sitting at the bar and you know people at other companies that maybe you compete against or are just in the industry, like, what could you debate about all night? What do you think is broken or not working? Like a lot of times that unique point of view, it lives within the minds of the people within your organization. It’s just a matter of digging deep and pulling it out. And, you know, once you kind of define like, here’s our unique point of view, like it’s, it’s a statement, but how do you build a story around that statement? So, you know, we like to build a framework that has key messages that will support that unique point of view. You know, we’ve got kind of pillar themes that will fall under that unique point of view, like statement, and then you start to build out kind of data points, bullet points underneath those themes. And when you do all of that together, you know, when we’re working with clients at growth mode and marketing, it builds the story. And with that story, then what you do is you weave that message throughout all of your content. And the goal is to tell the story over and over and over. And this becomes the foundation of your content strategy.


So then once you know who your customer is and you know the story that you’re telling, your unique point of view, then you can start planning your content, right? How do you use your content to stand out in this crowded HR space? How do we define topics that will resonate? How do we, you know, target our ideal customer profile? There’s, there’s a lot of strategy that is involved in all of that as well.


Yeah, so, uh, the third piece of that strategy, really, after you’ve def defined that ideal customer profile, and you’ve identified what your unique point of view is and started to really focus your messaging around that particular stance, um, the next thing is really gonna be to build a content and demand generation plan or process. So first thing would be building out your content plan. The content plan really needs to be sort of the foundation, and this is really developing a plan on how will you actually tell the story? How are you gonna build that stance, that unique point of view in the market? And how are gonna use this story to stand out in a crowded market? So specifically within the HR tech space, we know that these people are hit with so many different technology solutions every day and messaging all across the board.


This content plan really needs to be a plan based around how are you gonna tell that story and really stand out in that crowded market. The first piece would really be defining key topics that are gonna resonate, topics that are gonna resonate specifically, again, going back to the ideal customer profile. Things that are really gonna resonate with that group of target accounts or prospects. What are those different topics that you know are gonna resonate most with them based on pain points, you know, they have? And then also, uh, Deanna mentioned this, but continuing to really just weave that unique point of view and that message throughout, using that as a framework so that that’s the framework for everything, every piece of content you’re creating going forward. That’s really important as well to continue to look back at that ideal customer profile and make sure you’re focused, and then also look back at that unique point of view and make sure that as you’re creating content, that you’re focusing in on that stance and that message, and making sure it’s appearing across the board so that you really start to show these prospects what your stance is.


And the more that your stance is out there, the more that you use the same story, your same unique point of view, and it’s, you know, repeated again and again. The more people are gonna start to trust you and the more that you’re gonna, you know, they’re gonna believe that you believe in your stance because you’ve said it over and over again. It’s out there, it’s what you have put a stake in the ground about,


Right? And, and hopefully, you know, listeners are starting to see, you know, like what we’re recommending from the strategy. You’re basically doing building blocks. So you start with that ideal customer profile that focuses you in. So when you go to create the unique point of view and the framework and the story around that, you’re thinking about who is that ideal customer profile and how do we talk about things that are gonna be meaningful with those companies? Then you’re building out your content strategy and you know, the unique point of view is what you’re looking at because you’re like, okay, we know who we’re talking to, we know what our story is. Everything we’re developing now from a content standpoint is going to be hyper-focused on that ideal customer profile, which then, you know, the unique point of view builds off of which now my content strategy builds off of.


And then when you look at the demand generation piece of that strategy plan, all of this great content that I just created, how do I distribute it? How do I get it in front of the people and the companies that I’ve identified in my ideal customer profile? And make sure you know that we’re showing up everywhere that they’re showing up. And it doesn’t mean that you show up everywhere that your content can conceivably show up, but you’re being very meaningful and intentional on where you’re placing that content, which third party, you know, avenues you’re, you’re reaching out to and engaging to place that content, which owned and managed channels. You’re putting that on, um, you know, your own website to really, you know, when you’ve put all these three pieces together, built out a really strong strategy that is not only super focused and the guiding principle for everything you create going forward, but it’s basically your game plan, and now you move, you know, different podcasts, but you know, the ne the next step would be to move to that next step, which is creating the content and executing the content. And so, you know, from a strategy standpoint, it really is critical that you do this well, and that you don’t just do it and set it aside and forget that you are continually revisiting it with every decision that you make on what content pieces you’re gonna create. So Deanna, going


Back the demand generation plan, just to put a little bit more emphasis on where content should be placed, I think we should circle back on three different places that we kind of identify as places where your content as that demand generation plan needs to focus and really tell you and be prescriptive on where this content needs to be placed. In The first one, which you mentioned is your website. So really focusing on a place like your website, where this is really your storefront, this is somewhere where you have the opportunity once you get people here to show them what you’re all about and to show them, to provide them what the answers that they’re looking for as far as searching for different products or services. And, um, it’s an opportunity for you to put this content somewhere where, you know, once someone gets here, you’re hoping that they’re gonna dive deeper into these topics and deeper into this content.


So you really wanna feed them a loop of content there where they can continue to do that research and search and consume valuable content. Again, all supporting that ideal customer profile and focused on that audience. And then not only that, but focused on that unique point of view and that message throughout. And then the second one is manage channels, which really channels that you have access to, that you have control over. And you can put your content out there at any cadence you choose any time, um, at any capacity. And those are things like social media, a podcast, blog, content, webinars, digital advertising, things like that, that your organization manages.


And that may seem like it, it’s a lot of content to put out there. You may feel like overwhelmed by thinking about how many different places you need to be, you know, putting out different pieces of content. But if you think about it, you may have like a, a huge report, you know, or a e-book or something like that, and you could actually take that big piece of content and snippet it up into smaller pieces. So you can take a quote out, you can take a, you know, a little bit of, of that content and put it out into social media, put it out into ads, put it into articles, you know, so you don’t have to feel like you need to recreate the wheel every single time. You need to put out a new piece of content. You can slice and dice the stuff that you have and utilize that for all of these different pieces.


Yeah, that’s a really good point. I mean, in, in a nutshell, when you look at the content marketing and demand gen plan, it’s, you know, what are the themes of content we’re going to create and how do we create those? So not just the, you know, we’re gonna create one type of content. To your point, you know, you’re creating cornerstone content and cobble stones from it. People consume things in different ways. So having that content available in different ways is really beneficial. And then, you know, it’s about what are the tactics that will be used to deliver that content? So once you create it, it’s only as good as the, you know, reach that you get with it. So if you have a really good content piece and no one ever sees it, it’s, it is not gonna serve you well. But if you can get it out there, you know, whether it’s email, abm, direct mail, content syndication, content trades, I mean, the list goes on and on, like all of that is part of that kind of content and demand gen strategy that you’re building out.


It’s, it’s your blueprint for this is what we’re gonna do and this is how we’re going to get it in front of people. And then I, I would just add to what you were talking about, Erica, the kinda outer ring after you look at putting content out there on your website and on managed channels is that third party channel. How do you tap into other relevant audiences after you’ve built out your own audience? Some would argue you might even wanna start with a third party channels and get your message out before they find you. And, you know, in the HR tech space, that would be looking at how do we get mentions and content placement and, you know, tap into the audiences of, of organizations like, talent, culture, Shrum, g2, you know, that list goes on and on as well.


Very good point. To your point, Jenny, I’ve never heard someone upset about the, the number of ways that we choose to sweat the content in the ways that, um, we take in slice and dice one piece and take that all that effort that was put into that cornerstone piece. We’ve never had someone come back upset about the fact that we just got all this mileage out of that piece of content. We put all that work into, and we are using that same piece of content in so many different ways that it’s gonna last us months of, you know, being able to sprinkle that into different social posts and podcast episodes or videos, things like that.


So in this episode we’ve talked about the three steps in building out your demand generation strategy. One ideal customer profile, two unique point of view, and three, content marketing and demand generation plan. You know, as we said before, don’t skip it. This is a big important part of , of building out your whole strategy is the strategy. So, um, defining that upfront, we’ll set the stage for your demand generation programs to drive maximum result. We will also be covering content and distribution into subsequent podcasts. So stay tuned for that. And thanks for listening.


Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers, brought you by Growth Cloud 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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