Demand generation drives better results : Episode 3

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Creating demand generation initially should focus on pain points – not selling your products. From guides to social media, just being vocal can make a big difference. Once a prospect enters the consideration and decision stages, then you start to go into your products with content that helps them do a deep dive.

We’re talking about when forms should be used as well and what things can leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. Demand generation is a long-term strategy that takes time to build results. Set big goals and adjust your strategies along the way.

[00:00] Show intro

[00:19] The framework of demand generation

[06:31] Why companies hesitate to invest in brand building

[07:39] Creating and capturing the demand of buyers

[10:32] How do you cater to small portion of people who want to talk to a sales rep?

[14:06] What does demand generation look like if people aren’t currently in the market to buy?

[19:35] What type of demand capture should you look at for the 5% who are interested in evaluating solutions now?

[22:58] Where does gating your content fit in?

[27:51] Cons of gating your content

[30:30] How do we support buyers the way they want to buy?

[31:19] Last thoughts

[32:20] 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.


This is Jenni Geiser from GrowthMode Marketing, and this is episode three of The Demand Gen Fix. I’m here with Deanna and Erica, and today our topic is going to be about how demand generation drives better results.


There are 2-3 components of demand generation. The first is create demand. When I first heard about creating demand years ago, or demand generation, my thought was you can’t generate demand for your product, it’s either there or it isn’t. Some people will argue and say well, apple went and created the iPod, there was no demand for that, and they created a demand for it. I think when we’re talking about creating demand, we are helping people recognize a challenge or a need or an opportunity to improve something that wasn’t top of mind for them before. That’s what demand creation is. That’s where probably 95% of people at any given time are at. They’re not in market, they’re not ready to buy.


A lot of organizations that focus on lead generation, are trying to uncover those 5% of people that are actually in market for their product right now. If you ignore all the other 95%, you’re missing an opportunity to get them on board and make sure they know who you are, follow your brand and like you. When they enter into that elusive 5% of people that are actually in market, they know you exist. They are going to call you if they’ve been following along. If you can solve the problems that they have and they believe that you can, that’s where you get to demand capture.


I don’t know if I believe that you can’t create demand though. I think that’s an old-fashioned way to think about it. I think nowadays with the internet and with online presence, you really can. If you get your brand in front of people enough, they are going to start to wonder what it is and what you do. Especially if you have really good ideas, thoughts, and content out there that people can benefit from, you can create that demand. It’s a whole different world right now. Think about when you’re scrolling through Instagram, and you keep seeing the same types of content over and over. I don’t know how I am getting these things. What did I look at? What did I click on to all of a sudden be getting all of these same exact pairs of pants? I don’t remember ever looking at any of that, but it gets in eventually. I’m going to click on one of those things. It can be the same in B2B. You get your name out there in front of people often enough, eventually you are creating that demand so that people know who you are.


Sometimes I wish I was a B2C marketer, because it’s probably a lot easier to sell a fifty or a hundred-dollar item than it is an enterprise HR tech software that costs a hundred thousand or five hundred thousand or two million a year. People in those larger sales aren’t going to be convinced to buy if they were not already having that major issue or that challenge trying to solve something. There are a lot of correlations between the way consumers behave. It’s not just about B2C. What can we apply to that from a B2B perspective too?


The same is true for B2B in some cases. When you discover a problem, you have and you’re trying to find a solution, it’s important to consider that B2B buyers are online, they are doing research prior to ever getting into that sales cycle. Creating a demand that way is possible in the B2B world, but it will take longer. It’s about creating that brand awareness.


In the B2B world, it’s important to remember that you need that brand awareness. You need that digital footprint. You need that online presence because your buyers are doing up to 73% of their research prior to ever wanting or needing to talk to sales. It’s important to consider creating demand.


When you google a problem that you have, you’re looking for ideas on how to market your product or how to sell. The same companies and resources pop up all the time. You start to see them over and over and eventually that builds credibility. They must know what they’re talking about because they’re always top of the list. I know they’re paying to get up there, but it’s the fact that their names are there and it eventually clicking. That’s who becomes top of mind.


We talk to companies all the time. If we went into those conversations and said, we’re going to build you this beautiful brand, let’s invest in it. The knee jerk reaction is, whoa, hold on. I told you I need leads. I get that. I’ve been there on the corporate side, and I’ve had the same knee jerk reaction. The reality is, if you take a step back and you realize how buyers are buying today, they want to know who you are, and they’re going to decide whether you make their considerations set or not. And then you can have some serious conversations about your products and services. You should be investing in branding. We don’t need to call it branding. We’re now calling it, creating demand, but it’s essentially the same thing. If I don’t know who you are, you’re never going to make my consideration set. So, you better be investing in that piece of it.


Think about the cold emails you get or the cold calls. You’re not going to return them if you don’t know what company they’re from.


Unless they hit you on the right day with the right message for a problem. That’s actually top of mind right now. Every once in a while, you can find that low hanging fruit that happens to be the 5% that are in market or about to be in market, who are like, Hmm, that’s interesting. And what do they do? They go to your website, they look at it. The question is, do they proceed with contacting you or do they not find what they were hoping to find on your website? You better hope that they find what they need to find. But if you look at the bounce rates of most websites, they’re not finding what they want to find because bounce rates on homepages, we look at this all the time for companies. I don’t see a lot of companies that are winning at keeping people on their sites.


There’s lots of reasons why people jump on and off. The question I would ask an organization is, is your digital footprint your absolute best salesperson? Because if it’s not, it needs to be. I just read a statistic actually today on LinkedIn that really stuck with me. Gartner had just published a blog post that was talking about some research that they did. They surveyed a bunch of B2B buyers and 72%, which is not a trivial number, said, if it were up to me, I would have zero interaction with a sales rep in the purchase process. Wow. Think about that, and how much do HR technology companies and software companies in general invest in their sales teams’ significant amounts of money? And here it turns out, part of the reason they’re not selling because that buyer didn’t want to talk to them and they found a company that put more of that content out there for them so they could self-research and figure out, I don’t want to talk to you about pricing. I want to see your pricing on the website. I want to see your product demos via video. If I’m the buyer, 72% of them are saying, I don’t want to interact with you not in person. I’ll do it digitally.


Even as an existing customer, half of the time I don’t want to talk to a person. I’d still rather go to a chat bot and get a quick answer because it saves me time, it saves the company time, it’s just easier. I’m sure, the 28% who didn’t say they don’t want a sales rep involved. (I’m, I’m actually surprised it’s only 72%) I don’t want to talk to a sales rep, but how do you cater to both the 28% that are interested in talking to a sales rep and the vast majority, the 72%, that want nothing to do with you? They want to access all the information and purchase even a significantly sized enterprise software without having to go through a sales process.


I think it’s easy to give them the option to reach out. If it’s time for them to talk to sales, you always can offer that option for them to proactively reach out saying, yes, I want to be contacted. But that can’t be your main tactic or goal is to get someone to fill out that form and talk to you. It’s fair to say we have a lot of clients who we do that with. We always have that secondary call to action in places where we’re not preventing people from talking to sales. You really want to focus on the fact that once they’re ready to talk to sales, they will reach out. You want to meet that buyer at the point in their journey or at the point in their research that they’re actually ready to talk. Demand gen strategy is not meant to prohibit somebody from talking to sales. It’s meant to build up that foundation and that background and all of that content to let people do that research, but then again, give them the opportunity to reach out when they’re ready and when they’re actually in that 5% that’s in market to buy. That’s going to be worth the time of your salespeople to actually reach out and talk with them versus having them focus on a bunch of unqualified cold leads.


Instead of trying to chase people and convince them they need to buy from you, imagine if the tables are reversed and they actually reach out and invite you into their buying process saying, I’m interested. Tell me more, that’s what every salesperson wants. My husband’s a sales rep. He has been for years. He always complains, he wants leads that are easy to close and it’s not a, I’m not willing to do my job. It’s tough to be a salesperson when you’re chasing companies that actually aren’t ready to buy or having conversations with you. Maybe there’s a little level of interest, but there’s no real motivator to make them move. On the flip side, when you get a lead that comes in the door that says, Hey, I’m interested in talking to you.


Naturally it’s going to be a shorter sales cycle, most likely, and your close rate’s going to be higher. Ultimately that equates to lower client acquisition costs because you’re not putting as many resources and as much time into trying to turn that opportunity into business because they’re that much closer to saying, yes, I pick you, and who doesn’t want that? So let’s talk about prospects. 95% that are in that create demand phase or demand creation phase, how should you be marketing to them? What does demand generation look like if I’m not in market?


I think we kind of touched on a little bit. You want to get your name out there as an expert in whatever field it is that you’re going after. You want people to see content that you’ve put out there that helps them, that benefits them so that they, when they do decide to purchase whatever, they’re going to purchase, that they think of you first as that expert, as that company that really helped. That was beneficial to them.


I think it’s fair to say that focusing on the demand creation piece, you really want to focus on the top of funnel as somebody may be getting into that middle of funnel or consideration stage of that research. But a lot of times, like your demand generation, your demand creation activity is really going to be focused on different pieces of content and let’s say guides or blog, kind of top of funnel topics, just organic social content other like webinars, best practice kind of stuff. Anything that’s content that’s really not focused on your products or specifically your solutions, but more focused on these pain points or these topics that are top of mind for these people as they’re searching. As Jenni mentioned, you’re googling an issue that you have, you want that top of funnel content to really start to show up. That demand creation type content to start showing up for these people. And yes, it’s branded content, so they’re going to start to see your brand in these different places, but you’re not using a blog post or a blog article as just a way to sell your product. It’s that top of funnel focused on, okay, this person is not even in a research type of phase, you want to be talking to them as the expert in that area or speaking to somebody on these different topics, again, as a non-biased, not product or service-based topics or content.


You don’t want to seem pushy. You want it to be something that they’re out there looking for. I like guides, I like checklists, I like podcasts, things where you are getting ideas, you’re getting helpful information. Maybe you download a PDF, and you go back to it a few different times because it had some really good insights in it. You don’t have to be salesy about it. You just have your logo on there and then you relate to that company as somebody that offered you up that information. They know what they’re talking about, and that’s just going to be top of mind.


You’ve got to keep in mind they’re not actively looking for a solution and they don’t want to be sold to. So the key is really you want them to follow and engage with your brand and your content on an ongoing basis. And you can have the soft sell in there. This is who we are, this is what we do, but the basis of that content needs to be more informational and educational and not product or service focused. Because if I’m looking at the content and I’m not in market, it’s more likely that I’m just looking for thinking around a topic or ideas on how to solve a problem or just trying to educate myself on the market so that I’m smarter at my job.


Companies that do that start to build brand awareness and loyalty. What happens is if they’ve been following along and they like your unique point of view as an organization and they buy into it, ultimately when they’re in market, they’re more likely to buy from you and they may not even know all the details of your technology. They may look at it and say, I’m assuming payroll system A is the same essentially as payroll system B, but I really like this brand. I like how they’ve educated and made me smarter over the past year. I don’t care how the software works; this is who I want to work with. So, it becomes less about selling the products and functionality and features of your software and more about the brand perception that they have of your organization and how they envision it will be like to work with you.


If you’ve built up that credibility, they’re probably following you on social, there’s just so many different ways to get in front of people. You want to work with somebody that you trust.


What about the elusive 5% or so of people that actually are currently in market? What type of demand capture programs should an organization be looking at to find those people and to pull them in and ultimately, hopefully convert them?


Once you’re focused on that 5%, you’re focused on those people that are in that demand capture realm. You really want to focus on those people that now they know who you are. These are people who now have done that research and they have found, maybe they’ve considered, there’s a couple solutions for their problems. You want to start to think about ways that you can show them how your products or services might be differentiated between these other brands that they’re aware of in that space. You also want to start to focus more on bottom of the funnel content where it’s focused on sell sheets or sales collateral demo. Like Deanna mentioned earlier but focusing more on a virtual demo where somebody can start seeing proof that your product is what it is cracked up to be.


People can start to see that. But still in part of their online research, they have access to some of those tools and some of that proof without having to talk to sales directly and have a schedule, a formal demo, and that kind of thing. Some other types of content that you would use in the demand capture area would be things like product reviews or industry kind of reviews, ROI calculators, different product selector type of tools, use cases. This is the point where these people know they’ve identified their problems, they’ve found that there are solutions, they’ve kind of identified some of those brands that they feel might be a solution to these issues, and now they’re at the point where they are ready to see more of this product focused content.


This is the point where you start to get more into the numbers, right? You start to put out some data, some percentages, some ROI calculators. How am I going to save money in my organization by investing in this software or whatever it is, what’s in it for me? Those kinds of stats, data numbers, all that kind of stuff so that they can really keep doing their research, but more against competitors so that they’re really narrowing it down and what am I going to pick?


I was talking about demand capture. I think a lot of people naturally are going think this is where I put the forms on the content. I would argue you’re still giving away a lot of content freely. You’re not necessarily putting forms on things. Why put a form on something that creates an obstacle for the people that you want to actually read your content, watch your content, listen to your content? You want that to get in front of them. What would you recommend as vehicles to actually capture that interest?


When you’re thinking about forms in gating content, there are a lot of marketers out there that are still gating quite a bit of content. I saw a post on LinkedIn about someone who gave all their content away freely except for a demo request and their e-book. I asked her why are you putting a gate on your e-book? Don’t you want people to read this? And her response was, well, it’s a compilation of our blog posts, and they can go freely read their blog posts as they want. Someone else responded under that but why put a gate on it? And do they realize that that content is freely available if they go to a different avenue?


When you’re looking at putting forms out there in gates, if you have a newsletter, something that requires a subscription, you can put a form out there so you can collect their email address because they’re asking you to send them that weekly or monthly. Have video-based demos that people can watch but provide someone an option if they want to see a live demo where they can ask questions and really dig deeper into the product, put a form on that. Those are the golden standard of leads because this is someone who says, I’m ready to talk to a salesperson. Here’s my name, please call me. Put everything out there freely from a content perspective.


Another area that I’ve seen success with when to gate is if you build out an ROI calculator, which sometimes can be very complex in the backend, but building out a calculator that can give somebody kind of a teaser, this is what your ROI would look like with our solution after this amount of time. There’s also opportunity there to expand on that and offer them a full report on their ROI, maybe an itemized list of different savings with our solution over someone else’s or things like that. So, there are opportunities, to your point, Deanna, you don’t want to deter somebody from consuming the content or finding the answer, and you definitely don’t want to deter them from finding out what their ROI is going to be, but there might be an opportunity there to say, would you like a full report? And then you follow up with them directly from filling that out.


You’ve already got that person engaged. They’ve already gone through the steps of figuring out what their ROI is going to be, and then you’re basically saying, hey, we can help you learn more. If they’ve already engaged that far, they’re probably engaged.


As long as you give them the ROI numbers without requiring the information. You fill out a form to get the information, and then you get to the very last page, and it says please provide your contact information to get the results. I wouldn’t have done it if I knew I had to provide my contact information. Don’t limit your prospect from seeing the information that you want them to see to help you sell to them. That;s not a good user experience. I am limiting them from seeing it. Some people will fill out the information and they will see what’s behind your gate. Some people are going to be like, well, I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. I’m not giving you my email address. I’m walking away. And you just lost that, and then you have a bad taste in your mouth about that company. On the topics of putting forms in and gating stuff, I can’t tell you how many times I have decided, okay, this topic’s really interesting to me. I want the content. I will provide my information, and you fill out the form and you get the content piece and it under delivers and then I’m just mad because I gave away my contact information. I’m going to get three to 10 calls per day for the next two weeks and multiple emails, and I didn’t even get the value I had anticipated out of this another situation. That leaves a bad taste from a brand perspective in a person’s mouth. Give it freely. If there’s less disappointment, if they open it and it’s not what they had anticipated getting or not as deep as they wanted it to go if they didn’t have to trade in their kidney to get it from you.


I’ve had this conversation in previous lives with leadership teams sometimes where they say we don’t want to just give that away, or that’s a high value piece. Or sometimes people have hesitation with that and think about the amount of time and effort you’re putting into that content piece, and you put that out online. In the next three months you only see, let’s say 20-some people fill out that form, some of those aren’t even legitimate. And your sales team says, this means nothing to me. Think about the fact that you just put all this time and effort and money, you might have created that content, whatever you did to create that piece of content. And you’re going to prevent people from seeing that and consuming that information about your products or services because you’re worried about just giving it away. Whereas if you don’t put a gate on that content. And let’s say you see 1,000-5,000 views of that piece of content in the last however many months. I think that’s something too that’s worth thinking about. And it’s a common concern we see with a lot of times non marketers, not so much marketers. Something to think about is all the time and effort goes into those pieces. You’re doing that to educate your customers. Why not? Let’s let them do that research and educate themselves without getting in the way.


How do we shape marketing programs and sales processes to support the way that buyers want to buy because it’s supposed to be about them, not about us as the vendors. And if buyers are able to buy the way that they want to, they’re going to have a better experience. They’re going to be more likely to go with that organization that made it really easy for them to learn about them and research and come along on the journey, and feel supported and quite frankly, have more trust than they would when a lot of times we’re trying to pull them into our sales process and how we want to sell to them. I know we’re running up on time here. Any last takeaways that you guys would tell people when they think about demand generation and what the value is in taking an approach that is more of a long-term sustainable growth engine versus lead gen, which is, I need leads, I need them yesterday.


The main thing is reiterating what you just said, it is long-term. It is a process. It’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s definitely worth investing in it and investing the time and the money so that your brand is out there so that you are building that demand throughout the time. You can do other things in the meantime, but it’s a good tactic to get your name and your brand awareness out there.


It is a long-term focus and you’re really focused on taking someone through the funnel through their entire journey. This isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. You don’t just build out a demand generation program and say, we’re set for the next 10 years, we have a demand generation program. You have to consistently fuel that program and continue to create content. And then it also goes back to looking at your metrics. You should constantly be looking back to see how things are performing and what types of content your audience seems to resonate most with, and make sure that you’re continuing to evolve this program and or programs plural, and make sure that you’re continuing to build onto that and take the time to continue to revisit and add to the program and make tweaks based on the KPIs and see what’s working and what’s not. So definitely a long-term solution.


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 for 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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