But what exactly goes into that demand generation engine?
There are primary three pillars to build out:
Strategy – the map to achieve growth
Content – the fuel to your engine
Distribution – the wheels that travel
In this episode, we walk you through the steps and considerations to building your engine to fire on all cylinders so you can drive more inbound and higher quality leads – leading to shorter sales cycles, higher closing rates and lower customer acquisition costs.
[00:00] Show intro
[00:23] The anatomy of a demand generation engine
[00:51] Why demand generation and not lead generation?
[04:06] Overview of the three main pillars of demand generation
[07:07] The first pillar: Strategy
[13:50] The second pillar: Content
[20:40] The third pillar: Distribution
[25:08] Wrap up summary
[25:51] Show outro
The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Visit www.growthmodemarketing.com to learn more about us.
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of growth motors 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 with Growth Mode Marketing. I’m joined today by Erica and Deanna. And I’m Jenny, your host. Today our topic is The Anatomy of a Demand Generation Engine. Any organization whose priorities high growth needs to build a demand generation engine. When done well, it becomes a catalyst to drive more inbound and better quality leads, which means shorter sales cycles, higher close rates, and a lower customer acquisition cost. Let’s start with this. Why demand generation and not lead generation?
Oh, brother. Um, you know, lead generation tactics alone often don’t deliver the results that you need for high growth. I’ve talked to a lot of sales leaders, um, in the HR tech industry in the past several months, and gotten the feedback from a lot of ’em that they’re like, man, you know, Deanna, the things that I’ve been trying just aren’t working the way they used to. You know, the cold outreach emails, the cold calling, trying to find them. And I think, you know, the reality is that only 5% of your potential prospects are actually in market in a recession, it’s even less. So as we’re entering potentially into this recession here and companies are pulling back on spend, like in this article, they said it might be as low as 1%, which now means 99% of the companies that you’re trying to go after that are in your total addressable market, actually are not looking to buy right now. And that’s where, like, if you’re still doing lead generation, I think it’s time to really take a step back and think about other strategies and how do you play the long game? Because you’re not gonna have as many companies out there that are ready to buy. And if that’s all you focus on, you’re most definitely going to see a drop in your revenue.
That’s actually a really good point. If 95 or 99% of those prospects aren’t in, that aren’t in market to buy or aren’t looking for a solution, your sole focus can’t be trying to get those people to reach out and ask you to schedule a meeting or ask you to take the next step. You really wanna focus your efforts, like Deanna said, on you need to shift your focus from lead generation to another type of strategy. And demand generation is really based on the premise of being able to build brand awareness and trust within those prospects. Once they enter into that point where they are ready to buy or they are considering different solutions, your prospect is actually gonna raise their hand and invite you into their buying process once they’re ready. So rather than the other way around and you’re trying to generate different leads and get somebody to fill out a form to have a conversation, you are getting in front of those people and you are focused on the building trust and, uh, getting people to follow your brand and recognize your brand and to getting to the point where somebody has, when they need a solution, they’re gonna pick your products or service and recognize your brand when they go looking for different
Solution. I think in a nutshell, like you’ve gotta move from asking prospects to take a meeting to you, to finding ways for them to ask you to have a meeting with them. And, and that’s the difference basically between lead generation strategies and demand generation strategies is at the end of the day with lead generation, you are asking them to have a meeting with you. You’re chasing them, demand generation, you’re building up that brand awareness and that trust. And ultimately when they’re ready because they trust you and they’re part of your community and they’ve been following you, they’re raising their hand and they’re inviting you to have a conversation with them.
So growth mode marketing, we have identified three main pillars of demand generation or the demand generation engine. Those are strategy, content, and distribution. So let’s talk a little bit more about each of those things and just touch on, on each, um, starting with strategy.
Your strategy really needs to be the foundation. So thinking about both focused on, you know, your content strategy and your demand gen strategy, you need to use that strategy as your foundation to really get hyper focused and layout a plan. So what is your objective? And then also thinking through long term, what are your goals? What are your growth goals in the future? And then it’s also something, think about it as a compass that is gonna give you the direction for every different piece of content or different, um, promotion idea in the future. So your strategy should really be that foundation and that sort of compass or, um, that building block as far as what, you know, your source of truth going forward and your team needs to continue to refer back to that strategy in sort of any marketing efforts that you’re gonna be doing in the future.
Yeah. And, and once you build out the strategy, I think the next logical step is really the content. Like a strong content strategy is the foundation of your demand generation engine. And you’re not trying to be everything to everyone. I mean, you’re really getting hyper-focused in the content that you create and ultimately trying to tell a consistent story to a very specific audience over and over and over. So as you, you know, build out your content, you’re relying back on that strategy to determine what that content is about and who that content’s for. And then, you know, that third logical step that pillar in the demand generation engine is how do you get that content out there
Beyond the strategy and the content plan or strategy you really need to focus on, um, okay, now I have all of this content, I have the foundation, I have sort of my roadmap or my plan. Now how am I getting this content out in front of these prospects? So it’s really important that you start to think about things like you need to be doing research to understand how and where do you show up in front of your prospects? What types of channels are they using to get their information within the industry? Pushing content out to both owned, borrowed and, you know, rented avenues or channels where your prospects that you’ve identified are finding this information and where they would be going to do research on different products or solutions.
We’ve touched on each of the three pillars, strategy, content, and distribution. And here at growth mode, you know, as we said, we really strongly suggest that you get started with your strategy first because that is the, the compass that leads you through the rest of the buildout. We should discuss a little bit more in detail each of the three pillars starting, like I said, with strategy and the first step in strategy is defining your ideal customer profile.
Yeah. So the ideal customer profile, the whole point of the exercise is to define who your audience is. And that doesn’t mean you’re defining your total addressable audience. So for example, if you’re selling HR technology, it’s not just any HR tech buyer out there. This is really about focusing on the best fit companies for your solution. And there’s a whole process around how you kind of identify that and develop out what are the key characteristics of an individual company. Ultimately, every piece of demand generation program, you know, it’s gonna be built around this. So you start with the ideal customer profile first because it focuses you with everything else from your unique point of view to the content you create to where you distribute that content a little
Bit more on the unique point of view. As part of that strategy, once you’ve identified that audience, you want to start to build out this unique point of view for your brand. So this is really doing the research, starting to build a framework for a story that you’re gonna tell, a story that you feel like your brand can kind of claim as their stake. And start to weave this throughout all of the content that your brand is creating and all of the content that you’re getting in front of that audience that will resonate directly with that ideal customer profile. So in the case of Deanna’s example, if this is an HR tech buyer, you have created a unique point of view or a stance that is gonna resonate directly with someone within the HRT who is searching for an HR tech solution. So that’s really kind of building out that framework, and then it’s really based on understanding that ideal customer profile.
So starting to figure things out like what do they care most about, you know, what are their biggest pain points? How do they view different challenges within the market that might be different and hopefully it’s something different than what your competitors might be highlighting. How does this all tie back to your products and services is ultimately, you know, where you wanna start and create this stance in the market. It really helps to start to break through the clutter and really stand out in this market that’s overcrowded and these people are being hit with a million messages a day all over the place from every angle. And it really, by being able to define that audience and really hone in your message on having a unique point of view, will allow you to kind of break through that and start to really stand out to these
Prospects, right? Because if you think about it, there’s over 21,000 different HR tech vendors out there, and you may not feel like you’re competing against all of ’em, but they’re hearing those messages from every corner of every HR tech vendor out there. It’s pretty overwhelming. And so it’s really easy, I think, to get lost in the crowd of all the HR tech solutions. Even if you’re a niche solution or you know, offering something that there’s not as many competitors directly against you, you’ve still got to push through the noise because the HR buyers tend to be one of the most called on roles in an organization by salespeople, I mean, they’re, they’re bombarded.
Yeah, that’s, that’s a lot to sift through and, and, um, for any HR tech buyer, you know, it’s, if, if you can hear somebody out in the crowd that has a different message, it can only help to to break through all that clutter.
So now that we know who our ideal customer is and we have a unique point of view determined, um, now we need to get that story, that unique point of view out in front of these ideal customers. So let’s touch a bit on the strategy involved in actually like getting the content out there and the demand generation plan.
This is kind of, you know, after you’ve built your ideal customer profile and then you build your unique point of view and your unique point of view is based on who you know your ideal customer profile is. So the best fit companies that you’re trying to attract. Now that content and demand generation plan that’s like, how are you gonna put those things into action? So from a content standpoint, it’s really about how are you gonna tell the story so that you stand out in that crowded HR tech space and it’s about defining key topics that will resonate with the best fit HR tech buyers or whomever your market is. And really, you know, targeting that ideal customer profile. It’s also about identifying content formats. So when you build out your unique point of view, you know, the way that we do it at growth mode marketing is we will build a framework that’s like, here’s your unique point of view and here’s the pillars that support it, kind of key themes and building a whole story around it.
Now you wanna weave that all into your content and tell it over and over and over so that you’re consistently pushing that message out there because you know, the first time someone reads it, it doesn’t stick the second time, the third time, you know, Gartner says it takes 66 touches before a prospect is willing to engage with a salesperson. So you’ve got to really like hammer that message home to them and, and tell that story consistently so that it’s memorable for them, you know? And then that demand generation plan becomes about how do you get the content out there in front of your ideal customer profile? And from a demand generation standpoint, like I look at it as, what are the tactics that will be used and where will that content be placed? And when you’re talking about where will that content be placed, it’s really about where are my ideal customer profile companies going to research to have conversations, to find out new topics and learning and getting the content there. And the tactics are really like, what are the different ways we’re pushing that message out there? You know, it could be ABM campaigns, direct mail, email, social media, you know, the list goes on and on, on the different tactics that you could use from a demand generation, you know, plan standpoint, which is how do I distribute this content? I’m
Talking so much about content there. That’s a really great segue into talking about the next step in our building of our demand engine content. The content is really the core of your demand engine, right? You need to start building out your digital footprint. And at growth mode marketing, we feel really strongly that your best salesperson is your digital presence. We do have a few ideas here to get started on that portion of the plan.
Yeah. So the first one would really just be, you know, starting to now you have that content plan, you started to identify types of content, you have that unique point of view that you’re using within your consistent message, and you start to, you develop a plan on where you’re gonna be putting this content. Now you really need to make sure you’re targeting all that content around that ideal customer profile. So everything you’ll find as you continue to build out your demand gen engine, and keeping in mind that this is a long term game here, as you continue throughout the months and years to continue to build and add to this engine, you really need to focus on everything should look back towards that foundation, which is gonna be your strategy, and that’s gonna be your ideal customer profile that you’ve identified, and also your unique point of view.
So that stance that you’ve developed, make sure that you’re continuing to weave all of this, um, content and message back to that unique point of view. And then also it’s important to realize as part of that content plan, we need to be developing content at every stage of the funnel. So if someone’s in the awareness phase, we need to make sure that the content we have that’s gonna educate someone and get your brand out there and, um, recognized and start to build trust within your company or your brand. We need to focus on content there at the top of the funnel. And then the next one would be, um, middle of the funnel and making sure that when somebody’s, you know, starting to look at a consideration set and they might be considering some different solutions, we need to have content that’s gonna help your prospects identify companies that have an offering or a solution to your problems or their business need. And then bottom of the funnel. So as someone moves more into that decision phase, we really need to make sure that we have content that’s focused on the information that’s now gonna help a prospect actually choose your solution over other competitors in the market. So as they’re actually evaluating solutions side by side, you need to have content that is gonna fill that need as well. That’s gonna be, as someone enters that decision
State, I think you also need to think about how consumable is the content that you create. Like, you don’t wanna just create a, you know, a bunch of white papers that fit each stage of the funnel. It’s really about how do you optimize that content mm-hmm to reach multiple people in the forms that they like to take things in. You know, in at growth mode marketing, we like to think about content as like cornerstone pieces, which are gonna be those big pieces. So for example, you know, that 15 page research report or a podcast series, a webinar series, you know, there’s all kinds of different forms that a cornerstone content piece can take, but then how do you chip away pieces of that to turn into what we call cobblestone content, where if I’ve got that research report, I’m going to create a whole bunch of other content outta it to sweat that content, slice and dice it, however you wanna kinda talk about it, but to make it go further.
And so that’s looking at things like, okay, how many social media posts can I get outta this report and can I create an infographic from it? Can I create a couple articles from it? Can I, you know, create a webinar or videos or, you know, there’s all kinds of different ways that you can look at it and not everyone consumes the content the same. Some people love to read the 15 page report, some people wanna see a two minute video, you know, and mm-hmm , if you can’t get everyone to read that 15 page report, you can still get content out to them, but it’s more bite size. So, you know, maybe over a few months you’re feeding ’em all the key points from that research report, but they’re absorbing all that just the way you know, someone would if they read the whole report through.
I can only imagine how much you could get out of a 15 page report. I mean, truly that would be a great starting point for a cornerstone. So in essence, you’re getting multiple touchpoints and content pieces by parsing out some of your bigger pieces like that. But how do we know if our content is hitting the right target?
Test, test, test , you know, I, I think it’s about performing iterative testing along the way. So measuring how that content performs and finding what works and doing more of it. Also, finding what doesn’t work and doing less of that. And it doesn’t have to be this big formal testing process and measurement, I mean, I think you can do micro measurements along the way, like put posts out on social media, testing different messages and different types of content and see how people engage and how impressions are, send out emails, testing the things, you know, and you can look and start to see like, these are the things that get more reach that, you know, people seem to engage with more. And these are the areas of our messaging that don’t seem to get as much. And, and when you start to see that lean into the things that are working well and if there’s other things that just don’t seem to be resonating as well, think about how you tweak it or maybe refine a bit and test it again. And it’s just this iterative process of like, put it out there, measure it, analyze those results, make some adjustments, and do it again. And to constantly try to get better at it.
Yeah, and I think it’s really important to note there that this testing piece is critical to your demand gen success in the long term. I think, you know, it’s not a set it and forget it kind of thing. It’s something that has to continue to evolve. And in order to really build an engine that’s gonna be long term, um, for your organization, it’s really important that this testing piece isn’t something that you’re skipping out on. Because if you’re not understanding what performs and what doesn’t, you, there’s no way of improving your programs and you’re gonna end up just continuing to spin your wheel and you’re adding to this program, but you’re not paying any attention to some things that may not be working and aren’t worth, um, the time and effort and the things that are, and how you can spend, you know, more of your focus in that area.
So now that we have all of this amazing content and it’s created for exactly our ideal customer, how do we get it out there? How do we get it out to them? And let’s talk a little bit more about distribution. Obviously I would say your website is the first, you know, the first thing you would think of that’s your digital storefront. You’re gonna put everything out there, but there’s a ton of different ways to get your content out there. So let’s talk about some of those options.
Your website is really the easiest option. I mean, it’s a no-brainer. You should have any content you’re creating should have a place on your website and should be somewhere where as people start to build more and more interest in your brand and you know, they start to recognize your brand and build trust, they end up at your website. This is somewhere where you wanna have that content somewhere living somewhere where someone can really dive deep. And you also want to start to create a loop of content there that, you know, if someone ends up hearing your podcast and they go to Growth Mode’s website and then they want to learn a little bit more about a certain topic, they can go to the blog and they start to see different content within our blog. And then within that, they’re also gonna be recommended to different, um, topics that might be relatable to what we know they’re searching on. So there’s things like that, um, on your website that you definitely can’t be skipping over or, um, disregarding, you have to pay a lot of attention to the fact that that’s really somewhere where all of this content should live and provide answers as somebody starts to actually do research on your products and solutions. That’s something that at the bottom of the funnel, we expect people to be doing that research on our website. So, um, we need to have content that’s searchable and consumable there
Once your website is in good order. You know, another channel that you need to really look at is the owned and managed channels. And what those are are, you know, the channels like social media and webinars and podcasts, emails, direct mail, all of the type of marketing activities where you get to control what gets put out and the timing of it. And when you push it out, um, building out that is kind of that outer ring after your website to make sure as you’re building out your digital footprint, that anywhere that you can put content, you’re putting it out there so that they can find you so that when someone googles you or Googles a problem that you guys have done a really good job of creating content around that you pop up in those search engines and they find you. And then the third ring is really like tapping into other people’s audiences that are relevant to you.
So, you know, we’re talking about third party outlets like industry channels. So, you know, can you do content trades and placement? There’s pay-to-play opportunities, there’s review sites, there’s all these different places that people are going out, you know, whether it’s or online to find information and to learn and educate themselves. And they may not be your direct audience, but they’re the right people that you’re trying to target based on your ideal customer profile. Like how do you tap into that? How do you make that work for you? Um, and really expand the digital footprint even more. So it’s not just your content that you own. You know, it could even be like industry influencers who will write about your company and your product in a positive light. People are going and looking for that. And, and quite frankly, sometimes that content is even more valuable than anything you can ever put out there because it’s coming across as unbiased. Now again, you can pay to play in some of these instances and kind of control what they’re writing about or talking about, um, but that isn’t always transparent to the buyer. They’re just looking at it as, this is a third party I went to, you know, hr.com and read all about this. This is not, you know, your company putting that content out there. So there’s a little more value in it.
And again, it goes back to how many times you can get your brand out there, right? You, the more that you can saturate the market, the more that people know your name, the more trusted you’ll become and the better your chances are of landing a sale. So I think all of these things that we’ve talked about are great insights. I think anyone in HR tech or any B2B industry actually can certainly use these, these ideas. Something that Erica brought up a little earlier, and we should just touch on again, is that demand generation is not a one and done. Once you’ve built your demand generation engine, you need to keep it going. You can’t just leave it be, um, you’ve gotta keep constantly feeding the engine for it to keep working for you or it’ll sit stagnant. The key to increasing demand in the market is to build out a great, focused, targeted, and large digital footprint. And that’s done with a strong demand generation strategy and ongoing execution.
Thanks for joining us on the Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by Growth Mode 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.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.