Demand Generation Techniques: How to Generate Sales for a New Business, Brand or Product
One of the first considerations when setting up a new business, creating a new product, or introducing a new brand, is the existing – or even potential – need in the market. Is there a need for that new product? Will the business be able to meet that need? If the answer is yes, then entrepreneurs have a glimmer of hope of making sales.
In order to be able to capitalize on that need, it’s just a matter of ensuring that the needs are fully identified, and that you are able to deliver when it comes to satisfying the need.
But what if there is very low demand for that product? Worse, what if there is no demand for it at all? Does that mean you should withdraw your intentions of setting up your new business or brand? Should you forget about introducing that new product or service, even if you truly believe in its potential? Should you give up, even before you’ve begun?
That is certainly an option. But there is another one which is going to require a lot from you, but when done right, it could mean the success of your new venture.
So how will you generate sales of your new product or service, build your brand, and make your business grow and succeed?
Start by working on the demand. There is no demand? Then work on generating it. For that, there are several demand generation techniques that you can use.
WHAT IS DEMAND GENERATION?
Marketing plays a vital role in how a business establishes a relationship with its target customers and how it retains and grows revenue from and through that relationship. Depending on factors surrounding the market and the business, marketing strategies are designed and programmed, consisting of activities that are all aimed at generating sales and boosting the company’s profitability.
Among these many activities is demand generation or “demand gen”, the marketing strategy that aims at driving the awareness and interest of consumers in the target market in the products and services offered by a company, for the purpose of generating revenue and increasing the overall results of operations.
Before we go any further, there is a need to clarify several issues that cause confusion.
“Demand generation” is different from “demand creation”
Demand creation is, as the phrase implies, all about creating demand for a product, service or brand that does not exist. Demand generation, on the other hand, is for products, services or brands that, although new, already exist. In other words, the business is already up and running, operations are underway, and the products and services are already in existence or in the market. The only problem is that the market is unaware of that fact.
Demand creation strategies, on the other hand, are employed under any of the following conditions:
- If the business is planning on launching a new product, service, or brand;
- If the business is entering a new market or a new niche, and it wants to know if there is demand for its products or services in that market or niche; and
- If the market is completely unaware of the company’s brand, and it is unsure of whether there is demand in the market or not.
Essentially, the company will try to make the customers think and believe that they need the product or service, even when they’ve never had a need for it before. Demand generation will be used after the demand has been successfully created.
Between the two, demand creation is decidedly the strategy that requires more from the company: more time, more costs, more resources, and certainly more patience.
“Demand generation” is different from “lead generation”
These two are often used interchangeably since many marketing people often perform them simultaneously.
Demand gen will drive awareness and interest of the market, as well as their trust and authority in the products and services that a company or brand has to offer. Meanwhile, lead gen focuses more on what comes next after demand has been generated, and it is time to “close the deal”, so to speak. In other words, through lead gen, the demand will be reaped or “harvested” by reaching out to the customers who need – and therefore, demand – the product or service, and convert them into buying customers. This will mark the beginning of the sales cycle.
The difference between the two may also be seen in how they treat leads. In lead gen, a lead is a lead, regardless of whether the lead has potential for conversion or not. Demand gen takes a more comprehensive tack, subjecting the prospects or leads to a scoring or qualification process, nurturing and turning them into qualified opportunities. Lead gen focuses mainly on using content and other tools or efforts to collect information such as names and contact details of prospects. To put it simply, unlike lead gen, demand gen is more concerned with finding the right customers so that it can increase the company’s conversion rates and, consequently, sales and profit.
Out of all the other techniques for acquisition of customers or drawing attention to one’s brand, demand generation is the approach or method with a long-term outlook. Its concern is turning prospects into customers and building a long-term relationship with them. It wants to build a loyal customer base, not just one-time purchasers.
DEMAND GENERATION PROGRAM
In order to ensure the success of a company’s marketing program, a holistic approach must be taken when it comes to its demand gen strategies. A marketing team may be designated as the key players or point personnel of the company’s demand generation program; however, its implementation will span the whole marketing department, and other units that are indirectly involved in the company’s marketing activities. Involvement of the sales team is also inevitable, considering how demand gen is used to bridge gaps between marketing and sales, to reach the customer or target market.
The Demand Gen program focuses on the identification of receptive audiences, or prospective customers that are likely to be open or responsive to the messages crafted and delivered by the brand. This is often done through various techniques such as inbound marketing, content marketing, email campaigns, tradeshows and events, and direct response campaigns, to name a few.
The prospects, once identified, are then passed onto the next stage (Lead Nurturing) to qualify whether they are genuine leads or not. The qualified prospects or leads are then moved on to the hands of the Sales team.
A successful demand gen program must have these three components:
- The goal of your demand gen program. You have to be clear on what you want to achieve or accomplish throughout the process of implementing the tactics and techniques.
- The players or actors. Who are directly and indirectly involved in the activities, and what are their roles and responsibilities?
- The methods or activities. These include all the activities and efforts performed, and the techniques and tactics employed, all geared towards identifying and engaging customers.
DEMAND GENERATION TECHNIQUES
At first, it may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are several tried-and-tested demand gen techniques that marketing teams can employ in order to generate sales for their products and services and boost their brand.
When talking about demand generation techniques, you can probably name a lot of inbound marketing techniques. You wouldn’t be wrong, since inbound marketing – or the creation and use of quality content to promote a product, brand or company – is one of the several types of demand generation activities. But we will be more specific in identifying techniques to generate demand and boost sales and revenues.
1. Have a positive introduction
What is the best way to let someone know who you are? You should go up to that person and introduce yourself directly. This approach – straightforward and with impact – should also be the approach you should take to introduce your new brand, product or service.
Set up a website, and use it properly
The internet has leveled the playing field for businesses, allowing even small and new businesses to have a fighting chance against bigger and more established competitor companies. A large majority of consumers now turn to the internet, which influences their preferences and even their buying decisions.
Invest in creating a website for your brand or, if you are introducing a new product, use your website as a launch pad. It goes without saying that the website must be properly maintained, regularly updated and kept current. If it is a blog, update it consistently and regularly, and update it with relevant and useful content.
Offer free value
Consumers definitely wouldn’t say no to freebies, which is why this is seen as an effective technique in piquing their interest. Companies launching a new product may opt to give free product samples to give customers a taste of what to expect. For service companies, it could be a free offer of a new service. It may also be in the form of a free tool or a free resource that the target audiences would want to use.
When using this technique, be sure to offer your best stuff, and the items should have real value. You want to make a very good first impression, so you should offer the best that you have. When done properly, giveaways will lead the audience to look at you and your brand positively, turning them into qualified prospects that will eventually become loyal customers that will keep coming back to patronize your brand.
Speaking of a free tool or resource, a good example would be how Sprout Social, the developer of software and other similar solutions, created Landscape, an image resizing tool for social media professionals, content creators and business people. This has increased visits to the site, as well as the trials by Sprout Social, resulting in more customers for the company.
Offer great deals
This may no longer be new to you: a brand tries to entice customers to try a new product for the first time by offering a discount on their first order. The discount must be substantial or significant enough to make the prospect decide to buy it or not. He will buy the product to give it a try, and if he likes it, he can repurchase at the regular price. You have just successfully conducted a demand gen activity, one that boasts a successful conversion.
2. Content marketing techniques
Anyone can make web content, but there is web content that can generate leads, while there is web content that can generate demand. Your goal is to apply content marketing strategies that are specifically directed at generating demand.
Create high quality content
This is the first rule and the most important technique in content marketing. A company may have all the promotional tools at his disposal, but if the content is of poor quality, it won’t be able to get even a passing glance from customers.
In order to create high quality content, there are several factors to be considered, but the most important is the target: the prospect or target customer. Who is he? What are his content preferences? What influences his buying decisions? Keep these in mind while creating the content or the marketing message you want to convey to the target audience.
Go multimedia and multichannel
These days, creating high-quality content is no longer enough. Thanks to the emergence of various content creation tools, anyone can now create content that is of high quality. One tactic adopted by several leading marketing teams is to create a wide variety of content and promote it in as many channels as they can.
The biggest challenge here is that it may prove to be costly and time-consuming, especially for new companies. Another option, and one that is highly recommended by marketers such as Timothy Peters of IntelliResponse, is to invest in the creation of one content strategy, ensuring that it is strong and of high quality, and “repurposing” it in different mediums, to be promoted in different channels.
Peters calls this technique “atomization”. For example, a business’ decided its content strategy to be the conduct and completion of an industry research which, when conveyed to the target audience, will raise their awareness about the company’s brand and offerings.
First, the content will be created on white paper, in narrative form, released in the form of newsletters, and even eBooks. Next, its creative team will come up with an infographic based on the content narrative, which makes it ideal for promotion through blogs and websites. Images will also be created purposely for sharing on social media as well as other places online. The company also plans to make use of YouTube and other video streaming utilities, so videos are also created.
Use video content marketing
For the longest time, the “default setting” when it came to creating web content involved the use of documents and images, with increasing emphasis on graphics and visual design. But not everyone has the patience (and often, ability) to read and analyze. Therefore, your goal is to find a way to deliver the marketing message, and have them understand it within seconds, or even a split-second.
You may take the straightforward approach: it can be a video demonstrating how to use the new product you are introducing, or what its benefits are. It can also be an introduction to the brand, giving the viewers a closer look at that brand’s offerings.
Consider presenting case studies, but in video format. Broach the subject of presenting a case study to someone, and you are likely to be met with a flat look or a non-committal reaction. After all, case studies, especially pages and pages of it, are hardly thrilling reading material.
But if you use video format in presenting the case study, you will increase the chances of your case study being watched, and your message being received.
Any hard data that you will present to back up the marketing case study for your product or service is easier to present in video format, and definitely easier to share with the target recipients. Timothy Peters suggested the video case study to be created with “great storytelling, pleasing visuals”, and factual and actual results, in order for it to be effective and successful.
You have high quality content that is, without a doubt, high-performing. But how long can that high performance be sustained, ensuring that it is able to attract new prospects even after a considerable time has passed since it was first used?
That is where content syndication comes in. This involves working with third-party media partners that have established good reputations as prospects or lead providers. In this relationship – and it is a relationship, so you have to make sure you choose your partners well – you are basically giving someone else the right to use and promote your content, which is tantamount to giving your content away.
All is not lost, however, since the rights over the content will still remain with you, and the promotion by the third party will result into conversions that will be to your benefit.
The following are examples of content syndication tactics that you can try:
- Creating guest posts for other sites, and sharing others’ guest posts in your own site. Many industries have such publication sites where you can reach out to increase your brand exposure.
- Cross-posting blog posts with established publisher sites such as Quora, LinkedIn, and Huffington Post.
- Joining paid syndication networks that will host your content about your new product or brand, and promote them within their network. Examples are NetLine, Integrate and DemandWorks.
3. Take advantage of social media marketing tools and techniques
There are several social media platforms that have proven to be excellent tools in individuals’ and businesses’ marketing efforts for their brands. As such, they are seen as indispensable aids in the implementation of demand gen programs. Therefore, you should utilize social media in zeroing in on your target audiences.
When using social media for business, consider using paid social advertising, since it offers more features that will allow businesses and entrepreneurs to reach more audiences. Free social advertising can only get you so much and bring you so far, and your demand gen efforts may not bear the results you want.
Use audience segmentation on Facebook
If you already have a list of your best customers, or those that provide the highest value, you can use your (paid) Facebook account to identify and reach similar customers. How do you do that?
From your audience list, you will create a separate list, or a segment, consisting of your best customers. Using Facebook’s Audience Manager Feature, you can use that custom segment list to generate a “lookalike audience”. The great thing about this is that you do not have to manually set the parameters, since Facebook will do it for you, using its data points and based on the social profiles of the customers in your custom segment list.
Use LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn has made it possible for businesses to target and reach the right audiences, and that is through its LinkedIn Ads feature.
It will start with the content you post or upload on LinkedIn Ads. The click-through results will be analyzed, and the findings will be used to identify the audiences that should be targeted, since they demonstrate higher potential for conversion.
Conduct webinars and other online events
Strictly speaking, a webinar – or a web-based seminar – may not be strictly classified under “social media”, but we will include them here since they are essentially online gatherings.
Using a video conferencing software, you may introduce your new offering or brand through a presentation or a lecture transmitted over the Web. Or you can come up with a workshop or seminar on a resource that will reference your brand, and conduct it online, in real-time, allowing interaction with the audiences. If you are introducing a new product, the webinar may focus on educating the market on the problems that will be solved by the new product. This is a wonderful opportunity to create a need for the product – a need that the customer is unaware of.
The interactive aspect of this strategy is what makes it a great opportunity for demand generation. You can answer the questions of the audience and go in depth greater than you can possibly do in an infographic or a press release about your new offering.
4. Strengthen your email marketing
If you are bombarding those on your email list daily with random emails, just to remind them of your company or brand’s existence, that is not demand gen. It is actually more of a lead gen, because your focus is reaching as many prospects as you can, instead of reaching out to the right prospects.
How do you strengthen your email marketing?
- Assess the performance of your email campaign. This may be done through split testing or A/B testing the emails, from the subject line to the content and the call to action. For example, compare two emails by simultaneously sending them to several target customers, and the one that is able to turn them into qualified prospects will be the better performer.
- Provide relevant email content. The content you include in the email must be relevant to the readers, so as to appeal to them and engage them. The content should be something they would be interested in and would actually want to read. Give them something to look forward to, so they will anticipate receiving emails from you.
- Maintain an updated and clean database. Take a look at your list and clean it regularly, removing unresponsive targets, if any. Previous email campaigns may also reveal some inactive or inexistent email accounts. Those have to be removed as well, since they will only clutter your database.
5. Establish connections with the right partners
Some of the demand gen partners that you should focus your efforts on striking solid and productive partnerships are:
- Industry authorities or experts. In short, the “superstars” in the industry or niche that your company belongs to. If you are going to conduct a webinar, for example, the one to headline it should be someone with credibility and influence. No one will be interested to check out or join a webinar with unknown speakers.
- Key influencers. Essentially, they are the movers and shakers in the industry. For example, a company with a demand gen process focused on a new clothing line for women will try to partner with top fashion bloggers, who are deemed to be influencers in this specific area. Build and nurture a good relationship with them, and soon they will create positive content about your brand, and aid in your demand gen efforts.
- Partner marketers. This is a quid pro quo relationship; I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Basically, you will co-create content with another company or brand. That content will be delivered to that company’s audience as well as yours, so both audiences will be aware of the other company or brand. With these, you just effectively increased your reach, and widened your pool of prospects.
There are no fixed guidelines on how a company’s demand gen program should look like, because it will depend on several factors, such as the nature of the business, the product, the market and the target audiences, and other internal and external factors. Implementing a demand gen program takes a lot of work, and it is not something that can be accomplished overnight. It is a process, often a long and tedious one, but it is one of those things that must be done, if a business hopes to see its revenues and sales go up.