5 Secret Demand Generation Plays Missing From An Inbound Marketing Playbook
February 28, 2017
Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing Have Been Paired For Years; Now They’re Both Getting Proper Exposure
If inbound marketing works well when people are in the awareness stage of their buyer journey and actively engaged in a purchase cycle, then demand generation is for those people who fit your best prospect persona but are not yet active in their own buyer journey.
In my opinion, demand generation is for people in what I’ve started calling pre-awareness. They need what you have, but their pain is not acute enough to activate a buying cycle. If you want to focus your precious marketing dollars on prospects in the awareness stage, inbound marketing might be enough. But if you want to capture all of your lead generation opportunities, then you’ll need to add demand generation to your bag of tricks.
Here are five secret, high-impact plays that will produce leads from people who are not yet searching for a business like yours...
1. It’s The Message, Stupid – Disrupt Their Status Quo With A Well-Crafted Story
You might not think this is much of a secret, but most companies miss this entirely. I don’t care who you are or what your business does, if you don’t have a disruptive, emotional and compelling story as to why your prospects need to use what you’re offering right now, you need to do more work on it.
• There’s a 75% chance that hackers have already breached your network. Make sure your company network is secure before they launch their attack. • By creating localized, culturally relevant, language-specific websites, you could see a 100% to 500% increase in global revenue in months. • Your concrete floor looks like crap today, but in 24 hours you’ll have a showroom-quality floor that impresses clients, team members and executives.
Three different companies in three different industries, all with single-sentence messages that feature the prospect as the hero of the story, provide an emotional feeling to the story, and clearly articulate what the company does, how the company does it differently and how it’s going to help. Here are how the three client examples played out:
• Cyber security company targeting the director of network security, who became concerned he might not be doing enough. But he saved his company’s network by being proactive and ferreting out the hacker that penetrated the network weeks ago and was waiting to attack. • Localization and global translation company targeting VPs of marketing, who might not be doing enough to support global expansion. But they helped drive revenue by creating a more compelling and culturally appropriate website in all their global markets. • Concrete floor refinishing firm targeting factory and operations managers, who might not even know their floors could look better, be easier to clean or cheaper to maintain. But in only one day they can have a floor that they’re proud of, their bosses are proud of and everyone in the company is talking about.
Three heroes, emotional outcomes and clearly differentiated businesses capable of delivering these outcomes. That’s good marketing messaging, and without it you’re dead in the marketing water.
2. You Need To Grab Their Attention – Send Them Something They Won’t Throw Out
Great messaging is important, but today we live in a marketing world filled with noise, clutter and a lot of static. Standing out is more than just messaging; it’s packaging and a deep understanding of today’s buyer behavior. Emails get deleted, postcards and letters get thrown out, and even magazines end up on a desk or table somewhere without always getting read or shared.
Instead, think boldly. How do you keep your message tight and get someone’s attention for long enough to tell them your amazing story (like the ones above)? Sending them something they can touch and feel is one way to do it.
When I ran marketing for a software company, there were a lot of failed implementations and a lot of competitor products that ended up in the trash or on the shelf. To connect with people who felt that pain, we sent small silver trash cans with a card inside that said, “If your software is in the trash, we specialize in quick implementations and guaranteed results. Consider our solution!” For those people with failed implementations or low adoption rates, the message resonated emotionally and the trash can cut through the clutter, landing on every exec’s desk.
3. Build A Bottom-Of-The-Funnel Offer They Can’t Refuse – Deliver It Beyond Their Expectations
Your best prospects are at the bottom of the funnel right now. They’re done with the awareness and consideration stages. You’ve done the heavy lifting to get them ready to talk to one of your sales reps. They’re on your site right now, and what do they see? Take Our Demo! Start A Trial! Talk To A Consultant! Schedule A Session! Are these about them or are these about you? Don’t answer that; they’re about you. Your demo, your trial, your session, your consultant — what are they going to get from the time they invest in any of these offers? A pushy sales rep. They know!
You have to do better. You must create bottom-of-the-funnel offers that deliver value to your prospect. Here are a few that we’ve used over the years:
• In 30 Minutes, Figure Out How To Match Your Marketing Budget To Your Revenue Goals • Get 10 Killer Blog Ideas To Drive Views, Leads And Subscribers • Grade Your Website And Find Out Exactly How To Fix Your Website So It Gets Found, Generates Leads And Helps You Close Sales
Yes, we’re also going to qualify you and see if you’re a good prospect for us, but we will give you the information we promised. The prospects know it’s a sales call, but if you give them something of value, they’ll sign up more frequently.
Come up with more compelling bottom-of-the-funnel offers and you’ll get more sales-ready leads from your marketing. The cyber security company didn’t offer a demo. Instead, it offered to assess the threats within the prospect’s current network.
4. You Had Better Stand Out To Keep Their Attention – Nurture Them In A More Creative Way
We’re talking about demand generation and pre-awareness prospects, so you have to nurture them in a highly creative manner. Since you might have to nurture them for months or years, you want to apply your best thinking to these lead nurture campaigns. Start by thinking exclusives. Give them special offers, special invitations, access to pre-release content, or previews of new features or new products. Everyone wants to feel special. Help these people feel special and they’ll remember you, talk about you and engage much more frequently.
You can create a webinar series that is not available to the general public and available by invitation only. People want to have access to special information. Tell someone not to tell anyone a secret and what’s the first thing they do? They tell everyone. Let your special invitees bring one additional prospect along with them. Now you made them feel special and you doubled your attendee list.
Think through a series of special, exclusive, invite-only offers like this, and pretty soon these people will be feeling like high-value VIPs and they’ll be talking about your company, its offers and its products/services.
5. Make The Entire Experience Highly Personal – Leverage The Details
It’s not enough to personalize the communication with first name, company name or even their website domain. This is table stakes today. If you want to really grab someone’s attention and emotionally connect them to your company so they follow along as you nurture them, you’d better start looking at leveraging some serious personal data. What food do they like? What is their favorite sport or sports team? Where do they go on vacation? How many kids do they have and how old are those kids? This data is almost always available via social media with very little effort. The extra effort is going to be appreciated and the message is going to be hyper personal, different than any other outreach they’re getting and highly effective.
Manage down the creepy factor. You don’t want to go over the line, but pushing the line is going to produce the results you’re looking for. They’ll appreciate the attention to detail, and this expedites the know, like and trust factors that need to be in place for them to feel safe enough to welcome you into their world.
Oh, you were looking for something easier? Sorry about that. Good marketing, regardless of whether it’s inbound or outbound, is not easy. Marketing that produces results takes time to create, it takes effort to build and it takes ongoing optimization to hone its performance to the point where it produces the expected results. Regardless of your philosophy, understand that if you want to create a lead generation machine and revenue acceleration at your company, you’re going to have to invest time and money to produce that result.
Now, let’s talk about timing. You see the secrets are going to take time to catch hold. Remember, these people haven’t even realized their pain is acute enough to need what you do. You’re starting even earlier compared to prospects who have pain, do a search, find your site and start engaging with your content. Factoring in your sales cycle and demand generation is the ultimate in long-game marketing. It’s going to fill up your funnel, but not necessarily drive revenue in the next 30 days.
Instead, look for a healthy blend of both pre-awareness demand generation, awareness stage inbound marketing and guided sales processes that help prospects feel safe faster. That’s how you drive revenue acceleration in 2017.
Look at the blend of marketing tactics in my portfolio. If you need more awareness and top-of-the-funnel juice, the demand generation tactics here are going to fit beautifully. But if you need more fast “click-to-close” sales opportunities, more heavily weighting toward inbound might make more sense. However, I think the answer for most businesses is a nice balance of both. Take advantage of low-hanging fruit with inbound and invest in the future with demand generation. As you tweak the mix and hone your execution, you’ll be able to dial in the perfect mix of marketing to hit your company’s revenue goals.