Demand Generation marketing

The power of B2B Demand Generation Marketing | Moving away from Lead Gen | Joseph Lewin

Most people get confused with demand generation and how it differs from lead generation. Demand generation is all about bringing buying customers to you, rather than trying to convert customers into buyers.  

A good demand generation marketing strategy drives awareness for a product or service you provide and then generates demand for that product or service. 

In this demand gen podcast, we have an interesting conversation with Joseph Lewin, who deep dives into how B2B businesses can make the shift from lead generation to demand generation, especially in manufacturing and SaaS-based companies. Joseph Lewin helps tech, manufacturing, and software service companies build customer relationships at scale as the Director of Demand Generation at Proofpoint Marketing

We also comprehend what an effective B2B demand generation marketing strategy looks like, and discuss some of the common mistakes made while measuring the success of a demand-generation campaign. Furthermore, Joseph explains how marketing leaders can justify the switch from a lead generation model to a demand generation model to senior management. 

So, if you’re planning to transition from lead generation to demand generation, this podcast unveils precisely that and more. Stay tuned.

The problem with Lead Generation 

Most companies that follow the lead generation model expect marketing to share MQLS with sales SDRs. This makes marketing more like a lead generation assistance team for sales, where the marketing team is primarily used as a sales support function. 

The challenge here is that the sales team ends up getting a lot of people in their pipeline who aren’t necessarily interested in buying. Your sales team eventually spends a lot of time trying to connect with or trying to follow up with people who are either not interested in buying at all or are trying to shop you for a price. 

Joseph says, “But with most of the customers that we work with, they don’t want to be the cheapest option. They don’t want to be competing on price, or be forced to constantly drop their price to beat out the competition.”

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Demand generation is really focused a lot more on building your company’s reputation, building your brand. In lead generation, you’re chasing people or trying to grab them. 

Demand generation is the process of creating and nurturing relationships with potential customers until they are ready to buy. It is more like a magnet that you can use to attract people towards your product with magnetic content. 

The content you create must make people go, “Man! This company seems great to work with. They really understand our industry and the challenges we are facing.”

Your content must consistently show up where people are spending the most time. Starting conversations in forums or answering questions to help them do their jobs better and more effectively will work in your favor.

Here are 5 key differences between demand generation and lead generation:

Demand generationLead generation
Is more about creating long-term relationshipsIs a short-term tactic that is more about capturing contact information
Focuses on creating valuable content for potential customersFocuses on using online forms, on-click ads, etc. to capture information
Is a longer-term strategy that generates leads over timeIs a short-term strategy that generates leads as quickly as possible
Is more focused on the customer experienceIs more focused on the sales process
It is more about creating a relationship with the customerIt is more about getting the customer to buy

Starting with Demand Generation or transitioning into it

Here’s how Joseph looks at it:

“Most of the time there’s a driver beyond cost. Companies want to save time as they need to look good to their customers, their executive team, or their investors. There’s always something deeper you can get to than just cost. 

If you can get beyond the pricing conversation and just figure out what’s truly driving people, that’s when you can create marketing that attracts them. If you understand the problem that they’re experiencing better than they do, and you can describe the problem better than they can, then they’re just going to automatically trust that you have a solution for that problem, and there’s going to be some credibility there. 

So, when you then start sharing your solution and how it helps to solve that problem, you’re much more likely to win the moment. So, demand generation to me always starts with customer research and understanding your customers.”

Having the right Demand Generation Marketing Mindset! 

“I think the first thing you should do when switching from Lead Generation to Demand Generation is less about the tactical things and more about the strategic approach in your marketing and in your mindset.

What I mean by that is – Demand generation is saying we need to add so much value to our prospects that they want to do business with us. That we were the solution they were wishing they could work with, even when they can’t currently do it. 

So whenever the opportunity comes up, they come to us saying, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been thinking about you guys. I’ve been wanting to work with you, but I didn’t have the budget for it or whatever, but now I can finally get to work with you guys. What’s it going to take to get this going? 

So those are the kinds of conversations you want to be having, and that demand generation can help you with. It’s switching your mindset from going, “Okay, we need to just get whoever we can possibly get in front of our sales team, whether they are qualified or not or whether they’re interested or not. – like pounding the market as much as we can with promotional things, talking about our product and services, so that we can capture whoever is ready to buy right now – to switch away from that mindset and think of the way that you can measure your marketing differently.”

Targeting the right people with a Strategic Demand Generation Marketing Mindset

“So one of the things you want to switch your mindset toward is not just focusing on influencing decision-makers, but focusing on influencing other people who would influence your buyer internally. So those could be people that work for the buyer. It could be the decision-maker’s boss. It could also be colleagues or peers to the buyer that you’re influencing. Furthermore, it could be industry leaders whose opinion your buyer would care about. 

So, if you’ve already influenced all those people around the buyer through your marketing content, then when that person goes around and says, “Hey, does anyone have a solution for this?” They’re going to start hearing about you from multiple different people and multiple angles, and it just makes the sale so much easier.”

How do you justify the switch to Demand Gen to senior management?

“I was in the position internally to be driving that change, some of the things I’d be asking my leadership team first is, how did you make your last purchase that was a major expense? What did you do to make that purchase? And I’d let them explain what they did.

Did they make that purchase because some random salesperson called them 25 times until they’d pick up? That’s possible, but highly unlikely. The reason I’m saying that is, more than likely, especially if you say, “Okay well, how about the last two or three purchases you made?”

It’s almost guaranteed they’re going to say, “I talked to a couple of my colleagues. I talked to some other people on the executive team, and they had worked with this other company in the past. Or, they had heard about this other company on a podcast and appreciated what they had said in this interview.”

It might be worth reaching out to them, and that’s how they got the conversation started. Or they were following somebody on LinkedIn, and they’ve been seeing their content, and you know, that kind of led them to reach out for a purchase.

So, there are all kinds of different ways that they would answer, but typically it’s going to be more influenced by their peer group or by people that they actually have relationships with to make the purchase. And not just because they downloaded an ebook off their website.

That gives you the ammunition to say, you didn’t make your previous purchase the way that we’re trying to make our customers make purchases. So, why would we do something different? And their argument might be, well, we’re seeing success in this. But then you have to start actually looking at the numbers and say, okay, how much success are we having? 

Say, for example, we’re having whatever, out of every 100 ebook downloads that we have, two people are interested in talking with sales. So, maybe out of every 10 of those, there’s like two or three that are actually really truly interested. And out of those, most of them are really just looking for the cheapest option that they can possibly get. 

If you’re looking for people who are going to be trying to drive you down on price and be very transactional, that could be okay. But if you’re looking to build long-term partnerships, then you’d actually look at the numbers and realize that it’s not as effective as what your leadership team thinks. So, being able to lay that out and make a case for how to build better quality relationships and having people come to you and influence the peer groups, I would take that angle first if I was trying to drive change internally.”

Importance of measuring ‘early indicators’ in your Demand Generation campaign

“The first 60 to 90 days, you’re looking at “Message-Market Fit”. Once you nail that, your next 90 to 180 days, you’re looking for early activity that’s going to lead to pipeline. And your pipeline metrics may not be super strong in that window, but you’re going to start to see indications that people are engaging with this content and that they’re choosing to talk with people from our team. 

Taking that point of view, you’re looking at early indicators that are leading to sales. And in the long run, you should be measuring your marketing effectiveness off of whether it’s generating revenue or not. So, for 9 to 12 months, you’re looking at your pipeline and your revenue. 

Why do most Demand Generation Marketing Campaigns fail?

“If you try to look for revenue too early, you’re just going to kill the campaign before you see the effectiveness. And we’ve seen that happen quite a few times when people are like, “We decided to go all in on demand generation, and we’ve done it for 3 months, and we haven’t seen any revenue and or any pipeline generated from it. So now we’re going to pivot and do something that’s going to generate a pipeline.” And if you do that, you’re going to have just wasted the past 3 or 6 months of the investment. 

So that’s when we start to shift and look for some of those early indicators first to say that if we’re seeing these things then we are confident that we are going to see the revenue come in, but we have to look for these early indicators first and will be focusing on those. Otherwise, you’re going to be disappointed and pivot too early before you actually start seeing the results of the campaign.”

The Relationship Velocity Framework at Proofpoint Marketing

“It’s basically like our methodology for helping prospects build relationships at scale. So it’s kind of our process for engaging with customers. We first have to figure out what challenges your company is facing, where there are gaps in content. If we come in and a company is already running a podcast, they have their team active on LinkedIn already, and they’re starting to see some value come from that. 

That’s going to be a different conversation and a different strategy we’re going to create for them, than a company that has like two pages on their website with no content, and they’ve only focused on pure sales outreach in the past and haven’t really done any marketing. 

So first, we have to define where the company that we’re working with is at. Then we have to define who their ideal-fit customers are and interview their current customers and figure out why they choose to go with this company, what pain points they are solving for you, and defining that. 

The second phase of the relationship velocity framework is mapping out how are we going to actually reach these people, like what’s the strategy? Are we going to do a podcast, or are we going to focus on the middle of the funnel content? So we look at things that are closer to sales and that have helped drive pipeline faster. Then it just really depends on what the needs of the business are that we found in the defined phase. 

So once we map it out, then we go to operationalize and know what tactically needs to happen between our two teams to deliver on this. Like who needs to be involved, what does the process look like, and how do we make sure we can actually deliver on this plan. So then we start the campaign, create content, launch the podcast, work on their messaging or launch a relationship enablement campaign, which is kind of where marketing and sales blend together and grow. We then look for what’s working and what isn’t to minimize or maximize those efforts and grow the campaign from there.”

How does the RV Framework apply to distributors and suppliers?

“I would say you just have to look at your distributors as a customer. Again, it kind of depends on your business model, but if you’re selling primarily or solely through distributors, then the distributor is really your customer.

The Distributor’s the person who you need to make the most happy because if they don’t purchase, they don’t stock from you, or they don’t give you orders depending on what’s going on, they don’t give you shelf space, or they’re not going to make you prominent on their website or something like that, then you’re not going to make sales. So then it’s doing the same thing, interviewing distributors and figuring out what is most important to them, and their answers might surprise you. 

Maybe it is straightforward things like they need you to actually deliver on time and if you’re not, then honestly there’s not much marketing is going to be able to do for you since you have a different problem. But they might say other things that you’re not expecting. 

Or maybe they say, “Hey, our customers don’t really care about lead time as much as they care about, you know, the product quality or being able to understand how the product works and having some educational content around it. We get a lot of calls from our customers that are frustrated when they use the product, or try to implement it, and there are no good instructions on how to do that. And so we have this other distributor, or this other company, that we buy from, and they’ve got these great videos that go through each one of their products and explain it.”

If you do research, and you learn important pieces of information. Or if you hear the same complaints from multiple distributors, maybe you should start out with marketing content focused on how to use your product or how you actually install this component. If it’s engineers that are buying it, what are some of the specs around that they need to understand or some of the process around that, and then making that accessible for your distributors to put on their website or for them to communicate or send it off. 

So seeing your distributor almost like a customer but also even like a part of your sales team because they’re really in a sense both of those at the same time, and making sure that you’re equipping them with the content that they need. 

So the type of content you create for a distributor might be different, but the idea is still the same. You need to research and understand what challenges they are facing, what’s actually really important to them.  Why are they buying from you right now, or why are they buying from your competitors? And if you can really understand what they’re looking for, then you can create the right kind of content to make their job easier and if you do that then you’re  going to win another important aspect which typically people don’t focus on.”

Importance of branding in B2B

“If you have a brand, it’s even more important if you have a sales team that’s actually doing cold outreach. And the reason for that is, they’re more likely to get their calls 

answered and returned. And they’re more likely to get their emails responded to, if they have a really strong brand reputation.

If a brand has already established their brand reputation with me, I respond out of courtesy for all that effort they’d put in building a relationship with me in the past. And it also gives them the opportunity to share or pitch their product to me when they wouldn’t have before. 

But the problem on the opposite side is when you focus too heavily on lead generation and just cold outreach without building that brand reputation. You’re basically following up in a way that people don’t want you to follow up with them. And that’s a big problem.

Like, say, you download an ebook, and you get a call from the sales team, or you get a cold email. And you’re like, “I wasn’t really interested in sales, I was just interested in this topic!” So you know if you’re calling, and it’s irrelevant, you’re actually spending your brand equity. 

In a sense, you’re taking money out of your brand bank account, and you’re spending it right now, and it’s gone. And what happens next time when you’ve got to get in front of that person, and you don’t have any money left to spend, and they’re like, “See ya! I’m not interested. You guys annoyed the crap out of me for like, months and months and months, a year ago, and I’m not interested in working with you anymore. I’d rather go to your competitor who didn’t give me that experience.”

Whereas, on the flip side, if you’ve added a ton of value to them up front, and you’ve been building this relationship with them, had conversations with people on their team that weren’t sales conversations. They were just helping them out, adding value, giving something to them that made their job easier. So then in the future when you do actually reach out and ask, or they come to you, you haven’t spent your brand equity, you’ve actually like invested it and your investment has grown, and now you have this established brand that people just automatically trust and relate with. So I would say that branding is pretty important.”

A ‘human-first’ digital transformation

This approach recognizes that the success of a digital transformation project ultimately depends on whether it can improve the lives of people, either by making their work more efficient and effective, or by enhancing their ability to connect with others and access information. 

A human-first approach to digital transformation typically involves people in the design process, conducting user testing to ensure that the technology is intuitive and easy to use, and providing ongoing support and training to help people adapt to the new technologies.

Joseph’s advice to young B2B marketers

“To be a strategic marketer and to get outside being told by somebody else, here are the tactics you need to go do and deliver on them. Instead, bring in strategic value to the company, which is how you’re really going to move forward in your career.  

You have to understand not just your one little narrow area, but you have to understand all kinds of different areas of marketing. 

On The Strategic Marketer Podcast, I interview people who are on paid media, content marketers, SEO folks, people who are founders of a company, agency owners and even sales people. And the reason for doing that is that it gives a much broader idea of how all of these different pieces can connect together.

Unless you understand how all the pieces connect together, you can’t really be strategic. And that means even understanding business principles and some lingo or business lingo that your executive team will be using outside of marketing. So trying to interview people and make sense of all of their expertise together as a single unit that makes a company is a great learning opportunity for me, and I encourage young marketers to do so.”

Watch the full podcast here.

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