Let’s start with what demand generation is not—it’s not growth hacks or shortcuts. Real demand generation takes a coordinated effort across your organization. When properly planned and executed, it’ll pave the way for market domination.
Now let’s look at a proper definition before we dig into how you can use the four pillars of demand gen (that’s how the youngsters say it) to create your empire.
Demand Generation Defined
Demand generation is the Coordination of your brand, product, marketing, and sales strategies to keep revenue from the right customers steadily flowing through your business. It encompasses four pillars:
- Hook Products
It’s often confused for marketing. Marketing is a component, but it’s much broader than marketing. Demand generation includes the full customer journey from awareness to retention. In this article, we’ll walk through the four pillars that contribute to a kick-ass demand gen strategy.
Branding: Perpetual Demand
Your brand is not your logo. Think of your brand like a person. A pretty face and polished attire (your logo and visual identity) are helpful for attracting strangers, but that’s just one aspect of who you are. People will quickly start ignoring your pretty face if your beauty is only skin deep—unless you’re a Kardashian.
Your interests, personality, sense of humor, and most importantly, your actions play a much larger role in dictating how you’re perceived by folks once they start getting to know you. In other words, your brand is a reputation and it’s dictated by your actions. As Henry Ford said,
“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
Branding is all of the actions you take to intentionally shape your reputation. A strong brand won’t drive the first purchase, that’s the role of marketing, but branding is at the heart of repeat purchases and referrals.
Invest time in defining how you want your ideal customers to perceive your business. Give them a reason to choose your business regardless of price, convenience, or features. It’s the only investment with an everlasting payoff.
The true benefit of branding is continuous demand from loyal customers without the need for marketing or sales.
How do you want customers to describe you when you’re not in the room? This is a question that will shape every decision you make as a company (or it should). If you want some help laying out a clear brand strategy, go grab this brand script worksheet. It’ll help you clarify your ideal customer, vocalize the problem you solve for them, and define the one thing that makes you different.
Hook Products: Increase Lifetime Value
Jeff Bezos is brilliant. You have to give the man credit even if you despise him. Amazon Prime is the most successful hook product of all time. That not-so-exclusive club drives purchases of every other product under the Amazon umbrella.
Many people don’t think of Prime as a product. They’re wrong. It’s the one product Amazon can’t do without.
Once you sign up for Prime, Amazon has you in their grips. They know you’ll shop more, spend more, and come back often. In fact, Prime members spend an average of $1,400 per year compared to their non-member counterparts spending $600 per year.
Hook products offer customers value in exchange for loyalty. No, a hook product isn’t a loyalty program. Loyalty programs typically don’t require payment to join. That’s the key difference. A hook product must involve investment from the customer. There needs to be a monetary exchange to make the customer feel invested in the relationship.
Hook products aren’t just for B2C. I’d argue they’re even more important for B2B and professional services companies. As an example, our Brand Recipe process at Special Sauce has been instrumental in growth. It’s a reasonable investment that allows our clients to get clarity around their growth strategy, make sure they enjoy working with us, and it just so happens that it tees up our brand development and marketing system services. Like Prime, it’s a win-win for us and our clients.
Hook products have the potential to double, triple, or even quadruple the lifetime value of your customers.
The one defining characteristic of a hook product is that it’s a low cost (but it must cost) product that leads to your other more expensive products. You get people to take initial action with a hook product and then your hook product sells your other products and services. It’s a simple and natural way to bake demand for your business into the products you sell.
Demand Generation Marketing: Bring The Right People To The Door
Marketing is defined as the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. I have a completely different view of marketing. I believe marketing should be defined as the action of identifying and attracting people who will benefit from a product or service.
The heart of great marketing is empathy. Find the problems people have and help them. Anyone who does this will prosper, regardless of industry or economic environment. People don’t care about what you sell, they care about how what you sell can help them.
You only need a microscopic portion of the population to sell millions of dollars of whatever you sell. So, start by defining who your product helps. The more narrow your focus, the easier it is to solve their problems and speak to their desires.
With a niche in hand, you can move to laying out a demand generation marketing system. I’m a proponent of building your overall strategy around content marketing. Share knowledge, passion, and expertise so the market comes to you educated and closer to purchase (aka…inbound marketing).
Content marketing brings the right people to your door with money in hand.
Another benefit of content marketing is that it works for all stages of the funnel. Through SEO, PPC, and social sharing, you’re able to build awareness and attract interest from the right leads to your digital real estate. Nurturing sequences, weekly emails, and ongoing blog posts then nurture prospects along, build trust, and keep your brand top-of-mind until the prospect is ready to purchase. And well-timed post-purchase content sequences help drive retention and referrals.
It’s a top to bottom approach to educate prospects and prepare them for the sales team.
Sales: Close The Deal
In the most successful demand generation programs, marketing and sales are the kind of soulmates who can finish each other’s sentences. Marketing gets things started and sales closes the deal. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that keeps revenue pumping for the business.
As much as I love marketing, there’s no substitute for a driven salesperson. Sometimes prospects need a reminder (or gentle nudge) from a salesperson to take action. Salespeople provide that friendly face who answers questions and makes the experience personal.
Well-trained salespeople increase conversion rates at the top of your funnel and lifetime value and referrals at the bottom.
However, salespeople don’t need to be pushy to be effective. That’s the beauty of partnering with marketing. When an organization is focused on solving problems through content marketing, the salesperson is armed with a wealth of persuasive materials. From buying guides to blog posts, salespeople can use the work of marketers to persuade prospects and close deals.
In a demand generation approach, salespeople are guides to the proper solution—not pushers of product.
Demand generation is a partnership between everyone in your organization. Branding drives continuous demand from loyal customers. Hook products increase the lifetime value of your customers and sell your other products. Marketing keeps a flow of the right people coming to your door with money in hand. Sales gives customers that friendly nudge to close a sale.
Each component adds to the success of your demand generation strategy. Avoid the temptation to chase growth hacks and quick fixes. Hacks and shortcuts are temporary highs. You may feel good for a bit, but you’ll be left hunting for your next high in a couple of weeks. Focus on building a system that will generate healthy and sustainable growth for decades. Give us a shout if you need some help. It just so happens we implement demand generation systems for good people like you.