Demand generation strategy: 5 core steps for B2B marketing teams

You can attempt to generate cold leads all day. But if there’s no desire or demand for your offer… Well, then you might be wasting your time.

That’s why demand generation is an essential component of B2B marketing. Because if you don’t already have a demand generation strategy, you’re likely leaving A LOT of money on the table.

But, what exactly is demand generation? And how do you build a demand generation strategy that makes the process of generating qualified leads a whole lot easier?

It’s simple. And your marketing team may already be headed in the right direction. But, once you combine and structure the methods we’ll share in this blog post, you’ll have a consistent way to:

  • Build brand awareness and loyalty among your ideal customers 
  • Position your brand as an authority in your industry
  • Send your sales team a steady stream of MQLs

And, as a BONUS, we’ll also show you how to use exegraphic data to get the most ROI from your demand generation campaigns. 

But, before we dive into all that, let’s look at some examples of demand generation so you don’t confuse it with similar strategies, like lead generation.


What is demand generation?

Demand generation, also known as demand gen, is the process of creating and nurturing demand for your products or services. It’s a way of showing your ideal customer that your business is aware of their pain points and is a trusted source for solutions to that pain.

Without a strong demand generation strategy, it can be challenging to attract new customers to your business because they won’t have enough knowledge on how and why they should trust your business to help them. But how does that look in practice? 

Here are two great examples of demand generation: 

  • Shopify offers Shopify Learn, a series of free tutorials, online courses and webinars that teach prospects how to start a successful online business. 
  • Wise, the FinTech app for transferring money, offers a free business plan template that promises to help users learn how to connect with investors and grow their business.

Now, if even after looking at those examples, you think demand generation sounds similar to lead generation, you’re not alone. Many marketers use these terms interchangeably because they are closely related. But there is a difference!


How is demand generation different from lead generation? 

Unlike lead generation, demand generation is not about convincing prospects to buy what you have to offer. Rather, demand gen is about creating awareness and interest in your products or services. When done correctly, the demand you’ve generated results in prospects being more likely to purchase from you when they are ready. 

So, lead generation and demand generation are not the same thing. Because lead gen is one of the major components of demand gen.


The 3 major components of demand generation

Remember: when you develop a strong demand generation strategy, you’ll be able to… 

  • Build brand awareness and loyalty among your ideal customers 
  • Position your brand as an authority in your industry
  • Send your sales team a steady stream of MQLs

And those three benefits sum up the major components of demand generation marketing. But let’s spend a minute looking at each one in more detail. 


Building brand awareness and loyalty 

You know that brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with your brand and what it offers. Without brand awareness, you won’t make any sales. You also know that brand loyalty is considered the “holy grail” of marketing. Without brand loyalty, you’ll struggle to retain customers and spend too much trying to acquire new ones. 

The goal of demand generation is to systematize the process of building brand awareness and loyalty using inbound marketing techniques that have the power to generate leads. 


Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating valuable content that attracts and nurtures prospects at every stage of your funnel. Some examples include: 

  • Writing helpful and actionable blog posts
  • Developing informative eBooks or whitepapers
  • Sending a valuable email newsletter
  • Offering free trials or demos

Soon, you’ll see that this type of content, created with your ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind, is essential to your demand generation strategy. Why? Because inbound marketing is one of the most effective methods for generating quality leads. For example, according to a recent survey, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to learn the information needed to make buying decisions from a series of articles instead of an ad.


Lead generation

Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads. On its own, lead gen attempts to attract and convert prospects into leads. 

But, when used as a component of demand generation, lead generation becomes a method of finding prospects most likely to convert (i.e. those who’ve shown interest or signs of readiness) and then using targeted content to nurture them at every touch point of the customer journey–from initial awareness all the way until they decide to purchase your offer. 


How to build a successful demand generation strategy

Developing a demand generation strategy doesn’t have to be a complicated overhaul of how you currently approach B2B marketing. But it does require a thoughtful combination of goals, techniques and strategies to have the highest likelihood of success. Here’s how to get started:


Step 1: Determine clear goals and metrics of success

The first step in any demand generation strategy is to determine exactly what you want to achieve. Is an increase in brand awareness or website traffic enough? Or do you hope to use demand generation as a way to support more specific goals and KPIs, like: 

  • Generate 2x more high-quality MQLs every month?
  • Decrease customer acquisition costs by 5% before the end of the year? 
  • Increase conversions by 13% for a particular product or service? 

Demand generation can support all of those goals and more. But you’ll never know for sure if you’re getting sufficient ROI if you don’t start with a clear set of goals and metrics.


Step 2: Understand your audience by developing your ICP and buyer persona

You’ll never create demand for your offer if you direct your strategy to the wrong audience. That’s why you need to take time to understand what type of organizations fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) and what types of people at those organizations fit your buyer persona. 

If you’re unfamiliar, your ICP is a data-driven description of the type of businesses you serve best. Typically, this description includes firmographic data on things like: 

  • Industry 
  • Company size
  • Geographic location
  • Annual sales and revenue

Using a platform like Rev, you can also harness the power of exegraphic data, which you can use to build a more comprehensive ICP. Unlike firmographic data, exegraphic data allows you to dig into how a company operates and behaves to gather insights on things like how quickly a company tends to adopt new technology or which departments within the company are currently shrinking.

With Rev, you can also generate a living model of your ICP—what we call an aICP—that uses AI technology to automatically update the profile of your ideal customer as the behaviors of your best customers change over time. We’ll get more into how that can benefit your demand gen strategy soon. But first let’s talk about the other component of understanding your audience: buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. For example, you’d establish your buyer persona on the key decision makers working at the type of companies you’ve identified with your ICP.

When developing buyer personas, consider questions like:

  • What are their demographics?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What solutions are they looking for?
  • Who do they report to? 
  • What are some of their KPIs? 
  • Where and how do they prefer to consume content related to their job?

Once you have a clear understanding of your ICP and buyer persona, you can move on to creating targeted content that generates demand from your target audience.


Step 3: Create content that moves your target audience through the customer journey

Now, it’s time to start generating demand and, ultimately, leads. You’ll do that by creating content that educates your target audience and helps them move through the customer journey.

Here are some examples of content you can develop to meet those goals:

  • Awareness. At this stage of the customer journey, you’ll create top-of-funnel content that aims to increase brand awareness and educate your target audience about your product or service. For example, you could publish blog posts that discuss methods for relieving your common pain points for your buyer personas. 
  • Consideration. For this stage, you’ll create middle-of-funnel content that provides more detailed information about your product or service and how it can solve your target customer’s pain points. For example, you could develop a white paper that provides an in-depth analysis of a problem your audience faces and how your product or service provides a solution. 
  • Decision. Finally, for this stage, you’ll create bottom-of-funnel content that focuses on helping your target customer make a purchase decision. Here, you can offer free demos for your product or service so your audience can see if it’s a good fit for what they need. 

To get the most benefit from your content, you’ll also need to have a strategy for promotion and distribution to ensure your target audience sees and engages with your content. Some ideas for promoting your content include social media, email marketing and paid advertising. You may also consider running a content syndication campaign to have your content republished on third-party websites.


Step 4: Test, analyze and optimize 

Demand generation isn’t a one-and-done sort of deal. You should always test different strategies and tactics to see what works best for creating interest and demand among your target audience.

One of the best ways to test and optimize your demand generation strategy is by doing A/B testing, which allows you to compare two versions of a piece of content or campaign to see which one performs better. You can also use analytics tools to track your progress and see which demand generation tactics have worked best.

By regularly performing tests and analyses, you can ensure that your demand generation strategy is giving you as much ROI as possible.


Step 5: Measure success based on your goals

Lastly, you’ll need to measure the success of your demand generation efforts. You can look to do this around 90 days after you’ve begun your demand generation campaign. But how do you measure your success? Simple: by going back to the goals you set in step 1.

Has your demand generation campaign helped to achieve those goals? If yes, which strategies are working best so you can continue building on that success?

If not, what do you think is holding you back? Have you targeted the wrong ICP or buyer persona? Is your content not providing enough value to position your business as an industry leader?

By taking the time to measure your success, you can make adjustments as needed or decide that you need some help.


How Rev helps with demand generation

A demand generation campaign that successfully generates MQLs with high potential for conversion requires that you have two things:

  1. A comprehensive list of companies that match your ICP (so you know whom to target)
  2. A data-driven approach to content syndication (so you know where to target them) 

Without these two components, you run the risk of wasting your time. For example, you could end up trying to generate demand from an audience that isn’t likely to engage with your company. You might also fail to promote your demand gen content in the places your audience is most likely to see it.

Rev’s Sales Development Platform helps you avoid these common mistakes. Using exegraphic data, Rev generates a list of accounts who behave like your best customers and have the highest propensity to engage with your demand gen content—and with your sales reps. With that information, you can ensure that you’re distributing your content to the places where your ideal customers spend time online. 

Essentially, Rev helps you take the guesswork out of generating demand and leads by empowering you with the data needed to create and distribute content that resonates with your ideal customers. 

Want to get a snapshot of the behavioral and operational characteristics that define your next best customers? Contact us and schedule your free ICP audit.