Is demand generation the most important part of the B2B marketer’s job? Well, you might say so – because if there isn’t any demand for your product or solution, there’s no point to the rest of your marketing activities.
1. Demand generation for B2B: Put content at the center of your strategy
The very first marketing task is to build awareness and educate your prospects, linking your solutions to their needs or problems. Then, once you’ve created that demand, you can persuade interested prospects to share their contact information, providing you with a lead.
B2B demand generation is a lot more complicated than in B2C. For B2C, a discount, a special offer, or even an eye-catching package or wrapper is often all it takes to convince a purchaser. In B2B, on the other hand, sales cycles are longer, more people are involved, the products themselves are often extremely complex – and they cost a lot more.
It’s also important to note that the preferences of B2B purchasers are changing. In the “2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report,[i]” prepared by the US-based DemandGen Report, researchers found that 41% of B2B prospects start the purchase process by conducting their own anonymous research on potential solutions. At the same time, an increasing number of purchasers want to self-navigate through the initial part of the process, rather than being guided by a sales rep.
And consider this: in the 2016 version of its B2B Buyers Survey,[ii] DemandGen’s researchers found that 47% of B2B buyers will look at between three to five pieces of content before they interact with a sales rep. And 95% of the B2B buyers surveyed said they ultimately purchased their solution from the company that had provided them with content along the purchasing process.
So providing high-quality, relevant content is a critical part of your demand generation strategy. Whether it’s on your website, or distributed on social media platforms, you want your targets to be able to easily find information that speaks directly to their pain points and needs, showing how your solutions can help them solve challenges.
For your content to really provide value and relevance to a prospect, it needs to be tailored to their specific situation. That’s where your buyer personas come in. Develop as many buyer personas as you have types of prospects, and then make a list of all the information that each persona would need at this initial stage of the buyer’s journey.
These are some of the content types they might find helpful:
- Ebooks that show how your solutions address specific pain points
- White papers that explain the technology and validate the return
- Customer success stories that illustrate how other organizations benefit from your solution
- Detailed descriptions of features and functionality
- Competitive summaries that do a side-by-side comparison of the offerings in your category, including your product
- Online pricing tools to calculate savings
In all of your content, you need to show that your organization understands the challenges that your prospects are facing, and the business environments in which they are operating. B2B purchasers want partners who can help them succeed, not just a piece of technology. Your content should show them why your company is uniquely able to understand and help them, thanks to your knowledge and technical expertise.
2. Demand generation for B2B: Events, webinars, referral programs and more
Now let’s look beyond content, and explore some of the other ways you can build awareness and educate your targets, creating interest and generating demand for your products and solutions. Here are some ideas to consider:
Put the spotlight on your experts
Tap your experts and get them out there talking about your industry, products and solutions. In the tech world, there are always lots of opportunities to participate on panels, industry forums, user groups, and the like. Encourage your experts to participate, and help them find ways to publish thought leadership pieces too. Articles on industry blogs, guest blogs, or even blogs on your own website that you promote as widely as possible will help to boost awareness of your company, solutions and the expertise of your people.
Launch a webinar series
Webinars tie together your thought leadership with a willingness to share it, highlighting your expertise and your support for your industry. They’re an inexpensive way to build the profile of your experts, and your company. Try launching a webinar series that highlights several of your experts, or one that features a single expert talking about several aspects of a compelling topic.
Introduce a referral program
Word-of-mouth recommendations, whether they’re from friends and family, or online reviewers, are very persuasive. A Nielsen study[i] found that 84% of respondents across 58 countries found word-of-mouth to the most trustworthy source of information. Take advantage of this and develop a program to recognize existing customers who refer a new customer to your organization. For most referring customers, the value isn’t in the reward itself, but in the gratitude and recognition they receive for their effort.
Email: still a key tool
Email is still one of the key tools in the demandgen marketer’s toolkit. A good tactic is to give something away for free to boost engagement with your email. But it has to be something of value – an ebook, a white paper, or a calculator tool, for example.
If you’d like to learn more about demand generation for B2B, and how you can ramp up your profile and programs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
[i] “2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report,[i]” DemandGen Report, retrieved from: https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/reports/2018-b2b-buyers-survey-report
[ii] “2016 B2B Buyers Survey Report,[ii]” DemandGen Report, retrieved from: https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/research/2016-b2b-buyer-s-survey-report
[i] "Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising," Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, 09-17-2013, retrieved from: https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2013/under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertising/