Are You Generating Demand or Just Identifying It?

Are You Generating Demand or Just Identifying It?

Apple successfully created a market where none existed. Any marketing effort only focused on identifying existing demand will inevitably go from extraordinary to average to poor. The resulting market brief, Using Content Marketing to Generate Demand, Create New Audiences sponsored by ScribbleLive, urges content marketers to establish the value of their demand gen efforts. Use content marketing at all stages of the funnel, not just the top Nearly all respondents reported using content marketing to generate demand from buyers at all stages of the buying funnel, yet activities at the top of the funnel tend to be their primary focus, as reflected in these questions and responses: Top reason for using content marketing for demand generation purposes? To generate leads/potential customers at the top of the funnel (87%) Stage in the buyer’s journey where the organization receives the most value from content marketing used for demand generation? Early stage – generating awareness/interest (51%) Top metric used to measure the impact of content marketing on demand generation? Certain types of content work well at the top of the funnel, though that does not preclude them from working in the latter stages. In short: Demand has been generated. Create audiences, not leads The majority (58%) of respondents reported moderate success with using content marketing for demand generation (a finding that mirrors that in our 2019 B2B annual content marketing study). Action item: Marketers looking to improve their success with using content marketing for demand generation should make audience acquisition a core focus for creating value for the business.

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Marketers make markets.

It is the core of what we do. When we truly excel at our jobs, we create demand where little or none existed.

Perhaps the quintessential example of this is Apple’s iPhone. Nobody knew they needed an iPhone in 2007 when Steve Jobs stood onstage and introduced the revolutionary device to a bewildered audience. In fact, Apple didn’t even realize the demand it was creating.

“Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products,” Steve said at the iPhone’s debut. He went on to explain how the new widescreen iPod, the revolutionary mobile phone, and the new “internet communicator” were all contained in one device. The audience had no idea how to react. Apple successfully created a market where none existed.

But creating markets isn’t just related to introducing new, revolutionary products. Great marketers can differentiate in a crowded marketplace to create a competitive advantage and niche for their brand. Think about software company HubSpot. In 2006, the marketplace for email marketing automation software was crowded – and getting more so. HubSpot created demand in a different way. It invented a new category of digital marketing – calling it “inbound” – and carved a niche for itself in the business software marketplace.

Great marketing makes markets.

Demand generation or demand identification

In many cases, businesses struggle with generating new demand. In today’s noisy, fragmented, digital world, reaching prospective customers feels overwhelming. Pressure to deliver against short-term goals and to measure efforts to use valuable content to generate new demand seems tougher than ever. The growing complexity of the buyer’s journey, coupled with the highly competitive and loud marketplace of ideas, makes it arduous to differentiate your solutions, much less educate prospects on new things.

However, demand generation is perhaps the most critical need for today’s business. Marketers must continue to generate more opportunities to support their companies’ growth strategies. Is it any wonder then that many marketers are doubling down on finding people who already ask for their products, services, or solutions?

Most demand generation strategies are relegated to being demand identification programs. Marketing teams exert tremendous effort to optimize content experiences for search terms and questions, and to be ever more different, persuasive, and faster for anyone who raises their hand to say, “I’m interested.”

While this approach is important, the results inevitably flatten over time. The total addressable market (TAM) aware of whatever the challenge is will be exhausted. Any marketing effort only focused on identifying existing demand will inevitably go from extraordinary to average to poor.

From a content marketing perspective, how do you go from poor to average to extraordinary? How can you view content marketing as something that can differentiate your approach to demand generation and produce more demonstrable results for your marketing efforts?

Well, we sought to find the current state of demand generation within content marketing and how it might be improved.

5 ways content marketers can maximize demand gen efforts

To explore this concept, CMI’s research team conducted a survey to learn how marketers use content marketing for demand gen. The resulting market brief, Using Content Marketing to Generate Demand, Create New Audiences sponsored by ScribbleLive, urges content marketers to establish the value of their demand gen efforts.

Here are five action items based on key findings.

1. Use content marketing at all stages of the funnel, not just the top

Nearly all respondents reported using content marketing to generate demand from buyers at all stages of the buying funnel, yet activities at the top of the funnel tend to be their primary focus, as reflected in these questions and responses:

  • Top reason for using content marketing for demand generation purposes? To generate leads/potential customers at the top of the funnel (87%)
  • Stage in the buyer’s journey where the organization receives the most value from content marketing used for demand generation? Early stage – generating awareness/interest (51%)
  • Top metric used to measure the impact of content marketing on demand generation? Website traffic (67%)
  • Type of content most effective for demand gen purposes? Blog posts/articles in the early stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness/interest) (73%)

However, interestingly, half the respondents created content in 2018 for deeper parts of the funnel as well. Many of the content marketers also focused on the middle (29%) and bottom of the funnel (21%) where the lead is converted to a customer.

Action item:

To paraphrase the great comedian Jerry Seinfeld – it’s not enough to gather the…

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