The Right Demand Generation Mindset
With great visibility, comes great responsibility. In marketing, when this power is wielded well, you see marketing teams applauded, like Drift and Dollar Shave Club. When it’s not, you see the short-tenured CMOs, budget cuts mistrust, all of the standard bill-of-fare. After decades of counseling and consoling marketers, we’ve identified an important distinction between great marketing teams and okay ones: the ability to align marketing activities (the tactics) to the objectives of the organization. Demand generation, the activity of generating demand, is not enough, great marketing organizations generate the right demand.
Aligning Demand Generation to Business Objectives
Marketing is often the most visible department within an organization, and also often the most controversial. From the time your buyer searches online or sees an ad or attends an event, they’re seeing your marketing org, in all its glory. Even when marketing isn’t consumer-facing, it’s driving buyer interaction through ‘revenue ops’, as it’s come to be known. These marketing tactics are responsible for everything from the autoresponder on a website form fill to the flurry of messages emblazoning corporate inboxes alerting cross-functional teams of a successful new customer win. Even given marketing’s ubiquitous nature, its results remain contentious.
Often marketing activity, and the impact from that activity, do not trace back to the objectives of the organization. We hear a lot about Sales and Marketing alignment, but the true alignment problem with marketing comes from the lack of straight-line influence marketing yields on the business. Nowhere is this illustrated more than in the Demand Generation capacity.
Are “Leads” Good Enough?
Historically, organizations have attempted to distill down demand generation’s desired metric as ‘leads’, most oft defined as warm buyers who have an interest in making a purchase. As we know, this quickly derails into a gamified equation of volume. This ends up wasting more resources than it yields. It ends up causing friction between sales and marketing. It ends in nothing good. How then, do we solve for this age-old problem and ensure that the production of marketing has true business-level value? That’s the question we set out to solve.
A Guide to Connecting Demand Generation to Company Objectives
With LeadMD’s v2 of our corporate methodology, the Catalyst Marketing Framework – the guiding light of our marketing approach and consulting delivery – we help connect the dots that often go unspoken and unsolved.
This latest evolution of the framework illustrates two historic issues with demand generation.
Overlooked Dependencies to Achieve Demand Generation Success
First, prior to executing any marketing tactic, most often a campaign, it’s critical to ensure you address the proper dependencies. It’s easy to jump directly into tactical execution, especially with the availability of technology for today’s marketer. Scott Brinker recently posted a ‘new’ buying process framework that actually encourages this ‘upside-down’ implementation process. This approach, outside of very small SMB’s, results in outcomes that do not serve the ultimate goal.
The challenge in taking the very intentional approach of evaluating all necessary dependencies is, of course, time. It takes more time to conduct buyer research, segmentation and messaging, but that’s time well spent when these steps truly determine the success of the initiative. The ‘Planning’ pillar illustrated by the Catalyst Marketing Framework is often the lynchpin to these efforts. When we speak to marketing executives and practitioners alike they concede that the Planning stage is most often being ignored, simply because their campaign execution process assumes it is already in place. Rarely is that the case.
Focus on Demand Generation KPIs that Matter
The second element the framework addresses comes into play post campaign, in the evaluation of results. This step requires forethought prior to the program or campaign’s launch. When determining the expected result, the KPIs must be designed to further the organization’s business objectives. Rather than measuring these results in terms of views, conversions or leads, this approach ensures the yardstick of measurement extends to pipeline influence or revenue creation, depending on the business. Leading indicators, such as the views and leads metrics still hold value when presented as ‘on-track’ KPIs. However, the campaign’s success must extend to measures of actual impact.
In these measures, the often contentious consumption of this data melts away. Instead, demand generation campaigns create a straight-line to measures the entire organization sees value in, like revenue.
I wrote recently about the dependent nature of marketing (“The State of B2B Marketing“); this framework spells out those dependencies in a highly actionable way so your teams can ensure their results align to vectors the business truly cares about. For a discipline that has always struggled with the immediate tangibility of its results, taking a long view approach to remedy this, while building trust in marketing’s viability to the business, is worth any additional time the process adds, and then some. To be seen as impactful, marketing and its demand generation function must clearly demonstrate impact – it’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.