No business can survive without customers. Companies need a healthy supply of happy and loyal supporters if they want sustainable profits, and this requires understanding what makes your target market tick—essentially, your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Not only can this inform your customer strategy, but it should be the root of your demand generation strategy as well.

What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is an umbrella strategy that uses various marketing programs to capture the attention of prospects and customers, intended to educate and inspire excitement within your industry.

When used correctly, demand generation marketing can help expand your company reach into new markets, promote new features for your products and even generate buzz in the digital world. The key to success is figuring out how to nurture relationships with your audience in such a way that you can establish long-term connections with people who support your brand.

Unlike other marketing tactics, you’re not just pushing someone to buy your product in the hope that you’ll immediately improve cash flow. Ideally, with demand generation, the goal is to nurture and build customer relationships that continue to thrive over a period of time. This means looking for ways to streamline your buyer’s journey, strengthening your personality through social media and connecting with customers through a variety of mediums.

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Demand generation isn’t a quick-fix for all your sales problems—it’s a commitment to building long-term strategic links with your audience.

In a world where customers are becoming increasingly less trusting of businesses, for demand generation to work it requires thinking beyond the boundaries of traditional promotion and tapping into valuable, often-underutilized assets—your employees.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation

Before we can discuss some of the most effective strategies for demand generation, it’s important to first address demand generation vs lead generation. On the surface, these two concepts sound similar, but they require two very different execution strategies.

Ultimately, the distinction comes down to this: Demand generation is all about establishing strong relationships between your company, and your customer. It’s bridging the gap between audience and brand through a compelling social media strategy, a strong content campaign, and countless other components that actively demonstrate your value to your target market.

On the other hand, lead generation marketing is simply about ushering your customer along the sales funnel by gathering important information from them, like their contact information, so that you can hand prospects over to your sales team.

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Shifting the Buyer’s Journey: How to Optimize for Social Selling

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Demand generation is a far more comprehensive process which often takes place over a much greater amount of time than lead generation. It involves careful strategy, a good understanding of your user personas, and a close collaboration between your sales and marketing teams.

With demand generation marketing, you’re not just making a sale, you’re acquiring a long-term, loyal customer—and that’s a process that requires a serious amount of effort.

1. Tap Into Your Most Powerful Resource: Employees

A surprisingly low number of businesses access the value of employee advocacy when it comes to boosting their demand generation campaigns. That could be a huge mistake when you consider just how closely connected advocacy and customer demand can be.

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Nearly 64% of employee advocates suggest that their advocacy program has helped them to attract new business, and 45% attribute new streams of revenue to advocacy tools. People generally trust social connections more than official advertising campaigns. Since 50% of your employees are already posting about your brand on social media, it only makes sense to use their sharing power.

Demand generation is all about activating the social selling component to generate an authentic buzz around your brand. Statistics show that companies can boost awareness by 24% and engagement by up to 700x—all by simply leveraging the social power of their employees.

Companies like IBM have already begun to recognize the value of their technique, engaging 6,000 employees in their #NewWaytoWork advocacy campaign which resulted in 200,000 social reactions, 50,000 new leads, and 250,000 social shares.

2. Connect With Industry Leaders

As valuable as your team can be for demand generation, you can always enhance their power further by connecting their messages with content created by well-known industry professionals. In fact, social influencers are a great avenue for demand generation because they have a pre-existing rapport with the people who matter to your company.

Influencers generate interest on your behalf, either through branded videos, product reviews or simple messages that give a nod to your latest content. According to the State of Influencer Marketing Report for 2017, 77% of companies believe that influencers are effective at driving engagement with a brand or product.

3. Leverage Loyalty With Strategic Lead Magnets

If you want to get happy customers talking about your brand, one of the easiest ways to do that is with content.

Lead magnets generate demand for your service or product by essentially trading a valuable resource for your company for engagement and interactions with your customers. The great thing about lead magnets is that they generate demands and leads at the same time, so you don’t have to worry about the demand generation vs lead generation confusion.

The key to generating demand with free content or services is developing something that your customer really wants. Some of the common options include:

  • Cheat-sheets & Checklists
  • Kits
  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • Training Courses
  • Data Reports

4. Create Even More Content

Demand generation thrives on inbound marketing tactics. In a world where customers are looking for reasons to trust and appreciate brands, content creation has never been more important. That’s why it’s so crucial for companies of all shapes and sizes to invest in content as much as possible.

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The biggest problem that today’s organizations face is that they simply don’t have the time or resources to create endless infographics or keep up with a frequent cadence of blog posts. That’s why incorporating content curation into your employee advocacy strategy could be your key to success.

By curating content for your employees to share as part of their social activities, you can improve the amount of valuable information that’s linked back to your brand, enhancing your ability to become an industry authority and thought-leader.

Just like demand generation itself, content is a long-term investment and not something you can invest in just once. If you’re already publishing a lot of content, you could always try asking what you can do to elevate the pieces you publish to make them more valuable.

5. Build Up Your Listings on Review Sites

When customers see other people talking about your brand, they feel more compelled to join in the conversation and share their opinions. That’s why it can be helpful for organizations who want to engage with demand generation marketing to invest in listings on popular review sites.

Remember, when your clients start searching for an answer to their problems, they might begin with a simple search. For some companies, along with standard listings, there will also be “review” options on the right-hand side of the Google page, where you can read through some of the comments left by previous customers.

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This is particularly effective for businesses who want to generate a local following for their brand. When you consider the fact that around 84% of customers trust reviews they read online just as much as personal recommendations, it makes sense to invest in defending your online reputation.

Dominating Demand Generation

While lead generation is still an important strategy for companies who want to learn more about their target customer and improve their selling capabilities, it’s important to remember that demand generation can be the key to long-term success.

Demand generation is what allows you to transform standard leads into repeat customers, which is one of the most valuable components to any business’ long-term success. In fact, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10x the price of their initial purchase.

The most important thing to remember about demand generation marketing, is that if you want to get the most buzz, you need to tap into all the resources your company has—including your employees. In today’s social world, your staff could be the answer to connecting with new and existing audiences in meaningful, measurable ways.