R2i ROUNDTABLE: BUILDING A DEMAND CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

The concept of demand generation is simple enough: use marketing tactics to build attention around your brand’s products or services that evolves into long-term customer relationships and recurrent transactions.

However, the practical steps for creating strategic demand generation programs are much less simple. In fact, architecting, launching, and running fully integrated demand gen campaigns that influence targeted prospects at the exact right moment of their customer journey is actually very hard to accomplish.

To help dissect the complexities around enterprise-level demand generation, some of R2i’s demand gen experts got together to share their knowledge on how marketing leaders should approach building not just single channel campaigns, but a true Demand Center of Excellence for managing all aspects of demand gen from the creative and tactical to the analytics and ROI. They answered one simple (but maybe not so simple) question:

“WHAT'S THE MOST CRITICAL ELEMENT IN ESTABLISHING A SUSTAINED, STRUCTURED, AND SUCCESSFUL DEMAND GENERATION PROGRAM?”



Tom Beck Headshot

TOM BECK:

Managing Director, Demand Generation Practice Group

You have to align your demand gen strategy and tactics to a defined buyer journey. Once you have technology in place, it may be tempting to start pushing out offers, email campaigns, and building landing pages for lead capture purposes. But stay patient. Without a base of defined personas, an understanding of the needs at each stage of the buying journey, and a plan for how to influence progression across those stages, demand generation is simply a wide net cast over a gigantic sea. Marketers have access to the tools and data to both know their customer and market to them with what they need. This alignment is absolutely critical to getting it right.

Cynthia Nowiki Headshot

CINDY NOWICKI:

Sr. Director of Integrated Marketing and Content Strategy

How many times have you downloaded a brand’s content (PDF, eBook, whitepaper) just to completely forget about it a week later? I know I have. To hit on the “structured and successful” part of the question, you have to deliver relevant, dynamic content to your customers that they will actually use and recall, not file and forget.

Dynamic content is important for two reasons. One, it provides customers with a visually engaging representation of your brand that not only leaves an impression, but can motivate them toward taking additional action. It’s even better if the content is interactive. For example, to help users navigate their research process, IBM released a digital marketing checklist that not only provides value, but does so in an interesting and memorable format that separates the brand from other B2B tech competitors.

Second, dynamic content is a much better measurement of engagement than static content types such as PDFs. By adding trackable links to your URLs and CTAs, you can accurately measure how, when, and where customers are interacting with your content—an extremely valuable insight for your sales team.

Page Sands Headshot

PAGE SANDS:

VP, Marketing Strategy

I don’t think there is one critical element, actually. From an operational perspective, there are too many activities that must come together to reach KPIs day in and day out. From brand positioning, to demand gen planning, to the platforms that provide scale, the punch list for success is complex and requires multiple stakeholders to check off those boxes.

If I had to choose one critical element, though, it would have to be to know your audience. Your marketing org could be a modern marvel, but your demand gen efforts will fail if you miss on the audience. To deliver on the right messages at the right time, and on the right devices is a tall order. I think it is a safe bet to put some energy behind your audience, especially today. Your company’s growth is dependent on it.

Kara Alcamo Headshot

KARA ALCAMO:

VP, Digital Activation

Demand generation doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes both effort and practice to make it successful. That’s why it’s vital for businesses to use analytics, specifically attribution models, to understand what’s working and what’s not.

First, make sure you’re tracking the data that you know you can collect. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses overlook this critical step. Next, make sure those data sets are integrated across all of your digital channels—this is what will allow you to attribute user actions (CTA clicks, form fill outs, purchases) to your channels and campaigns.

Knowing how your customers arrive at your doorstep allows brands to evaluate the effectiveness of their demand gen programs and identify their weaknesses. This constant measuring and refining is what turns average demand gen programs into successful ones.

ELEMENTS OF A DEMAND CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

Audience knowledge, personas, and buyer journeys. Relevant, engaging, and dynamic content. Analytics and attribution. Strategic alignment of tactics to buyer journeys. From four different subject matter experts, we received four different (though totally connected) responses to defining the most critical element of successful demand gen programs. 

There's no doubt that demand generation is an intricate process, and of course there's no full-proof formula for success. However, by keeping a handful of integrated elements top of mind, organizations can begin to comprise a foundation that activates business objectives and leads them down a path toward fulfilling a true Demand Center of Excellence.

About the Author: Natalie Staines

Natalie Staines is Director of Marketing at R2i and is passionate about digital marketing, storytelling and running. She writes about trends in marketing, best practices and the cool things her colleagues do to connect R2i’s clients with their customers online. In addition to blogging, Natalie juggles a diverse content calendar, events and promotion of R2i’s full breadth of search, social, analytics and technology services. If you can’t find her behind a device, she’s likely off in a pair of Nikes chasing down a PR (personal record that is, not press release, though she does that too).

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