The nature of marketing has evolved considerably from an activity that was meant to create brand awareness by simply pushing out glossy advertisements to what it is today. To be honest, those were simpler times, where access to information was limited and sales would inevitably happen if enough interest was piqued. It is a completely different story today. The market is far more complex, prospective customers have access to abundant information and are not limited for choice. The role of marketing thus has become more complex and more quantifiable. Marketing departments today have a direct responsibility to generate demand and leads and have become more accountable than ever before.
Needless to say, to survive in a crowded marketplace, leveraging the marketing strategies and having a great demand generation system is essential to get the sales wheels turning and getting sales started for a startup. However, with restricted resources and manpower and even tighter budgets, having a solid demand generation team in place can seem like a proverbial unicorn. So what can startups do to generate demand and create leads for their sales team?
A startup demand generation strategy has to eventually create qualified sales opportunities by tapping into the market, creating brand awareness, and engage with the potential customers by following these simple steps.
Get Smart With Digital
More than 82% of B2B buyers conduct an online search before they make a buying decision. Therefore, making an online and social presence is a business imperative. However, a digital strategy does not mean being present on different social media platforms alone. A great digital strategy begins with being present on ‘relevant’ social platforms and leveraging content marketing to fuel the social aspect. The 2014 Demand Gen Report B2B Buyer Survey, shows that 64% of executives say that a vendor’s content has a significant impact on their buying decision. Pushing content that is relevant, current and that addresses the pain points of the audience the startup services helps in initiating conversations and eventually building demand.
Optimize email Marketing
Over 92% of the respondents of a report by B2B Technology Marketing Community state that email marketing is an integral and essential part of their demand and lead generation strategy. With over 92% of adults having an online account, leveraging email to dispense information that creates demand only makes sense. However, email marketing can be counter productive if start-ups resort to spamming their entire email list with random updates. The email marketing efforts have to deliver targeted information regarding a startups best offers to an identified demographic to yield results. Randomly sending out information regarding low-value offers to an entire database will drive the prospective customers to send the email marketing efforts to the Spam folder.
It is essential that a good demand generation strategy accounts for digital blind spots to identify why a prospective customer is choosing a competitor product. Instead of navigating the digital labyrinth blindfolded, startups can leverage web analytics tools to understand and decode a potential customers digital language. Web analytics tools give companies the insight into buyer interests and help in categorizing them by identifying potential leads. Startups can identify internet trends, user preferences, performance of promotional activities and time on site of potential customers with the help of these tools. They can also use web analytics to optimize their website by improving the overall browsing experience, employing SEO strategies for better searchability and strengthen email and other marketing initiatives.
Give a Little
Startups have limited budgets for marketing strategies. That being said, a startup can create a successful demand generation campaign by giving away something to their clients for free. It could be a tool, an app or a service, depending on the area that the startup functions in. By doing so, the startup gives its target audience an avenue to explore their product or service first-hand and not via any other channel and thus helps in generating demand. This service can be offered to the clients for a limited period if budgets are a constraint. The benefits of this are twofold – One, if the customer likes the product then the startup has a potential lead; and two, if he/she does not like the product then the feedback generated can be leveraged to improve the offering.
Partner with Influencers
Startups can leverage influencer marketing to establish credibility and generate demand by building brand awareness with the help of industry rock stars. However, for influencer marketing, startups need to build connections with the influencers by first getting into their eye line and then having meaningful conversations around relevant topics to build credibility. This process is a little time consuming but can yield great results. Imagine the credibility an industry influencer would bring to a webinar hosted by a young start up! The increased number of attendees owing to the influencers following would be an added plus.
Startups can also leverage several networking events and conferences to connect with prospective clients and generate demands. Since these events can be an expensive affair and can burn a hole in the pocket of a startup, it’s essential to approach the events calendar objectively. Sometimes attending one big ticket event can lead to better outcomes for demand generation than attending many small events and even vice-versa. Identifying the agenda of the events, taking a look at the guest and speaker list, attendees, competitors attending and only going to those where you can visibly see a good prospect pool is a good way to shortlist which events to attend.
Traditional cold calling methods are redundant in today’s environment as the days of interruptive marketing are over. Marketing initiatives such as social media marketing, email marketing and content marketing can help in establishing familiarity with a prospect before the physical call is made. Startups also need to ‘warm up’ their calls by first identifying interested prospects, establishing a connection with them via the above mentioned marketing initiatives and then placing a call with a solution to their existing problem. Using a targeted message to generate demand will yield a better result than just calling with a blanket message.
Ensuring that you have a good and exceptionally skilled demand generation team is another imperative for demand generation success for a startup. Thinking that one sales guy will be able to capture the essence of demand generation and drive the entire exercise alone generally results in futile efforts and wasted time. Given constraints that startups have to work with, outsourcing demand generation to a skilled company can help immensely by not only reducing the costs of demand generation efforts but also by giving access to an experienced talent pool of professionals who are ready to hit the market ‘at that moment’ and get the wheels of sales moving.
This is a guest post by Trish Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer at Vsynergize
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