How to Build Your Demand Gen Engine

What Is Demand Generation?

Buyers typically start their purchasing journey with online research. They start by gathering information about the options in the market to decide for themselves which solution is right for their company’s needs. 

As they research online, buyers have a wealth of options and information at their fingertips—so how can you, as a marketer, make sure that buyers find your company as they’re researching? Demand generation (demand gen) is the answer. The goal of demand gen is to increase the visibility of your brand and to drive prospects to sites where they can read more. 

To achieve this goal, demand gen content has to be easily shareable and discoverable. Next, we’ll discuss how to create this type of content for your demand gen engine.

The Five Essential Content Types for Your Demand Gen Engine

Your demand gen content is like a gateway to your company for new prospects. You want to distribute it as widely as possible across your website and social media to make sure it reaches your target market. It should be as low-barrier as possible—at this point, your prospects aren’t seriously considering making a purchase. You don’t want to scare them away with a long contact information form. 

With that said, we’ve compiled a list of the most important types of content to fuel your demand gen engine. These are essential to any demand gen campaign.

Blogs

Blogs should provide readers with fresh and interesting information in an entertaining way. They should be fun to read but also informative and substantive. To do this, you should conduct thorough research on the topic at hand and package that information in a fun and accessible way. The goal is to keep readers engaged—they should want to see more of your content after reading a blog. Include links to your other content to keep readers’ attention on your brand.

Infographics

Infographics are visual storytellers. With charts, graphs, and other visual elements to display data, this type of content shows readers something they didn’t already know. Infographics should pack a lot of useful and interesting information into one space without overwhelming the viewer. The goal is to make complex and valuable information easily understandable and visually appealing. Effective infographics often display the “old vs. new” way of doing things, leading your readers to think, “Wow. I didn’t know that.” 

Checklists

Checklists are a form of content that asks readers thought-provoking questions that will help improve their businesses. These questions should ask the reader if she is aware of, knows, or has done something specific. Limit each checklist to one major topic, but group the questions by sections to make them more digestible—once again, you don’t want to overwhelm your reader. By the end of the checklist, readers should walk away having learned something they didn’t already know.

Videos

Videos are easy to consume. They don’t require as much active engagement on the user’s part compared to other content on this list, but they are highly effective at communicating information. Users can sit back, watch a video, and learn everything they need to know about a given subject. Videos should be highly informative and highly engaging at the same time, like blogs. To create a video, start with a carefully researched and well-written script. Longer videos should feature voice narration to complement the visual elements. This will maximize the amount of information you can pack into a single 90-second video. For shorter videos, however, there’s no need to record voice narration to communicate your idea.

Newsletters

Newsletters are like your content catalog. They’re a useful resource for subscribers who want to catch up on the content you’ve published during that month, all in one succinct email. If done well, this can be a well-anticipated piece of content—similar to waiting for the next issue of your favorite magazine. This is more of an editorial process than a totally new content creation process. To create a newsletter, your task is to determine what to include and how to organize the content.

Why Is This Important?

Now that we’ve laid out the five types of content that you need for your demand gen engine, let’s take a step back. What are we accomplishing with all of this well-written, easily accessible content?

The short-term goal of your demand gen engine is to spread the word about your company and its products. That’s why we’ve emphasized low barriers to access, readability, and usefulness in each of these individual content types—they should be optimized to catch the attention of new prospects in your target demographic. 
The long-term goal of your demand gen engine is to establish your organization as a thought leader in the ecosystem. You want your content to be so valuable and informative that your prospects will return to your website again and again. From there, you’ve already started developing brand loyalty in your customers—they know that when they click on your content, they will learn something new and useful. This makes them more likely to share their contact information with you and to include your company on the long list of vendors they will contact when they start seriously considering making a purchase, which will help you deliver revenue growth in the long run. The next step? Lead generation.

Creative Content as a Subscription

Why Does Content Matter?

When you have an important decision to make in life, you might start by seeking out information about the issue at hand. You might also look into alternative solutions to your problem. Maybe you’ll use a list of pros and cons or another type of chart to organize information about a particular solution. 

All of these options have one thing in common: They involve thorough research, most likely conducted online. The same goes for business decision-making. B2B buyers research and review a lot of information to ensure that they make the right choice for their organization. With the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that buyers are becoming even more conscientious of their purchasing habits — 77% of respondents to a survey of B2B buyers reported spending more time researching products in 2020. 

For B2B buyers, content from vendors is a particularly valuable resource during the research process. According to a recent survey of B2B executives, 37% of respondents ranked content branded directly from vendors as a highly credible resource. Since the vast majority of buyers consume several pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative, it is important to capture a buyer’s attention at this stage.

As you can see, content is vitally important in the buyer’s decision-making journey. To maximize the efficacy of your marketing campaigns, you’ll need a lot of high-quality content to reach the greatest possible number of buyers. 

Subscribing Instead of Hiring

Companies everywhere rely on outsourced labor to perform certain functions. Many companies outsource payroll, accounting, IT, web design, and other necessary tasks. Why should creative content be any different? 

Unless creative content is the core of your business — “core” meaning your specialization, your main purpose, the thing that sets you apart from the competition — there is no reason to do it in-house. Instead, you can subscribe to a third party that can deliver creative content for a lower cost, compared to full-time employees. 

As a marketer, your core is your in-house marketing expertise. Your time and resources will be more effective when allocated toward your competitive marketing strategy.  By leaving creative content production in the hands of a capable partner company, a subscription gives you more time to focus on strategic tasks — like understanding your ecosystem, building relationships with partners, and sifting through the data to gain deeper insights. 

Producing Creative Content as a Subscription

With a monthly subscription-based content creation solution, you can streamline the process of generating content. A subscription provides you with high-quality content to feed your marketing campaigns, including blogs, white papers, maturity models, and more. 

A monthly subscription is 55% to 58% of the cost of full-time writers and designers. With the cost savings — not to mention the savings in terms of the time you would have spent managing these in-house employees — you can focus on optimizing your marketing strategy to increase your company’s growth.

This content is tailor-made for your company’s specific needs and goals. For example, consider the success story of one subscriber to SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River™, who specialized in billing and inventory management services for hospitals. By providing well-researched content targeting the right audience, the Creative Content River™ successfully supported this company as they launched a new product. Over two years, the share of sales for this product grew to 21% of total sales.

This success story demonstrates the power of creative production as a subscription. To read more about the Creative Content River™ and the process of generating content through a subscription, download this white paper.

The Creative Content River™: Streamlining Content Production

Why You Should Start Treating Content Like a Product

As a marketer, one of your top priorities is helping customers find your product. Like all consumers, B2B buyers have access to a wealth of information online from a variety of sources to substantiate any buying decision.

The downside of all of that information? Marketers have to compete with many other companies targeting the same audience. Buyers are inundated with hundreds of marketing messages each day, all trying to prove that their company is the most worthy vendor. In this environment, no matter how compelling a single piece of content is, it won’t be enough to get through to customers.

You have to generate a lot of content to convince buyers to work with you. On average, B2B buyers need to see 13 pieces of content before feeling comfortable enough to purchase a company’s product or service. But high-quality content is hard to generate — each piece takes hours of work, and this process can’t be easily duplicated.

This is where the Creative Content River™ comes in. By treating content like a product that can be manufactured cost-effectively in large quantities, the Creative Content River™ streamlines the process of developing high-quality content for your marketing efforts.

The Steps of Content Creation

From a distance, content might seem vastly different from mass-produced consumer goods made in a factory — content requires much more subtlety to create than factory-made goods, right?

Not necessarily. By understanding content as a product that can be mass-produced, the Creative Content River™ can get more accomplished — faster. To understand how this process works, let’s break down the steps of content creation.

Designing

The first step is to design your content with the buyers’ journey in mind. But before you can do that, you must first understand your buyers — who are they? What do they want? How do they view themselves? What motivates them?

With the answers to these crucial questions, you can design the right content experience for your target demographic. Use this information to ensure that the message of your content aligns with the needs and identities of your potential customers. Then, determine specifically which pieces of content you will need at each phase of the buyer’s journey. A defined content experience at all stages of the buyer’s journey is crucial for the success of any marketing campaign.

Making

The next step is creating the content itself. At this stage, writers and designers start putting their knowledge of their customers’ needs to work. This step encompasses the entire process of producing content — including outlining, writing, proofreading, planning graphics, reviewing, and finalizing.

All team members should meet regularly to stay up-to-date regarding expectations and progress. With strong collaboration across teams, project managers can ensure that this process results in high-quality content that is ready for readers. Plus, there is a learning curve to content creation — the more content these creators produce, the more they will be able to produce at a lower cost.

Delivering

The final step is simple. The hard work of producing the content itself is complete — now all you have to do is distribute it. After the comprehensive editing and proofreading in the previous step, there’s no need to spend time going over anything again. At this stage, all content is finalized and ready for posting on any platform.

The Creative Content River™: Flexibility and Cost Savings in One Subscription

With these three steps to streamline production, SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River™ provides all the content you need for the cost of a subscription.

Now, let’s talk about how this applies to your company. There are two major reasons to subscribe instead of creating all your content in-house: flexibility and cost savings.

First, flexibility. A subscription to the Creative Content River™ is a month-to-month commitment, which is significantly more flexible than hiring in-house employees. To create a similar quantity of high-quality content, a company would have to hire three full-time employees — which is a fixed cost that will consistently drain resources. A monthly subscription, on the other hand, can be canceled anytime if revenue fluctuates.

This is directly related to cost savings. With a subscription, you pay 55% to 58% of what you would have paid for full-time employees, and you still receive all the content you need. In fact, with a subscription, you can accelerate your marketing cadence and effectively reach more buyers.

With increased flexibility and cost savings, the Creative Content River™ makes the process of creating high-quality content simple. All it takes is a subscription to get started.

Want more information about how the Creative Content River™ streamlines content production? Download this white paper.

Why B2B Marketing Fails its Mission (Part 1)

Man writing about B2B marketing

The mission of B2B Marketing is to get Sales on the short list of vendors that a prospective buyer wants to meet with. That is what happens to Top Tier Vendors—they get invited to present anytime a potential buyer has a need.

However, the vast majority of B2B companies are Tier 3 vendors—they compete with hundreds, if not thousands of other companies for the same customer base. Tier 3 Vendors never get invited, so they  must spend a great deal of time and money trying to get noticed for a deal they are unlikely to win.

The first step towards building predictable revenue and high growth is to focus on becoming a Top Tier Vendor in a clearly defined market space.

What Tier Vendor are you?

This concept of vendor tier is critical to the goal of achieving high growth rate. Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors grow at a high rate. Tier 3 vendors either miss their targets or grow at an anemic single digit level.

Tier 1 Vendors

A tier 1 vendor is the market leader in its chosen market space. It has a deep bench when it comes to products, services, and expertise that are a high fit for its customers. As a result, it is the vendor that most customers want to buy from. It also charges a premium to customers for the privilege of buying from the leader.

There are usually no more than 2-3 Tier 1 vendors for any given market.

Tier 2 Vendors

A Tier 2 vendor is a strong niche competitor, but it probably doesn’t have the same scope and scale as a Tier 1 vendor. However, within its limited scope and scale, its offer is as complete and unmatchable as a Tier 1 competitor. In addition, a Tier 2 vendor typically charges less than a Tier 1 vendor.  Therefore, for customers who don’t need the scale of Tier 1, a Tier 2 provider is a very attractive alternative.

There are usually no more than a handful of Tier 2 vendors for any given market.

Tier 3 Vendors

Any B2B company that is not a Tier 1 or Tier 2 vendor is automatically a Tier 3 vendor—meaning that it is one of many dozens, if not hundreds, of vendors attempting to serve the same customer base with an undifferentiated, “me too” offer. Tier 3 offers are typically seen as “commodity,” and price competition is the only way to win deals.

In this article, we will refer to Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors as a Top Tier Vendor.

The Real Test of Top Tier Vendor Status

Here is a simple test. If your prospective customers know who you are and what you do, then you are a Top Tier Vendor in your chosen market. On the other hand, if your target customers don’t know you, then you are a Tier 3 vendor as far as that market segment is concerned.

If we have agreed so far, then the mission of B2B Marketing should be to make a B2B company a Top Tier Vendor in its chosen market space.

What we typically see from vendors is an unfocused, highly undifferentiated message that goes something like, “Company ABC, the leading provider of XYZ, has the best…” No one really cares, so that vendor is relegated to Tier 3.

Here is a question for you, the CEO, to ask yourself:

  • Would you rather be a Tier 3 vendor competing with everyone for anyone’s business and earning hair-thin margins with anemic growth, or
  • Would your rather be a Top Tier Vendor competing with less than a handful of other vendors for the business of a market that knows and respects you and invites you to present your solution, so that you grow at a healthy rate and earn healthy margins?

The Power of the Short List in B2B Marketing

From the vendor’s perspective, getting on the short list of a buyer confers two very important advantages:

  • Since the list of competitors is short, the probability of a win is much higher, resulting in more predictable revenue and higher growth rate.
  • Since the list is short, buyer-vendor engagement level is high. Reps can more accurately gauge their chance of winning and can exit early if they don’t see a win. This further reduces wasted sales resources, which reduces cost of sales.

However, from the buyer’s perspective, getting on the short list depends on whether you as a vendor are trustworthy or not.  Can the buyer trust you to not to waste her time? To be honest with what you can and cannot do? And most importantly, is trusting you going to cost the buyer her reputation, or even her career?

If you are a Tier 3 vendor, the answer is simple. You are not trustworthy, and the only thing that would make up for the risk of working with you is rock-bottom prices.

However, if you are Top Tier Vendor, you have proven to be trustworthy, and you are invited in to present.

The purpose of  B2B Marketing is to make your company a Top Tier vendor so that you can get on the short list.

From there, you just have to prove to be the best fit for the opportunity— and that’s Sales’ job.

Read about the three hurdles in proving trustworthiness.

Critical Success Factor 1: Quality Content

person on laptop displaying the words content

One critical success factor in the operations of B2B sales is quality content. Content is how a prospect can determine the degree to which a vendor understands her problem and can solve it. The more quality content you have, the more certain she becomes that you must be on her short list of vendors to evaluate— making it easy for your sales reps to meet with her.

Since this is a journey for the prospect to take, you must have a variety of content types designed to get her started on this journey so that she can acquire more knowledge and conviction regarding your company and continue to an actual sales engagement with one of your sales reps.

TypePurposeUsage
EmailsCreate awarenessEmail continues to be the most effective outbound communication medium. Its sole purpose is to make the prospect aware of a specific problem and what the logical next step might be towards solving that problem.  Ask the reader to take a small incremental step forward, but always have a complete means by which the prospect can get in touch with you if she is ready to engage.
White PapersEducate: the generic problem and solution.The purpose of a white paper is to enable your prospects to clearly see the type and extent of the problem(s) they have, analyze its cause(s), and provide a vendor-agnostic solution to the problem. In other words, your objective is not to sell your product or service, but to establish yourself as a credible partner that can help your prospect solve their problem(s).
WebinarsEducate: specifically about your solutionWebinars are similar in purpose to White Papers. They both require a significant amount of time and effort to produce quality content. However, webinars are typically expected to discuss your product and solution, perhaps with a demo (if appropriate).
Case StudiesProveCase studies give the prospect a practical and relatable example of how your solution solves problems such as the one the prospect is currently experiencing. The power of a case study can be diminished if you are unable to use the customer’s name (especially if it is a highly recognized company). Be sure to do what it takes to get permission to mention the client by name on at least a few of your case studies.
BlogsEducate InterestBlogs are relatively short (1-2 pages), highly targeted, and highly educated opinions. Have your internal experts write them, and then have them polished off by your editor.
Video / AnimationArouse curiosityThese are short (60-90 second) video clips that explain the main issue and the solution. The goal is to create a fun and engaging way to communicate information at a high level.
Product InformationEducateThis is where you get to talk all you want about your products and services. It is best to keep the information simple, factual, and engaging.

Read about the second Critical Success Factor, “Content Distribution”.