Customers are the lifeblood of any business.

Without dedicated people willing to buy and recommend your products and services, your organization can’t grow. Unfortunately, acquiring and maintaining consumers isn’t always easy.

Demand generation is one of the most critical elements of the customer acquisition process. This multi-step process shows your prospects that you understand the problems they’re facing and that you offer a reliable solution.

What is demand generation?

The term “demand generation” refers to any activity engaged in by a company to get consumers excited about a service or product. Demand generation programs promote new products, expand your reach into new markets, build word-of-mouth buzz and even generate PR.

Importantly, while demand generation is all about building engagement and excitement, it’s not just an early-funnel marketing strategy. Demand generation programs apply to touchpoints throughout the entire sales and conversion cycle. The goal is to build and nurture crucial customer relationships over the long-term.

Though the specific tactics used in a demand generation strategy will vary according to the nature of your brand, they may include:

  • eBook campaigns
  • Weekly newsletters
  • Inbound and website marketing
  • Content marketing and curation
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid advertising (PPC)
  • Free tools and reports
  • Video marketing
  • Influencer marketing

Demand generation vs. lead generation

It’s easy to accidentally place “demand generation” and “lead generation” in the same category. However, they are different concepts.

Lead generation focuses on convincing your prospects to provide you with valuable contact information. You might use a high-quality piece of content placed behind a gated form that collects email addresses and phone numbers to boost lead numbers.

Demand generation, alternatively, is about educating your customers by showing them that they already have a challenge in their life that you can fix. With demand generation, you take a proactive approach to getting in front of your audience and showing people what you do.

Demand generation and data

Demand generation relies on your ability to understand consumer needs and respond to them. As such, for demand generation to be successful, you’ll need plenty of data in your strategy. As well as choosing the marketing channels and themes most likely to speak to your audience, you’ll also need to determine what kind of words and content have the best impact.

Ensure that your marketing team has a strategy for personalizing content according to your customer’s needs. Continuous testing, analysis and data collection will be crucial to this process. As you begin to notice trends in your marketing programs, you’ll be able to connect marketing activities to critical metrics for success.

Tools like Sprout Social help with determining what kind of content your customers appreciate most, which social channels you should connect with them on and more. With Sprout, it’s even possible to automate social posts to add more consistency to your campaigns.

Crucial components of a demand generation strategy

Demand generation campaigns require a careful strategy to improve the impact of your content. To get your customers from “awareness” to “conversion” in their sales journey:

  • Create a product need: Educate your customers on the problem that your product or service solves. Your audience may not know that they have this problem before you show them.
  • Increase brand awareness: Improve the perception of your brand by making sure that you’re consistently in front of the right audience on the correct social and digital channels.
  • Demonstrate your value: Once your audience has a better idea of the challenge they face and what your brand can do, create content that demonstrates the benefits of choosing to work with your organization. For instance, eBooks and webinars that examine the value of your product or service are often valuable.