Good demand generation requires strategy, planning and tools – and the right team. Here’s my advice:
1. If you’re smart, you’ll assign one team to own demand generation. Since most companies share a database and marketing automation, demand generation is particularly ill suited to execution in silos. Centralize demand gen for a more focused approach and a better customer experience.
2. Your demand generation team should own strategy for demand gen and execute cross functionally. This means this team executes for anyone in the company who needs demand generation. Demand gen gets objectives and then develops the story arc, recommends when communications go out, which channels are used, implements campaigns and reports on success. Demand gen should also own managing lead definitions and lead flow to sales.
3. This means that demand gen needs to work collaboratively. Make sure the leader of the demand gen team is passionate about communicating and proving what they can do by tracking. This leader should also be happy to educate about what demand gen can do and creative in presenting options when requests are unrealistic.
4. Give demand gen objectives and have them present an action plan. Once it’s approved, let them run. I see a lot of companies fail by micro managing the demand gen efforts and weakening their ability to perform. Remember – sometimes it takes time to get success and part of getting success is learning through failure. Don’t sweat the little stuff and let them prove themselves over time.
5. Once you have your leader, build the rest of the team. Normally, you’ll need a design person or creative firm, a content person or writer, an events person and someone to handle the marketing automation. If your marketing automation syncs with a CRM, you might need an additional person to handle sales operations.
6. Don’t make the mistake of assigning leadership of demand gen to your marketing operations administrator, unless that person is also an experienced strategist. If you do, you run the risk of doing what is easiest to implement, rather than what is going to bring the best results.
7. Be prepared for recruiting to be a challenge. Good (and even not so good) demand generation folks are snapped up quickly and the race to get them is fierce. If you find the right person, act quickly and offer competitive salary and benefits.
8. It’s a lot easier to train a good candidate to use technology than to train someone to be a good strategic marketer. If you find a candidate you like who doesn’t have experience with your marketing automation platform, hire them and train them. There are training programs offered by almost all of the platforms and you can even hire a marketing opps consultant in the short term to work side by side to get their skills up. (In my experience, knowing one marketing automation platform means you pick others up quickly anyway.)
9. Know that your demand gen person will be heavily recruited once they’re hired. So treat them well. And have a continuity plan – a second trained person or an outside contractor who can take over if you lose someone. This is also helpful for vacations and sick days. I’ve seen a lot of demand gen people leave good jobs over burnout from deferred vacations and time off.
10. Think about how to manage demand generation globally. Many companies staff overseas offices with one person who does all marketing in that geo – advertising, events, programs and demand gen. That’s just too much. Consider having your US demand gen team support your global organization, working with the local marketing staff for localization and translation.
Need more ideas? Help? I’m here if you need me.