The key first steps to improve demand generation are about funnel quality. Walk your way back with the end in mind, and find the areas that need...
Demand generation is dead
Yes, you have read this right. Demand generation is dead. Shocking, isn't it?
Welcome the need for customer empathy.
The "Hockey Stick"
The “Hockey Stick” used to be reserved for investment plans, but now every marketing professional can have one. You can have one if you stop marketing the old fashioned way. No more pay-per-click. No more keyword stuffing. No more sponsorships. No more paid guest blogging. No more lists. No more spamming. No more follow-me-I-will-follow-you-back behavior. If you're ready to do all this, you'll be in for a surprise. The marketing flying wheel will take time to pick up speed but once your organic and referral marketing traffics picks up speed it will keep on giving. it's like having employees that work 24/7 that you don't need to pay and are always happy :-). You won't need to add any more initiatives or campaigns to the mix to make up for diminishing returns. Let's face it, you're probably burned out already.
Old marketing tricks
Here is the problem with the old marketing tricks. They work only for the short term. Most marketers and their managers optimize for a short term only, and that's a big mistake. If you only care about your results for the next few months or a year, you can get away with optimizing your PPC campaigns or paying someone to write about you, or to like you. Especially with a startup, this works great. At first. The brand new website with the brand new logo will make everyone excited. The press will even write about you a few times just because you are new and sound different. But those benefits will fade fast. And that’s when the really important stuff starts to matter.
So no more paid advertising at all?
I like to challenge my team to do great marketing without paid advertising support first. This includes a ban on any form of PPC (Adwords, Boosting tweets, Promoting Facebook pages, etc.) or paying influencers to write or care about you. But this does not mean we never do this. It simply means I want the team to first build a great value prop, to have great content, to have something interesting and meaningful to say. When we reach that point (and the best metric for this is the growth of organic are referral traffic) we allow ourselves to boost marketing with some pay-to-play levers because when we reach that point, these will also be much higher ROI than when you start with these.
It's like an unknown author who wrote her first book. She needs an agent to promote her, or some other form of advertising or lobbying to get people to notice her book. But it's critical the t the good book gets written first! Many marketers make the mistake to start with the promotion before they write the book.
Do you know who your customers are? Have they told you what they like most about you? Have they told you what’s missing? What do they like about the competition? Have you pleased them so much that they allow you to "follow them home?" Did they give you their email addresses? Will there be a second date? You can only get to home base bypassing first, second and third, remember? Real business success through marketing is hard work.
Purple cows don't grow on trees. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You need to create content that is valuable, that can survive without your product. Because you invest in this, your prospects will be more likely to buy from you. Unique products are getting very rare. Unique customer service and empathy are not. Last year a large US customer research survey by Harris found that 79% of consumers said their complaints about customer service were ignored. Only 1% said that their expectations for customer experience were always met. 89% said they switched business to a competitor due to poor customer experience. And the one that brings it all home: 86% said they would pay up to 25% extra for great customer experience.
Dancing in the rain
Modern marketing is a bit like farming. You have to seed and then wait. But when you get up and do the hard work early, it becomes much easier to scale, and you can be in the business of harvesting rainwater. No more marketing rainmakers. No more people who dance to make noise and let people get wet. We need to inspire people who choose to dance in the rain.
Less is more
Search engine optimization is very important. However, many marketers mistake it for having to write ten blogs instead of one very good one. Imagine how one piece of content that is valuable and that people will actually share can be far more impactful than ten pieces that will be never shared. And remember to always optimize for the searcher first, then for the search engine.
Your not-to-do list:
- Don't do paid search engine marketing or pay-per-click (aka Madison Avenue on steroids).
- Don't pay influencers or analysts to like you or to write about you.
- Don't ask for things before you can give something of value.
- Don't mass produce content that is repeating itself.
P.S.: If you're completely unknown and have created a great product and a message that your audience needs to hear, a little bit of advertising is okay, like a new writer who needs an agent to get the word out. But only allow pay-for-attention marketing after you have done Your Homework To Be relevant for Your prospects.