Demand Generation 101

For the past few years, we’ve been sold a very specific way to generate growth and create revenue. Marketing gurus have led us to believe that this is the way to grow. 

Maybe you’ve encountered some of that advice… 

  • Turn on a different marketing tactic or strategy every time you need a boost.
  • Go get leads for your sales team, however you need to do it.
  • Keep producing more activity for the sake of staying on top.
  • Throw a bunch of ideas against the wall, then hit “repeat” on the ones that work (for the time being, anyway.)

The truth is, there’s never going to be a time when B2B marketers don’t have to iterate. 

Times are changing, budgets get nixed, and customer expectations start to shift. While demand generation marketing might have forged its place in recent B2B marketing culture, sustainable growth is the only way you can expect to truly expand your business for the long haul.

Let’s pull back the curtain on whether or not demand generation truly matters for your business, and how you can build a marketing engine that doesn’t stop.

>> Ready to learn more why the typical B2B growth strategy is broken? Start here. <<

What is Demand Generation?

In a traditional sense, demand generation is a type of marketing strategy that’s data-driven and helps marketers build awareness, interest, and demand for a product or service. 

But it’s way more than that—and also much more valuable than any hyped, ad hoc department that you tack onto your existing marketing team.

Demand generation focuses on building brand awareness at the top of the funnel via paid ads and content. The goal is to create brand affinity so when a buyer has a tangible need, it’s your brand that comes to the top of their mind. You're "generating demand" for that light bulb moment.

Demand generation marketing is also an interactive strategy that’s intended to provide “predictable revenue.” But does it always do so? That’s the question that modern B2B marketers have to consider.

A New Take on Demand Generation Marketing

Recently, more marketers and industry experts have been weighing in on what demand generation means in a future-forward context. We’ve seen how the textbook definition of demand generation has evolved to encompassing both:

  1. Capturing existing customer demand and,
  2. Creating new demand that didn’t exist before your marketing initiatives

There’s also talk of another demand gen strategy which says that marketers can essentially reroute existing customer demand. This involves repackaging the customer’s intended need and selling your product or service in such a way so that it matches what they’re looking for.

Does Demand Generation Matter for B2B Businesses?

The short answer is yes—demand generation has mattered a lot for B2B businesses over the past several years. But in some cases, it’s really just a sales-led playbook with a different flavor. 

At first blush, demand gen was incredibly effective at accomplishing what it set out to do. In short, the goals were:

  • To generate demand
  • To generally educate potential buyers who weren't necessarily ready to purchase
  • To get “leads” from gated assets

While we all agree that these efforts are valuable, some of the nuances that made demand generation effective before aren’t as relevant for the times and marketing culture we’re in now. Maybe you’ve moved on from getting leads from gated content assets to gathering contacts through demo sign-ups. 

We hate to break it to you…but these are still leads that fail to scale in the long haul.

The hard truth is that it’s not so simple anymore. In 2023, it turns out that demand generation isn’t actually the best way forward. There might be value in the concept, but it’s not the ultimate path to B2B hyper-growth.

So, Where’s Your Golden Ticket to Success?

Remember what we said before about marketers always iterating? That holds true. The long-term answer is that demand generation helps as a short-term strategy for building brand awareness, but ultimately, the key to success is to build sustainable growth and genuine brand demand. 

Sustainable Demand > Brand Awareness

Demand generation is an excellent approach within a company that already has a strong and existing growth lever. In these scenarios, demand generation can be used as an additive to compound additional success. Unfortunately, there are too many B2B businesses that are using demand generation as a crutch to drive growth.

Incremental changes are a fix for long-term sustainability. That’s why we believe the following:

 Sustainable Demand ≠ Demand Generation

In short, a sustainable growth framework ends up being far superior to demand generation for building brand awareness only. When it comes time to increase your brand awareness, you have two options—throw out short-term strategies at the wall to see what works temporarily, or dig in and define the highest impact areas for growth as they fit into your growth hypothesis.

Build Your Performance Demand Generation Engine

Looking to build a sustainablebuild sustainable performance marketinga scalable demand generation engine instead of using unreliable demand gen tactics that come and go? If so, there’s good news and bad news. 

Let’s start with the downside. Here’s the truth—for too many years, B2B leaders have relied on playbooks, tactics, and strategies that have been powerful at other times and in different contexts. But the climate is different now. If you want to build a growthn engine at scale, you have to know how to leverage demand in the here and now.

The good part? It’s possible to learn and understand how your company actually grows. By following the steps below, you’ll be better prepared to bring everyone on the team into alignment instead of simply trying to replicate old tricks that are better left in the past.

Set Realistic Expectations

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that if you don't have the company on board with potential demand generation changes, it will be extremely difficult to sustain and build momentum. 

Switching to a demand generation approach takes time as you move from leads and MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to inbounds and demos. You'll need to build all new reporting and dashboards to track the success that matches your new reality.

Map Channels to Demand Capture and Creation

Capturing demand and creating it are two very different activities and goals. You simply can’t build a growth engine without defining these activities and asking “Where can we capture demand and where is there opportunity to legitimately create it?”

In our work, we’ve found that the following tends to hold true for separate marketing channels.

  • Search = Demand Capture (Potential buyers are ready and actively seeking solutions) 
  • Social = Demand Creation (Companies are interrupting a previous thought in order to create demand and invoke interest)

Find Strategic Messaging

At Elevate Demand, we believe in a simple guiding rule about messaging. If you don’t have the right message, you will always be attempting to scale failure.

Strategic messaging must always include your product brand’s key positioning and narrative. You can't capture demand without the right product position, and you can't create demand without the right brand narrative.

Product positioning captures demand by effectively communicating a product’s value proposition and benefit statements, while brand narrative is the key to creating demand by helping buyers understand perceived pain points that they don't know about (yet). 

Marketing Execution

Marketing execution is the process of executing new campaigns and tactics in order to capture and create demand. To accomplish this process, your team must be willing to run experiments and look for metrics that improve over time. This can include:

  • Improved conversion rate
  • Improved click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Improved inbound volume
  • Increased engagement on ads

In a sustainable growth model, every experiment is launched with the following component: a known hypothesis, a buyer pain the product is trying to solve, and the impact it will have against a company’s newly defined growth hypothesis. These findings are relevant in order to continually reap rewards from your marketing engine.

Demand Generation Metrics That Matter

For marketers that want to find demand generation metrics that really matter, it’s critical to avoid the classic trap of underperformance. Here’s what happens (and maybe it even sounds familiar in your current role or context). 

Companies develop a marketing funnel to collect as many leads as possible (some of which are marketing qualified or MQLs). Then, they incorrectly assume that the conversion rate or process will look the same for all potential customers, or that all leads are created equal. 

You probably know where we’re going with this…the promise of “all leads are created equal” falls flat. And when you bank on it—and spend all of your marketing dollars and energy on it— you end up with a bounty of top funnel leads that convert relatively poorly. 

The best and most time-efficient way to reach your goals is through choosing metrics that matter in your 2023 strategy and planning. 

Incorporate the high-performing metrics below to achieve better results this year.

Inbound Volume

Inbound volume refers to the total number of leads gathered through your existing inbound marketing channels. This includes (but isn’t limited to): 

  • Number of live demos
  • Number of new trials
  • Requests for pricing or quotes

How to Measure: Clearly define the sources that your team considers “inbound,” as part of your larger marketing mix. Use the data to measure inbound volume at different intervals or time periods, particularly after experimentation or tests.

MQOs (Marketing Qualified Opportunities)

Marketing qualified opportunities (MQOs) refers to the number of opportunities you are getting from your inbound leads. In many instances, an opportunity has more potential than a basic lead, because the opportunity has been shown to have sales potential.

How to Measure: First, you’ll need to clearly define what characteristics you’re looking for in terms of “opportunities” versus standard leads. The opportunity may have a specific pain point that increases the odds of conversion. Qualified opportunities can then be counted as part of your inbound metrics.

Marketing Sourced Pipeline

Marketing sourced pipeline is the total monetary value or revenue amount generated by marketing-led activities, campaigns, and initiatives. Sometimes, this metric is compared to sales-driven or partner pipeline opportunities. Sourced pipeline is often used to illustrate that the opportunity came as a direct result of a marketing activity and would not have happened otherwise.

How to Measure: To get an accurate measuring of marketing sourced pipeline, you’ll need a way to generate marketing touchpoints and prove that an opportunity or lead came in through a marketing-related event. Once you know the value of each separate marketing-sourced opportunity, you can accurately calculate the value of marketing sourced pipeline.

Marketing Sourced Revenue

Marketing sourced revenue is similar to pipeline, but in this metric, you’re looking at how much of those opportunities turn into actual revenue and become closed/won deals. Pipeline exists before the closed deal, and sourced revenue happens after the eventual conversion.

How to Measure: As noted above, you’ll need to connect any marketing sourced revenue to verifiable marketing activities. Connecting the dots between initiative and closed/won deal leads to your sourced revenue metric. 

Marketing Sourced Win Rate

The marketing sourced win rate is a ratio that shows how many of your marketing leads convert, or become customers. This metric highlights the total conversion your receive for all of your marketing sourced leads.

To leverage this metric, always ask whether your win rate is improving over time. If you're doing demand generation correctly, you should see improvements in win rate of your marketing sourced deals because you're driving more bottom of the funnel. 

How to Measure: To measure marketing sourced win rate, you’ll first need to know the total number of customers converted on marketing activities. You’ll also need to know the total number of lost deals. Divide your converted marketing sourced deals by the total number of both won and lost. 

Marketing Sourced Days to Close

Days to close refers to how long it takes for your average marketing sourced lead to close on a deal. This metric should decrease over time as you move more high intent buyers into your funnel. In the ideal scenario, there are fewer hurdles to keep prospective customers from closing after interacting with a marketing initiative and taking the next steps. 

How to Measure: Used your closed/won data to attribute the number of specific deals to ongoing marketing initiatives. Monitor this data over time to see how your funnel is improving, or how you need to pivot.

Real Businesses + Real Results with Elevate Demand

“I've hired many marketing agencies in the past and have always been disappointed - until I met Jay and his team at Elevate Demand. They jumped right into the thick of things with our internal teams and became an integrated partner on messaging strategy, budget allocation, and ultimately pipeline generation. 

As the leader of a department responsible for ARR pipeline generation, Elevate took the weight off of my shoulders and allowed me to focus on the greater strategies and development of my team. In our first two quarters with Elevate, we generated nearly $5M in pipeline, exceeding our goal.” Evan B., Senior Marketing Manager

“We went to Elevate primarily to help us increase our inbound lead volume. Along the way, we're working through brand narratives that entice the right buyers and making website changes to reduce friction—the underlying reasons our lead gen had plateaued.

With Elevate, we get campaigns that move the needle. We don't waste time A/B testing forever; we get things up and running, learn from them, and make adjustments along the way. I have peace of mind with Elevate. They're constantly thinking about my company, our programs' performance, and how to increase the impact.” Heather S., Head of Marketing

“Marketing in today's digital world is becoming more and more specialized. [Elevate] was recommended to us as a PPC agency, but we quickly expanded the scope as we dug into things. We spent hours on strategy, branding, goal setting, and data evaluation before we ever jumped into spending money on ads. [Elevate] is obsessed with understanding your business, learning about your customers, and forming a plan that works for you. 

SaaS marketing is rapidly changing, and Elevate is the ultimate resource if you want to stay on top of things and keep your business in front of the competition.” Matthew M., Product Marketing Manager

Marketing Changes for the Better with a Sustainable Growth Framework

We’re not here to sell demand generation too short. After all, it’s weathered several business trends, economic changes, and business shuffles. For a time, generating demand was a strategy that many marketers could follow for success.

But at Elevate Demand, we’re not looking for short-term success in a vacuum. We’re on a mission to drive sustainable growth in the here and now and for the foreseeable future. To do so, you can’t bank on a sales-led model in disguise. Instead, you need compounding marketing growth strategies that will exponentially grow your impact.

Tirelessly searching for a marketing framework focused on sustainable growth? If so, you’ve come to the right place.  

>> Create sustainable demand. Start here. <<