On May 18, some of the brightest minds in B2B demand generation are getting together to talk, debate, learn, party, agree, celebrate, teach and meet new professional contacts to help grow their marketing careers.
The venue? DemandCon, a marketing and sales conference focused on demand generation, specifically the entire sales funnel, from first contact to revenue recognition.
Steve Gershik, co-founder of DemandCon asked a few of the 50 experts who will be at the show to share some of their thoughts on demand generation. The first of those answers are below and the second will be posted on Wednesday on the blog.
What's the difference between demand generation, lead generation and marketing automation?
Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale
Demand generation is the entire continuum of marketing to the buyer across their buying cycle. Demand only becomes “demand” when a prospect actively wants what you’re company sells.
Lead generation is the act of creating a truly engaged prospect who is actively interested in your content and the promises of what your products and solutions deliver. A lead is NOT a contact which is the result of a form submission or opt in for continuous communications. It’s what happens next that creates the pivotal point for a contact to become a lead. Marketing automation is the technology suite that supports the execution, refinement and measurement of your marketing demand generation process.
Hugh Macfarlane, Founder of Math Marketing, international B2B consultant
Demand Generation is all about creating new opportunities for your business, whereas leads are an early stage opportunity (only), and so lead gen is a subset of demand gen. Automating certain of the marketing functions though, makes sense for generating demand, plus managing opportunities, and managing client relationships. So in some senses automation covers more ground, but it still plays a support role to demand generation (which may, or may not be, automated).
|Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas Group, a B2B demand generation consultancy||
Demand Generation is the practice of creating demand or leads and is in essence the top of the funnel activity which gets the inquiries into the dialogue stage with an organization. There are many components to making demand generation successful for an organization and as seen in many studies many companies still struggle with it, but it should be a key discipline for any B2B organization.
Despite what many have stated, lead management is not a software or a solution. Lead Management is a defined set of processes that manage the lead from creation through to close and into the customer lifecycle. A solid lead management process framework is a set of seven individual yet holistic processes including:
- Data Management
- Lead Planning
- Lead Routing
- Lead Qualification (including definitions and scoring)
- Lead Nurturing
- Content Development Process
Looking at any one of these process areas apart from the other will not provide the solid end-to-end process that will enable an organization to engage and manage their buyer dialogues.
Marketing Automation is an enabling technology that will power both demand generation and lead management. Automation allows for the a consistent and repeatable communications to your buyers, tracks their behavior, allows for lead qualification, data segmentation, metrics and other features.
While marketing automation can be a great addition to any companies marketing department, it should not be looked at as being able to deliver or improve your demand generation strategies or lead management process.
How does a complex B2B buying cycle affect demand generation?
There are a lot of things I could point to, but the critical points are the length of the buying process, the number of people involved that must agree and the amount of knowledge that must be exchanged at each stage to build continuous momentum toward purchase. With more buyers choosing to self-educate and delay sales conversations until the later stages, this means that companies need more content, better content and a buyer-focused process to make it all the way through the funnel. Marketers must spend more time with prospects and work jointly with inside sales and field sales to ensure a smooth and rewarding experience for their buyers – and their influencers.
Demand Generation for complex buying has two big factors to deal with. The buyer’s journey is often long, complex, and each progression needs to be planned, executed and measured. Secondly, when buyers leak from your funnel, you need to put them on a nurturing program until they are ready to be ‘recycled’ for another attempt (and another, and another...).
While demand generation used to be a very linear process (prospect requests information, vendor responds and begins to sell), the complexity and change in the buyer has affected this dramatically. The buyers are now having much of their buying process outside of direct vendor involvement. The affect is that marketers now need to have an engagement mind-set not just a create demand view i.e. Enagement generation. The top of the funnel dynamic has changed in that much of demand generation involves shaping the conversation, taking part in a dialogue from a thought leader or idea generation perspective. This change in buyers has forced marketers to think differently and has brought the importance of content marketing to the top of B2B marketing.