Demand generation is a vital part of any long-term content marketing strategy. In involves multiple steps all designed to strengthen awareness and create desire around your company's product or service.
Content that is created with demand generation in mind will help gather a bigger audience, create the desire for what your company has to offer, and turn that audience into leads. It accelerates them along the customer's journey directly towards making a purchase.
How can your content help strengthen demand generation? Let's look at several steps you can take to maximize the demand generation potential of your next content marketing campaign.
Identify your Target Audience
Of course, no content campaign can start without a clear understanding of your target audience.
Most companies target multiple demographics. It’s rare to find a single-service or single-product company. But for demand generation, you should focus on a specific demographic for each campaign.
Some content marketing teams find it useful to create personal profiles, sometimes called personas, for each kind of customer they want to attract. For instance, you may have Tasha, the mid-thirties soccer mom with a weakness for dairy-free iced-coffee drinks and Antonio, the 25-year-old member of lower management at a local bank. The more specific each "ideal customer" is, the better.
When it comes time to plan out a new content campaign, you can include the name of the persona you want to focus on. So you may have a "Tasha Demand Generation Blog Series" and an "Antonio Demand Generation Social Post Campaign."
Attract Attention through Content
Once you have your target audience caught in your proverbial cross-hairs, it's time to plan, create, and distribute content that will attract the attention of your ideal potential customers.
The most obvious way to do this is to use SEO to capture customers that are searching for relevant terms on Google and other search engines. A better, though more expensive, tactic is to design targeted ad campaigns that point members of your target audience to your high-quality content. A way to get the same effect is to create content so good that your audience will want to share it with others in their group.
Build Authority and Trust
Marketing content, be it written, as a series of images, or in audio or video form, needs to have much more than SEO going for it. While SEO is a factor for content visibility, only truly high-quality content will stand the test of time and remain valuable (and high-ranking) long-term. Thus, your content needs to generate authority and trust.
When you solve problems your target audience may be having, when you share hacks or give advice that may save them money, you are presenting yourself to them as more than a company that sells a product or service; you are building in their minds a brand that cares about others, wants to help them, and has the know-how to improve their lives.
Such helpful, informative, and (perhaps) entertaining content creates a reputation of authority and establishes a bond of trust between your brand and your target audience.
Establishing authority and trust is a major way you can use content to strengthen the demand for your products and services. At the same time, such high-quality content is more likely to be linked and shared throughout the internet, building further awareness for your company.
Give More than You Ask
When you attract potential customers with high-quality content, it's tempting to come in hard and fast with the ask, hoping to seal a new sale as quickly as possible.
This is understandable. The higher-ups in your company are probably results-driven, as they should be. Your position as a content marketer depends on you bringing in as many leads as you can and driving them towards sales.
On the other hand, going for that ask too fast or too often harms that authority and trust you are trying to build. Demand generation is not a short-term strategy. It's mid-term at bes, in some B2C instances, and it can be quite long-term at times, especially in B2B markets.
To continue to generate demand and build a long-lasting brand, remember to give (much) more than you ask. In other words, help your audience more often than you ask for a purchase.
A generous brand will not be quickly forgotten, and whatever product or service such a brand offers will be valued more because of it.
Think of this example: CONCURED offers multiple high-quality articles on our blog, all completely for free. We are not overly-eager to get your money or ask for you to purchase our excellent, AI-powered software. Why not? Because we want to help you, the content marketer, regardless of if you decide to use our amazing, AI-driven content tools or not.
Many other content marketing companies, on the other hand, publish articles like ours, only to hide half of the article behind an email capture. By going in for an ask too quickly, how many potential readers do they lose? Thousands? More?
Don't be like that. Give generously. Aim to truly help people. Make it your aim to make people feel indebted to your brand, and they'll respond with a purchase, and, even better, they'll evangelize for you, telling others about how amazing your brand is.
Building authority and trust and helping people are all wonderful pursuits, but the ultimate purpose of your content is to generate demand, a demand that will (hopefully) lead to sales, right?
By using content to create the desire for the products or services your company offers, you'll be able to facilitate those leads and sales you're looking for.
So how do you create desire through content? There are a few ways.
You can focus on your target audience's pain points. What are they struggling with? What challenges do they have? How can your products or services solve that problem?
Many web development companies offer solutions to problems for free in their authority content, providing a step-by-step process for fixing a certain problem. But the process is long and arduous. Then, at the end, the article offers an alternative – hire them or install their premium plugin. Desire is instantly created because, for a few bucks, people can save a lot of time and effort in fixing their problem.
Can you do something similar, no matter what kind of product or service you offer?
You can also use case studies and testimonials to show how others are benefiting from your company's offerings. These case studies should spotlight people that are very similar to your target audience. If your campaign targets "Tasha" (from above), then you want your testimonials to be someone exactly like Tasha.
The idea is to help potential customers imagine themselves with the same benefits in their lives or business. If that is something they find appealing, the desire for your products will grow.
Turn Your Audience into Leads
Publicly-viewed content, including blogs, ebooks, and online articles, is a great place to start generating demand. But how do you take that audience you gather there and turn those people into leads?
The exact steepness of the angle of your sales funnel may depend on your market and business type. B2B business can usually be a bit quicker to the punch than B2C, but it all depends on the details of your brand.
That said, there are plenty of ways to turn readers into leads. Offer more detailed and helpful information than that you've already given in exchange for an email. Or you can offer to give weekly tips through SMS, capturing their phone number.
In providing even more value, and now having their permission to market to them, you can sprinkle in even more offers of your products and services. Or, you can give them an exclusive offer because they signed up for an exclusive list, be that through email or SMS.
All along the way, the secret to maintaining that authority and trust is to communicate openly and honestly and never overstep your bounds. In other words, don't pitch sales more often than you agreed to from the start.
Measure and Reflect
Finally, at the end of a demand generation content campaign, it's time to gather all the data you can and measure your effectiveness.
Were you able to build awareness with your target audience? Did you attract positive attention and maintain interest in your brand over several pieces of content?
Were you able to build authority and trust by providing value again and again? Did you establish your company as generous and helpful?
Did you create desire by giving solutions to problems and using case studies and testimonials? Did you show your offerings as valuable and relevant? Did you manage to capture leads from your content?
The more data you have, the better you'll be able to approximate the effectiveness of your content to your company's bottom line.
Of course, measuring for the sake of measuring isn't very valuable at all. You don't want to just look back at what you've done. You want to use that information to improve future campaigns. What could be tweaked? What feedback have you gotten that could lead to better content in the future?
By asking those questions at the end of each campaign, just before planning the next big project, you'll be able to constantly improve. Brands like Coca-Cola didn't master content overnight. They improved over a long period of time, slowly fashioning the brand juggernaut we see today.
Why can't your brand do the same? By generating demand, you can contribute to your brand's long-term health, so you'll have better sales tomorrow, even better profit next month, and more business than you can handle years down the line.