Demand Generation Strategies: Biggest Shifts Happening in Marketing Strategy

If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that anything can happen in the world at any time. As a marketer, being flexible and adapting to the ever-changing world as we know it will be your greatest strength. What worked in terms of marketing strategy before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is old news. Even further, what may have been relevant three or even six months ago might no longer be a strategy that works today, right here and now.

Our world is shifting fast. As we move into 2021, we want to be mindful of the biggest shifts in marketing, to monitor how we’re adapting and maintaining relevancy as we fight to compete in our respective markets.

Although proactive planning is important, an ever-changing environment can’t support a 12-month plan. At SmartBug®, our teams focus on strategic plans that are flexible and reach no more than three months into the future for that specific reason.

The Secret Marketing Sauce

You’re probably wondering, “What do I need to know to get started on the right foot this year?” I’ll let you in on a little secret … there’s no secret sauce in the world of marketing. There are, however, trends we’re seeing in the industry that we recommend your team adapt to right now.

As marketers, we spend lots of time educating ourselves, adapting, analyzing (often overthinking), and predicting behavior to hopefully drum up buzz for our brands. We don’t always come out on top—failure is inevitable. But maintaining relevancy in the market means staying on top of strategies that have been tried and tested.

One thing we do know is that, as marketers, generating that “buzz” starts with demand generation. Here are a few demand generation strategies for 2021 that your team needs to be sure they’re paying attention to.

Demand Generation Strategies for 2021 You Need Right Now

You might first be thinking, well, what is “demand generation” marketing? Demand generation marketing is when a company excites customers about its product or service. It generates a “buzz” through the use of various programs and strategies to raise awareness, with the goal of generating new relationships with potential customers.

Demand generation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term strategy. Inbound marketing is just one of the methodologies that fits into this model. Although inbound marketing is an essential part of demand gen—and something you should already be doing for your business—it’s in some ways “old news.”

This blog is dedicated to newcomers in the realm of marketing and focused on how your team needs to catch up! Here are just a few ideas to turn your attention to in the near future.

Account-based marketing is the new B2B.

As a marketer, you’ve probably heard the term account-based marketing (ABM) for some time now, but like many marketers, are simply focused on the idea of full steam ahead, and haven’t stopped to smell the ABM flowers.

I recently began reading Terminus’s ABM is B2B, a book dedicated to explaining how the trend of account-based marketing is, in fact, business to business (B2B). This trend is a fundamental shift in how we’re generating leads and buzz for our brand through account-based marketing efforts. By tossing out the old funnel and focusing on this new tried-and-true strategy, you’ll be able to grow your business through driving qualified leads through a means of specific marketing strategies focused on 1:1 tactics that avoid that one-size-fits-all approach.

Terminus, one of the many partners SmartBug works with, is an end-to-end, account-based marketing technology platform that allows B2B marketers and sales professionals to amplify their ABM marketing. As leaders in the ABM industry, they use this book to highlight the ways the marketing funnel as we once knew it is gone. Instead, the new focus of your marketing efforts should be the ABM funnel (pictured below).

Demand Generation Strategies: Biggest Shifts Happening in Marketing Strategy

Leads are made up, and the counts don’t matter.

“Demand Generation” isn’t the same as it once was. What does demand gen mean for 2021? Rather than focusing your business on driving the maximum number of leads, consider the value in driving the right number of quality leads. Lead counts won’t matter to your organization if none of them are converting to customers.

Data-based decision-making is key.

Similar to taking a road trip, how can you know where you’re going if you haven’t taken a look at your map? Think of your data as your map. Although this particular strategy shouldn’t be a new trend in 2021, there might be some things on your map that have changed. With the onset of the pandemic, customers began to think and do things differently.

Consider the value in taking a deep dive into your metrics and see what might have changed, or what is working into your marketing efforts. You might find that you’re surprised by the story your data tells.

Email marketing matters, when it’s done right.

Email marketing is here to stay. Especially with an increased virtual environment, email marketing is more important now more than ever. However, just as I mentioned earlier, the world of marketing is changing. What worked (February 10, 2021), might not work tomorrow. I attended a recent webinar from email guru Jay Schwedelson of Worldata, who stresses the importance of frequent sending and optimization of email.

Consider the value of email, and find unique ways to foster the attention of your database. Consider list segmentation, send times, subject line testing, and email formats as just a few of the ways email strategy can go from drab to fab in the new year.

Event marketing isn’t dead—it’s virtual.

Although it has to be acknowledged that we can’t get the same experience out of event marketing we once did, I’m here to say that event marketing isn’t dead. That’s right—if done right, it can be incredibly impactful for your organization. Is it the same? Absolutely not. The challenge is to create those 1:1 touchpoints with potential customers in unique ways.

That’s where your ABM marketing brain comes in. Consider ways to create unique 1:1 touchpoints that foster those unique experiences and relationships. Maybe your “event” looks like a lunch-and-learn with one of your top potential customers, or perhaps it’s a delivered mailer with unique activity that the client can perform. The possibilities are endless—how creative can you get?

Get everyone on the same team.

This is the No. 1 strategy that your business can’t afford to ignore in 2021. Gone are the days where sales, marketing, and customer service teams worked in their own silos. Unsure if your business is having this problem? Here are a few key indicators.

It is critical to the success of a business to work together as one cohesive team toward a set of common goals. If you haven’t implemented sales and marketing alignment or customer service and sales alignment, consider the value and outcomes that could happen with these initiatives. When working as one team, everyone will be on the same page, moving toward the same goals, with the ability to drive and boost company revenue.

Demand Generation Strategies for 2021 Aren’t as Cookie Cutter as You Might Think

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a clear-cut set of rules and strategies that could be followed to maximize business success? Not every strategy will work for every business, but as marketers, we know that we are consistently testing and trying out what is working for others and finding ways to creatively continue to maximize our efforts will help us on the pathway to success.

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