The Demand Gen Fix

Building a demand generation engine: The distribution

March 30, 2023 GrowthMode Marketing Season 1 Episode 12
The Demand Gen Fix
Building a demand generation engine: The distribution
Show Notes Transcript

Demand generation is a key element to achieving high growth for your company. And to fuel your revenue growth, you need a solid omni-channel distribution strategy that encompasses three avenues to getting your content in front of your ideal customer profile. 

First, create compelling content on your website that allows prospects to dive deeper and engage with your brand. Second, build your audience on managed channels where you have control over the frequency and type of content shared. Finally, tap into relevant third-party channels to expand your reach and build credibility with already established audiences.

Skipping on any of these avenues can undermine your demand generation engine. Join us as we explore the importance of a robust distribution strategy and how it can power up your revenue growth.

[00:00] Show intro

[00:23] Distribution: what it this step and why it’s important

[04:03] What goes into a website

[11:55] Managed channels like social media, podcasts and blogs

[15:15] Leveraging third-party channels to reach established audiences

[21:00] Mistakes people make with the distribution step of building a demand generation engine

[25:00] Key takeaway

[25:45] Outro

The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by Deanna Shimota, CEO of GrowthMode Marketing. Listen to our team of marketing experts and featured guests drop knowledge on how HR tech companies can maximize the success of their marketing for today’s B2B prospects. Learn more at www.growthmodemarketing.com.

(00:04):

Hey everybody, it's Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it's the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in HR tech industry.

(00:23):

Hey everyone, welcome to a new episode of The Demand Gen Fix with GrowthMode Marketing. Today, Deanna and Erica and I will be continuing our discussion about the key pillars of the Demand Gen engine. On our past couple of episodes, we dug into strategy and content, and so today we're going to talk about the third and no less important pillar, distribution. Last time we talked a lot about content and how that is the fuel of your engine. You can think of distribution as the wheels. It is how you get your content out in front of your ideal customer profile.

(00:59):

The three pillars of a demand generation engine are strategy, content, and distribution. Distribution is happening at the same time as the content pillar because you're constantly feeding the engine with content. You've got to constantly be distributing it too. When you think about distribution, what we mean is this is how you get that content out there in front of your ideal customer profile and push it out various ways. Getting your content and really growing your digital footprint out, doing campaigns to push content out in front of those people. We've got great content. How do we get it in front of the people? We want to read it, listen to it, watch it. That's what distribution is.

(01:57):

It’s really not about needing to be everywhere, needing to plaster it all over the board. This is really the opportunity then to also understand where your ideal customer profile is. Where are your prospects? Where are they finding their information? And really making sure that you're focused on the distribution to those different platforms or channels or networks. So that's just something to mention that it's not necessarily about getting your content out there everywhere but going back to that idea of having an ideal customer profile and building all of your content around that.

(02:36):

It’s about taking an omnichannel approach to things, getting your content out there for prospects to consume. According to Gartner, it takes 66 touches to get in front of a prospect. If you're a sales rep, you've got to get that content out there, and it's unlikely that they're going to come to your blog 66 times to look at the articles that you're posting. So, taking that omnichannel approach is how do we get our content out there for the different ways that people consume and the different places that they're hanging out so that they're seeing you in more places than just a couple?

(03:20):

At GrowthMode Marketing, we talk about the three levels as you're building that digital footprint out. The first one is of course your website. Everyone has a website that's where all of your content should live. But you also should have managed channels, which is your social media, your email, things that you control, how they go out and who they go to, who you can target. There’s also relevant third-party channels, which we'll touch on a little bit more in a bit. It’s something that maybe everybody doesn't necessarily think about and it's a really good way to get your content out there.

(04:02):

We should dig in a little bit more in depth to these different pillars of distribution. Focusing on the website piece first, let's talk a little bit more about what goes into that and how should it look.

(04:16):

The website is essentially your digital storefront. You’ve got to have a good website, but it's more than just making it look pretty. It's got to have really good content that's targeted to the people that you are trying to attract and the companies that would be the ideal fit for you. So, going back to that ideal customer profile and really looking at, is our website where it needs to be today? And it's not just a certain type of content that goes on there, it's really about having a mix of content for each stage of the funnel. If you've got people that come to your site that are in the awareness stage, which happens to typically be 95% of companies that are not currently in market to buy, they're not coming to your website looking for product information. You want to bring them to your website; you want them to be able to find content.

(05:17):

That's where top of funnel content really can add value for people. Your podcasts, your webinars, your blog articles, things like that. But then you also need to have the content for the 5% of companies that actually are in market to buy and are either in that consideration stage or that decision stage, having content about your products and services as well, so that they can go in there and they can really get an understanding of who your company is, what the solutions are you provide. It's great if they're coming to your site at that point because there's some buying intent there when they're looking at your content.

(06:04):

The whole point is to get people to spend more and more time on your website. So, you want to have that really robust, deep set of content so that you have people looking that are just an awareness stage, they're just learning. It's high level, but then you also might have some pricing information, some details about your products, some product demos, that are out there for those consumers that are getting ready to buy and are getting closer to making that purchase. As they are digging around on your site, you want to make sure that they stay there. We call it a loop, if you're reading a blog article, then maybe there's going to be a link to a podcast episode that takes them a little bit farther into the topic. So, looping your content and making sure that it's robust is important.

(06:56):

Content loops are really important when you're building out the content on your site because you don't want them, whether they came to your site to read an article or they came to find product information, you don't want them to read it and immediately jump off. The ideal situation is they're intrigued enough that they dig deeper. When we talk about those content loops, think about when you go to someone's website, and you look at the content and then you see more on that topic. So putting links to other content that's relevant to what they just look at. If you think of it like an infinity loop, like everywhere they go there's more content being recommended, so that they can take that journey to go as deep as they want to go and stay on your website versus going back to Google and looking for more content on the same topic.

(07:53):

Sometimes people go to publish a piece of content and just put it out on their website. An important piece is really thinking about the buyer's experience and being able to create that experience for them. Always keeping in the back of your mind the importance of the navigation to those different pieces on your website and is that user friendly or are people getting to a certain piece of content and then say, now I have no idea what else to look at here, or where else to go. 

(08:28):

Let’s say you're an HRIS software company, prospect lands on your website to read that article on the topic of key data points HR leaders should be looking at to understand HR trends in the organization. The content loop is serving up more content on the topic while they're on your site. So there may be a check out our podcast episode on this topic, and here's an infographic on the top reports you should pull from your HRIS system, and here's a recorded webinar with even deeper insights on it. So it's really like just putting more content similar to the topic on there, not jumping to different topics, but being able to feed that loop for them because they're clearly interested in a specific topic when they come to your site.

(09:23):

You want them to be able to go as deep as they want. You don't want them to jump off of your site to go Google something else, because somebody else's company is going to come up.

(09:34):

Another thing that we need to think about on the website is really in addition to that awareness or consideration content, but also providing detailed product information so that once you do hit that group of people that are in market to buy. Those prospects are able to go as deep as they want and start to find more of that product specific information on your site. You have to make sure that you're not just focused on certain stages of the funnel. You have to make sure you have content across the board so that as people are doing that research, they can go as deep as they want and when they're ready to start deciding, there's information available that's going to help them to do that. 80% of buying decisions typically are made before somebody in the B2B world even wants to talk to a sales rep. Something to keep in mind, if 80% of that decision is made with the research that someone's able to do online, that just really emphasizes the importance of do you have enough information for someone to do that much research before they want to talk to you or talk to your sales team?

(10:43):

Not just the amount of information, but the different kinds of information too. You want to have a variety of things out there on your site. You'll have product literature, probably some demos, videos, pricing case studies are a great way to educate buyers on your product.

(11:01):

The fact that Gartner research has found 72% of B2B buyers don't actually want to interact with a sales rep during the purchase process, indicates that it's really important that your website is built so that people can do as much of the decision process and the research as they want to do before they talk to a salesperson. You want them sold before they ever pick up the phone. Those are the ideal leads. Everybody, especially in sales, wants to come in the door vs. the ones that you have to chase and chase. So I had really slow sales cycles and never really close. There's a big difference between those types of leads coming in versus the ones that aren't ready to buy.

(11:48):

That was a lot of information to talk about just on our website. It’s a lot and you want to make sure that it is very in depth, but then you also have a lot of other options for getting content out and getting in front of your ideal customer profile. One that everybody uses is their managed channels, social media, email, all of these kinds of things. That's where you really get to build your audience.

(12:11):

The website is your digital storefront. You own that. You get to choose how you build that out and what's there. Managed channels are also something where you also have full control of what's going out and what is published on those channels. And when you're engaging the audience that you're targeting, these are different channels that you own the rights to, or you have the rights to those different channels.

(12:35):

Or it's rented space, you don't own LinkedIn for example, but you're renting space on there and you get to control for the most part what you publish, when you publish, when you put it on there. The way to think about managed channels, these are the channels where you have an opportunity to build your own audience. That is really important as you're building out your demand generation engine because you are focusing on your ideal customer profile, and you want those individuals to buy into your unique point of view. And ultimately you want them to follow along and continue to consume your content on an ongoing basis. And so, if you approach it thinking we're going to put all this content out there, and you're thinking about the fact that the whole intent is to attract and build an audience that continues to follow us, it really puts into perspective how you can leverage that managed channel.

(13:36):

They become really powerful assets when you do build up that audience over time because they start to want to consume more content and you have a reason to keep putting stuff in front of them so that when they are in-market to buy, they know who you are. You're not some long forgotten solution that once upon a time they read an article and moved on from. They trust you and they might even have it in their mind that someday I'd love to work with this company. And that is a really good thing to create. 

(14:13):

You also have to think about where that ideal customer profile is looking online and where they're getting their content. Because you maybe have a LinkedIn profile and that's where you're putting all of your stuff out there, that's your main go-to for social media. And you may find that your ideal customer profile is hanging out on TikTok. You have to do the research to find out where it is that people are actually congregating and looking and researching and that kind of stuff. Because there's a lot of different options out there to utilize.

(14:43):

When you think about what these managed channels are where you can build an audience, I think there's a lot of different options out there. You’ve got all the social media platforms, podcasts, webinars, email campaigns, blogs, digital advertising. All the things that you can execute on that you guys have control over. Here's the timing when it goes out, here's what I'm putting out. That's everything I would bucket into what's considered managed channels.

(15:14):

Something else that we've been digging into more and more at GrowthMode Marketing is leveraging third party channels. This is something you may not have ever even thought of doing, but these are really good resources to get your name out there. It's industry outlets, influencers, people that have a good following that are already an established audience in your industry. If you can get them to talk about you, whether that's paid or unpaid, it's a really good resource because people trust these influencers and they trust these people to really give them good advice. So if you can get in front of those audiences, that's a really good third pillar to work on for your content.

(16:00):

The goal is basically when we talk about third party channels, it's how to continue to expand your digital footprint and your managed channels. You're building out your own audience, but it takes time to build an audience and you're not going to get everybody you want in your audience to follow you. So how do you build brand awareness outside of your own circle of friends or audience members? If you're a new unknown HR technology out there, you might actually want to start with the third-party channel versus really investing your time in your own managed channel. Because when you start your own managed channel, your audience is zero and you're building that audience from scratch. And I do think it's really important to build that audience, but if you don't have any brand awareness yet, it, it's pretty difficult and slow to get that rolling.

(17:00):

The way you can get in front of people and build some brand awareness sooner is to look at those third-party channels. They've got existing audiences, and if there's someone out there that they're talking to such as your ideal customer profile, and you can tap into that, absolutely do that. Because one, I think it builds credibility when someone else is talking about you or you are leveraging it in a way where your people are going in and having conversations with their people and they're sharing it with their audience, third party channels. They really add a lot of credibility because it's not just your team talking about the opportunity. Some of it is organic, some of it is pay to play. There's actually a lot of third-party opportunities out there if you're willing to spend some money on it to do things that, from an audience perspective. They're probably not looking at it and thinking, I bet they paid to be on that podcast. They’re just looking at it as like an organic conversation and it's not product driven, but you're an industry influencer and that's why you were invited on the podcast for example.

(18:18):

Just to go back to Jenni's point about that, this is industry outlets or influencers. I think sometimes we find ourselves, even with some of our clients, reminding them of the fact that influencer marketing isn't just a B2C tactic. There's a lot of opportunity in the influencer world for B2B companies as well. Use those influencers within these different industries and within these different markets who already have an audience, just like an influencer in a consumer market. Use that audience that they've already built to really build on and leverage that to then build your own brand awareness and credibility to then again, go back and be able to build out your managed channels and understand you're building an audience through those third-party channels that are going to start to look for you and follow you in other places as well. So I think that's just something that we find ourselves talking about, this idea of influencers and it's not just a consumer tactic, it's a tactic across B2B marketing strategies as well.

(19:21):

You would be surprised how much there is to find in the HR industry. HR has publications, media outlets, Human Resource executive magazine, HR.com, HR dive, HR Professionals Magazine, HR Digest. There are all kinds of influencers out there in the HR industry.

(19:43):

When people think B2C, they think, this person was on the Bachelor and now they're pushing a product. That's not what we're necessarily talking about when we're talking about influencers. It's not always an individual. I think there are certainly individuals out there within the industry that have their own podcasts and blogs and publications that you can leverage. But it's also industry associations, product review sites like G2 Crowd, Keera, Trust, Radius, SAAS Genius, industry award programs are an opportunity. Maybe calling them influencers is not the right word for it, but the whole point is there's all these outlets out there and these different channels that already have an audience that you can tap into to build out your credibility, to build out your brand awareness, to get in front of people who may not be coming to your website or may not have found your managed channels yet. And it's a way to hopefully drive them to those other channels and your website.

(21:00):

I think there's a lot of mistakes that are being made out there with people getting their content out, they're distributing things. One I can think of right off the top of my head is, sticking with one channel. Don't limit where you're putting your content. Get it out there to a lot of different channels. Omnichannel, as we mentioned, don't just stick with LinkedIn, learn about these different places. Do your research, find out where your people are, where your ideal customer profile is looking and don't just focus on that one level of distribution. 

(21:33):

Another common mistake is not supporting the buyer's journey and thinking about the way people want to buy. So not putting enough content out there so that people can go as deep as they want on the topics, regardless of which stage of the funnel they are. But especially if they're in the consideration or decision phase and they want to know more about your product, but they don't want to pick up the phone and talk to a sales rep yet, why limit that information? Give them everything they need so that they can go as deep as they want. Because some people only want to scratch the surface, but some people really want to go deep before they're ever willing to have that conversation with a sales rep. I think if you miss that opportunity with your own content, they're going to find the answers they seek with a different vendor out there. That’s the last thing that you want when you've got a captive audience that has come looking for information specifically from your company. 

(22:31):

Another thing that I think is a common mistake is people don't remember or go back and really work on building out their audience. So you've identified your ideal customer profile, you know who you want to be targeting with this content, but you're not actively looking for that audience and really focused on building it out. Following your content just isn't going to be viewed to its full potential, that's another mistake that we commonly see.

(22:56):

It’s a lot of work to create really good content and to create it on an ongoing basis. The last thing you want is for it not to be viewed because then it's wasted effort and you want to make sure all of those investments you make in creating that content pay off for you. So, you definitely want to have that audience that buys into the unique point of view that you're telling and that story and that it's resonating with them and ultimately, they build an affinity for your brand. Another thing I would throw out there is not showing up in the right places, which means you're missing the opportunity to build brand awareness with your ideal customer profile. I can't emphasize this enough. The ideal customer profile is so important in being the foundation in that first building block for everything else that you're doing because it really makes you get hyper-focused on who you're targeting. It gets you hyper-focused on the content you're creating. When it comes to the distribution strategy, it helps you get hyper-focused on thinking about, is this where my ideal customer profile is hanging out? Is this how they're consuming content and engaging with us? And making sure that you're not just doing broad brush strokes to get content out there, but that you're getting it out in the right places. Because you don't need to be everywhere, but you want to be where those companies are hanging out.

(24:32):

In the last 3 episodes we talked about the demand gen engine strategy, content, and now distribution. You're constantly feeding this engine, right? You're never stopping, you're always constantly keeping it going. You can't just think you've built it out and, and let it go and, and think it's going to just keep going. You have to feed the fuel; you have to keep it out there and keep your engine running.

(25:00):

To recap this topic, at GrowthMode Marketing, we believe there are three keys to building out a content distribution. It's building out content on your website so prospects can go deep. It's growing your audience on managed channels where you control what and how often you can put that content out there. And it's tapping into those third-party channels to get in front of their existing audiences for opportunities to expand your reach and build credibility beyond your own content. So moral of the story, don't skimp on the distribution pillar because an effective demand generation engine takes all three pillars to fire up your growth. That's strategy, content, and distribution.

(25:46):

Thanks for joining us on the Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don't forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we'll see you next time.