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For many businesses, the term demand gen can be a bit confusing, perhaps because it shares part of its name with lead gen, but more likely because it’s treated like something new and different from other marketing tactics. The fact is, demand gen, or demand generation, isn’t itself a marketing tactic; it is a catch-all used to refer to any marketing tactic that is used to generate demand. Once you flip the word order, then identifying demand gen tactics becomes a whole lot clearer.

So, what are the 8 best demand gen tactics? The better question is what are the best demand gen tactics for your business. That answer depends entirely on what your business has to offer and on who your customers are. For instance, social media might be a great demand gen tactic for a consumer-facing, experiential business like a restaurant or live music venue, but it won’t necessarily translate to a business-to-business company that manufactures machine screws and whose customers don’t use social media. Tactics that are successful at generating demand for one type of business and one type of customer can’t just be duplicated for another business and produce the same results. So, as you’re reviewing our list of some of the more popular demand gen tactics used by our clients, make sure you’re keeping your own customers in mind, and we’ll help guide you with a few pointers along the way.

    1. Create a consistent and authentic brand.

      Branding is strategic in that it represents a guiding vision of who you are and what your customers can expect from you. It’s also tactical in that it involves a wide variety of activities to create and support that vision and deliver on that promise. In person, online, on the phone, in an email, on social media—every touchpoint should present a consistent brand experience and look and feel exactly the way your customers expect. Ultimately, your branding is what attracts new customers, retains existing customers, and builds loyalty.

    2. Have a website that WOWs.

      What does it take for a website to WOW? It takes a clearly defined and consistent brand, and it takes a deep understanding of your customers. High-performing websites, regardless of industry, do a handful of things really well. They consistently deliver the brand experience. They quickly and efficiently connect customers to the information or answers they’re seeking. And, they add value without requiring unnecessary effort. Anticipating what your customers want from your website and delivering it in a logical, intuitive way with the fewest number of steps are the keys to a satisfying user experience.

    3. Always offer valuable content.

      Creating valuable content can be both an inbound marketing tactic and an outbound marketing tactic. Webpages, blogs, and other SEO-charged content is critical for attracting search-related attention to your brand. You can also use killer content, like white papers, webinars, newsletters, and downloads in your email or social media campaigns to move prospects into your lead gen funnel. Whatever content you create and however you decide to use it, make sure that it delivers on its promise of value, and that it’s not just salesy fluff. All of your content should build up your brand and establish you as an expert and as a resource for reliable information. Anything short of that will be a disappointment and a turnoff to your customers and prospects.

    4. Engage audiences through social media.

      The most important factor in choosing to use social media is having customers and prospects that use social media. Too many businesses jump into the social media arena because they believe it’s what everyone else is doing. Everyone else may be doing it, but are they getting results from their efforts? Do their customers use those outlets to make buying decisions or are businesses wasting time and resources on something their customers don’t use? Social media is a powerful demand gen tactic, but only if your customers actually use it.

    5. Nurture interest with email marketing.

      Email marketing can be a great tool for generating product demand and for capturing and nurturing leads. Some email marketing strategies include email blasts to build brand awareness, share valuable content, and attract new customers. Other email strategies focus on the long game and include increasingly refined content geared toward specific interests revealed by customer behaviors over time. As with social media, email marketing is only an effective demand gen tactic if your customers and prospects use it to inform their buying decisions. So, once again, it pays to know how your customers find and choose businesses like yours, so you can be in the right places with the right information.

    6. Build a local customer base with radio, tv, print ads, or outdoor.

      A lot of marketers perceive these tactics as outdated modes of marketing, but for certain customers and under certain circumstances, they still have their place in the marketing hall of fame. This is particularly true when it comes to establishing a brand or building awareness hyper-locally or within niche markets that are difficult to reach using other digital marketing tactics. Sure, technology is ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean everyone has embraced it and made it part of their everyday lives. So, for businesses whose customer bases are comprised of this more technophobic demographic, these traditional methods of advertising can still be effective.

    7. Give direct mail another look.

      You may want to lump direct mail in with the more traditional demand gen tactics listed in number six, but direct mail has found some sophisticated ways to ingratiate itself into digital marketing. One way is through what’s called programmatic direct mail, which is an automated marketing service that matches an IP address to a physical address to send a targeted piece of direct mail to a website visitor within three days of the visit. Another way is through EDDM, or every door direct mail. EDDM allows you to micro-target neighborhoods instead of blanketing zip codes, and it allows you to select key demographics, like household incomes and home ownership. For some businesses, the mailbox can be a great alternative to the inbox.

    8. Optimize everything.

      If you want customers and prospects to find your business online, you need to know what words and phrases they’re using to find products and services like yours. All of your digital tactics should be informed with a well-researched list of keywords and phrases, and the list should be refreshed often, so you don’t miss out on new search trends. One word of advice: make sure you balance your quest for improved search ranking with your commitment to providing valuable content. It’s great to be on page one of Google results, but if your content doesn’t deliver value and move your customers closer to the sale, then your search ranking really doesn’t matter.

     

This is by no means an exhaustive list of demand gen tactics, but it can certainly give you a clearer sense of what qualifies as demand gen. As in all marketing, the common denominator for choosing demand gen tactics is your customers. Having a deep understanding of who they are, what they need, and the pain points that drive their decision making are critical points of understanding that should inform your messaging and content. You should also have a solid understanding of where and how your customers get their information because demand gen is about the medium as well as the message. You have to be in the right place, at the right time, and say the right things, and all of those decisions should be guided by the very customers you are trying to reach.

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