Between seemingly insatiable sales teams and ever-increasing demands from corporate leadership, B2B marketers are often pressured to run more and more demand generation campaigns. As a result, many campaigns are executed before they’re fully conceptualized, leading to subpar outcomes and frustration all around.
Paid outbound campaigns are a great option to expand reach and further organizational objectives, but these benefits can only be realized when they are meaningfully incorporated into a larger demand generation strategy. Given the hectic pace of today’s demand gen, B2B marketers need a concise and effective methodology to ensure each campaign is fleshed out before it’s delivered.
To meet these ends, marketers have to return to basics – the classic information gathering approach of Who, What, Why, When, Where, (and How), also known as the 5 W’s. Understanding each of these points and their impact on a campaign will allow you to purchase or produce more developed, effective demand generation campaigns.
Who am I talking to?
The “Who” is arguably the most important question when it comes to demand gen. The Who – your target audience – will define everything from the tone of the messaging to the content that gets delivered.
You wouldn’t speak to a CEO in the same way you would speak to a Network Administrator. Likewise, you wouldn’t provide upper management the same nitty-gritty system information that you would provide to those who work with the systems every day.
With each unique job role, the pain points and effective appeals will change. Your messaging – and even desired outcomes – have to change accordingly. For example, a VP may have the authority to purchase your offering on his/her own, while a manager would have to secure various approvals to do the same. Your call-to-action for the VP might be to make a purchase, while this simply wouldn’t be realistic for the manager.
What do I want them to do/know?
When you know your audience, you can define a goal for the campaign. Each campaign should have a single, specific desired action, which is communicated through calls to action. For a top-of-funnel demand generation campaign, this can be as simple as reading high-level information about your category of products, while for a deeper-funnel campaign, it can be something more significant, like registering for a trial or signing up for a demo.
The larger the desired commitment (information, effort, etc.), the fewer the number of people who will be willing to make the commitment. Marketers can combat this by offering greater value (real or perceived) in exchange for the commitment.
Why should they take the desired action?
Target audiences are rational and self-interested, just like everyone else. They need to be given a compelling reason why they should do what you say. This forces marketers to consider the value that their campaign provides – the more substantial the desired commitment, the more perceived value the campaign must offer.
Depending on the need, marketers can take steps to increase the perceived value of their offering. For example, the promise of a relevant white paper will have some degree of value on its own; however, by highlighting the unique points of the particular white paper you’re promoting (notable contributors, actionable takeaways, timeliness, etc.), you can create perceived value that is much greater than the intrinsic value.
When do I want them to take the desired action?
For most demand generation campaigns the “When” is “at their earliest convenience”. Campaigns to promote static content can be consumed immediately and are usually scheduled/promoted as such. Live content, like webinars or virtual events, requires a longer window for promotion and scheduled reminders to promote attendance. After all, showing up somewhere at a given place and time is a greater commitment than browsing content when you have a spare moment.
It’s important to be conscious of these differences because they will impact the scheduling of the promotion, both on its own and in relation to others. Along the same lines, being aware of the time needed for promotion will keep you from running up against important dates, like holidays, the end of quarters, and so on.
Where do they complete the desired action?
In a demand gen campaign, outreach and the desired action usually take place in two different locations. Most of the time, outreach comes as a phone call or email, while the desired action takes place on the brand’s website or a campaign-specific landing page. During normal times, a more extreme example might be that recipients may be asked to complete the desired action at a physical location, like a storefront or tradeshow booth
The need for travel (virtual or physical) creates the potential for drop-off. The longer and more complicated the travel, the more likely the drop-off. Digitally, marketers can make travel simpler by reducing the number of clicks to the destination page and providing links with a descriptive call to action. As for physical travel, you can make the commitment more appealing with considerations, like travel/lodging discounts and giveaways.
How does the desired action fit into the overall buying process?
Though “How” is the sixth and final question to ask yourself, it’s arguable the most important. The How of a campaign connects the campaign to the overall demand gen strategy. It turns an isolated action into a step toward a purchase.
Understanding where your campaign (and its desired action) fall in the buying process allows you to make educated decisions for follow-up and subsequent campaigns. For example, a top-of-funnel campaign, like a basic white paper promotion, reaches those just beginning the buying process; those who are just learning about the category of offerings and its potential benefits. Appropriate follow-up for these leads would be additional high-level information in a broadly-appealing form, like an infographic or blog post. Conversely, deeper-funnel activities, like sales call or demo, would not be an appropriate follow-up for these leads. Having only recently begun the buying process, they are unlikely ready for such a conversation. Asking them to speed through their purchase process creates unnecessary pressure and the potential for push back
Walking through the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How for each demand generation campaign is a quick way to ensure that you’re producing well-thought-out, effective campaigns. Though it’s certainly not the only way to achieve these ends, it creates a memorable and convenient test that’s broad enough to be applied to the various types of demand generation.
Let us know what you think:
- How do you plan a demand generation campaign?
- Which is the most important W (or H) of a demand gen campaign?
- Which of these six questions is the most difficult to get right?