I have developed a strong supply chain and great portfolio of solutions for pharmaceutical, petrochemical and manufacturing companies. How do I drive top-line growth? I often hear the term Demand Generation and Integrated Marketing but I am not sure how to employ these tools to generate business.
Business leaders are measured by their ability to drive bottom-line growth. Organizations that want to building sustainable enterprises understand that one key to bottom-line improvement must be top-line growth.
Globally, organizations are turning to marketing to drive top-line, and that is demand generation. If an organization fully understands the role and techniques of demand generation, its impact goes beyond bottom-line improvement.
Buying behavior has been transformed by the digital culture—buyer behavior research has shown that the glossy brochures, events and even the engaging web portal aren’t enough. Buying patterns must be approached as a science.
How does it work? Let’s use farming as a analogy. Demand generation goes through “farming” stages: finding the ground, cultivating the ground, sowing the seed, nurturing the growth and harvesting the fruit. It is a very intentional and pro-active approach. Marketing is no longer just a variable operational expenditure but a critical investment to continuously create and funnel demand, driving sustainable top-line growth.
5-STEP FARMING APPROACH TO DEMAND GENERATION
1) Selecting The Ground
Organizations have multiple opportunities contesting for limited resources. To utilize these resources maximally, market analytics and research tools must be employed right at the start of a demand generation program:
• The Market: Secondary Research. What is the big picture of the market? What is the potential?
• The Addressable Market: Primary Research. Management, sales, marketing and delivery departments of an organization jointly assess its strengths and weakness against competitors to identify the market to pursue.
• The Target Market: Prioritization. For effective demand generation to commence, an organization must clearly identify its target market. Based on the resources available, an organization should clearly prioritize its pursuit target and its associated timeline.
2) Cultivating The Ground
There is no one golden egg of marketing; it takes a broad mix of different campaigns, vehicles and messages to cultivate the ground. Cultivating the ground requires more than just the plough; you need a basket of tools to:
• Create communications channels and cultivate relationships with prospective buyers (a.k.a. integrated marketing programs).
• Manage the dissemination of information and track the changing prospect profile to enable more intelligent interaction
• Track and measure campaign effectiveness and return on investments. This involves campaign management marketing automation like database mining, contact management, etc.
3) Sowing The Seeds
An organization must design a portfolio of vehicles to reach its objectives, that is, invest integrated marketing. A portfolio of different vehicles is deployed at optimal timing to reinforce each other. The sum of the parts is greater than its whole.
4) Nurturing The Growth
Companies that have a formal prospect nurturing process have a considerably higher return on their marketing investment. Marketing plays an active role of staying in touch while listening, profiling, reacting and adjusting accordingly through the prospect conversion process. You want to provide targeted information, when, where and how prospects wants to consume it.
5) Harvesting The Fruit
Once qualified, sales leads are entered into an organization’s sales pipeline tool, sales comes into the driving seat and marketing takes a back seat. Proper tracking, ownership and support will develop the lead into an order.
It is recommended that the organization extends a closed loop process and marketing continues to play a role in customer care program. Marketing needs to continue to nurture customers for new opportunities (cross-sell or up-sell) or develop customer into a seed that will grow, such as being a reference (customer success story) to help generate new opportunities.
Sherie Ng is vice-president of marketing for NICE Systems Asia Pacific. She has held leadership positions with companies such as SingTel, Lucent Technologies and Invensys. She is passionate about strategy, culture and brands.