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The “Everything You Need to Know” Guide to Demand Generation in 2021 – ReadWrite



demand generation marketing

Ask any startup what their biggest challenges are and “demand generation” will probably make the list. It’s not a new company problem, though. Established organizations also need to answer the question, “how do we get people to care about us?”

In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about demand generation, from its definition to the tactics companies use to create and measure it.

What is Demand Generation Marketing?

Demand Generation Marketing is Holistic Marketing

Let’s start with a definition, just to make sure we’re on the same page:

Demand generation is a holistic marketing and sales approach that aims to build interest in a product or service, educate potential customers on its benefits, nurture them until they’re ready to buy, and, ultimately, convince them to make a purchase.

The field of demand generation spans many different disciplines including content creation, paid advertising, conversion techniques, and customer success strategies.

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Demand generation vs. lead generation — What’s the difference? While these two terms are often used interchangeably, the truth is they’re *not* the same. Understanding the differences between them is key to building a successful demand generation strategy.

As discussed above, demand generation is a full marketing and sales framework that guides prospects from complete strangers to paying customers. In other words, it creates demand for a product, then works to turn said demand into company revenue.

Lead generation, on the other hand, is the practice of identifying potential customers and acquiring their contact information so that they can be marketed and sold to in the future.

So the main difference between demand generation and lead generation is that lead gen is just one component of demand gen. Is it important? Absolutely! But without a complete demand generation strategy in place, it’s more difficult to convert leads into paying customers.

Make sense? Cool. Now if we just knew how to generate demand for a product or service.

How Do You Create Demand Generation?

Two people creating a demand generation strategy.
Demand generation strategies

Or, put another way, “What are demand generation activities?” Great questions! In this section we’ll outline how you can create demand for your products and/or services usings specific, proven activities. Let’s take a look…

1. Clarify Your Goals

As with most things in the world of business, a successful demand generation strategy should start with clear goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve? Make sure every goal you set is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

  • Specific: Be as specific as possible about what you’re trying to do. You don’t want to “Improve sales,” you want to “Boost sales of Product X by 17% in Q1 of this year.”
  • Measurable: Make sure you’ve chosen specific metrics to measure while working towards your goals. That way you can track progress and make needed adjustments.
  • Attainable: We’d all love to “boost sales by 1,000%”. But for most companies, that’s not realistic. Only set goals you and your team are actually equipped to achieve.
  • Relevant: When choosing your goals, stick to ones that align with overall company objectives. You don’t want to be at cross purposes with other departments.
  • Time-Based: Lastly, ensure every objective you put in place has a practical deadline. This will make your chances of accomplishing much higher.

We also suggest setting milestones for each goal, AKA short-term objectives you can focus on to help keep you inspired while working towards bigger aims.

The last thing we’ll say in regard to demand generation goals is that they should be set and worked on by both marketing and sales teams. This will ensure alignment between departments and help your company avoid erroneous and unproductive aims.

2. Define Your Audience

Who are you trying to reach with your demand generation strategy? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find success.

You need to know exactly who your ideal customers are, their goals,the challenges they face on a regular basis, and where they hang out online. That way you can create content and messaging that resonates with them.

If you’re completely lost when it comes to defining your audience — either because you’re a brand new start up or you’ve just never taken the time to assess your target market — don’t worry. All you have to do is study the data and use it to build buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional character that’s created to represent a subset of real-world consumers. Ideally, the buyer personas you create will have a gender, age (a range is fine), occupation, income level, motivations, goals, challenges, and interests.

Here’s a really good example:

An example of what information you need to know your customer at the level of a lead gen.

To find the kind of information shown above, dig into your current customer data, which can be found in website and social media analytics dashboards and by talking to experienced sales reps and customer success professionals.

For companies without a well of data to mine, we suggest researching your industry as a whole by reading websites, engaging in forums, and viewing social media content. While this kind of information won’t be as helpful as your own data, it’s still valuable.

3. Map the Customer Journey

At this point you should have clear goals and a well-defined audience. Now it’s time to map your customer journey. Ask yourself, “what’s the logical path my prospects will take from complete stranger to paying customer?” This journey is vitally important to demand gen!

Take a look at the graphic from Resourceful Selling below. It does a great job of illustrating typical journey stages, as well as desired customer actions and content ideas for each.

A graphic depicting a sales funnel for demand generation.
Image Credit: Resourceful Selling

The first funnel shows the general stages that each lead goes through on their journey from stranger to customer. The second shows the actions each lead needs to take to move from one stage to the next. And the third funnel shows various marketing and sales materials you can use at each stage to keep prospects flowing through and revenue coming in.

We’ll talk more about content types in the next section. But before we get there, take a look at your own funnel and answer these four questions:

  1. What action does a lead need to take to move to another stage in the funnel?
  2. What qualities do I want my leads to possess to move to subsequent funnel stages?
  3. What actions does a lead need to take to be removed from my funnel altogether?
  4. What conversion rate do I hope to achieve for each funnel stage?

By answering these four questions, you’ll be able to map a customer journey that works for your company’s unique demand generation strategy.

4. Create Your Content

Now that your customer journey is mapped out, you need to create (or assign) content to each stage of your funnel. The tactics below have been separated into suggested stages. But that’s all they are: suggestions. Feel free to add content as you see fit.

Top of the Funnel Content

Content at this stage of the funnel should be designed to attract your ideal audience and make them interested to learn more about your offerings. It also needs to be highly engaging, which is why we always recommend including visual elements.

    • Paid Advertising: From Facebook ads to Google Adword campaigns, paid advertising can expose your brand to a lot of potential customers. Just make sure you have a solid strategy in place and keep an eye on ROI so you don’t lose money.
    • Blogging: Long-form blog articles (like this post!) are a great way to improve your company’s SEO efforts, build a relationship with your target audience, and educate them on the latest happenings and inner-workings of your industry.
    • Social Media: In all likelihood, your ideal customers spend a lot of time on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Meet them there! Just remember, social media should be a conversation, not a one-way announcement platform for your company.
    • Video Content: Video is one of the most engaging marketing platforms. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy to use and affordable tools to help you capture quality footage. For example, CloudApp will allow you to quickly record your screen, free of charge.

Remember, your audience might not even know they have a problem at this stage of the funnel. If they do, they certainly don’t know how to solve it yet. Make sure your top of the funnel content is highly educational and *not* overly sales focused.

Middle of the Funnel Content

Once your prospects reach the middle of your funnel, they understand they have a problem and know there are solutions available to help them. Your content at this stage should work to build relationships and begin to explain why your company’s solution is the best option.

  • Email Marketing: It’s been around for over four decades, but email marketing is still one of the best ways to nurture leads. Use this channel to keep your company top of mind, promote specific pieces of content, and deliver targeted offers.
  • Downloadables: A downloadable is any piece of content that requires an email address and/or some other contact details to access. eBooks, white papers, guides, and even some high-end webinars fall into this category.

Middle of the funnel content should be highly educational, persuasive, and targeted directly at potential customers in this specific stage of the buyer’s journey.

Bottom of the Funnel Content

Customers at the bottom of the funnel are ready to buy. They just need one last push to get them over the edge. This is usually done via current customer review and testimonials, and content that expounds upon the features of a particular product or service.

  • In-Depth Research: Take time to dig into customer data to see how your offerings help them. Or do an honest comparison of your’s and a competitor’s tool. Then publish the results so that almost-buyers have the details they need to complete a purchase.
  • Case Studies: Case studies, AKA customer success stories, show potential buyers what others have achieved with a specific product. They should be very inspirational. If possible, include screenshots of customers using your tool so that its value is clear.

Do your best to ensure your bottom of the funnel content is concise, promotional (but not at the expense of bashing your competitors), and data driven. Your customers want the facts and they want them quickly when they reach this stage.

How Do You Measure Demand Generation?

a screenshot of a digital analytics dashboard.
Do you know how to measure your demand gen analytics?

You’ve created a demand generation strategy, complete with buyer personas, a customer journey map, and relevant content for each stage of your funnel. Congratulations, you’ve come a long way. But we’re not done yet.

How do you know your strategy is effective and helping you achieve the goals we talked about earlier? You learn to measure your demand generation efforts. Here’s how:

1. Define Your Metrics

First things first, decide which demand generation metrics you’ll track. The ones you choose should correlate with the goals you’re trying to achieve.

For example, if one of your goals is to increase your conversion rate from stage one to stage two, you might want to track lead magnet downloads. If you want to increase brand awareness, website traffic could be a KPI worth monitoring.

2. Track Metrics Over Time

Have you chosen a few important metrics? Great, start tracking them. Doing so will help you better understand your audience and how to adjust your strategy to better meet their needs.

Just remember to give yourself time. You need to acquire a bit of data before you make any drastic changes. That way you know you’re reacting to solid trends and not just momentary blips on an analytics dashboard.

3. Adjust as Needed

Finally, take what your data tells you and act on it. There’s no point in tracking downloads, website traffic, conversion rates, or anything else if you don’t use the information to improve your business. Look for patterns, make adjustments, repeat.

Pro Tip: Use a tool like CloudApp to make GIFs of your analytics. That way you can easily share them with colleagues and enhance understanding across your organization.

In Conclusion

Demand generation is an important marketing and sales approach. By educating your target audience on the problems they have, how to solve them, and why your company’s products and/or services are essential to their success, you’ll boost sales. You’ll also improve brand authority, develop deeper blonds with your customers, and score more referrals.

Follow the steps we outlined above and you’ll be able to create and distribute the right content at the right time and guide your prospects through the sales funnel.

Image Credit: ekaterina bolovtsova; pexels

Joe Martin

Joe Martin

VP of Marketing

Joe Martin is currently the GM and VP of Marketing at CloudApp, a visual collaboration tool. He has more than 13 years of experience of marketing in the tech industry. Prior to his role at CloudApp, Martin was the Head of Social Analytics at Adobe where he led paid social strategy and a research team providing strategic guidance to organizations within the company. He has an M.B.A. from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, Executive education in Entrepreneurship from Stanford Graduate School of Business, a B.S. in Finance from the University of Utah and a digital marketing certificate from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been published in the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and other top tier outlets.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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