It’s a conundrum as old as time: which came first, the chicken or the egg? For B2B marketers, the question becomes which came first, the demand or the influence?
If we don’t know what put a process into motion in the first place, we can’t replicate it. Being able to replicate processes to produce similar results is critical, especially in a demand generation strategy.
In order to generate demand, B2B marketers need to create content that people like and engage with—content that makes consumers want what we sell or that positions us as thought leaders in our field.
But we need to know what makes our prospects buy in order to most effectively create highly engaging content. Conundrum? Absolutely.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be an endless feedback loop or an eternal philosophical conversation about which comes first, the demand or the influence. Content teams and demand generation teams can work together to navigate the murky waters of content creation, analysis, and retargeting, with a few helpful hints for each team:
Demand Generation Teams Aren’t Alone in Demand Generation Strategy
Blank slates tend to be a good thing: they signal new beginnings, offer creative opportunities, and let you test the waters. For demand generation marketers, however, blank slates can also be dreaded.
If we don’t have data on our customers, how can we even begin to talk about strategy and KPIs? What if we create buyer personas and we end up completely wrong? What happens when our content team is churning out work that no one seems to care about? The blank slate can be a scary place to start.
Fortunately, the entire demand generation strategy isn’t on you. Your content team is there to support you, just as you’re there to support them. Here’s how you can help make this dynamic more effective:
1. Provide Data to Support Your Content Team
You may not be able to replicate a process if you’re starting out with a blank slate. This is where you advocate for constant interaction with your content team as you work within their strategy. You have to monitor what’s working and what isn’t, and make sure to let them know as they go.
The content team is targeting buyer personas, but if you realize that your buyers are a little different than planned, then it’s important that you collaborate with them to show them the data.
2. Advise Implementation
It’s also your job to use that data to help them retarget their content strategy: the audience they want to reach isn’t engaging, so what other research do we need to do, and what other content do we need to create that will engage this audience?
Utilize the data you have and the competitive research that has already been done to ease your workload and inform your content team.
3. Remember You’re Working Together
It’s easy to feel like numbers are the bottom line, and therefore your content team should automatically listen to you. Yes, numbers are the bottom line, but you can’t achieve numbers without the work that your content team does (remember the chicken and egg?). You’re all working towards the same goal—if you’re properly aligned—so make sure to fully explain why your suggestion helps to accomplish your organization’s broader objectives.
So be kind, use your data to educate, and collaborate for a good solution.
Content Teams Fit into Demand Generation Strategy
Creative teams never get the credit we deserve, right? Writing a great piece of content and then finding out that it didn’t engage anyone at all can leave you feeling completely flat.
It’s natural to wonder what went wrong: were the buyer personas off? Did you use the wrong voice? Did it get disseminated properly? Was it really optimized correctly? Did the data teams give us the wrong keywords and topics? A demand generation strategy can be a fickle beast.
In all honesty, sometimes things just don’t perform as you expect. But your demand generation team likely has a lot of helpful information to piece together what went wrong—or what went right, so you can replicate your own success! Here’s how to work with the demand team to get the most out of their knowledge:
1. Avoid the Emotional Writer Stereotype
Understand that, as a writer (and let’s be honest—you’re a writer, not a content farm), you need to be able to detach your feelings from your content. You may have built a brilliant strategy, but it might be brilliant for a different target audience. Communicate your openness to constructive feedback. This will facilitate a healthy and open collaboration on producing content that hits the mark.
2. Use the Data
If your demand generation team is telling you that the content you’re pushing out is not engaging the right audience, be open to the data. Listen to recommendations and try to work together to retarget your content strategy if necessary.
Often, you won’t need an entire strategic shift. Make little adjustments first, and keep in contact with your demand team to ensure engagement is trending upward. How you receive their data points—hopefully with gratitude and excitement to be better—will affect how helpful future data meetings can be. It feels far more valuable to pitch to a content team that’s engaged and ready to learn, which will result in more time spent gathering the data.
3. Don’t Work Misaligned
Here’s the thing, though: it’s not all on you. If your content is not engaging the intended audience, you need the demand generation team to provide you with good, accurate data to help you do your job. You don’t want to waste precious creativity and time sending content into the void—make sure that they’re giving you the data you need.
If they’re telling you that your content isn’t working, ask them to work with you to understand the numbers. Here’s the information demand generation can help you with:
- Competitive research
- Content ranking
- Buyer personas
- Content scores
Work with your demand generation team to get the best information to effectively retarget your content strategy when needed.
Every Team Member Counts in Your Demand Generation Strategy
It can be easy to get into conflict when we whittle teams down to numbers vs. concepts, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Demand can’t be generated without the right content, but the right content can’t be created without helpful and accurate data.
What came first, you ask? It doesn’t really matter. When you show up to the game is of little importance—what you do once you get there is all that matters. Collaborate together for the best plan of attack in your demand generation strategy, knowing that you both serve critical roles in achieving your company’s bottom line.