Are you a B2B SaaS founder overwhelmed by the complexities of Demand Generation Fundamentals (or marketing strategy in general)? Is your sales team struggling to convert potential buyers with regularity? Does your social media messaging, blog posts, and existing marketing campaigns sound generic instead of explicitly targeting your potential customers?
Stop spinning your wheels as you try to scale your brand without a solid demand generation strategy. We’re kicking off this blog mini-series on successful demand generation strategy with a breakdown of the three pillars that dictate your brand’s success. If you think of demand generation campaign fundamentals as pillars, these 3 critical components would be the concrete footings. In other words, this post is a foundational read on inbound marketing that you simply cannot afford to miss. Get these three things right in your marketing efforts, and you’re well on your way to attracting and converting high-quality leads in your target market.
Why These 9 Demand Generation Marketing Fundamentals Matter
You may wonder why you should pay attention to these specific 9 fundamentals of Demand Generation among the ocean of different ways to approach generating demand, shortening the sales cycle, and closing qualified leads. It’s because it’s not just us making the suggestions (although we do have 35 years of expertise in this space). It’s us wielding the power of generative AI to create a best-in-class solution to a pressing problem: acquiring more customers without breaking the bank.
By synthesizing world-class strategies from marketing OGs, best practices from uber-successful companies, and breakthrough campaigns with our own decades-long experience, we’ve distilled demand generation (Demand Gen) marketing into 9 essential components. Together these demand generation fundamentals represent the very best ways to attract new customers, drive revenue, and exceed your goals of scaling beyond 100.
Before you decide to dive into the details of content marketing, SEO, digital marketing, virtual events, automation tools, user-generated content, or other phases of demand generation along your customer’s journey, you need to stop, take a breath, and crush these 3 foundational pillars first.
The 3 Foundations for all Demand Gen Pillars
Today, we’ll unpack the first 3 Demand Gen marketing fundamentals:
- Know Who You Are
- Know Who You Serve
- Know Your True Competitors
Know Who You Are
When building a sustainable business using demand gen marketing strategies, your first step is to understand and articulate who you are, what makes you unique, and why it matters. To do so, you need to understand Demand Gen core competencies such as developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and a strong value proposition, as well as mastering the art of storytelling to deliver your marketing message.
Your USP is the Core of Your Offering
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) isn’t just a tagline; it’s the core of your company’s brand offering. Building a strong Value Proposition helps you articulate why customers should pick your company’s product (or service) over competitors. Your USP acts as the North Star for your product development and inbound marketing strategy to attract highly qualified leads. Just as importantly, understanding who you’re NOT lets you stay laser-focused, avoiding distractions that can dilute your brand and waste your resources. Being aware of the emotional connections your brand can make with the right people will give you an edge in customer loyalty and retention.
Founders often confuse a USP with a mission statement or vision. In reality, your prospective customers don’t care so much about you and your features. They care about results. They need to trust that your solution can solve their problem.
The messaging matters
Marketers often battle the pundits who contend that consumers remember certain brands or campaigns only because of the massive investment in brand awareness through media. While awareness is essential to lead prospective customers to the landing page of your sales funnel, it’s wholly inaccurate to believe that mere impressions lead to results, even if you’re targeting the right people. Various studies claim that the average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ad messages each day; global ad spending reached over $682B in 2019, according to eMarketer. In short, we’re bombarded with ads daily, yet few resonate and connect. Those that connect have the best chance to convert you to a customer. Thus, demand and lead gen is most effective when you begin with a fundamentally sound marketing approach.
Memorable, time-tested USPs
Here are three masterclass case studies about how to build a great USP.
Apple’s Think Different. This was a USP that conveyed an emotion that clearly resonated with their audience. It’s a textbook example of setting yourself apart from competitors; in Apple’s case, it’s about innovation and uniqueness.
More recently, Elon Musk delivered a strong Value Proposition around Tesla’s Electric Mission. The value proposition is the “promise” you deliver, such as Tesla’s sustainable energy solutions. It’s where you can highlight practical benefits and provide your customers with a tangible ROI.
Nike’s Just Do It! was a highly successful long-term campaign tagline for that brand. That 3-word tagline delivered a great way to emotionally connect with their target audience. They focused on empowerment, aspiration, and authenticity. You will find that many great campaigns evoke a universal sentiment that aligns with the brand’s core message.
What do all these examples have in common? They demonstrate that your message must ALIGN your brand and your audience. If it doesn’t, a campaign could still be successful, but it won’t have long-term sustainability. And while not every demand gen campaign achieves sustainable success, many can. In fact, we’ve created many of our own campaigns that our clients have executed for 20+ years.
Know Who You Serve
Targeting “everyone” is a rookie mistake. Crafting an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), applying the 80/20 rule, and understanding segmentation and niches are key here. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Clearly define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and carefully craft detailed Buyer Personas. This is not merely a marketing exercise; it helps in shaping your SaaS overall. Knowing your ICP impacts product features, user experience, social media presence, and even your pricing strategies. The 80/20 rule shows where to direct your customer service and development efforts for maximum impact. It affects your lead scoring models, case studies, and even which channels and search engines to direct resources toward. Understanding who you serve on a deeper level also means recognizing the generational and cultural nuances of your target audience, so you can tailor your service and communication strategies, ensuring that you remain relevant as your market evolves.
Dialing in your ICP
Knowing your ICP is critical to your success. When you’ve got your ICP dialed in, you absolutely can expect to lower your CAC because you’re only talking to your audience of decision-makers and influencers. You know through your persona what makes them tick, and what levers to pull to get them to take action. Equally important, repelling those outside your audience, which also positively impacts conversions throughout the funnel.
If you repel those outside your audience at the very top of the funnel, you’re likely to have fewer, but higher quality leads. Without strategic demand gen campaigns, lead generation is often like casting a wide net into the ocean, hoping to catch whatever you can. Attracting fewer but higher-quality leads is more akin to spearfishing. You’re not trying to haul in every fish in the sea; you’re targeting the few that you know are worth the effort. Aim carefully, make your move, and when you do catch something, it’s exactly what you were fishing for.
Even big brands like Coca-Cola focus their resources on their most profitable customer segments and are willing to let the others go. It’s that 80/20 rule of thumb, where 80 of your profits come from 20% of your customer base.
Naturally, your ICP and USP intertwine. If you’re struggling to identify your ICP or don’t have enough customers yet for reference, think about your USP: who would benefit the MOST from the solution you provide. Many people may face the problem you solve, but most might consider it an annoyance, while some consider it a huge issue that they’re willing to pay top-dollar to fix. That’s your ICP.
Segmentation narrows your focus
Marketing OG Seth Godin hammers home the power of segmentation, which is not just demographics but rather shared beliefs and values. Once you can tap into that, you can create more customized and effective marketing strategies. For B2B brands, ABM represents the ultimate in segmentation
Take YETI for example. The brand knows its audience so well that it can command premium prices. They focus on lifestyle rather than just product features. Their catalog and website, for instance, shows lifestyle imagery of outdoorsy people fishing, hunting, and hiking. Their YETI coolers are situated in the back of their pickups or on their boats. Copy refers to how many fish and beer you can put into a cooler, not square feet of cooling space. This approach allows them to connect with their customer base deeply and emotionally.
Know Your True Competitors
Understanding the competitive landscape through Competitive Analysis and SWOT Analysis gives you a realistic view of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; it helps you to gauge where you stand. Finding competitors helps confirm the viability of your solution, but also reinforces your need to have a unique position in the marketplace in order to stand out.
Knowing your competitors also means keeping tabs on market trends gives you the ability to pivot or adapt your offering before it’s too late. Leveraging your agility is an excellent way to beat your competitors to the punch as outside forces impact business, as we saw during COVID, and as we always see during times of economic challenges.
Embracing the Blue Ocean Strategy
The Blue Ocean Strategy offers a tactical roadmap to create a new, uncontested market space instead of a saturated market. This topic within the Demand Gen fundamental of “knowing your competitors” urges you to “create blue oceans” by innovating and differentiating your offerings in a way that makes your competition irrelevant. Rather than fighting for a larger slice of an existing, crowded market (a “red ocean” filled with competitors), you identify and solve for pain points that your competitors are not addressing, effectively creating a new market or sub-market that you can dominate.
This strategy is especially critical when scaling, as the focus shifts from initial customer acquisition to sustainable growth. Look beyond the usual competitive factors like price and features, towards offering unprecedented value that can set a new industry standard. Adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy can result in lower customer acquisition costs and higher customer lifetime value, both of which are vital for scalability and long-term success.
Direct competitors aren’t your only competition
Always be aware that you’re competing not just with other solutions, but also for customer mindshare and resources. Michael Porter refers to these as non-obvious competitors that allow for more strategic plays. As a B2B SaaS founder, you should be aware of non-obvious competitors, which could include:
- Substitute Products: These solutions don’t directly mimic what you’re doing but offer an alternative way for your customers to meet their needs.
- New Entrants: While not immediate threats, startups and new players entering the market can disrupt established norms. They might bring innovation, lower prices, or a unique value proposition that can gradually erode your customer base.
- Suppliers: The third-party services or APIs you use to offer your solution represent a form of competitive power. They could move up the value chain and offer similar services, or change their pricing, affecting your cost structure.
- Buyers: When customers have many alternatives, they wield significant bargaining power, and can thus be considered a form of competition.
- Complementary Products: Sometimes, products that are designed to go hand-in-hand with yours could turn into competitors. For example, a plugin or add-on service could expand its features to replace the need for your primary service.
Foundational Footings Recap
To recap part 1 of our 3-part series on Demand Generation fundamentals for B2B SaaS founders to scale past 100, you must start by:
- Knowing exactly who you are.
- Knowing specifically who you serve.
- Knowing who your true competitors really are.
Focused clarity on these elements will be instrumental in reducing your CAC. Plus, it will help you stand out in a saturated marketplace.
Come back for parts 2 and 3 of Demand Generation Marketing Fundamentals every B2B SaaS Founder needs to know to Scale Past 100. Next we’ll cover “Cracking the Code” and “Unlocking Infinite Growth.”
B2B SaaS founders face enormous pressure to grow their customer base while minimizing customer acquisition costs (CAC). Many are tech geniuses but lack foundational marketing knowledge. That’s why we’ve designed the 9 in IX Marketing Scrum as bite-sized, fluff-free content drops to bridge that gap with Demand Generation Fundamentals delivers one bite at a time.
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