The Dos and Don'ts of Demand Generation


Download PDF

An in-depth read or a snapshot – it's up to you.

Read in full, click on a section below to jump ahead or click on the link below for a one-page summary.

These pages provide context to our POV and set expectations for the read.

This page provides research stats to help you see how your efforts compare to the market.

Don't have a lot of time? Click here to view a one-page quick read of these best practices.

Download PDF

An investment in time and patience.

Demand Gen and Lead Gen are often (and mistakenly) used interchangeably. While there are similarities, the differences are significant. The main goal is to know why you selected a Demand Gen strategy and then be disciplined to its execution.

Demand Gen is an investment in your team's time and the organization's patience.

Done effectively, it can shorten the sales cycle. But, it takes time to effectively educate a buyer and gain their interest. Best suited for expanding into new markets where you have low brand awareness or further penetrating existing markets, Demand Gen takes a disciplined approach to be effective. It is more of a marathon than a sprint.


provides best practice directives and learnings
to enhance your Demand Gen efforts.

Download PDF

Awareness. Reach. Education. Engagement.

Awareness breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds trust. The further your market reach, the greater the opportunity to grow both familiarity and trust to drive engagement.

Demand Gen is focused more on creating interest and educating than it is collecting lead information for sales follow-up.

That means being disciplined and calculated in your approach to educating your audience, and creating a more informed buyer to engage with sales. Your buyer is going to make their decision on their time, you want to make sure it is informed and in your favor.

Exploration to Discovery

Identify, introduce, inform:

Drive demand on the buyer's / buying groups
non-linear path to decision-making

Download PDF

1. Define Demand Gen.

As noted earlier, Demand Gen and Lead Gen are often used interchangeably. To eliminate confusion, we define Demand Gen as follows:

Demand Gen focuses on creating awareness, shaping perceptions and driving interest in your product or service. The goal is to engage the largest portion of your audience as possible to make them want what you offer.

It's important to make sure everyone on your team understands the definition you're working from so they know what they are working toward. And, equally as important, what to do, and what not to do.

Do: Define Demand Gen based on your sales and marketing needs. Develop a vision for your strategy and make sure your team fully understands both.
Don't: Lose sight of what you are working toward and be sure to set and manage performance expectations along the way.

Download PDF

2. Align your business and marketing objectives.

Demand Gen is an art – the methods for measurement are more anecdotal than scientific. Instincts will come into play to determine progress, or set-backs, with continual monitoring of a buyer's / buying group's behavior.

Knowing the business objectives for market expansion or increased penetration will make it easier to develop the Demand Gen activity to accomplish them.

While KPIs like open, click-thru and others matter, they act as small steps to truly gauging a buyer's interest. To get an even better read on activity, consult with the sales team and create a feedback loop to understand what the market is saying and how they are responding your content.

Do: Keep the business' and your marketing objectives top-of-mind throughout your efforts. If the business objectives evolve, so should your marketing and approach.
Don't: Get complacent and settle for a general understanding of what the business is trying to accomplish and the role you, as a marketing lead, play in helping to attain them.

Download PDF

3. Understand your market and competitors.

Whether you're looking to further penetrate an existing market or expand into a new one, knowing the market and competitive environment is critical to getting your Demand Gen efforts off to a solid start.

Quickly demonstrating your understanding of the market and how your offering differs from others is one of the quickest ways to garner interest and build trust.

How do you do it? Quality data: whether purchased or obtained from credible resources through search, it's imperative to speeding any learning curve your team may experience. At the very least you want to show a similar understanding of the market as your audience. And then get personal in how you educate them about your offering.

Do: Go to school on the markets you're interested in pursuing. Create a SWOT analysis to provide an unbiased view of your position in the market and then prioritize your challenges.
Don't: Use a one-size-fits-all approach to your Demand Gen efforts. Markets, market dynamic, competitor offerings and buying groups are in a constant state of change.

Download PDF

4. Know your buyer and buying groups.

Knowing your audience can be one of the more challenging areas of Demand Gen in that, unlike Lead Gen, you may not have a data profile that exists on your target. So, you'll need to get creative, follow your gut, and test. Definitely test.

Use what you know about your current customers (no matter what market they're in) and draw parallels to the roles and responsibilities of who you want to target.

Develop a Suspect Target Profile (STP) based on what you know about your customer and buying groups. Match that criteria against the market research you've done – firmographics, demographics and pyschographics. Use that STP to develop a set of criteria to share with list data vendors to help identify your starting point. Then test criteria and test list providers.

Do: Use what you know about your customers and the market to develop a STP– a set of criteria you will use to work with list vendors to identify your audience.
Don't: Think your target customer STP is transferrable from market-to-market and role-to-role. While there may be similarities, there will always be noticeable differences.

Download PDF

5. Align your content with your buyer's journey.

This is something that is easier said than done. The challenge is knowing how to get started and then doing it effectively.

Conduct an audit of your content assets to determine where they align with the journey, what can be repurposed and what should be retired.

Conventional wisdom suggests shorter format, easy-to-engage content should be available early in their journey, and content get more involved as they move further along. That may be the case, but remember that aligning content with the buyer's journey is dependent on the audience you are targeting, the price point of your offering and your sales cycle. With those three in mind, revisit your content and align it accordingly.

Do: A content audit to determine what is performing, what can be repurposed and what should be retired. Then re-align your content according to the buyer's needs.
Don't: Haphazardly make content available without some expectation of how it should perform at various stages of the buyer's journey and sales funnel.

Download PDF

6. Channel strategy = inbound and outbound.

A key part of Demand Gen is creating awareness and expanding audience reach. Those two initiatives coupled with the possibility of not having a clear view of what your buying audience looks like, requires the need for a two-pronged channel strategy.

Make your solution easy for buyers to find online, while doing outbound testing to identify your audience's sweet spot for sales.

Resources – head count and budget – are always going to be a challenge. Use your marketing automation platform and CRM to monitor and document performance. Prioritize your inbound and outbound opportunities, align the ones that can yield the greatest outcome (an increase in awareness, reach, education and engagement) and allocate resources accordingly.

Do: Plan for both inbound and outbound strategies to be easy-to-find by buyers proactively searching, as well as finding those passively seeking solutions to their needs.
Don't: Convince yourself you can "make do" with your current approach if it isn't producing the results your business needs. Enable change for the better of the campaign.

Download PDF

7. Score, qualify and nurture your leads.

Work with your sales team to determine a scoring system for your leads. The insight sales provides should help with the understanding of what makes a sales qualified lead (SQL). From there, marketing can develop the scoring system.

Not all leads are created equal. While their needs may be similar, how they come to a consensus on a purchase within their buying group may vary greatly.

Remember, Demand Gen is a marathon, not a sprint. Qualifying your leads through scoring enables sales to focus on the greatest opportunities. Nurturing your leads (with sales collaboration) helps guide your qualified leads down a path of engagement and growing trust. Demand Gen is a team sport and everyone should participate.

Do: Work with your sales team to develop a scoring system and nurturing campaign that is based on their experience in converting leads. Then monitor response and adapt.
Don't: Treat all leads the same. It is an inefficient, time-consuming way to keep the sales team busy with activity, but not with progress in getting closer to converting leads.

Download PDF

8. Adapt to your learnings and your audience.

A big part of Demand Gen is confirming your target audience for your new market / existing market expansion. Monitoring their behavior, tracking your campaign's performance and modifying your approach, as needed, is critical to the long-term success of your efforts.

Listen to what your audience's behavior is telling you. Adapt. And repeat.

One of the reasons Demand Gen campaigns "underperform" is because there are no checks and balances in place to make sure they remain on strategy. It takes discipline to consistently monitor established KPIs to ensure the greatest opportunity for success. This includes monitoring the following: inbound and outbound activity, the content that supports both, audience behavior and an open feedback loop with sales.

Do: Commit to monitoring campaign performance and audience behavior. Establish an open feedback loop with sales and adapt your efforts to your learnings.
Don't: "Set it and forget it." Marketing automation is a great tool, but not a sound strategy. Don’t lose sight of the need for a human to monitor performance and adapt to behavior.

Download PDF

Don't run your program in a silo.

Always know what is going on in the market – content marketing trends, buying behavior, Demand Gen strategies and tactics. Don't limit your exposure to the four walls in your office. Below, we've provided a handful of timely and relevant stats that, taken in the context of your business, can provide insights that lead to program-enhancing change.


of companies say generating traffic as leads is a top priority. The biggest advantage of demand gen is that it allows only qualified leads to trickle further down the funnel.1


of buyers wait longer than they did in the past to initiate contact with a vendor. Buyers typically get 60% to 70% through the buying journey before they engage with a salesperson.2


Watch the time to customer conversion rather than click rates. 48% of businesses say most of their leads require "long cycle" nurturing with many influencers.3


responded "Aligning our content more to our demand gen." as their biggest core area of investment for demand gen in 2017.4


responded "It is good, but can always be improved." as to how they would rate the relationship between marketing and sales within their organization.5

Sources: 1 State of Inbound, 2 DemandGen Report, 3 Ascend2, 4, 5 IDG Demand Gen Experience Survey, 2016

Download PDF

About Gain: We’re a direct, digital and data-based marketing communications agency that brings the people-perspective back into acquisition and lifecycle marketing.

Learn more about Gain by visiting

Want to talk shop? Contact James at

Download PDF