Creating a demand generation strategy is one of the most challenging parts of marketing. Not because it contains a set of complex goals one would be hard-pressed to meet, but because the concept itself is too wide to put into a single category.
Some confuse it with lead generation, and many think the demand generation strategy is merely to attract customers. In truth, its purpose goes far more than generating buzz or driving sales.
As a marketer, you must have an unobstructed view of your objectives to draft demand generation campaigns—and that includes understanding the method.
To help you out, I am going to share what demand generation is, and what strategies you can apply to reach your goals.
Let’s get started.
What is Demand Generation?
Demand generation essentially means developing a need for your product and services.
It may sound pretty straightforward, but the term covers a broad range of activities.
The marketer runs a series of campaigns to grab the attention of their target market, create interest in your business, and persuade them to act.
In other words, the demand generation strategy follows the famous AIDA principle—Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.
Let me put it another way.
People typically believe startups employ demand generation strategies to create their brand awareness. While technically, it is correct, you’ll also see successful companies periodically using this strategy despite having a stable customer base.
Why? Because like any ordinary business, your product life expectancy has an expiry date.
A time will come when your product will eventually lose appeal to your buyer.
To overcome it, you’d have to either construct additional features or keep reviving your product name.
The latter is simply more efficient.
The above explanation is merely one aspect of demand generation. It serves multiple purposes at various stages of the buyer’s journey. Therefore, you’ll hear many versions of it from different sources. Nevertheless, the primary aim of demand generation remains the same—i.e., developing a need for your product.
If you’re planning a marketing campaign with that goal in mind, I have listed down thirteen effective strategies for you.
1. Free Samples
I once went with my friend to a well-known ice-cream parlor near my residence. Upon entering, the owner offered me a sample of their new flavor that led me not only to purchase it but share my experience with others. If he hadn’t persuaded me to take a bite, I probably would’ve gone past it.
Proposing a free sample is a tried-and-tested method people have been practicing for ages.
Brick and mortar shops entice their customers with small samples, while SaaS businesses provide free trials.
You can introduce your product and convert leads together using this approach.
Sharing an example for inspiration.
Hootsuite, a social media manager, employed giveaway promotional techniques to generate product demand. By awarding a 30-day free trial, the company attracts a flock of visitors yearly.
Hootsuite started its journey in 2008 and now hosts 18 million users.
A contest is the quickest way to get your audience’s attention.
Brands hold competitions to engage their customers. It’s an incredible tactic to spread the word and attract new prospects.
You can use this strategy to measure your product’s demand and increase your conversion by 34%.
Starbucks, in 2014, launched its sustainable cups and wanted to promote them to generation Z. When it struggled to tap the market, Starbucks took advantage of hashtags popularity and started WhiteCupContest on social media.
The contest offered a $300 prize to the winner and promised to recreate the winner’s design on their cups.
Starbucks clever tactics worked, and within three weeks, the coffeehouse sold 4000 cups and earned extensive coverage.
The example is a classic case of contest success.
3. Guest Blogging
Companies prefer guest blogging to establish the authority of their brands. By posting a guest blog on a reputable site, you gain access to your host’s audience, present yourself as a trusted resource, and drive them to your landing page.
Amazingly, you can get astounding results and bear lower customer acquisition costs.
53% of marketers consider guest blogging to be the best strategy, and many successfully generate demand for their products from sponsored posts.
Here’s one story you’d want to hear.
Help Scout, since its beginning, relies on content marketing to scale its business. The company sells help desk software, and fifty percent of its revenues come through this mode of advertising. But it’s their guest blogging that has brought them high traffic, comparatively.
Gregory Ciotti, one of the team members, used guest blogging to secure 36,733 email subscribers and to this date, Help Scout follows the method.
Try guest blogging at the top of your funnel stage to convert your visitors into qualified leads.
4. User Video Content
Video is, undoubtedly, a powerful marketing tool, and almost every entrepreneur prefers it to educate viewers about their business.
But there’s one type that could quickly generate your product demand. It’s a user-generated video.
People enjoy real-time videos and trust their peers more than professional ones.
Include their experience in your videos to connect with your prospects.
GoPro cameras have been on the market since 2001, but their popularity has expanded in recent years.
What’s their secret?
The company targeted sports enthusiasts and turned them into brand ambassadors. Daredevils started posting their videos with GoPro using hashtags.
By the end of 2014, GoPro was termed the 5th most followed YouTube channel, and its Hero5 Black action camera became a bestselling item.
5. Email Marketing
Marketers make every effort to build an email list, and they have a good reason for it. It is an efficient, measurable, and cost-effective demand generation strategy.
Email allows you to remain in touch with your prospects through personalized messages and allows you to promote your product constantly. Half of your loyal customers look forward to your emails.
Optimize your email content to trigger your buyer’s pain points.
Let me share an example with you.
CloudApp cleverly uses colloquial language in their email marketing to advertise their product right from the start.
The moment to sign up, you’ll receive a flattering welcome email making you feel special, followed by a brief guide on installing CloudApp.
Later, as you explore the service, they’ll send another email asking for reviews with a CloudApp pro free trial to boot.
Are you noticing the pattern? The company generates demand for its product by casually pinpointing problems and providing easy solutions.
Study their content for ideas.
6. Influencer Marketing
Brands often go for influencer marketing to gain social proof. Influencers have a huge fan base, and their one positive word can boost your image.
Nearly 50% of eCommerce stores use influencer marketing to increase their conversions, and the interest is growing each day.
Reach out to industry experts and leverage their status to establish your reputation.
Below is a popular case study of how companies benefit from influencers.
Lagavulin Distillery, in 2015, collaborated with American actor and comedian Nick Offerman and published a 45 minute video on their YouTube channel. The entire video showed Nick sitting near a fireplace leisurely drinking Lagavulin scotch whiskey.
Can you imagine an impatient audience enduring a quarter of an hour of silent AD?
The Lagavulin did.
The video went viral and received 3 million views!
That’s the power of influencer marketing.
Many SaaS companies offer a free version as a marketing strategy to bring in new prospects.
It may sound incredibly ridiculous to give away your products for free, but freemium works astonishingly well if done right.
Grammarly is a text editing software that banks on its freemium plan to generate an income of $73.2 per customer yearly. And it has millions of users.
The company generates demand for its product through free sign-ups, but limits access to some features to guests unless they buy a paid plan.
The business model was such a success, Grammarly attracted 20 million users within a decade.
8. Google Search Ads
Search Ads are excellent for brands with limited resources.
The advertisement helps you bring traffic to your site without wasting funds on an elaborate campaign.
You pick your audience based on particular keywords, and the Google algorithm will automatically display your AD only to specific viewers.
As Google gets 3.5 billion searches daily, you can practically use it as a testing ground to see your product potential and generate its demand simultaneously.
Freelancer.com plays with words to draw potential customers to its site through paid ads.
Every time you type a new phrase, Google displays an altered Advertisement.
When I searched “Where can I find a writer?” And this Ad appeared.
Later, as I changed the wording to “Where can I find a good writer?” The Ad modified the words to suit my requirements.
Check out Google Ads and optimize it to generate demand for your products.
9. Target Ads on Facebook
Facebook Ads Manager has remarkable features that allow you to create targeted Ads.
The Ad Manager provides a buyer persona form to narrow down your leads.
Second, Facebook has a lookalike Audience feature, which mimics your existing followers’ behavior data. It pulls real-time information from your fans to AD and displays it only to two people having similar characteristics.
It’s an amazing option to consider for your demand generation strategy. You can get an accurate insight into your leads.
This Facebook banner is a perfect example of a targeted ad.
It has applied demographic and behavioral information and targeted Asian women who run a small home-based businesses.
10. Affiliate Marketing
Brands opt for affiliate marketing to advertise their services subtly. It’s cost-effective and relatively bears a low risk.
The program involves a third-party service, which promotes your product on your behalf.
It’s an ingenious approach to increasing conversions because sponsored ads rarely come off as a sales pitch. Most of the time, your client mentions your product in articles. (Think Amazon review blogs.)
Since people rely heavily on online recommendations, affiliate marketing is an excellent demand-generating strategy to consider.
If you’re a makeup enthusiast, you must have often noticed YouTubers using Macs in their tutorials.
The cosmetic brand works with influencers and fashion magazines to promote its products.
Below is the Mac primer, featured in Vogue.
11. Google Display Campaigns
Earlier, I suggested putting Google Ads on the search engine to attract visitors to your website.
Google AdWords also offers brands to display their banners on third-party sites.
Display campaigns, when placed right, quickly catch the visitor’s eye and increase conversions.
You can use the management placement option to control where to place your Ads, allowing you to limit your banner display to a selected few.
In 2019, Rolex, the biggest luxury watch brand, started “Perpetual Planet” to show its support for marine life protection. To promote their launch, Rolex placed display ads on a particular site.
Guess where the above banner is placed?
It’s on National Geographic.
12. PR Campaigns
It takes more than advertising your products to run a profitable enterprise. How brands are contributing to the world influences a buyer’s decision.
That’s where PR comes in.
PR campaigns put you forward as a company whose sole purpose isn’t to earn a profit, even if it is, but to become a part of an ecosystem to help communities—even if it isn’t.
Keep up with the current issues and craft a PR campaign to promote your business.
A decade ago, Dove started a PR campaign in response to research they conducted on perceived beauty.
Realizing, hardly 2% of women believe themselves to be beautiful, they hired regular folks instead of professional models in their Ads to encourage self-confidence.
Despite facing uncountable criticism, Dove received massive publicity and boosted its sales revenue.
13. Event Marketing
Digital marketing might be highly efficient, but there’s no replacement for in-person engagement.
Customers put a lot of stock on physical evidence.
By sponsoring or hosting events, you let people know your brand exists in the real world, allowing you to interact with your audience.
You can, of course, achieve the same with live events on Facebook. Still, 75% of marketers consider physical events a great way to build relationships.
L’oreal Paris often teams up with TIFF to sponsor film festivals.
The brand involved itself in the event and left no stone unturned to promote its products.
Demand generation is a strategy that meets multiple goals at every stage of your funnel.
Tons of experts say to do this, publish that, send this email, and whatnot, but that’s not a strategy! — Those are tactics you need to put into format strategy.
And combining multiple marketing and sales tactics is what demand generation is all about.
Explore your options and go for the best marketing plan for your business.