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The 8 Pillars of Demand Generation for Modern B2B Marketers: A Holistic Approach to Managing Demand-generation Operations

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By 2015, over 70% of all demand generation will come from inbound marketing strategies, as predicted by SiriusDecisions. After completing an extensive review of demand generation trends and practices worldwide, it's easy to see why. Two key findings resonate most strongly when the dust begins to settle:
  • First, there are four increasingly relevant truths about today's consumer attitudes and behaviors that must be used as a constant filter when evaluating the new demand generation ecosystem.
  • Second, the purchasing behaviors resulting from these new truths, when combined with new enabling marketing and analytics technology, require marketers to re-create and reorganize their marketing operations into eight areas of excellence. Focusing on these eight areas is mandatory for modern marketers working within world-class demand generation organizations.

This blog post provides an overview of these two key findings. Subsequent posts in the series will dive deeper into each of the eight pillars of excellence and provide implications and recommendations to marketers.

Let's start with four simple, yet powerful, truths about today's consumer:

  • Buyers trust their peers—Today's consumer trusts the wisdom and recommendations of strangers, peers and professional groups more than brands and their content. In 2013, BrightLocal's Local Consumer Review Survey reported that 79% of online shoppers trust online reviews, and over 70% reported that positive online reviews influence where they buy. IBM's executive report for retail institutions, Winning Over the Empowered Consumer: Why Trust Matters, states that consumers want to be served, not sold. They already have solicited feedback and opinions in advance from family, friends and strangers, and know what they want by the time they are ready to shop.
  • Everyone is always on—These new buyers are always connected through their smartphones, tablets and laptops, especially when they are at home. Pew Research Center reports as of May 2013, 56% of Americans and 76% of business executives have a smartphone. Nearly 87% of mobile users are using their devices while watching TV. Americans spend 2.7 hours per day socializing on their mobile devices, and 50% use their mobile phones for social networking.
  • Consumers have embraced the self-serve economy—They like to investigate potential purchases in every category. SiriusDecisions reports that 80% of B2B buyers conduct their own research online before they ever engage with a seller. Buyers now require immediate access to the information they want, whenever they want it, on any device, across a wide range of channels, in the manner that is best for their consumption. Google reports that 59% of B2B buyers make business decisions at home. And, according to TechTarget, 41% of IT decision makers research tech products on their smartphones.
  • Device and research habits are still generationally unique—Generational cohorts and the corresponding cultural media consumption patterns clearly affect the types of content and channels buyers use most often. (Source: Acquity Group's 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study)

What these trends mean to modern marketers is they must adapt their organization and approaches to the new landscape, or they risk being left behind or deemed obsolete, given the uncontrollable exponential speed of change. The implications for B2C and B2B marketers are:

  • The buyer's journey is no longer linear. It is a continuous loop from research to evaluation to purchase, which now includes the sharing of the purchase experience. This influences repurchase rates and additional purchases from other buyers in their own research phase. (Source: McKinsey & Company)
  • If the marketer does not provide the buyer with the desired information, they can be sure the competitor will—while also winning the attention of their prospect.
  • The marketer who helps their buyers understand how to solve problems and purchase products, while also establishing the most trust, will gain buyer confidence and win the battle of the purse.

For marketers to win their fair share of the market, they need new internal operating models to tell their brand story and conduct lead generation activities in the methods, on the channels and at the speeds that reflect the preferences of the new B2B buyer.

KERN has defined this new ecosystem and has aggregated best practices into eight distinct pillars. The sum total reflects a holistic view and approach to evaluating the current state of demand generation. Ideally, the best-practice areas within the eight pillars will help B2B marketers reach a new level of excellence in the coming years. The eight pillars of demand generation for modern B2B marketers are:

  1. BUSINESS, BRAND AND MARKETING OPERATIONS STRATEGIES
    This pillar is a strategic approach to demand generation planning and implementation, based upon compelling competitive advantage. Additionally, an ROI-centric culture as part of a centralized demand-center operation provides a framework for implementation excellence and efficiencies.
  2. TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE, INTEGRATION AND DATA OPERATIONS
    This pillar has a strong focus on an integrated technology stack that enables the deployment of differentiated customer experiences based on data insights, data access powered by marketing automation and big data solutions.
  3. TARGETING, MESSAGING, CHANNEL AND OFFER HIERARCHIES
    The key to this pillar is using progressive persona profiles across the modern buyer's 10-stage journey, based on a deep understanding of what the prospect is thinking, feeling and experiencing, and how they consume media and content.
  4. BUYER-EXPERIENCE PLANNING AND CONTENT STRATEGY
    You can maximize the strength of this pillar by creating a holistic strategy with messaging, content and channel activation aligned to progressive persona profiles and the 10-stage buyer's journey. This pillar incorporates a "Build Once, Use Many" approach to content.
  5. ROI MEASUREMENT AND OPTIMIZATION
    The measurement approaches together with KPIs determines marketing's contribution to business performance. This pillar includes analytics, reporting, attribution, revenue, monetization and learning from rigorous measurements and tests designed within a closed-loop system.
  6. LEAD DISPOSITIONING INTEGRATED WITH SALES CONVERSION PROCESSES
    Best practices for this pillar include lead capture, lead scoring, lead routing, lead distribution, lead nurturing architectures and implementation management.
  7. SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
    This pillar covers the importance and methodologies of creating service-level agreements between sales and marketing. This also includes the process for continued lead generation and sales efficiency and effectiveness improvements.
  8. PAID, EARNED AND OWNED MEDIASALES CHANNELS ROUTES TO MARKET
    Best practice within this pillar include delivering the right message to the right target at the right time based on media consumption patterns of, and the understanding of, when, where and how the target consumes information through their journey. This pillar also includes the alignment of sales channels with media channels.

Download your copy of KERN's eight pillars.

To receive in-depth information on each pillar, click here to subscribe to KERN's eNewsletter, The ROInsider.

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