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7 min read

Demand generation strategies for the different business growth stages

Demand gen

Exploring the demand generation landscape is crucial for companies that want to flourish. It’s about crafting strategic initiatives that resonate deeply with potential customers while aligning seamlessly with broader business goals. 

I'm Jessica Brown, VP of Marketing at Builder Prime, and I have extensive experience across various business stages – from startup to enterprise. In this article, I’ll guide you through developing effective demand generation strategies tailored to your company’s growth phase, ensuring your marketing efforts contribute directly to your bottom line.

Understanding day-to-day responsibilities in demand generation

In my role, demand generation involves creating awareness and interest in our company's products or services. This function is critical within an organization as it collaborates closely with the go-to-market (GTM) team, which includes sales, product development, customer success, and marketing. 

Our goal is to help drive revenue growth.

Demand generation can be executed through a variety of channels. On the digital side, this includes both organic and paid efforts like SEO, search engine management (SEM), social media, email marketing, website conversion rate optimization, content development, and virtual event experiences. 

On the physical side, it extends to direct mail and in-person events. It's important to understand that the distribution of responsibilities, scope, and budget for all these channels can vary significantly from one organization to another. Having a broad understanding of these elements is crucial.

Key differences in demand generation strategies across business stages

Understanding the evolution of demand generation strategies through various business stages is vital. At the seed stage, companies are primarily focused on developing and launching their products or services with limited resources. 

With this in mind, they need to be strategic about budget allocation, prioritizing go-tlow-cost, high-impact activities. These can include content development such as blogs, customer webinars for social proof, co-marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing. From my experience as the head of marketing at a seed-stage company, Open Envoy, I learned the importance of building a demand generation strategy from the ground up.

As companies move from Series A to C, they generally have more resources available and have established product-market fit, allowing them to expand their demand generation efforts. In these stages, companies might start investing in higher-cost activities such as digital advertising, in-person events, and in-depth content development like white papers, eBooks, and formal case studies. Additionally, efforts may extend to PR and partner marketing.

For Series D and beyond, companies with the most resources can adopt the most sophisticated strategies. At this stage, there's a significant focus on personalized Account-Based Marketing (ABM) tactics. These can include customized virtual and in-person events, tailored landing pages, and digitized direct mail campaigns. 

Companies at this growth stage are likely to target upmarket enterprise clients, which means  a personalized messaging approach is key.

Measuring success in demand generation and effective Strategies for early stage startups

Measuring the success of demand generation campaigns is relatively straightforward – it’s primarily assessed by the amount of closed-won revenue. 

Achieving this involves ensuring that the go-to-market functions – spanning sales, marketing, product development, and customer success –  collaboratively create a sales funnel that’s optimal for their specific business context.

For early-stage startups, focusing on affordable and effective demand gen tactics is crucial. I recommend prioritizing activities that’re both low-cost and high-impact. A practical approach is to organize short co-marketing webinars with companies that offer complementary technologies and share the same ideal customer profile

If these companies are also part of the same investment portfolio, that’s an added bonus, as this often means they’re more likely to cooperate closely.

After hosting these webinars, distribute them to your email list and share them on your social media platforms. You can also leverage insights and metrics from customer calls  – assuming they're recorded – to create and disseminate quotes and short customer stories. If you plan to name any customers directly, make sure you get their approval beforehand. 

Alternatively, you can share these stories anonymously, which can help demonstrate to your target market that other companies, similar to theirs, trust your business. This strategy reduces the perceived risk for potential clients and positions your startup as a thought partner.

This unique position allows early-stage companies to work closely with product and engineering teams. As an early customer, there's a significant opportunity to influence product design and utility to ensure it meets specific needs, providing a substantial advantage for both the startup and its early adopters.

Scaling demand generation efforts and aligning marketing with sales

As a company expands, scaling demand generation efforts is fundamental. To do this effectively, it's essential to analyze historical data. 

Look back over several years, focusing especially on the most recent quarters and months, to identify what’s been successful and what hasn't. The key is to invest more resources into repeatable processes and channels that have proven effective in driving scale. 

As your company grows and resources increase, there's also a greater opportunity to personalize your efforts to stand out. The approach doesn't need to be overcomplicated; it's about maintaining a consistent impact on the business, leveraging both relevance and historical insights.

Alignment between marketing and sales is vital, but departmental alignment should extend beyond these two functions to include the entire GTM team – customer success and product teams alongside marketing and sales. This comprehensive alignment ensures that everyone’s on the same page from the start, eliminating data silos and enabling effective and cohesive market targeting.

To facilitate alignment, I recommend establishing a structured communication routine. This could be in the form of weekly leadership meetings, working sessions, all-hands meetings, or asynchronous work. Consistent communication is essential for cross-functional (and business) success.

Additionally, integrating the sales development team into the demand generation function can foster trust and efficiency. By assisting the sales team with their outreach efforts – using tools like HubSpot, Outreach, or Salesloft to streamline and personalize messaging – you help them secure meetings more rapidly. 

This close collaboration allows marketing to directly support sales through crafting brief, impactful messages that are more likely to resonate with prospects.

This integration helps to secure meetings and provides immediate feedback on the effectiveness of messages, whether through direct responses or general sentiment analysis. By having this feedback loop within the demand generation function, it becomes easier to iterate and refine messaging, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of both sales and marketing efforts. 

Ultimately, this strategic alignment is designed to drive pipeline generation and close business, which is the fundamental goal of any company's GTM strategy.

Overcoming communication challenges between revenue marketing and sales

A significant challenge in revenue marketing, particularly when interfacing with sales teams, revolves around internal communication. It's somewhat ironic that as marketers, we devote immense effort to crafting unique and data-driven messages for our prospects and customers to win them over, yet we may neglect the equally critical task of effectively marketing our campaigns internally to garner buy-in.

From my experience, whether starting a new relationship in a company, being there for a few months, or even years, there's always room to iterate and improve upon our internal marketing techniques. 

The key to successful internal communication is frequent engagement and utilizing the most appropriate channels for conveying important information.

Effective strategies for internal marketing

In practice, this can involve a combination of leadership meetings, working sessions, all-hands meetings, and communication via emails and messaging apps like Slack. However, it's crucial to recognize and adapt to the nuances of each communication form:

  • Quick messaging: Platforms like Slack are suitable for fast, informal communications but arem’t ideal for messages that need to be documented or given deep consideration. Slack is ideal for further discussions or answering quick questions rather than for delivering memorable or complex messages.
  • Multi-channel approach: For critical communications, adopting a multi-channel approach is highly effective. This strategy mirrors external marketing tactics but is tailored for internal audiences. It's important to define your target audience within the company – whether it's leadership, your own team, or cross-functional teams – and customize your messages accordingly.
  • Meetings and follow-ups: If the situation allows, presenting information in a meeting followed by a detailed email or a slide deck can enhance message retention. This method ensures that key insights and metrics are conveyed succinctly and are easily accessible, aiding in quicker decision-making and alignment.
  • Customization: Just as with external marketing, internal messages should be tailored to your audience. This involves adjusting the depth, tone, and detail of the information based on who’s receiving it. By customizing communication, you ensure that it’s relevant and resonates, thereby increasing the likelihood of buy-in and collaborative success.

These strategies not only improve internal alignment but also enhance the overall effectiveness of demand generation efforts by ensuring that all parties are well-informed and engaged in the strategy.

Key lessons in building demand generation strategies for companies at different stages

Building effective demand gen strategies across various stages of a company’s growth involves a dynamic approach that leverages both data and creativity. 

Here are some important lessons I've learned along the way:

  • Conduct regular audits: Regularly audit the channels and programs you're using to understand what is working and what isn't. Utilize tools like your customer relationship management (CRM) system (e.g., HubSpot or Salesforce), marketing and sales automation systems (e.g., Marketo, Eloqua, or Pardot), and other analytics tools like Google Analytics. These tools can provide a comprehensive view of your strategies' effectiveness.
  • Gather comprehensive insights: Ensure you collect as much information as possible from all teams involved in the go-to-market function. This includes gathering insights on how to best support not only the teams but also the customers. Decide on the cadence of these audits and adaptations to ensure they meet the needs of the business and reflect the realities of your target market.
  • Customer insights are invaluable: Engage directly with customers whenever possible, whether virtually or in person. Listening to recorded calls can also provide deep insights into customer pain points and needs. This firsthand knowledge is critical in refining and aligning your demand generation strategies effectively.
  • Embrace experimentation: The ability to experiment with different tactics is a vital part of demand generation. It allows you to quickly learn what is effective and what needs adjustment. This agility in adapting strategies is crucial for staying relevant and responsive to market changes.
  • Have fun and collaborate: Working on demand generation should be an enjoyable and engaging process. It’s important to maintain a positive and collaborative atmosphere as you tackle challenges with your colleagues. Remember, having fun isn’t just a bonus; it’s an essential part of fostering a creative and innovative workplace.

By focusing on these aspects, you can develop a robust demand generation framework that’s both adaptive to your company's growth stage and responsive to the evolving needs of your market. Each stage presents unique challenges and opportunities, and the key is to remain flexible and data-driven in your approach.

Written by:

Jessica Brown

Jessica Brown

VP of Marketing at Builder Prime

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Demand generation strategies for the different business growth stages