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How to survive the evolution of demand generation

The best way to increase your appeal is to narrow your focus, says Dan Hansen

Targeting a smaller target market may seem counterintuitive to some, but if you’re marketing to every business in your industry, you’re probably wasting a large portion of your budget. And if your analytics are good, I can probably tell you what portion you’re wasting.

Demand generation as mass marketing

The notion that every company can use your product is about as conceivable as every person needing the same shampoo. There are choices in every market, and each choice suits a nuanced need of each buyer. Many buyers have the same nuanced need, and as a result, you have a narrow market within a broader market. If you know which buyers are suited to the specific nuanced version of your solution, you will have narrowed your focus to only those companies that matter.

Demand generation as a way of thinking

The key to counter-intuitive thinking is understanding. Every brand has factors that defines its place in the market. One base factor is customer demographics or firmographics, traits that determine companies with similar needs. Another factor may be profitability. Your most profitable customers may not be your biggest, but those in the mid-tier range. If you add that factor to your first level narrow market, the result is an even clearer – and more manageable – market. 
Also, there are market-specific factors; hospital marketing could include bed count, OE, or even payer mix at the emergency department.

Applying personalization to demand generation 

You can apply personalization to a vertical with 7000 prospects in it. If you do, however, your effort may not exceed dynamically adding their name to some emails or direct mail. If I apply my filters to determine who fits me best, I’m likely to see that prospect potential drop to a couple thousand.

Now I can tier those prospects and use gradual personalization to address them through an ABM hybrid model, or a pure-play content marketing effort. I can do this because my audience has become more manageable, and I can be more responsive to their actions.

Graduated personalization as a closer 

True personalization, defined as content and copy targeted to a specific user with a specific role needing a specific benefit at a specific time, can now be achieved using a smaller prospect audience. However, it may still be too large to be responsive, so you’ll need a way to measure their proximity within the buying cycle – generally handled through behavioral scoring – and segment your prospects into more manageable groups, adding more personalization as they get closer to buying.

In this new marketing frontier, you need to connect accurately with the diverse audiences out there. Which means you need your spend to be successful, and the work you do to be successful. Nothing counterintuitive about that.

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