Semantics: Demand Gen vs. Customer Marketing

Demand Gen vs Customer Marketing

In my last post I talked about the difference between Lead Generation and Demand Generation, and the fact that there is a difference. But what about customer marketing?

If lead gen is the process of generating new leads, and demand gen is the process of getting those leads to demand your products/services and ultimately buy (become a customer), then is customer marketing the third step? I say no…not really.

While it is important that you apply demand generation methodologies to nurture and convert the leads you generate, who says demand generation is exclusively a process for leads? You can (and should) apply demand gen techniques to your customers (we call that ‘cross sell/upsell’). After all, aren’t your customers some of your best potential buyers? You might even consider them low hanging fruit…yet somehow so many marketers wait for the fruit to fall off the tree instead of grabbing it when it’s ripe or, ever worse, they pick it too early. *sigh*

Now, I am not suggesting that you just swoop up your customer list and plop it into your latest and greatest demand gen campaign and call it a day. That would be easy, I’ll admit, but it won’t be nearly as effective (resist the urge….seriously). Think quality over quantity. You need to speak to your customers differently. Acknowledge them as the fantastic customers that they are and leverage your existing relationship to show how you can continue to help them.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s another layer to customer marketing that goes above and beyond good demand gen, and that is good customer satisfaction. I can tell you as a customer myself that when I get marketing messages from a company I’m not feeling the love for, I get cranky. I expect you to know that I’m not happy with you right now and that trying to sell me your newest widget is just going to piss me off more. As a marketer you might say ‘that’s not fair, I can’t control whether the customer is happy or not,” and to that I say two things:

  1. Stop making excuses. True, many elements of the customer experience are out of your hands, but some things are within your grasp of control and so you should be doing everything in your power to improve that experience. Don’t just chalk it up for what it is and add to the bad experience by doing your own thing in a vacuum.
  2. If you can’t change/influence reality, then you need to at least be aware of it. With all the technology out there today, you should be able to find a way to identify the happy customers from the not happy ones. Someone at your company knows who is happy and who isn’t – find out who those people are and find a systematic way to harness that information to inform on your marketing activities. It can be as simple as a field in your CRM that captures the NPS, or other satisfaction score, and passes that data to your marketing automation system.

I’m not under any delusion that tracking customer satisfaction is easy…it’s not. But it is important, and if you’re going to be marketing to your customers, you HAVE to figure it out. OncNutshelle you do, you will open yourself up to a rich pool of opportunities.

In a nutshell:

  • Demand gen applies to both leads and customers
  • Don’t market to your customers in the same way you market to leads
  • Only satisfied customers will accept being marketed to (and by the way make great advocates, which SiriusDecisions says will drive demand gen)
  • Satisfied customers can be your best ‘leads’ for new sales opportunities
  • There’s no excuse for bad customer marketing
  • There should be technology & processes in place to keep customer-touching groups in sync and customer data accessible so it can be leveraged appropriately

Is it OK to use your customer lists for other purposes?

email Overload

Every summer I hire a company to spray my yard with poison so as to fend off mosquitoes. In the winter I don’t use this service, so imagine my surprise when I received an email from them in the middle of February. My original thought was they were offering reaaallly early bird discounts. But no, it turns out they’re hiring.

I found it very strange (and a bit annoying) that I got an email advertising job openings from my mosquito poison vendor. It turns out that my neighbor, who also uses the service, got an email as well. I think its safe to assume that they emailed their whole customer list just in case any of us were looking for a new vocation as an insect hit(wo)man. I have a point (I swear) and here it is: 

Is it OK for business to use their customer list for purposes other than communicating things related to their customer relationship? My initial reaction was: No way! That’s not cool. 

But as I think about it more I realize that in B2B we do this all the time. We might not try to recruit employees (I hope not, anyway), but we definitely seem to assume that once someone’s email address becomes known to us, it’s fair game for whatever we want to bombard their inbox with.

Think about it. What do our customer get from us?

  • Welcome to our customer community
  • Pay your bill
  • Get to know your account manager
  • Your account manager has changed
  • Your customer newsletter
  • Your industry newsletter
  • Do you want to renew your service?
  • Do you want to buy more services from us?
  • Do you have anyone you want to refer to us (for rewards, of course)?
  • Are you willing to give us a reference?
  • Read our blog
  • Read our whitepaper
  • Attend our webinar
  • Attend our event
  • Are you going to the XXX Industry event? If so, visit our booth!
  • Are you satisfied with your service? Take our survey!
  • We have a new service – read all about it. Want to buy it?
  • We just released a new press release about ourselves. Want to read it?

…and I’m sure that list goes on.

How do we ensure that our customers get the information they need from us and want from us. And not the stuff they don’t need or want. We think all the stuff above is important. But is one more important than the other? How do we make sure the important things don’t get lost in the less important things? Do we need to say everything to everyone?

I have many more questions than answers. I don’t think there is one right answer, but I do think that the customer experience matters above all. Marketers – focus first on delivering a fantastic customer experience, and secondly on all that other shit. We all have goals to reach, but none of them matter without the customer, so find a way to put them first.

3 Tips for One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

If you saw this title and thought to yourself “ooOoo that sounds great! How do I do that?” then I have two things to say to you:

1. You will find this post disappointing because this is not an instruction guide for mediocre marketers, but I highly suggest you read on

2. To quote one of my favorite Disney movie characters,“BAD LLAMA!” You should never be excited at the prospect of One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing. That strategy is for losers. And if you disagree then I suggest you cry on the inside like a winner. (Ok, just kidding…but bonus points if you can name that movie).

I did promise to offer 3 tips for those interested in doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, and here they are:

  1. Don’t do it.
  2. Don’t even think about it.
  3. If you’re doing it, or thinking about it….stop.

Unless you sell to a completely homogenous group of identical robots void of independent thought….If this is your buyer, by all means carry on.

For the rest of you, here is a word cloud that explains just a handful of reasons why One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing doesn’t work:*

Some of the words listed above are not only reasons why not to do One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, but they are better, more strategic alternatives. The reason they’re both is because of that pesky word up there that says “competition.

I guarantee your competitors are using technology to execute personalized, targeted marketing programs. And if they are, and you’re not, they’re better than you. As a marketer, that’s not acceptable. We marketers must be better than our competition, just as the businesses we serve and the products we market must be.

It would be cruel of me to suggest what you should not do without making recommendations for what you should do instead, so…

3 Tips for NOT doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

  1. Personalize the experience.
    Persona Definition + Content + Technology = Personalization
    Whether your audience is engaging out in web-land, on your website, via email or through third party partners, if you can clearly define who your audience is and what the right message is for each of them there are technologies that can find and target them. To start, try using a content matrix to map your buyer to your content. Here’s how.
    Want to know more about how personalized content targeting works? This blog does a pretty good job of explaining it.
  2. Don’t put all of your eggs in one channel basket.
    Just as one message does not suit all audiences, neither does one channel/tactic. The biggest trap marketers fall into is believing they can rely on email to reach their entire audience. This is a myth. And if you believe in it you’re probably missing a LOT of potentially great customers. No one channel can reach all, or even the majority, of your audience so you must extend your channel reach.Here’s an oldie but a goodie from Hubspot that talks more about multi-channel marketing (yes, 1 year is ‘old’ in the high-tech marketing blog world).
  3. React to your audience’s reactions (AKA Trigger Marketing)
    If you got engaged in the era of facebook and made your new relationship status ‘facebook official’ then you no doubt found yourself being presented with ads touting all manner of wedding paraphernalia. Happy coincidence? Nope. That’s smart, timely, trigger-based marketing. The web is flush with info about each and every one of us, and smart marketers use this information to trigger personalized content (ref: tip #1). It’s the same principle that Amazon and Netflix employ when they present you with those nifty suggestions that say “if you liked X, then you may like Y and Z.” You can apply this to all sorts of things, such as content consumption, to help you offer up the right message at the right time via the right channels (ref: tip #2). Here’s a good resource from Eloqua to help get you thinking about some trigger-based programs that may be of value to your business.

And finally, I leave you with this:

And old classic:

“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”
~ David Olgilvy

Combined with modern insight:

Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.
~Ian Schafer

Together these show that some marketing principles never die…they just evolve, as must we all.

* I created this lovely word cloud using a nifty web tool called Wordle.

Originally posted on LinkedIn – Feb 3, 2015