Loosely defined, “demand generation” is the practice of creating interest in your product or company to expand your reach and gain more customers.
But the discipline is broad, and the specific components of demand generation are harder to define. There are hundreds of different strategies you can use to “generate demand.”
Ray Cheng of Contently, for example, explains why his company focuses on top-of-the-funnel content: “Most of our efforts are dedicated to top-of-the-funnel content, as we are a hyper-growth startup, and our original content is our best investment for awareness . . . We take data from Marketo, our Insights platform, and our headline testing tools to learn what authors, types, and mediums work best.”
Cheng’s comments describe the many moving parts that must work together to grow demand for a business.
It isn’t content, technology, or strategy alone that generates demand. It’s all three elements working in concert at each stage of the customer experience.
With such a broad range of expertise required to perform the job, it’s important to seek out some good role models and follow their lead. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of the most reputable demand generation experts in the industry.
1. Stewart Butterfield
If you’ve read anything about Slack, you’ve probably read at least a couple of fascinating anecdotes about its foudner, Stewart Butterfield.
If not, here are a few for your enjoyment.
Butterfield has a master’s degree in philosophy from Clare College, University of Cambridge, and he created both Flickr and Slack while trying to build a massively multiplayer online game. One of those companies was bought by Yahoo and the other (Slack) turned into one of the fastest growing B2B Saas products ever.
Slack’s allure is its ability to replace wasteful office email chains and improve collaboration.
As of December 2015, Slack had over 2 million users — a statistic which unequivocally shows that Butterfield knows how to create demand.
2. Flint McGlaughlin
“Always be testing” has become a cornerstone of modern marketing philosophy, but none take that axiom more seriously than Flint McGlaughlin, the founder and managing director of MECLABS.
If you’re not familiar with his work, McGlaughin started MECLABS to study value proposition optimization, or in his words, “what makes people say yes.” MECLABS performs a reported 1300 major conversion experiments a year, making the organization one of the most respected sources of marketing research in North America and Europe.
Needless to say, few, if any, experts wield more knowledge about how to create demand for a product or service than McGlaughlin. He’s not incredibly active on Twitter, but he does publish thoughts on everything from philosophy to the science of marketing on flintmcglaughlin.com.
3. Mathew Sweezey
Principle of Marketing Insights is already an impressive title, but it’s even more impressive attached to the highest-valued cloud software companies in the world.
Mathew Sweezey’s writing on marketing automation, retargeting, and other marketing channels is must-read material for any demand gen professional.
His book, “Marketing Automation for Dummies,” is arguably the most comprehensive work on the subject yet published.
You can read Sweezey’s content on numerous B2B marketing websites like ClickZ, Demand Gen Report, and TechnologyAdvice.
4. Lincoln Murphy
To quote Marc Andreesen, “software is eating the world.” Andreesen’s manifesto in the Wall Street Journal goes on to elaborate on how software companies are poised to become pillars of the global economy.
This prediction underscores the importance of software adoption and the customer success process that ensures your users are happy with their decision. Lincoln Murphy is an expert at this process.
Murphy’s work spans the entire journey, from initial interactions to post-sale programs that build brand advocates.
Some of his most insightful work is about sending cold emails, which is particularly useful for B2B companies looking to bring more opportunities into their pipeline. Murphy works as a customer success evangelist at Gainsight.
5. Ardath Albee
If you want to create demand for your product or service, you first need to create trust and awareness. It’s impossible to do either unless you have content, and few know how to match content to the buyer’s journey better than Ardath Albee.
As the CEO and marketing strategist of Marketing Interactions, Inc., Albee has worked with A-list clients like Cisco, Adobe, and Demandbase. She’s also written Digital Relevance and E-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, two books about creating buyer-centric content and using marketing automation to manage distribution.
Demand gen managers, CMOs, and content specialists can all learn a lot from Albee’s work.
6. Chris Savage
Chris Savage co-founded Wistia in 2006 and has since grown the business to a market-leading platform with over 50,000 customers. If you’re not familiar with Wistia, it’s a video hosting platform that helps marketers create, host, and track video content.
Savage still serves as CEO 10 years after founding the company, and he shares his insights at savagethoughts.com. His topics range from video marketing,to building company culture, to brand honesty, and, of course, video marketing.
Savage’s writing is educational for anyone trying to grow their business.
7. Matt Heinz
As the founder and president of Heinz Marketing, Matt Heinz knows demand generation. Fifteen years in the running, Heinz’s agency offers an expansive list of marketing services — from demand generation to pipeline management and content strategy.
Heinz has been repeatedly recognized for his influence in B2B marketing and sales management. He specializes in lead generation content and scalable demand generation processes.
Heinz publishes regularly on the Heinz Marketing blog. He’s also an accomplished speaker and presenter.
Each of the experts on this list brings a unique perspective on how to generate demand. Some focus on growing an idea into a thriving company, while others focus on the media necessary to attract paying customers.
All of these skills are important. To generate demand, you need more than lead acquisition programs, content marketing, or martech; you need all of those things working in concert.