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The three elements of a good demand generation plan

Why do you need a demand generation plan? When a company or product is truly innovative, it faces an education challenge. 

How do you help people understand that a solution to their problem exists if that solution is truly cutting edge?

Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”


To help create demand for the automobile, Ford had to first show people what was possible. He needed a demand generation plan. 

What is a demand generation plan?

Demand generation plans typically include at least one of the following three components:

  1. Target audience;
  2. Marketing activities;
  3. Business goals.

We like to think of these components as the plan's “who,” “what,” and “why.”

Ideally, every demand generation plan would include all three components, but that’s not always the case due to poor organizational alignment, poor data management, poor performance measurement, etc.

For example, many demand generation leaders start with the “who” (based on input from their sales colleagues). They may have some notion of what marketing activities to execute (based on cost per lead metrics or attribution models). They might even know what goals they want to achieve (again, based on sales input), but these components are often disconnected.

Lack of alignment between these components (even if you have all three) is a real challenge; especially, if you don't also consider the level of effort required to achieve these goals.

The perils of excluding components of your demand generation plan

Using all three components isn’t necessary, but there are risks to not including them, and best practice would suggest starting with “why” and working backwards to determine “what” and “who.” For example, decide what business impact you want to make, identify the requisite actions for making that impact, and target the audience primed for those actions.

Establishing and maintaining alignment isn’t easy, but it’s critical to ensuring what you do in the near term has a meaningful long-term impact.

To illustrate this point, imagine “who,” “what,” and “why” as three circles in a Venn diagram.

Venn diagram with 3 overlapping circles of Who (target audience), What (marketing activities), and Why (business goals).

If the three circles don't intersect (or appear altogether), your plan risks misalignment.

Three circle Venn diagram with 3 overlapping circles of Who (target audience), What (marketing activities), and Why (business goals). Between Who and Why is analysis paralysis. Between Why and What is spray and pray. Between What and Who is wasted effort.

If your plan only includes two of the three circles, you risk:

  • wasting effort because you don't know why you’re doing what you’re doing;
  • not taking action because you don’t know what to do;
  • executing aimlessly because you don’t know who to target.

No one wants to find themselves in those situations.

If the three circles do intentionally intersect (i.e., alignment exists), that intersection is the key to determining the next best action for your business (i.e., the most efficient and effective plan for achieving your goals).

Same three circle Venn diagram as above, but at the center is next best action.

We aspire to make it easy for any marketing team to identify the next best actions for their demand generation plan. Armed with this knowledge and clear answers on the who, what, and why, they can reliably, knowingly, and confidently impact their business and avoid those pitfalls that are all too common to the planning process.




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