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Are You As Good at Demand Creation As You Think?

May 18, 2017 | By Jessica Lillian

  • The scope of demand creation has expanded significantly in recent years, making it difficult to measure performance
  • Demand creation teams generally fit one of four profiles, depending on their strengths and weaknesses
  • Any organization can improve its demand creation function through assessment and roadmapping

If you know and love the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall®, you’re great at demand creation, right? Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily that simple.

As Monica Behncke  and Gil Canare explained today during their keynote at SiriusDecisions Summit in Las Vegas, the scope of demand creation has expanded significantly in recent years. 

“If you look back to 15 years ago, there was no function called ‘demand creation,’” Gil said. “Demand creation grew up with the emergence of marketing automation, and as it grew organically, there was no scale for determining if you’re good at it or not.”

Waterfall performance metrics represent just one aspect of demand creation performance and measurement. To help organizations get a full picture of where their demand creation functions stand, SiriusDecisions has identified 10 functional capability stacks.

The capability stacks fall into four broad categories that align to SiriusDecisions’ four main priorities for demand creation leaders: demand management process; program design, planning and execution; demand program delivery mechanisms; and functional design and development. Within each capability, the organization can rate its current state as basic, intermediate or advanced.

“You want to work up the ladder from basic to intermediate to advanced,” Monica explained. “This can be difficult in large companies because the processes are often fractured, with multiple reporting streams. In small companies, the main problem is often limited resources.” Additionally, organizations of any size can struggle with staff churn, the speed of technology change, and corporate insulation.

Given these challenges, reaching the advanced level in every category is generally unrealistic. Gil and Monica called this theoretical profile of all-around perfection the “platonic ideal,” quipping that an organization that reaches this level manufactures rainbows and produces qualified leads on demand.

Most b-to-b demand creation functions, however, fit one of the other three main profiles, depending on their size, maturity and experience.

“Enthusiastic beginners” have begun to master the basics but can easily become overwhelmed with all that they need to learn. For example, they may have solid contact databases and strong specific tactics (e.g. trade show operations), but their measurement and reporting may need to be expanded, and they may need to start considering their demand creation programs more comprehensively to build credibility.

“Super-specialists,” meanwhile, have gained respect within the broader organization – perhaps with a reputation for incisive analytics and technological sophistication. They create extensive reports and often run waterfall diagnostics, but because they do not yet run programs, they can measure only tactics. “These teams are good at the science of marketing but need to shift and focus on the ‘art’ aspects as well,” Monica said.

“Competent operators” – often found at high-growth, small companies – generally operate on an intermediate level. They understand their personas and market specifically to them, and they recognize the necessity of using thought leadership and education to help move their buyers through their journey. However, while they might believe they already know everything about marketing, they risk complacency – and often have several areas where they could perform better (e.g. measurement, program attribution).

To help demand creation teams improve their competencies, SiriusDecisions has created a new roadmapping tool. Gil and Monica explained that teams can use this tool to assess their current state, then receive a visual of their competency pattern, their desired level and the roadmap that will guide them to that desired level.

Overall, reaching advanced demand creation competency levels generally requires ramping up automation, personalization, agility, adaptivity, data integration and lead routing, as well enhancing the reputation and visibility of the demand creation within the broader organization. “It isn’t just about the technology – it’s the people,” Monica said.

Jessica Lillian

Jessica F. Lillian is a senior editor at SiriusDecisions and has more than seven years of b-to-b editorial experience, including five years as the editor of national b-to-b magazines. Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessica_lillian

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