Demand generation and branding are two of the most important concepts in marketing, but they’re also among the most misunderstood.
Branding means creating general awareness of your product or service. Demand generation means attracting people to that product or service, then nurturing them until they’re ready to buy. They’re distinct functions, but they’re also complementary. When companies treat them like a package deal, the magic of marketing really begins.
The Case for Collaboration
If people don’t have a heightened awareness of your brand, your products are going to be hard to sell. This is especially true in our current era of distraction and information overload. American adults spent nearly 11 hours consuming media each day in 2016. Given how quickly people scan their news feeds and skim articles, they’re taking in a lot of information in those hours. Marketers must create sharp, compelling campaigns to cut through the noise.
Teams operating on limited budgets tend to gravitate toward measurable activities. Good, quick ROI trumps all other indicators, which doesn’t bode well for branding. Branding is all about the long game — but it’s one that’s worth playing, as Netflix has proven with its original series.
Rather than release a bunch of pilots — a short-term, diversified approach — the company went all-in on shows like “House of Cards.” It took a few years for executives to see ROI, but the strategy has more than borne itself out.
Original content helped deliver the company’s biggest quarter in 2016, and the streaming giant’s market value currently stands at roughly $60 billion. More importantly, Netflix isn’t just seen as a content provider — it’s become a content producer. The brand is associated with creative media, not technology alone.
Companies that combine branding and demand generation must prepare themselves for a long road, but the rewards that await them are often worth it. Consistently delivering high-quality, resonant brand content will drive consumer interest and help guide prospects deeper into the marketing funnel.
Making Marketing Magic
Every audience is different, and you’ll have to test which topics and formats are most effective. However, there are three elements you’ll find in every successful strategy. Weaving one or more of them into your branded content will boost awareness and demand generation opportunities over time:
Feminine care brand Always nailed this with its #LikeAGirl campaign. The company emphasized empowerment through its ads, boosting girls’ confidence as they experience puberty. By offering a strong message for customers at a sensitive life stage, Always spoke to its audience’s emotional and physical needs and tied its brand to a deeply important customer issue.
To create a cohesive branding-demand generation strategy, marketers need to shift their mindset. Branded content requires more empathy than other marketing strategies. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, it’s much more useful to think of yourself as a human-to-human marketing team. Your goal is to create relationships, not sell products.
You must talk to humans in the right tone — delivering the right message at the right time. Sometimes, that message helps create awareness. That’s branding. Sometimes, it nurtures leads across time. That’s demand generation. In both cases, your team is developing relationships with other humans. So go find the insights, humor, and narratives that capture the experiences of your (human) customers, and get ready to grow.