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5 Demand Generation Strategies for Startups

For your startup to grow, you need to invest in more creative ways of finding potential customers. And to do that, you need to follow proven demand generation strategies.

You work for a SaaS startup, the product is excellent, and your team members are passionate about what they do. You have a vast pool of customers loving your product or service every day. So what’s the problem?

We want more!

Demand generation for startups is a great way to branch out of your comfort zone and to explore other means of seeking those essential leads.

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is any activity that drives awareness and interest in your product or service — from sourcing where your ideal customer hangs out, right through to customer upselling.I could list hundreds of demand generation strategies depending on your business model, but here are my top five for startups in the SaaS industry:

Develop a Buyer Persona

There are many marketing channels to use, from social media to email marketing. But without knowing who your buyer is, you could be wasting time and money on your demand generation strategies.

Do your customer research. Learn who is buying from you and gather critical points such as their location, age, job title, interests and activities. Find any trends or buying patterns with existing customers. What objections and roles do they have in the purchasing process? Ask sales what their customers’ goals and values are when making a purchase.

Finally, speak to customers directly to discover what they like. Once you have a buyer persona, you can then choose how you wish to reach them. And remember, buyer personas are not the same as user personas.

Share Your Content Far and Wide

Once you have your buyer persona all set, you need content to support your target. Think about how your product or service can help overcome their challenges and pain points.

Once you have tackled the messaging and created the content, you need to share your content via your website, digital marketing channels (from social media to paid search) and even directly with your customers. Getting your content out in the wild creates good exposure, which is the basis of all good demand generation strategies — especially for startups that may not have as much name recognition.

Create Creative Conversion Paths to Generate Leads

It’s great when your content is being read, but it’s even better when you know who is reading it. Any marketer will say a lead is not a lead without information such as name, email address, company name, telephone number, etc. To collect this information, you need to gate selective content. Gated content refers to online materials such as whitepapers, articles and videos that require users to fill out a form before they can access them.

With 89% of B2B researchers using the internet, having content that’s engaging to your target audience means they are usually more than happy to provide their details in return for your information.

Create landing pages with clear call-to-action buttons or text to let the prospects find your offer, and include an easy-to-use form. Once completed, send a confirmation email, which helps the prospects reference your offer and share it with their peers.

Measure, Measure, Measure!

Leads are flowing and sales is happy, but you can’t back out now. You can’t tell if your demand generation strategy is working unless you measure your performance and progress toward the company’s revenue targets.

Create a sales and marketing funnel that includes buyer stages from lead, marketing qualified lead (MQL), sales qualified lead (SQL), opportunity and customer. Identify when leads drop off the funnel and at what stage. For example, you could be generating lots of MQLs, but the prospects are not converting, which could mean you need to review your buyer persona.

Reviewing the funnel allows you to identify the gaps and improve your efforts for future marketing campaigns.

Sales and Marketing Love

One of the most vital parts in making demand generation for startups work is the relationship between sales and marketing.

Working towards the same goal is vital so both can be accountable for growth and revenue to the business. Set lead qualification targets such as lead service level agreements, which lay out how a lead should be treated, or provide sales enablement around your content topics, so sales can be equipped and ready to speak to prospects.

Getting to know each other and having fun while executing on your demand generation strategies is the best part of being in a SaaS startup. Enjoy it!

Francesca St John-Caleb is a marketing manager, demand generation for GatherContent. You can find her on Twitter @francescacaleb and LinkedIn.

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