Demand generation marketers don’t get all their answers from KPI’s and analytics.
Demand generation is as much about diving deep into spreadsheets as it is about learning from other marketers, e.g. how they scaled a blog, generated high volume leads, and generated revenue via paid search advertising.
In this post I’ll explain how to use online communities to find new content ideas, demand generation strategies, and generate business.
Here’s how to get value from platforms like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), Quora, and Inbound.org.
Put On Many Hats, Even The Ones You Don’t Like
If you build awareness, invest in paid search, and do content marketing then your job involves many occupations. It requires being a data technician, a writer and a thought leader.
You do whatever it takes to get to your goal. Call it hustle. Call it growthhacking.
To keep you inspired with fresh ideas and to stay afloat with the happenings around online marketing, I can’t recommend enough how important community engagement is.
Great writers say you cannot become a great writer without doing A LOT of reading.
The corollary is: you can’t do great demand generation in a bubble. Tactics come and go. But the overall ethos and expertise requires learning from others.
Reading is to writing, as knowledge-sharing is to demand generation. One helps you do the other well.
There are 4 ways to get fresh ideas and content for your demand generation program.
Become A Skilled Reporter
You will discover answers by taking on the traits of a good reporter. A good reporter has attention to detail and an ability to make no assumptions. Investigating data and testing assumptions are part of the demand generation marketer’s skill repertoire.
You’ll also be able to generate better content.
We recently used Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to crowdsource content for a blog post. We wanted to know what strategies and tactics marketers are using, and learn from their success. It was one of our “hits” in February, as shown in our reporting.
It generated three sales leads in Salesforce (We track whether blog leads convert into close won deals).
To discover inspiration, here are tips for sourcing ideas and producing magnetic content using HARO.
Know what you’re looking for
You can’t rush this part. Asking your community the right question is the same as completing a captivating piece of content. You don’t start until you brainstorm the perfect idea.
It can take weeks or you can wake up in the morning with a eureka moment.
What does your reader want to learn? How can I tell the story from the most interesting angle? Once you've answered these question you can now ask the community.
Trial and error isn’t an option. Posting too many queries on HARO, and other platforms, is spammy, and raises the attention of moderators. And not the good kind of attention.
Create A Better Query
HARO sends news queries to its list of subscribers multiple times daily. The queries in each email cover endless topics. So make sure the information you seek is clear in the headline.
Who do you need information from? And what information do you need?
We received more pitches after we created a query that clearly answered the above questions. Here are examples of good queries:
While you’ll get away with unclear queries -- the internet is in no short supply of people who want to market themselves -- you might miss out on the the most qualified responses with an imprecise query.
If you're writing content based on HARO pitches, you're looking for good pitches. Creating a good query can help get you quality pitch submissions.
Make Assumptions In Follow Up Questions
The required skill of every good reporter and interviewer is asking good follow-up questions.
A good interview question requires more than asking open ended questions. You have to do the research so your questions have context.
But in content creation for demand gen, you often don’t have context. You don’t have time to do a lot of background research.
Whether you’re interviewing customers for a case study, or an influencer for an e-book, you’re going to have to test assumptions. For example, “how did X improve your workflow?”, “What value do you get out of product X?” or “How did product X increase your team’s performance?”
While these are leading questions, it’s better to save time by asking the most pressing and relevant (to you) questions.
It's also better to make bigger requests for content like graphics and copy. Your source may or may not provide what you're looking for. But you're searching for gems. And being afraid to ask should never be a reason you don't find them.
Become The Resourceful Co-Marketers
Your co-marketing partners are great resources for new demand generation tactics. What works, what didn’t, and what should have been done, these are insights you’ll learn from partners.
Co-marketing offer of both efficient content creation (because you’re sharing and combining content) and increased lead generation. You can re-use old content, use content from your partner and share the leads.
The emphasis here is efficient, because it can quickly become an unwieldy e-book or white paper stuck in editorial Hell. Here’s an example of co-marketing e-book by ringDNA and RingLead. They do a great job of combining content.
To make co-marketing efficient here are a few tips:
Find co-marketing partners with similar prospect qualification criteria, i.e. can buy your product and your partner’s product.
Find co-marketing partners that have similar messaging, i.e. that champion the same cause as you. This usually relates to buyer qualification requirements. Reading content from potential co-marketers is a good place to start.
Once you’ve agreed on the topic of your content, decide who the lead editor is. This person defines the requirements, and how quickly the content gets completed. Their inclination to re-use content defines how quickly it gets out the door, and onto a landing page. Be warned, editors need to make sure the piece is cohesive. Combined content should be seamless to audiences.
Decide who does the design work. And decide who hosts the landing page for lead generation. It can be your landing page or theirs, or even both.
Send lead contact information to each other. Measure and share performance after the sales cycle. For the time you put in, and the leads generated, will you partner again?
Great co-marketing partners make it easy for you. The name of game is resourcefulness. Get the most miles out of content from your library and your partners. Whether you initiate or a partner does, always keep their time in mind.
Use Quora To Learn And Build Thought Leadership
I both love and hate Quora. I love reading about a myriad of subjects, all from wonderful writers. I hate that I can spend so much time on Quora. You’ll find answers to questions that don’t necessarily fit into a wiki format, and and find influencers. You can utilize their content and ask them to contribute to your content.
Here are a few tactics for getting valuable content out of Quora:
Gather answers from authorities on Quora who write about your domain and turn it into a curated post.
Post a question yourself and tag users, signaling to them you want answers.
Search for questions on Quora, turn the ones that don’t have answers into a blog post or white paper. Then share that post as an answer (but provide a decent introduction before sharing your link).
Answer questions on Quora and read what people say. This can provide you a new perspective you haven’t thought of before. And your answers can be recycled into content.
Answering questions on Quora also boosts your authority and notoriety. That is, answers that get upvotes. It will gain you followers and help promote your ideas.
But always be genuine and add value.
By doing so you’re creating “bread crumbs” that will lead to your website. These breadcrumbs are essentially your guest blog posts. And guests blog posts serve one purpose: getting different audiences and markets to discover you (and your product), says Drew Meyers, Co-Founder and CEO of travel app, Horizon.
Another example of using Quora to support demand generation is Quora Top Writer, Jason Lemkin. The venture capitalist behind SaaStr.com built his personal brand by establishing himself as the SaaS startup authority on Quora.
SaaStr recently held it’s first conference, selling out tickets early and establishing itself as the "largest community of SaaS founders and execs."
The power of building thought leadership and authority should never be underestimated.
Learn From Marketers On Inbound.org
Inbound.org offers a variety of benefits besides eyeballs on your blog posts. The ask-me-anything (AMA) and Twitter chat offers marketers a chance to learn from pro’s who generated a lot of demand for their product or service by using inbound tactics.
On the AMA’s you’ll find marketers whose blog posts you might have bookmarked, and names you recognize from inbound blogging fame.
Use Inbound like a searchable database for demand generation tips.
So far this year we implemented a few changes to our content marketing workflow based on some insights we found on Inbound.org. This is one reason I recommend engaging and reading content on Inbound.org.
We also spend more time building relationships with other bloggers for guest posts and mutual social sharing. Inbound.org is where we find them.
Inbound.org is more than a channel for distributing content. It can help you find collaborators, tools, and good advice. But we’ll also take the healthy traffic it drives when we hit the homepage.
Having our blog posts shared on Inbound.org is quality assurance for our content. Getting on the front page and getting upvotes on Inbound.org means we’re creating content that people find valuable. It’s a qualitative metric we pay attention to.
One ingredient for successful demand generation and B2B marketing is community building. Inbound.org is a great starting place.
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