What Is Demand Marketing? (and Why B2B Organizations Should Care)

It seems every day a new marketing term is introduced. And, while new terms are continually invented, old ones never stop evolving. Exhibit A: Demand marketing.

While the real definition of demand marketing hasn't changed much, people use the phrase to refer to all different kinds of marketing. Some may suggest that bringing clarity to marketing terms is an important exercise, and others might claim that it doesn't matter.

Savvy marketers understand the importance of using marketing terms the right way. In the B2B space, misunderstandings can be costly. And, the best way to avoid a misunderstanding is to have a clear understanding up front. And this pursuit of clarity is why we are often asked questions like, "What is demand marketing, exactly?"

What is Demand Marketing?

Demand generation creates a want for a brand's products or services – demand generation is focused on the progression of this "want." A lead doesn't signify demand; it simply shows initial interest. Sales pipeline opportunities, on the other hand, signify demand. Thus, demand generation, as a discipline, includes generating initial leads and then converting them all the way down the funnel into opportunities, and even creating demand for new products/services among existing customers.

Demand generation, as a mindset and practice, is distinguished from other forms of marketing because it’s want-based, not interest-based. When marketers are focused on creating demand instead of leads, they engage in full-funnel marketing activities and work to align processes and technologies with the sales and customer success teams.

The success of demand generation is also measured differently than traditional volume-based B2B marketing metrics. Demand marketing is likely to use full-funnel success metrics such as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), sales pipeline and even marketing-attributed revenue won.

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Where Demand Marketing Fits into B2B Marketing

There is no hard-and-fast, universal definition of demand generation. B2B marketing has evolved drastically over the past decade to accommodate quickly changing consumer behaviors. Terminologies are still becoming solidified. The easiest way to define demand generation is to take it quite literally: the process of creating demand.

It is challenging to define demand generation as a specific marketing mix, range of tactics or use of channels. Commonly, demand generation marketers execute omnichannel campaigns that are designed to set up sales engagement (i.e., get sales reps meetings with qualified decision-makers). These tactics can vary significantly and may incorporate the use of several strategies, such as account-based marketing (ABM) and inbound marketing, and a wide variety of supporting tactics, such as programmatic display and CPL campaigns

However, by this definition, there are few modern B2B marketing activities that don’t fall under the umbrella of demand generation. Branding activities can support demand creation since they contribute to brand awareness, brand affinity and other concepts that generate a “want” for products or services. Yet, these other efforts typically fall outside the normal understanding of demand gen activities, unless directly synchronized with efforts that generate and convert leads to sales pipeline.

To learn more, including insight into the pros and cons of demand generation, we recommend Demand Generation vs. Inbound Marketing: What's the Difference?

How Demand Marketing Could Impact B2B

For many B2B organizations, formal adoption of demand marketing may not be an entirely disruptive experience.

33% of B2B marketing organizations are now measuring success in terms of revenue contributions, according to the DemandGen Report’s 2018 Benchmark Survey. Another 30% are measuring program results in terms of MQLs and SQLs.

While this particular definition of demand marketing may be new to you, there’s a good chance you’re already doing some demand generation activities. Perhaps your organization is measuring quality-based success metrics, performing sales-and-marketing-alignment activities or running omnichannel, account-based campaigns.

Adopting demand generation will not represent a fundamental overhaul for most B2B marketing teams, like going from fully outbound to fully inbound might have 6 or 7 years ago. However, there are a couple of success factors required to shift to demand generation successfully:

  1. Establish Company-Wide Understanding
    Demand generation has the potential to impact the entire organization, which necessitates a shared understanding between marketing, sales, customer success and leadership. 

  2. Win Buy-In
    With any significant shift, B2B marketing leaders face the challenge of winning executive buy-in. While this can represent an issue, it’s unlikely to be a particularly hard sell. Demand generation technologies and processes provide organizations with full-funnel oversight and the ability to better attribute activities and expenditures, a major appeal to leadership.

Demand Marketing Offers Transparency and Control

B2B marketers are facing steep challenges in 2019, including daunting organizational success metrics, tight budgets and barriers to attracting the right audiences. Demand generation offers B2B marketers the baseline needed to scale programs to the challenges of today’s expectations.

With technologies that offer better insight into what’s working and enable stronger organizational alignment, marketers can work to target the right audiences and minimize wasted effort and resources.

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