An agile demand gen strategy is a bit like a mountain range full of peaks and valleys. The programs that generate significant spikes in qualified demand, flooding your lead queues and overwhelming your sales team are the peaks. Being agile allows you to fill the valleys and even out lead distribution so you’re not faced with feast or famine.
But being agile doesn’t mean you need to adopt a formal agile marketing strategy complete with scrums and stand ups. It’s possible to be agile with a lower case “a” and still maintain fluidity in your demand programs.
It really begins with consistent measurement and always knowing where you stand against your goals so you can course correct. Agile is a team effort so everyone needs to know that it will sometimes require extraordinary or at least urgent effort to achieve the goals. Your team needs to be okay with sometimes dropping what they’re doing to throw a Hail Mary.
When I begin planning, I always start with the highest mountains and like most companies, those are typically live events. These are the big-ticket items in my budget that have fixed dates and tend to produce the largest spikes in qualified demand.
We put them on the calendar and plan for the flood of MQLs that all the face-to-face activity will generate. By starting with events, I can see the valleys in my demand gen strategy and know how much available budget I have to fill them.
Working down from the highest peaks, I try to fill in the calendar with programs that will produce the next highest spikes. These tend to be email sponsorships and premium content programs, including some webinars. I buy media on a six-month basis and select insertion dates that provide enough breathing room around my live events to even out the demand flow.
Now I have a rough calendar for at least half the year that is full of intermittent spikes. It goes without saying that the backbone of this strategy is always a fully operational, constantly refined set of nurture programs that will cultivate all this early stage, latent demand and pump out a steady stream of MQLs.
Down in the lower valleys, we develop air cover programs that are always running. These consistently drip unqualified names and inquiries into our database that typically require a considerable amount of nurturing before they can be harvested. But the air cover layer is important – it’s the stuff that builds databases and keeps your brand visible. These are programs like paid search, content syndication, paid and organic social and display/retargeting.
I make a rough spending allocation for this bucket of programs on a quarterly basis and we constantly retune how we fund the various programs based on the results they’re producing.Agility is a necessary ingredient every step of the way when developing a demand strategy.
While I may have a six-month calendar full of events and programs, I rarely know exactly what our campaigns will look like. Sometimes we’ll find out on short notice that the content we planned to use for a big email drop isn’t ready. Commence the agile scramble.
We repurpose, retune or repackage something we used previously. While we sometimes schedule webinars weeks or months in advance, we tend to pull them out to fill voids in our qualified demand flow and have been known to spin up a webinar in as little as a week. This new series called Show Me Your Stack that we just created is a great example. Two weeks ago, this didn’t exist and today and we have two webinars planned for next week.
I will be the first to admit that while my demand strategy is data driven, there is a whole lot of art involved and that’s where agility is critical. You can never sit around and wait to hit your number. Sometimes you have to move things around at the last minute, seize a great opportunity or fill a void you didn’t expect. But as long as you develop a rhythm and roll with the punches, you should come out on top.