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Demand Generation, Reputation Development, or Both?

Demand Generation and Reputation Development in B2B Marketing 

This post discusses the diagram below, which I first created a few years ago to visually illustrate the relationships between reputation development and demand generation activities in B2B marketing. 

It’s a classic ‘quadrant-style’ graphic, with Demand Generation value (e.g., return on investment / ROI) increasing along the horizontal axis, and Reputation Development value increasing vertically.

At upper left is the Reputation Development zone, where the focus is on building and enhancing company reputation, with little or no immediate emphasis on measurable demand generation value.  For example, a company that relies primarily on its direct and/or channel sales force to initiate leads (and that is satisfied with the resulting lead volumes and quality) would likely focus their marketing efforts much more heavily in this quadrant.

At lower right is the Demand Generation zone, where the focus is on putting prospects into the sales pipeline, with little immediate focus on reputation enhancement.  Companies that spend most of their marketing budget dollars here must believe that their reputation in the industry is already solid, but for some reason are not seeing enough quality lead flow into the front end of the pipeline.     

And as a side note here, companies do sometimes engage in demand generation activities in this area that actually harm corporate reputation  for example, spammy email campaigns, poorly designed and executed teleprospecting efforts, and similar outbound marketing/sales efforts.

At upper right is the best of both worlds  programs that simultaneously drive reputation improvement and demand generation.  B2B marketers may perceive this as the ‘best bang for the buck’ zone, which helps to explain the popularity of programs such as webinars, white papers, and similar content marketing efforts that enhance company reputation and perceived thought leadership while collecting prospect registration information for ongoing marketing and sales outreach.  

There are a couple of things worth noting about the lower-left quadrant — the low-ROI ‘No Man’s Land’.  First, no decent marketer intentionally engages marketing programs that fall into this zone, right?  Marketers believe, prior to implementation, that every approved program will drive reasonable value for demand generation, reputation development / enhancement, or both.

Of course, marketing programs sometimes do fall into this quadrant, usually on the basis of a mix of qualitative and quantitative measures.  If certain tactics repeatedly fall into this zone for a particular company, it’s time for the marketing team to either seriously re-work or completely abandon those tactics.

Another important point:  This graphic shows that most marketing tactics are not a binary ‘either/or’ proposition when it comes to demand generation and reputation development.  Any given tactic may be heavily weighted one way or another in terms of its desired primary impact, while still affecting the other dimension (for better or for worse).  For example, a simple press release that a marketer writes with ‘reputation’ in mind can generate a solid lead if it reaches the right person at the right point in their buying process.   

My questions for readers about this diagram include:

1.  Do you agree with the general placement of marketing tactics here?  I didn’t really intend this as a one-size-fits-all graphic, so I’d be interested to see comments about how things may differ from one company/industry to the next.

2.  Which of your marketing programs/tactics usually land in the No Man’s Land quadrant upon post-implementation review?  Does your company continue to invest in these programs anyway?

3.  What specific metrics are you using to measure your marketing ROI?

4.  How has your company’s marketing staffing changed lately to engage and/or disengage any of these tactics?

2 thoughts on “Demand Generation, Reputation Development, or Both?

  1. That’s a great point, Joe. Firms that spend time and money building brand, reputation, and authority *should* get on the short lists of prospective buyers more readily and more frequently, which in turn should boost their deal flow and reduce cost of sales.

    It’s the quantification of this effect into hard ROI (or ROMI – Return on Marketing Investment) that seems to be the challenge for many marketers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this here.

  2. I feel like as you build your reputation the demand grows alongside it as well. The more prevalent your brand and authority is in your given industry the more likely someone is to do business with you because they see your name everywhere and trust your expertise.

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