The Evolution of B2B Demand Generation

What is B2B Demand Generation Marketing?

B2B demand generation is a marketing tactic focused on creating awareness about a businesses product or service and its brand. A marketing campaign may use ‘demand gen’ further down the funnel, but usually with a more targeted approach, or incentives. The goal of demand generation is to create a pool of prospects, that become qualified prospects, and eventually, a lead or opportunity. 

To create a successful demand gen campaign you have to take a few things into consideration. 

Are you disrupting the market with a new product or invention (i.e people aren’t seeking it, so you need to create awareness). Or, do you offer a more innovative solution for a product/service that already has a captive audience with needs. 

Chris Walker,  CEO of Revenue Vitals, one of the most renowned demand generation firms in  the industry, makes a great point regarding the Toothbrush. Nowadays, toothbrushes are ubiquitous, and used across the globe, but there was a point in time where the toothbrush was a new product. How to create awareness to sell a product that society is unaware it needs?

Examples of successful B2C and B2B Demand Generation Campaigns

A great example of a successful B2C Demand Gen is Dollar Shave Club. U, who went from viral Youtube stardom to being purchased by Unilever for a cool 1 Billion dollars {Dr Evil voice} in 2016. 

Dollar Shave Club didn’t create a new product invention, but they created a new way to acquire the product, for ultimately a fraction of the price, with powerful demand marketing. Dollar Shave Club were able to funnel buyers directly from ads, to becoming subscribed members, all in one short customer journey. If you want to understand more about the DSC business model, here’s a great Youtube case study, or a more in depth analysis of their video marketing here. 

In 2000, Marc Benioff staged the first theatrical protest that Silicon Valley had ever seen. An ‘anti-software protest.’ This was a tongue-in-cheek stunt by Beinoff, (and he utilize more demand generation tactics during Salesforce’s ascent), because Salesforce is a software product. Beinoff was trying to increase his brand awareness, and illustrate to businesses that customer relationship management could be managed without an expensive on-premise solution, a cloud-approach premise to SaaS. 

So where do B2B Demand Generation and B2C Demand Gen Overlap? 

B2B Demand Generation Funnel

There are more similarities than differences when it comes to demand generation strategies between B2C and B2C, especially in regards to the top of the funnel. B2C tends to use social media more as a demand generation channels than B2B.

Word of Mouth

Every business in the world can benefit from word-of-mouth marketing (when positive), and for the B2B business, referral or reseller programs are often even more critical. For B2C it can sometimes be harder to build a referral program, so incentivizing customers (coupons, discounts) to leave reviews or recommend your business via social media platforms is a great way to build brand advocacy. 

Tutorials and how to content 

Business is about providing value, and being an expert at something. Sharing this knowledge with prospective consumers is a great way to build efficiency in your brand, showcase your businesses products (or personality) and capture new prospective buyers. 

This often tends to be easier for certain B2C businesses, where they can show you ‘how to replace X or fix Y’. If you’re a large pipe construction company, a ‘how-to’ video might not be so easy to execute. So to provide value, you can provide insights on changes that you are seeing that are impacting their business or industry. Digital B2B businesses usually have an easier time creating tutorial content.

 If you’re struggling to generate ideas for video content, check out this blog, and take a peek at ahref’s guidance on how to add an SEO focus to your written content.

This can be video content, ideally posted on YouTube, or blog content written and published on your website. Visit these articles if you’re looking for video-content idea inspiration 

A B2B Trade show vs In-store ‘free-sample’ product 

Renting a trade booth at a business event, doing a speech, and spending a pretty-penny in the process might appear to have a certain gravitas compared to handing out free ‘fro-yo’ samples at the local supermarket, but the end goal is ultimately still the same: seek out prospective buyers and introduce them to my business/brand/product. 

Now with B2B demand generation, you need to take a more laser focused approach, because you may have a more narrow list of buyer personas and that's why you should choose wisely when deciding how to spend your event marketing dollars. (article) 

Brand Advocates 

Word-of-mouth on steroids, or word-of-mouth with some greased palms, but brand advocates are an important piece of a B2B demand generation marketing strategy. Where demand generation (tends to) have an advantage over B2C, is that the product or service they purchased has had a demonstrable impact on their business. It could have been an app to track employee engagement, a new SaaS tool that streamlined their logistics, an energy tracking tool that has reduced their carbon footprint by X, these are all stories that can resonate with a buyer persona. B2C are often more reliant on recruiting more and more ‘advocates’ (think retail brands and instagram) vs B2B that can usually build communities easier. 

Online brand community building 

You can build your own brand advocacy, just by participating in discussions. One of the most powerful channels for having a brand advocate tell a story is social media. For B2C, building a community can become a little bit more difficult. But certain niches do have large participation and discussion in places like Discord or Reddit. For B2B, LinkedIn, Reddit and other forms of dark social and a great way to build communities. There are also specialist agencies like Social Chain who help brands build online communities. Some popular YouTube channels also have communities. 

WordPress tools such as MemberPress enable business owners to create demand through word of mouth discussions.


Whether it's the local pub sponsoring the local football team, or Teamviewer ripping up their $70 million contract with Man Utd, there are sponsorship opportunities for B2B and B2C, and not just in sports. Supporting community events, nonprofits, and plenty of other good causes can help a business give back and place its brand front and center.


Podcasts have emerged as a great way for B2B and B2C to get their brand out there. With B2C tending to be focused more on entertainment, their podcasts often translate well on community platforms like Twitch, as well as being distributed on Youtube. B2B podcasting, dependent on the company, can often blend from personal to business. The diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett has 3.2 Million subscribers on YouTube, and millions more on other platforms.  

A great example of a podcast that discusses career and business growth, but also the other important things in life, and how they weave subconsciously through our career highs and lows. 

Dave Portnoy’s Barstool Sport primary target audience was B2C, specifically sports betting customers. However, as the brand grew, they added new revenue streams, and began to market these other products on different platforms, with different mediums (videos, pods, paid ads)  and utilized them strategically to grow their audience. This article does a fantastic write up on the Barstool Sports’ revenue model. 

Most of Portnoy’s podcasts have been wildly successful, with his latest being a three person Pod called “BFF’s. Showing that it can be a great brand builder for B2B or B2C. 

Paid Ads - Bidding on brand competitor keywords

A slightly underhand tactic but nonetheless one that can be very effective, is to bid on a competitor's branded search terms. You will need a captivating advert and a compelling offer to turn that curiosity into a conversion, but it can be a great way to pit your product against a competitor and get more brand awareness or site traffic to retarget for opt-ins. 

Where do B2B and B2C demand gen diverge?

Immersive experiences are probably where B2C blow out B2B in terms of spending the big bucks on digital advertising. The biggest of biggest B2C brands go way beyond digital billboards and now spend marketing budget on immersive experiences to promote their products. Interactive Video Mapping has been widely used at Super Bowl promotional events, and immersive domes are used  in Museums and other B2C experiences. 

Why does demand generation marketing exist in both B2C and B2B?

To execute great lead generation, you need quality demand generation to build a larger funnel. To execute great B2B demand generation, you will need to have your buyer personas nailed down. This will ensure you partner with the right people, promote on the right channels, and distribute on the right platforms to get impressions and build brand Awareness. 

Brand awareness

Whilst marketing has to be focused on ROI and channel attribution, there is sometimes a somewhat intangible effect that demand generation can have on a business. For example, a new customer may have entered the pool of prospects, via engagement with some demand gen content over 12 months ago. At the time, the prospective buyer may have not had the budget, was contractually obligated elsewhere, or just wasn’t ‘quite ready’ to make full use of your product or service, to go ahead with a purchase. They were then either funneled to the point of becoming a sales qualified lead, either of their own accord, or in response to further marketing content they’d received. 

Improve lead quality & sales discussions

The further up the funnel you create the demand, the more information you are able to inform the prospect with before they get to a sales consultation. This could be information on the results of your customers (case studies) to remove any potential apprehensions that your business can deliver results. Comparison articles of service providers can enable you to pitch the quality of your service or product, and why this solution warrants such investment, vs other market alternatives, thus bridging the gap in a client's expectations on pricing, prior to that first sales call taking place. 

Lower your customer acquisition cost 

The bottom-of-the-funnel (on Google) is often the most expensive place to participate in winning over the ‘hearts and minds’ of customers. Think about it. You’ve got expensive paid ads space, getting more competitive by the day. A sales agent you may have to pay top dollar for to fend off the competition in this tight window of procurement the prospect has entered. You may even have to offer a promotion to swing the balance in your favor if they entered your pipeline relatively late (i.e from form fill, to call, to close = first contact to end of the sales cycle). 

A competitor in your space that had captured that buyers attention further up the funnel (possibly via one of the demand gen tactics listed above) would have likely had to spend far less money ‘funneling’ the person down vs. jumping into a PPC bidding war at the ‘I need X near me’ part of the funnel. 

More time to monitor a prospects engagement

The earlier a demand generation tactic pushes someone into your marketing funnel, the earlier you get insight into what types of problems they have. Bottom of the funnel keywords tend to be short tail, and so there are less clues to the nature of the query. 

In the case of an MSP, ‘IT Services in Location’ is about as close to the bottom of the funnel as you can get. However, ‘top tips on employee cybersecurity training’, may indicate this prospective customer is attempting to train their own employees, and may not have the internal skills to do so. They may not have an IT Department, and could benefit from the guidance of an IT company who can improve their processes, and empower the business with technological solutions. 

You can test what content (or products) resonate with them (clicks, time spent on page, downloads) along with content that pushes them further down the funnel to take action. This then allows you to create theories around ‘buyer personas’ and the types of content that is effective, relative to their stage in the buyers cycle. When you are reducing the guesswork and creating more predictable funnels, you get more time back and lower cost per acquisitions. 

So Is your business a good fit for a demand generation program?

Certain industries, such as SaaS, are heavily utilizing demand generation in a digital capacity. But the key is to always be thinking medium to long term. By creating content that creates demand, doesn't necessarily mean that interest converts to immediate intent. 

You'll need to determine what types of media generate demand for your business, and what emerging trends are hinting at potential new demand gen channels to exploit.

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