Brand awareness versus demand gen: Must we choose?

What’s more important – cultivating the long-term brand of your company or driving immediate and tangible sales results? Michael Savanis ponders.

It’s a simple yet persistent question facing CMOs and marketers today. Do we take the billboard route, which will probably reach a wide audience but provide very little data on customers and their interaction with the advertisement?

Or should we take the digital route instead, by means of Facebook ads or increasing SEM, which might reach fewer people but will give us detailed metrics and tracking that will demonstrate our campaign’s ROI?

In some ways, this debate poses a more philosophical marketing question: What is more imperative, cultivating the long-term brand of your company, or driving immediate and, of course, tangible sales results?

For the modern marketer, generating awareness and driving demand generation efforts should never be seen as mutually exclusive, like a game of heads or tails.

Why? Because modern marketing can actually accomplish both of these goals: building brands by means of advertising, while still driving clear sales-focused lead generation efforts. But in order to make sure their entire marketing team is aligned, CMOs today must ensure team members know the value of both of these marketing efforts.

If we take a step back, the gulf between content marketing (which generally falls into the brand-building category) and demand generation (which drives more leads) can seem like completely different worlds.

Demand generation professionals often have immensely different skill sets than the content side. Metrics and terminology will often vary as well. While the content team might be more concerned with broad exposure for a blog post, white paper or other digital content, demand generation teams are more engrossed with raw engagement statistics, interaction, and how that is effectively impacting their pipeline.

As you can imagine, depending on a CMO’s marketing philosophy and priorities, it can be easy for one of these teams to feel neglected or snubbed. In addition, a company’s sales culture plays a huge role: is the sales force currently contented with their leads and in need of high-quality content to back their conversations with prospects? Or is the sales force asking for instant and higher-quality lead volume, with less emphasis on content?

It’s therefore vital for CMOs to illustrate to all members of a marketing team what their role is, and how it contributes to the larger team goals and business objectives.

CMOs need to consistently outline the vision for the marketing team: high-quality content works best with a demand generation component, and vice versa.

Awareness campaigns don’t always need to directly lead to sales pipeline, and demand generation efforts needn’t always have to deliver a significant boost to brand awareness.

Yet the two are inseparable, and the best marketing teams will succeed when the efforts from both sides supplement each other. And today’s CMOs need to not only know the short-term and long-term benefits to both — but also be able to communicate those benefits to their teams in order to achieve the best of both worlds.

 

Michael Savanis is VP and Managing Director APAC for ON24.
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