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May 30, 2017

Demand Generation is Not Pretty

After the first few decades in the marketing profession, many of us will have tinkered with consultative work at some point. Often, it will happen along the sidelines of a steadily progressing corporate career. (Some call it “moonlighting” but I prefer the term “beer money,” which more suitably invokes the actual liquidity of such labors.) At other times, it’s the result of a deliberate shift from salaried to consultative roles: a shift that can be long- or short-term as desire and opportunities dictate.
I’ve dabbled along the sidelines for as long as I can remember. First in tactical roles as a writer, editor and designer (for several months, I was a weekend wedding photographer). And later in more strategic go-to-market roles, especially in the areas of branding, demand generation and communication strategy. But I also worked as a full-time consultant for about two years – and doing so substantially altered my perceptions of the marketing profession: how it’s perceived and how well it’s understood by business people outside the profession.
To sum it up: poorly.
Marketing – at least the communications, brand and demand generation realms in which I primarily operate – looks too easy. It’s like the person who stands before a work of abstract art and snorts, “anybody could paint that!”
No, not just anyone has the abstract vision and technical skill of an artist. And, while we humble marketers are rarely operating at a truly artistic level, that logo design – that brand name – that complex, segmented and phased demand generation campaign – that list of search engine keywords – and all the other artifacts of real marketing work – well, they’re not as simple as they appear. Not just anyone can do them.
As a consultant, I was most often hired by business leaders. And in them I found little understanding of even the most basic principles that marketers regularly work with. In one case, I developed and rolled out a tool-supported, global campaign management process for a technology services firm. As I did so, I worked with industry specialists, regional leaders, alliance managers, business development folks, IT, technical specialists, and numerous other roles. And I found myself repeatedly explaining very basic campaign considerations to many of them.
I began compiling them as a list of frequently asked-about topics – or as not-asked-about things that really should have been understood. Then, in scraps of spare time, I began putting them together in what ultimately became a visual white paper: a narrated storyboard meant to educate non-campaign professionals in basic campaign considerations.
Just for fun, I stirred in a fictional persona named Greysmoke (he was inspired by my all-but-inactive Twitter handle; just a name I made up many years ago while riffing on Tarzan themes). This allowed me to play the content for a few laughs, especially as I’ve presented it to small group audiences over the past few years.

The result is a visual white paper entitled “Greysmoke’s 11 Maxims on Demand Generation Campaigns for the B2B Enterprise.” And you’re welcome to read it. While given its origins it is cast towards the concerns of larger enterprises, it should contain at least some value for business people (non campaigners) in all company sizes within the B2B realm – and most especially those dealing with lengthy, complex sales.

I invite your feedback and hope it sheds some useful light onto a challenging topic. After all, as Greysmoke opines, “demand generation is not pretty.”

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