Re-designing Demand Gen is hard.

So, if Demand Generation is all wrong, what’s the right way to build leads for b2b? There’s no easy answer (yeah, sorry about that), but we’re starting to see plenty of experiments and some successes using the new ‘favourite sons’ of the comms world: branded content, social media and, to a lesser degree, mobile.

I’m fairly certain none of these are the answer.

At least not on their own. And that’s where the next great trick of B2B marketing will have to be performed: making this stuff work as scale and at velocity. How do you get it humming, quarter after quarter, across markets both mature and emerging, in service of a portfolio of complex, inter-related products?

This is where systems thinking starts to shine. Instead of channels, we’re thinking infrastructure. Instead of messages, we’re thinking stories.  Instead of campaigns, we’re thinking education (in both directions). Perhaps, most importantly, instead of sales & marketing functions, we’re thinking systems of engagement.

Boiling the ocean: also hard.


The more you start to think about all this stuff, about tearing it down and re-building it, about making common sense more common across all your markets, about establishing frameworks and operating procedures, the more you want to just go and find a shady tree to lie under. Sometimes I think it’s partly the reason we wind up churning out the same tactics in the same channels to ever diminishing applause: compared to this grand, uncharted territory of systems, at least we actually know how to buy a list and pump out the emails.

But that’s kind of boring.

Actually, it’s deadly boring. So we keep sketching and tinkering and experimenting (like we’ve always done), except now we’re also keeping an eye on the grand design, thinking about how that cool idea or interesting tactic or growing social platform might function if it were designed, from the ground up, to be a replicable, scalable and tune-able component of a system.

It’s actually quite liberating to recognise that the world (both ours and the audience’s) is not going to stand still long enough that we can ‘play god’ and re-design everything, perfectly, theoretically, as a completely fresh re-boot.

Instead, it makes more sense to apply the theory of responsive design to Demand Generation as a practice: create something, observe how people react to it, make the changes their behaviours seem to demand.

I wonder what that would look like?

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