Killer B2B Demand Generation Marketing Channels

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Killer B2B Demand Generation Marketing Channels

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B2B demand generation can often feel like a raised hand in a crowd of identical strangers. Take this article, for example. How much noise did we need to break through to even get past the third page of a Google search (a lot)? How many times did we need to use the word B2B demand generation, B2B marketing, or marketing strategy to get on your radar?

And that’s just a small part of inbound marketing! This type of philosophical probing is just a fraction of what B2B demand generation marketers have to consider.

Frequently, marketers get caught up in something we like to call “the 2 mountains of B2B demand generation”—or inbound marketing and outbound marketing. For those businesses without infinite marketing budgets, the struggle often comes down to which of these arenas marketers should invest in. Often even before an effective marketing campaign strategy has fluttered into existence! Which…is a problem.

The truth is, before a heated discussion or cost-benefit analysis can be made, every great B2B demand generation marketer needs to build a clear and effective campaign strategy. In our recent eBook, Demand Generation 101: How to Create B2B Demand, we dug deep into our experience and how marketing titans like Ed Mayer answered the question that keeps us all up at night: how the hell do I get people to care about what I’m selling?

In this article, we’ve distilled these teachings down to provide a quick glance at how these B2B demand generation channels & strategies can be translated into killer inbound and outbound marketing.

3 (Not-So-Secret) Steps to an Effective B2B Marketing Campaign

We’ll be the first to admit that there’s a lot of similar content out there discussing the ideal marketing campaign for B2B demand generation…and most of it is noise. But, it’s our firm belief that some ideas stand the test of time, and Ed Mayer’s 40-40-20 rule is one of them.

The rule is pretty straightforward: Through his years of marketing experience, Ed ascertained that the success of a marketing campaign is 40% dependent on the audience selection, 40% on the offer, and 20% on the creative. From what we’ve seen, this holds true:

Targeting the Right Audience (40%)

Determining your ideal customer profile (ICP) is the most important task you’ll undertake as a B2B demand generation marketer. Finding your target audience will dictate your offer, creative strategy—pretty much everything. To begin to find that sweet spot, start by looking at your current customer base, then begin asking probing questions such as:

  • What were your customer’s pains?
  • How did you navigate the deal?
  • Who are the major stakeholders?
  • How much annual revenue does the company produce?
  • What industry are they in, what does their tech stack look like?

Depending on your budget, there are a number of tech options you can look at to help with this endeavor in your B2B demand generation like Datanyze, ZoomInfo, or Discover Org. Even PPC marketing can be helpful for finding look-alike audiences.

Below we have an illustrated ICP (ideal customer profile). Use this as a template when asking the above probing questions.

This illustration represents a good and best fit for your ideal customer profile.

Sending the Right Offer (40%)

It’s important to note that just because you’ve narrowed down your ideal customer profile, doesn’t mean your B2B demand generation is one-size-fits-all. B2B demand generation is a complicated beast, with different decision-makers and champions to cater to. This is where determining the right offer is important. After all, an economic buyer (typically higher level, c-suite types) might be looking for content that focuses on revenue, while a functional buyer could be researching services to reduce operational headaches.

The keywords there are “looking” and “researching”. Both types of audiences want to do their own research. Therefore, when it comes to your B2B demand generation marketing, it helps to break your content marketing down into three stages:

Awareness: Content here is very neutral and topic-oriented (like this blog you’re reading, for example!). Audiences in this stage should be educated on their pain or opportunity.

Consideration: B2B demand generation marketers need to be careful in this stage. Now that audiences know their pain or the available opportunities, they can begin to compare offerings on solutions. However, they aren’t in many cases ready to be “sold”.

Decision: Hallelujah! The end goal for B2B demand generation is the decision stage. Here, your audience is looking to vet offerings. Things like demos, product overviews, etc., are best suited for this stage.

HubSpot has a really great in-depth breakdown of these stages—a highly suggested read for any fresh-faced B2B demand generation marketer. This illustration displays the buyer’s journey including the awareness, consideration and decision stages.

Here we look at the paired down buyer’s journey which will come in very handy while generating B2B Demand

Grab Attention with the Right Creative (20%)

You may have noticed we mentioned “content marketing” above. Indeed, we’re sure you’ve come across an article or two that’s claimed “content marketing” is king. And, it’s true! It’s also very easy to get wrong. Experimenting with what content works and doesn’t work is important. The right creative should steer prospects to the right offering. How you do this (i.e., inbound or outbound marketing tactics) brings us into our next section.

B2B Demand Generation Mountains: Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

We mentioned that determining the right creative brings us into the discussion that rattles many B2B demand generation marketers: what IS the right creative?

Before we go any further, it’s vital to mention the skill types you need at this stage: A good B2B content marketer should be equal parts fast learner, creative and prolific. They should have the ability to become a SME and be able to conceptualize different moving pieces and narratives. A marketing logistics talent is a type-A executor. They coordinate, plan and deliver, balancing creativity with ruthless adherence to deadlines.

Now that you know what’s expected to get the job done, let’s get straight to it: When it comes to inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing, you can’t afford NOT to do both. An effective B2B demand generation machine combines both inbound and outbound tactics into a cohesive, multi-channel engagement program that creates awareness for your brand and offer.

But, budgets do exist and reality trumps best practices sometimes. Cost-benefit analysis can seem like a frightening prospect to non-math savvy B2B marketers. The truth is, it actually isn’t particularly difficult.

In the graphic below, we illustrate a very simple cost-benefit analysis when it comes to inbound and outbound marketing. It takes cost into account, it gives you a nice grouping of channels to focus on, and it’s grounded in what we’ve experienced in the trenches with our clients and past companies.

In this chart, we display what we’ve discovered to be the most effective marketing channels to generate B2B Demand for your product or service.

While we encourage a mixture of both inbound and outbound marketing tactics, we often suggest to our clients that they start working on their inbound marketing program first in B2B demand generation. Reason one, because registering for search takes time. Reason two—much of the content created in an inbound marketing program can be translated over to outbound. So, two birds, one stone.

In the next two sections, we’ll (very briefly) cover the best areas to invest your energy in terms of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing.

B2B Demand Generation for Inbound Marketing

Between inbound and outbound, inbound marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to power your B2B demand generation machine. However, B2B content marketers can get carried away and forget that TIME is also MONEY.

According to a report by Pardot, 76% of B2B buyers are looking for content unique to their buying stage. And that makes sense! Now or days people are absolutely inundated with content—and the content that isn’t relevant to them deserves to go straight in the bin.

Therefore, content curation is important and worth spending time on. When it comes to inbound marketing in B2B demand generation, don’t just start writing for writing’s sake. Churning out content at max speed leads to poorer quality pieces, or worse, losing facetime for high quality converting content in the haze. Campaign strategizing is the BEST way to ensure you’re focusing on the right content, for the right industry, for the right people, at the right time.

There’s a hell of a lot we could say about the ins and outs of inbound marketing, however, instead, we’ll mention some of the most important channels you should be focusing on (for a more in-depth look, download the full guide):

Website: Your website is your identity and provides the public face of your brand. Brand and website are powerful levers to pull in order to instill trust and authority immediately with a cold prospect. Even if you’re a smaller start-up, a modern website with a great brand will allow you to compete with the big boys. Developing a great website takes time and resources, but it’s worth the cost if you focus on the right things:

  • Message: Clarity in message and purpose in content is a must in order to drive demand.
  • The Ask: What do you want visitors to do?
  • SEO: Organic search is a powerful thing. Ensure your pages are SEO-optimized. We also highly suggest focusing on AMP pages for the always mobile world. Moz does a great job of explaining these further.
  • Design: Your brand design is your identity and it plays a big part on your website. However, web design is more than pretty colors and cool graphics, it’s an experience. And it might be one of the first identifiable experiences your prospects have with you. Make sure it has an impact.
  • Content/Blog: This is a whole other beast. But, we’ll say this: your website is the library of your B2B demand generation machine. It should support your thought leadership and allow prospects to move seamlessly through the buying process.
  • Social Proof: Who better to shout your name from the rooftop then your customers? Social proof on a website, like customer comments, speak volumes to prospective clients.

Free Trial: Speed up the time to sale. Having a free trial option on your website is a great way to get YOUR PRODUCT in font of prospects—fast. Not right for every company (enterprises for example).

eBook/white papers/reports: People have a lot of feelings about gated content. However, we’ve found it to be one of the most effective ways to generate leads in a B2B demand generation program. According to HubSpot, eBooks and other downloadable collateral can double average website conversions from 6%-12%. eBooks pitch the purpose of your brand, without the pushiness of selling. It is some of the most valuable B2B demand generation from a prospect’s point of view, and is an easy way to quickly establish your company as a thought leader.

Videos: Video marketing is here to stay in a generation of scanners. In fact, according to Google, 70% of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase. It’s vital to make videos a staple of your B2B demand generation machine early on, whether it be through webinars, podcasts, case studies, etc. Letting prospects see a face to your company’s story is also helpful for building trust.

PPC: Almost 65% of B2B demand generation marketers use LinkedIn paid ads alone. We hear you gagging, but the fact of the matter is—with all the noise prospects need to navigate to get to your product—PPC can provide an upper hand. Just remember—it’ll cost you and maybe unnecessarily so if you’re not executing it properly.

Email Marketing: We can’t stress enough how important email marketing is in order to get in front of customers. Lead nurture email tracks can have a huge impact between whether people see or don’t see the content you’ve worked so hard on. Despite what people may be saying, email is most certainly not dead. According to a Salesforce report, 67% of B2B marketers that use lead nurturing see a 10% or greater increase in sales opportunities throughout the funnel; 15% see opportunities increase by 30% or more.

What we’ve shown here is a small part of inbound marketing. To learn more, including why we left out social media, check out the full guide. Now to move on to the outbound machine.

B2B Demand Generation for Outbound Marketing

If inbound marketing is fishing with a net, outbound marketing is fishing with a spear.

You are deliberately targeting companies you want as customers with surgical precision and presenting your ideal buyer persona at that company with the right offer and right creative.

It’s true. Outbound marketing should be all about precision. Without precision, any outbound marketing B2B demand generation activities are throwing away money (a lot of money, we might add). While many people might call outbound “old school” it is still one of the most efficient ways to “jump the line” and get to your ideal profile faster. Here’s a quick rundown of some tried and true methods:

Direct Mail: Personalize, humanize, and make it fun. Direct mail is old school, but it makes an impact. It can often be effective to “drop breadcrumbs” of your upcoming package to a prospect either through a sales call or an automated email drip campaign (inbound meets outbound!).

This is a great example of B2B Demand Generation, specifically, direct mail.

Whatever you do in this case, be sure to align with sales! We describe a few more tips and tricks when it comes to direct mail in a previous blog post.

Trade Shows/Events: Trade shows and events are a great way to shorten the buyer’s journey. The primary purpose of your B2B demand generation marketing efforts are to get interested prospects in front of sales. Not only do events attract a specific geographical and topical clientele, but according to CEIR, 81% of trade show attendees typically have some sort of buying authority. However, events are EXPENSIVE. Possibly one of the most expensive B2B marketing undertakings. Therefore, we say: proceed with caution. Get buy-in throughout your company and establish roles and responsibilities in your organization prior to the event. There’s too much risk involved to not approach events OVERPREPARED. This is where those type-A marking logistics skills come in so handy.

Influencers: We hear you sighing, but yes, influencer marketing has been shown to be effective—if done correctly and with the right people. First, it’s important to do your research. Determine which influencers have an impact on audiences that play into your ICP.
Next, map out your expectations and goals. Influencers get the idea of a partnership, and will generally be straightforward with you. However, not having a clear intention for a partnership (i.e., how the relationship will benefit both them and you) will only frustrate them. In addition, you need to establish what will you do with the attention of their audience once you have it.
Finally, be human and appreciate their time. Try to be brief and sincere in your interactions. A lot of influencers are one man and woman shows, which means these people HUSTLE and made an impact doing it. It’s vital to give them the appropriate chops.


We hope the lessons here offer a good jumping off point for your B2B demand generation machine. Consumers are now in the driver’s seat in their buyer journey—meaning you have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to capturing their attention.

A good B2B demand generation machine takes multi-channel coordination into account.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve barely scratched the surface of inbound and outbound marketing channels. Or how to translate this content into a holistic B2B marketing strategy—and the B2B demand generation tech stack that can help you get there.

Go BEYOND simply learning about which channels to focus your B2B efforts on and discover the killer strategies and growth hacks within each channel in our full guide, available by clicking here. Happy marketing!

Demand generation 101 bookDemand generation 101 book

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Written by Ian

Ian has marketed for some of the world's best-known brands like Hewlett-Packard, Ryder, Force Factor, and CIT Bank. His content has been downloaded 50,000+ times and viewed by over 90% of the Fortune 500. His marketing has been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Adweek, Business Insider, Seeking Alpha, Tech Crunch, Y Combinator, and Lifehacker. With over 10 startups under his belt, Ian's been described as a serial entrepreneur— a badge he wears with pride. Ian's a published author and musician and when he's not obsessively testing the next marketing idea, he can be found hanging out with family and friends north of Boston.

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Hey Ian. Thanks for the great insights here. I particularly enjoyed the Ed Mayer’s 40-40-20 rule. I signed up to your B2B MBA: Demand Generation Bootcamp course. Looking forward to learning more 🙂

Claira Inglis

Thanks Ian, this is a great list. In your experience, where should a startup start off?


Really valuable article Ian – love the depth and great examples you’ve provided. I’m very interested in PR best approaches and practices – could you provide some insights on how much effort should be invested in PR, specifically for B2C businesses, as well was how often should you hit the market with press releases? Is there a PR golden recipe for great demand generation?


B2B demand generation is the marketing that generates buzz and awareness. Creating a B2B demand generation strategy will provide your business with countless growth possibilities.

Joseph C. Cockerham

One of the best and comprehensive articles on killer b2b demand generation marketing channels for inbound & outbound marketing, I am bookmarking it so I can read it again. Thank you marketing strategy, you really inspired me to learn more.

Aaron Taylor

Choosing a target market is important because it enables the firm to direct its resources to those customers with high potential for sales growth, interest in the product and loyalty to the brand.


Nice Post


Hi Ian,
Such a beautiful write-up!
Audience targeting is all about getting your marketing messages to the right people, not just more people. By dividing your audience into segments based on characteristics, like demographics, behaviors, and interests, you can deliver content that deeply resonates with your customers, and in doing so, save money and boost your return on investment.