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Content Marketing & Demand Gen: Make The Synergy, Make The Sale

  • Written by Paul Heald, BrightTALK
  • Published in Demanding Views

Paul Heald Headshot

Content is king at the moment. But if an engaging webinar, white paper or video appears and hardly anyone sees it, what’s the point?

Although content creation and demand generation teams share the goal of attracting customers and boosting sales, they work in distinct ways. Demand gen staffers work closely with sales teams, focusing on understanding and winning over the audience they’re trying to reach at any given time. Content marketers often take a longer view, telling their brand’s story through an ongoing narrative guided by their company’s overarching product strategy.  

When the two groups work together, great things can happen: content marketers get stronger insights into the people they’re trying to reach, learn what those potential customers want to know and discern how they prefer to consume that information. Demand gen teams, in turn, get compelling branded content to engage potential customers at every stage of the journey — whether they are just beginning to research solutions or have already narrowed down their options and are preparing to buy.

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Creating a system in which content marketers and demand teams share information and work together seamlessly presents a challenge to many companies but it is worth the effort.

Building synergy between these groups doesn’t just enable better coordination. It also delivers valuable insights that help both groups reach their shared goal of building stronger brands.

“Marketers make markets,” Robert Rose wrote in an article for the Content Marketing Institute. “It is the core of what we do. When we truly excel at our jobs, we create demand where little or none existed.”

Couriers Of Information, Creators Of Demand

Demand generation experts play a vital role in interacting with customers and providing leads and resources to sales teams. By collecting and analyzing customer feedback through interviews, surveys, reviews and social media comments, demand gen teams can help content marketers better understand the outlooks and needs of their brand’s customers.

The best teams can also create demand where little existed before, as Rose pointed out in his article. “Nobody knew they needed an iPhone in 2007, when Steve Jobs stood onstage and introduced the revolutionary device to a bewildered audience.”

Equal parts mobile phone, music and photo generator and handheld computer, the iPhone created a whole new market — and opened the door for Apple’s content teams to shape the narrative of an explosive new market.

(Re)Purposeful Content Creation

Marketers are expected to produce increasingly diverse content to reach customers across multiple channels. That content ranges from traditional vehicles like white papers and webinars to short, punchier pieces such as videos, social media posts and blogs.

Each morsel of content should be crafted to reach a specific buyer persona — but in a way that allows it to be repurposed for other channels. That way, marketers can get the best return on investment for the content they spend time perfecting.

“There’s no escaping the fact that creating quality content is time-consuming,” wrote David Crane, Strategic Development Manager at Integrate. “That’s why you want to get the most mileage possible out of every piece of content you create.”

All content should be crafted to meet the needs of potential customers at each stage of the buying funnel: early (What is my problem and how might I solve it?), middle (Which of these solutions might work best?) and end (How can I resolve my concerns and get buy-in from all stakeholders so I can finalize the deal?).

Content designed to answer those questions — and to give prospective customers a way to satisfy their curiosity about others that pop up along the way — goes a long way toward satisfying the demand other members of the marketing team have helped to build.

There’s no need to guess at what customers want to know. Marketers can gain insight from analyzing which blogs and other online resources customers most often check out, monitoring social media traffic to see what pleases and displeases customers, and collecting data that captures customer feedback over time.

Where The Two Should Meet

Content marketers are storytellers by trade, but, if they don’t know their audiences, their messages can fall on deaf ears.

“High-quality content should be a part of EVERY piece of marketing that you do,” according to Will Davis, Chief Marketing Technology Officer at Right Source. “So that makes content marketing, by nature, a part of demand generation and lead generation. In short, good luck trying to generate demand or leads without high-quality content.”

Demand gen teams can provide real-time feedback and insights into the kinds of stories current and prospective customers respond to best. They also work to influence markets, creating demand where little or none existed.

If they are guided by a common plan, both content and demand gen teams can weave narratives that build customer loyalty and healthy bottom lines.


Paul Heald is the CEO and co-founder of BrightTALK, the leading online talks and demand marketing platform used by eight million professionals. Before founding BrightTALK, he was the European managing director of SapientRazorfish and ran Arthur D. Little’s e-business consulting group. Paul has a BSc from the University of Sheffield and is an MBA graduate of Cranfield School of Management.