The average B2B firm spends about 4-5% of annual revenue on marketing.  And about 28% of that is usually spent on advertising.  For a $1B firm, that’s more than $12.5M that gets spent on advertising alone every year.  If you are a large, global firm, chances are your targets already know who you are.  You may need some regional advertising to build reputation and awareness, but in general if you are just placing branding ads you probably aren’t taking full advantage of this medium.

Granted, sometimes the branding ads work if you do it right.  If you had the budget, maybe you spent $3M to get a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl this year.  You would have made impressions on about 111M viewers.  Some of the car companies reported driving a lot of traffic to their sites and achieving good conversions.  Good for them.  But for the average B2B global firm, even one with a very sizable marketing budget, it’s safer to diversify a bit more throughout the year when it comes to advertising.

So how do you make this big chunk of your budget count a little more?  Turn it into an opportunity for demand generation.  One easy way to do this is to add a link to a free download of a valuable asset.  Maybe this is a whitepaper on how to solve a common problem that your customers face or a podcast with an industry expert.  Once you get them to take this step, though, make sure you have the next step already thought out.  Put them into a lead nurturing program so you can move this lead towards a conversation with your sales team.

Another way to make your advertising more of a demand gen tool is to use it to reinforce your other channels.  Advertise your events and webinars, your social media sites, etc.  Get people reaching out to connect with you, whether it is in person or online.

A third option is to use the “advertorial” technique where you are giving them valuable information right in the ad (these are the ads that almost look like they are another article in the magazine) and then driving them to the next action.  Just don’t forget that critical last part – have a follow-up action.  After all, that’s what demand gen is all about – driving actions that result in revenue!