Lead generation is a crucial element of business, and has been since time in memoriam. Most sales and marketing reps can explain the basics of how lead generation works. They might even understand the concept of a marketing funnel. While demand generation is also a marketing strategy, many people don’t understand what the term means.

Demand generation offers a different goal than lead generation. Instead of creating specific leads, the goal is to create a demand for your products and/or services. While both marketing strategies invite people to buy from you, without a clear understanding of the difference, you may not be as effective with your inbound marketing campaigns.
Let’s explore the difference between lead generation and demand generation.

Definitions

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is marketing strategy that invites people to provide contact information to a business in exchange for valuable content. The result is that the company receives a lead to follow up on.

What is demand generation?

Demand generation is a marketing strategy that drives interest in a brand, products or services that a company offers. The goal is to build trust and awareness in a specific company as the best source for what they sell. While many marketers use demand generation at the top of the funnel, it is also quite effective anywhere throughout the funnel.

Your business can use demand generation to raise a prospect’s awareness that they have a problem which your company can solve, then build the prospect’s confidence and trust in your brand, and their interest in how your products can solve their problem. Lead generation can capture the prospect’s contact information to create a lead, then your company will follow up with them directly at different stages of the funnel.

Which marketing strategy is the right one for my company?

Really, your company should be doing both demand and lead generation in a strategic manner. Your company’s goals will vary depending on the age and reputation of the business, your industry, and what you are selling. If your business is seasonal, that factors in. The two marketing strategies work together to attract buyers and move them through the marketing/sales funnel. For example, you may have a website that is primarily focused on demand generation. But embedded in the website is a landing page with a contact form for visitors to fill out if they are interested in free content such as a whitepaper, video or podcast. This page is one method of driving leads for a specific campaign.

So, use demand generation to create an awareness and demand for your brand’s products or services. Use lead generation to create a group of people that you will offer free content, discounts or other product offers to drive sales. You can also continue using demand generation to maintain ongoing interest with existing customers, and to engage with them about what they have purchased and their next related purchase.
Is demand generation related to inbound marketing?

In short, yes. But so is lead generation. Inbound marketing is defined by how you invite people to your business and then keep them interested by offering them relevant content. The actual content can have many forms including blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, videos or optimizing a website to answer search queries.

Outbound marketing is defined by reaching outward and amplifying your brand through traditional advertising, event sponsorship and cold calling. Many companies have some crossover between demand and lead generation, and they also use outbound marketing to create excitement about their brand. Both inbound and outbound marketing can be used for demand generation.

What content is used for demand generation?

There are literally hundreds of ways you can create content to invite people to check out your brand instead of your competitor’s. You have to decide which content works best for what you are selling. To decide, you can survey your target market on how they like to receive their content. Examples are:

  • Blog posts
  • Guest posts
  • Influencer marketing
  • Podcasts
  • How-to videos
  • Infographics
  • Chat bots to answer simple customer questions
  • Social media posts
  • Landing pages

Tips for getting started with demand generation

The best demand generation strategy is planned for the long-term, at least a few months. Inbound marketing in general should be planned long-term. Like most marketing campaigns, demand generation requires more than one invitation to prospects before they decide to act. To continue to raise awareness of your brand, leverage your company’s experts, target your audience precisely, and include calls-to-action with every piece of content. Budget your advertising dollars effectively to build brand awareness and trust in your company by using the content that works best with your audience.

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