The Split: Demand Generation & Lead Generation

what is demand generation strategy

“Demand generation is the process of creating and/or boosting awareness of a particular company or product with the intention of increasing leads. Lead generation is the process of collecting actual leads directly from consumers or client prospects and using those leads to boost revenue.”—Tyler L. Barnett, CEO and Founder, Tyler Barnett Public Relations

As a B2B marketing professional or business owner, you need to know the difference between demand generation and lead generation. While they might share the same end goal, their individual objectives, timing, and approach are different. In this article, we will talk about their key features and how to make both initiatives work for you.

First of all, here’s what you need to remember: demand generation comes before lead generation. Demand generation refers to all marketing activities whose goal is to create awareness about your industry, company, brand, product, or services. This covers both inbound and outbound marketing.

As a subset of demand generation, lead generation comes next. To put it simply, lead generation is the process where you collect the leads that demand generation was able to create through brand awareness.

Now that people are aware of your industry, brand, or product, you need to gather these leads through offline and online forms, webinars, website trackers, and newsletters so your sales people can follow-up on them.

Here are the key differences between the two:

Demand Generation

  • Demand generation is focused on marketing. The goal is to generate awareness or create buzz and interest about your industry or offerings without explicitly telling people in your target pool to contact you.
  • Demand generation initiatives are free, and they don’t come with a call-to-action (CTA).
  • The best examples of demand generation activities are blogs, whitepapers, YouTube or Facebook videos, and a company booth at a trade event.
  • Demand generation results can be measured through the extent of reach and the conversion rates of your strategies.

Lead Generation

  • Lead generation is focused on sales, with the goal of collecting the leads stemming from your brand awareness activities. The collected data will be used for future follow-ups from your sales team.
  • Lead generation initiatives are often “gated” and have a CTA. This means, in order to view the content, your prospect needs to provide some information that salespeople can use to contact you.
  • The best examples of lead generation activities are online forms that accompany whitepapers and webinars, eBooks, or forms filled out at events. These can also be the landing pages on websites or forms for newsletter subscription.
  • Lead generation results can be measured through the number of qualified leads your efforts generate.

It is best to focus on demand generation when your prospect is still in their research stage. This phase is when they are on the lookout for information that can help them arrive at a certain decision.

This opinion-forming phase is the best time to roll out demand generation initiatives because you are not explicitly pushing your target market to contact you. Rather, you are subtly pulling them in by piquing their interest.

When your prospect is finally aware of your brand or products, that’s when you gently tug at the strings and pull them towards the beginning of the sales funnel. The higher the awareness, the higher the chances are that lead generation services will work.

Demand generation is all about filling your sales funnel and using content to attract and engage your customers. It’s about ‘demanding’ attention from your target audience, so you can ‘lead’ them towards the sales funnel using lead generation activities as a follow-up.

Final Note

The truth is that demand generation and lead generation go hand in hand. You really can’t have lead generation activities without generating buzz first, and you can’t have demand generation activities without properly tracking and optimizing its ROI.

Once you understand the key differences between demand and lead generation, you can start to address each function more effectively and develop the right objectives for improved results.