04.25.2022

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Are demand generation and lead generation different? Or are they just identical, trendy terms that marketers created to sound smart in their presentations?

For starters:

You’re not to blame for not seeing the difference!

Demand generation and lead generation are often used interchangeably in sales and marketing. And there’s a lot of intersection between the two concepts in terms of strategies and results.

But to briefly answer your question:

No, they’re not the same.

In today’s article, we’re going to dive deep into the differences and similarities between demand generation and lead generation. Then we’ll give you some examples on both sides to help you implement them in your sales strategy.

Let’s get started.

What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is the process of cultivating interest in your products and services. It focuses on enhancing brand awareness and building a larger audience around your offers. 

Demand gen begins way before you even start thinking about sales and marketing. It’s integrated into how you build your products, how you shape your offers, and how you conduct yourself as a company.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation refers to all the strategies that allow you to capture the contact information of interested leads and further qualify them to scale your sales. That includes the creation of lead capture forms offering free resources, then driving quality traffic that you must convert.

The Difference Between Demand Generation and Lead Generation:

Due to the similarities between “demand generation” and “lead generation,” the two terms are often used interchangeably in sales and marketing. And to be fair, there is a lot of overlap between both practices throughout the sales journey.

However:

The differences in terms of goals, strategies, and outcomes have always been clear and significant.

 Objectives:

  • Demand generation aims at getting more people interested in your offer. It informs potential prospects about their challenges and educates them on all the possible solutions your company can provide.
  • Lead generation capitalizes on leads that are already through the awareness stage and more fit to convert. It looks for specific individuals with decision making power to increase the chances of conversion.

Strategies:

  • Demand generation drives awareness using informational content. It provides people with free value in an educational way that builds trust and establishes authority. For example, that could come in the form of blog articles, social media posts, videos, or infographics.
  • Lead generation, however, tries to capture lead information and maintain contact with them to speed up conversions. It uses lead capture forms with strong CTAs, gated content, as well as cold outreach via phone and email.  

Outcomes:

  • Demand generation attracts loads of potential buyers at the top of the sales funnel who are fit to convert if nurtured correctly.
  • Lead generation increases the number of converted leads at different stages while shortening the sales cycle and increasing revenues.

What Are The Benefits of Demand Generation?

To be able to differenciate demand generation from lead generation, it’s crucial to compare the two in terms of benefits and expected results.

Here’s why demand generation is so important:

1. Demand Generation Helps You Reach More Targeted Leads

Demand generation enables you to widen your outreach and expand the number of potential customers in your pipeline. It helps you tap into unexplored opportunities to grow your customer base by driving more interest in your company’s products and services.

With the right demand generation strategy, you’ll also establish your brand as a leader in your industry and edge out your competition. By being the largest fish in the pond, you’ll attract all the qualified leads in your market that have the highest chance of converting. 

2. Demand Generation Allows You to Stand Out From the Competition

Competition is the ultimate challenge for businesses across all industries. Because if you had the whole market to yourself, you can easily keep your costs down and maintain a positive cash flow.

An easy solution?

Generate more demand for your offers by focusing on unique features and benefits. You should also find distinctive ways to promote your solutions throughout multiple channels by making them relevant to your target audience.

Develop a strong brand with a captivating story to enhance trust. That’s also a great way to leave a memorable impression on any potential customers that come across your business.

More importantly:

Feature excellent customer reviews and testimonials, then tie that to your outstanding customer service and industry knowledge.

3. Demand Generation Speeds up the Sales Cycle

Many of your target customers know nothing about the problems they’re facing. And a larger chunk of them isn’t aware that a solution exists. But even those who are seemingly informed still have a lot of questions about what you can offer.

And what do we know about ambiguity in sales?

It causes a lot of wasted time and effort.

Since demand generation is all about informational resources, it’s going to help you qualify most of your prospects and attract them faster to enter your sales pipeline. That allows you to push potential leads a lot faster down the funnel with less friction.

For instance:

You can build a company website that serves multiple functions — including increasing your visibility, educating your audience, and generating new leads. It will create a lot of interest in your solutions as long as you can offer free content and resources such as blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, etc.

But here’s the best part:

Demand generation walks hand-in-hand with lead generation and conversions. So the work you’re doing here will enhance your pipeline and save you countless hours down the line.

4. Demand Generation Enables You to Cultivate Long Lasting Relationships

The thing with demand generation is that it’s a never-ending process. It starts way before lead generation and continues even when you close the sale.

Why is that?

Because demand generation is crucial for maintaining trust and credibility with potential leads as well as your existing customer base. 

Producing high-quality content and serving it for free is the best approach any company can take to improve relationships with its’ audience. Doing that over a long period can help you attract many true fans who will do anything to help your company succeed.

What Are The Benefits of Lead Generation?

On the flip side, lead generation is the next step to capitalize on your demand generation results and enhance your business growth.

Here’s what makes lead generation so essential:

1. Lead Generation Fills Your Pipeline With Qualified Leads

A successful lead generation campaign will turn uninterested leads into loyal customers. All it takes is a good content marketing strategy with an eye-catching landing page and strong copywriting to capture the visitor’s interest and get them to take your desired action.

2. Lead Generation Is Key to a Better Understanding of Your Audience

What would be a better way to learn more about your target leads than to collect data directly from them?

With a high-converting lead generation capture form, you can collect a lot of information about your audience — including their full name, email address, job title, location, company, revenue, etc.

By offering valuable resources in return, you can ask prospective clients to take any action while they’re browsing your website.

3. Lead Generation Is the Secret to Increased Profitability

You’ll be surprised by how much influence you can have on your leads by just asking.

The majority of your site visitors are interested in what you’re offering due to the brilliant demand generation strategy you have put in place. But only a few of them know what the next step should be.

So…

Specify what you want your prospects to do with clear CTAs, depending on where they are in the sales funnel. Gradually, they’ll begin to trust your brand more and respond by making important decisions to become long-lasting clients.

Demand Generation Examples

Demand generation comes in a lot of forms and shapes. But what all those techniques have in common is that they’re not directly aimed at increasing conversions.

Here are some killer strategies of demand generation:

1. Podcasts

The rise of audio content allowed for podcasts to become one of the most popular forms of demand generation. In fact, many industry-leading companies have started to do a podcast as part of their content marketing plan.

This type of distraction-free content takes a minimum effort from the audience to consume and learn from. It’s also more entertaining and engaging as prospects can listen to it throughout the day — even while multitasking.  

Most importantly:

A podcast is the ultimate way to showcase your industry expertise because it allows you to talk for hours about your favorite industry-relevant topics. 

2. Blogging

Written content is one of the most popular and effective strategies for demand generation. But in order for it to work, your content has to be unique, and well-optimized to capture interest. Blog articles that bring valuable insights are an excellent way to stand out and build authority online — especially on search engines.

Keep in mind:

Your blogging journey is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s never about how much content you can produce now but about whether you can keep up with it over the years.

Consistency is everything when it comes to generating demand through blogging. Because no matter how much written content you produce, your competitors are always going to try and catch up. So make sure to develop a long-term strategy and maintain it over a long period of time.

3. Guest Posting

Guest posting is an excellent way to build awareness and bring your brand to the show.

Publishing articles on authoritative websites in your industry enables you to demonstrate your expertise to a highly interested audience. With that, you’ll get a lot of direct traffic to your company website, which you can continue to educate and nurture using an informational tone.

Lead Generation Examples

Lead generation is similar to demand generation in many ways. For instance, you’re still going to offer valuable content that educates potential leads about the possible solutions at their disposal.

The main difference, however, is in capturing contact information before or after offering them that value.

Here are the best lead generation strategies you can implement:

1. Ebooks and Whitepapers

Comprehensive, downloadable content that responds to the needs of your potential customers is your golden ticket to lead generation. This is one of the best ways to attract highly interested leads and get them to convert.

Here’s what you should do:

Craft in-depth ebooks and white papers to answer some of the most complex problems your audience is facing every day. Then, generate some interest in these resources by drawing a connection between the needs of your target customers and your offered solutions.

Once you have that ready, create a captivating landing page with a lead capture form to inspire conversions. 

2. Case Studies

A case study is a detailed analysis that looks into the efficiency of certain business products or services. It’s one of the best ways to showcase your company’s success within a context and put your results into perspective.

Featuring relevant case studies on your company’s website is a highly effective way to enhance decision-making. In fact, one of the earliest goals for most companies is to gather as many case studies as possible.

Not only will case studies enable you to capture more leads, but they’re also essential for reducing friction in sales. A prospective client will trust your brand more once they see what you were able to achieve with similar clients in their industry.

3. Webinars

A webinar, also called an online seminar or a virtual event, is a live event that you host online to educate prospects about your products and services. It’s an excellent way to build rapport with your audience and generate more awareness around your brand.

Webinars enable you to better understand your prospects and easily identify their pain points. You can have a real-time discussion with any of the participants and answer their questions with actionable step-by-step explanations. 

Demand Generation and Lead Generation Should Work Together

The truth is:

You shouldn’t pick and choose between demand generation and lead generation because the two strategies complete each other. Demand generation has to come first to make way for efficient lead generation. 

Without enough targeted leads entering your sales pipeline consistently, your sales team can only do so much to boost conversions. Your sales representatives wouldn’t know who to contact or talk to when it’s time to reach out to decision-makers.

So… There is no lead generation without demand generation. 

On the other hand:

Demand generation on its own would be a waste of time and resources since there are no conversions. For the most part, potential leads won’t know what they should do and whether they should trust your brand. 

That’s when a solid lead generation strategy becomes vital for enhancing your sales cycle.

Vito Vishnepolsky
Vito Vishnepolsky
CEO and Founder at Martal Group