The difference between lead generation and demand generation, and why it matters
We work with a lot of clients who ask us to help them with lead generation. We get it. Leads equal sales … or do they? More on that later. When we ask about demand generation, we often hear that lead generation is their top priority. But this approach usually doesn’t work as well as most of us marketers would like.
So, what exactly is demand generation and how does it differ from lead generation? In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between the two, and why demand generation beats lead generation every time.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
The terms demand generation and lead generation are often used interchangeably. But they’re not the same, and thinking of them that way is a mistake. So, let’s start by setting the record straight:
Demand generation is all about how you get people interested in your brand and by extension in the products and services you offer. The primary focus here is on attracting an audience and getting them to consume your content. Then when they’re ready to buy, they’ll come to you rather than you chasing them down.
Lead generation is how you get contacts for your sales team. The primary focus here is on capturing lead information and handing that off to sales so they can do the heavy lifting. The challenge with this approach is that it assumes the contact is active in market and ready to buy. In reality, 95% or more are not ready to buy.
Incidentally, we think lead generation might be one of the reasons marketing and sales often have a rocky relationship. How many times have you heard your sales department complain that marketing is sending them bad leads? Conversely, how often do you hear marketing complain that sales just isn’t closing the leads they find?
Check out this chart for a closer look at the key differences between demand generation and lead generation.
|DEMAND GENERATION||LEAD GENERATION|
Why leads don’t equal sales
To become a marketing qualified lead (MQL), prospects typically go through a process called lead scoring. One of the ways lead scoring works is that a prospect’s lead score goes up with the amount and type of content consumed until they’re deemed a qualified lead and can be handed off to sales. Of course, there may be other scoring factors like title, company, industry, etc. but the content consumed generally tips the balance.
What’s the problem with this methodology? Here’s a personal example:
I consume a lot of B2B marketing, content strategy and copywriting content online. With traditional lead generation, if I find a valuable resource, I have to give up my personal information to get that resource – annoying. Then, depending on the sophistication of the company’s marketing automation, I’ll probably receive a few emails with additional resources and pretty soon the sales calls kick in – really annoying.
The problem? I don’t make buying decisions for my company. I don’t want to talk to sales. And I didn’t download a template or read a blog because I was ready to buy. I’m what’s called an influencer. No, not like a social media influencer! If I find a resource that’s helpful to my team, my clients or my boss, I’ll forward it to them. If the service or product of this particular company becomes something we may want to buy, I can often give my two cents about my experiences with that company.
And that’s just one reason why leads don’t equal sales. I’m not a good lead and sales shouldn’t waste their time with me. I am, however, a good influencer and marketing should definitely keep learning about the content I consume and keep sending me interesting resources.
Demand generation works really well in B2B because it lets you target a wide range of personas – including influencers and decision makers – within your ideal customer profile. Demand generation builds up an audience that’s interested in your content and eventually your product or service. When the time comes for your prospect to shortlist potential providers, they’ll come to you. So now instead of the sales team chasing leads hoping they are ready to buy, the ready-to-buy prospects are actually coming to you.
What does demand generation look like?
Let’s be very clear. Demand generation is a long-term play. Your goal is to build awareness, interest and trust for your company, services and products. So, how do you do that? There are a few ways, but you’ve probably heard this before – CONTENT IS KING.
That’s right, you need content, and not just any kind of content. We’re not just talking about sell sheets, brochures or even the product pages of your website. We are talking about blog articles, webinars, calculators, templates, quizzes, interactive tools, research, surveys, e-books, guides, videos, courses, podcasts, social media and much, much more.
A simple way to think about content for demand generation is to ask yourself: How can I best reach the people within my ideal customer profile and how can I help them?
Let’s use an example. Imagine you’re a human resources technology startup launching an app that helps HR departments customize, send and learn from employee satisfaction surveys. How do you reach and help both the influencers and buyers within your target HR departments?
Because you’re a startup and your company is relatively unknown, you need to build an audience. You decide to leverage HR social media influencers because they’ve already built up a following largely made up of your ideal buyer. Through this partner strategy, you guest host podcasts and publish articles related to employee wellness. Pretty soon, you see your followers grow.
Many HR professionals receive professional certifications and are required to complete a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain certification. Because you are a subject matter expert on employee satisfaction, you hold a series of webinars on the key steps to improving employee satisfaction – and you do it at no charge. This is important because you are helping HR professionals with their professional goals, and you’re creating good will with them and with their managers.
Because you’re giving real value to your buyers and influencers, they’ll be more likely to trust you and consider your solutions when the time comes to buy. And you don’t stop with the sale. You keep helping current and potential customers with helpful resources. That’s what ensures long-term demand and long-term success.
We’re just scratching the surface of all the reasons why demand generation is the ticket to long-term, sustainable growth. Watch for upcoming blog articles in which we’ll discuss more key elements to building your demand generation strategy.
Are you ready for demand generation?
If you’re looking to build your demand generation engine, we can help! At GrowthMode Marketing, we’re experts at helping our clients drive growth through high impact demand generation strategies. Contact us today to learn more.