Lead generation, demand generation, & marketing: what’s the difference?

5 Minutes Read

There can be a lot of different buzz words thrown around for marketing. You’ve probably heard of lead generation and demand generation on multiple different occasions. If you’ve heard them used interchangeably, you’re going to want to forget you ever heard that - the two terms are very different! And to add to it, they are both equally important to a business’ success. 

If you’re wondering what the difference is between them, we’re here to spell that out for you. In this blog, you’ll learn about the differences between lead generation, demand generation, and marketing, as well as how they all play a role in your small business or start-up. 

What is lead generation?

A lead is just as it sounds, a route in the right direction. Leads in marketing are people that are interested in your product or service, making them a potential customer. More people interested in your business can lead to, well, more qualified leads. The goal is to funnel your audience so they ultimately make a purchase.

Lead generation is converting your audience into customers by using various nurturing tactics. Let’s spell it out really simple: the primary goal is getting your ideal customer's contact information so that you can place your product or service in front of them. Want to know what makes this so great? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to find success in it. To land some high-quality leads, you will definitely want to use search engines and maximize your creation of ads and quality content.

If you’ve got your search engine tools and marketing content handy, it’s time to get creative with it to become a lead magnet. Think of it like a first date - you want to impress the other person so they’ll want to see you again. Lead generation efforts that make for a great way to generate leads are creating personalized emails, targeted content and ads, and following up with leads in an effective and timely manner. Marketers even say that social media even lead them to generate more leads. The best part is, you can try out different lead generation strategies to test the waters and see what works, so that ultimately your business can convert more people into leads. 

In lead generation marketing, and any marketing for that point, having a strong call to action (CTA) is key. Maybe you created a pay per click (PPC) ad on Google as a lead generation campaign. People who see it might be curious about your brand, so naturally, they'll search it on the internet. With good local seo, your brand will show up in their search results, giving you more website visitors. If all goes well, you could generate a higher conversion rate. You'll be lead magnets in no time. 

Lead generation software could be the best investment for your business. They help marketers and salespeople generate and collect leads from each lead generation campaign and convert them into customers. Chances are, you're going to have different leads, i.e. people who are interested in learning more before they make a purchase or people who are ready to purchase your product or service. In order to have streamlined automation in your leads, having the right lead generation software can change everything. Some of the most popular software websites are Leadpages, Marketo, and Unbounce. If you're not ready to commit, never fear. Most of these websites offer a free trial first!

What is demand generation?

Let’s think of demand generation as stirring the pot after you’ve put all your ingredients in. You’ve got the basics, now it’s time to figure out what to do with them to create the perfect dish. 

When you think of demand generation, think of awareness and growth. Demand generation is all about reaching a bigger pool of people and attracting them towards what you offer. The process itself is supposed to help you gain the trust of your audience as well as increase overall brand awareness. Blog posts, case studies, white papers, search engine optimization, and opt-in email marketing such as newsletters, are a few inbound marketing tactics that you might want to implement to retain the right qualified prospects.

Let’s give a real world example to help you wrap your head around the term. Say you have a bakery and are looking to gain some more foot traffic towards your store; demand generation would be like creating a branded flyer to make that happen. There’s no “one” way for developing successful demand generation, but one thing is consistent - align your strategies with the goals you hope to achieve. 

To be successful, you want to create digital marketing campaigns that will appeal to the consumer. Creating social media marketing campaigns on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can boost your digital marketing presence and place content right in front of your customers. Plus, you're going to want to invest in good sales reps to provide customer service to nurture current customers and keep them around for the long haul. If it's not in the plans to have your salespeople act as customer service representatives, there's software to help with that as well.

Demand generation essentially acts as a tier above lead generation in the funnel. You want to not only drive awareness to your brand, but develop a longer term customer engagement strategy. This is where you build out some campaigns and follow the customer through their whole journey, ultimately strengthening that brand-to-customer relationship. Some tactics you should follow to generate success are to create downloadable content, blogs, ebooks, videos, PR campaigns, or utilize SEO for your business. Don't forget to use key words when writing your content! By creating blog posts such as this one, you’re delivering value to your customers and setting them and your business up for success. It’s a win-win.

What is marketing?

It’s time to break things down even more and talk about marketing as a whole. Marketing is the act of creating and delivering value to attract your target audience. It’s essentially the advertising you do to not only spread the word about your product or service, but to also retain customers as well. All of the tactics we mentioned above from blogs to advertising are all forms of marketing. Therefore, it takes some solid marketing strategy and content creation to push customers through the pipeline and learn how to be successful in your lead generation and demand generation. 

Nowadays, a lot of marketing can be done on the internet through social media platforms. Testing out different digital marketing strategies can make it easier to track analytics and return on investment (ROI) from your campaigns. If you're generating more website landing page visitors because of your ads on google, ultimately resulting in new leads, chances are you have a higher ROI.

Marketing consists of anything a business does to promote and sell their products and services. Have you ever heard of the 4P’s? If you haven’t and you’re looking to be successful with your marketing, you’re definitely going to want to grab a pen and paper and write these down. The 4P’s of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Well, there you have it, the key to success is in those four little words - easy, right? Actually, there’s a lot that goes into a business’ marketing strategy that leads to success. Some businesses have whole teams working on the marketing strategy for their business. Taking things one step at a time is always key.

How lead and demand generation play a role in your business

Marketing is equally made up of lead generation and demand generation. Marketing gets the leads (lead generation) and sales takes the leads to the next level (demand generation). Even though they are different, lead and demand generation are shared by sales and marketing responsibility alike - both making up the sales funnel. After all, you can get as many leads as you want in marketing but if the sales team does not generate demand, it's more difficult. So, both play a crucial role in your marketing strategy. One without the other wouldn’t generate success and growth within your business. 

After reading this blog you’re probably wondering where this valuable content was hiding all your life, and you may even feel a little more knowledgeable. Are you feeling more confident about what the difference between lead generation, demand generation, and marketing really is? If you answered yes, give yourself a little pat on the back. Don’t worry, we won’t give you a pop quiz. After all, just because you read a blog about something, doesn’t mean you’re ready to go out and master it. As digital marketers, that’s why we are here - we are the experts for a reason. So, what's the next step? If you’re ready to push your business to the next level and create some top notch marketing strategy that utilizes lead generation and demand generation, we’d be happy to help. Simply set up your discovery call today to get started!

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Stephanie Milne

Stephanie is a digital marketer passionate about storytelling and content creation.