Lead generation and demand generation, although related, are at odds with each other. When many B2B marketers say demand generation, they mean lead generation, and the program will be measured on leads and the value of those leads.
The problem is, one is focused on changing the audience’s perspective, the other is focused on capturing their information.
Lead generation: collecting registration information, often in exchange for content, in order to build a marketing database for email or telemarketing followup. The direct outcome of lead generation is new contacts available for sales or marketing.
Demand generation: the practice of creating demand for an organization’s products or services through marketing. The direct outcome is your audience is more likely to purchase your products or services.
These terms are often used interchangeably by B2B marketers. The result is a single content marketing program that is expected to both deliver leads and drive demand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Case 1: Content Marketing for Lead Generation
Lead generation focuses on the content that is being offered. Your messaging, promotions and navigation paths are focused on the content being offered and funneling individuals into a registration page to access the content.
Your content, secured behind a registration form, is only seen by a small percentage of the individuals that initially respond to your campaign.
Stated another way, the focus of lead generation is creating demand for your content, not your offering.
Case 2: Content Marketing for Demand Generation
Demand generation focuses on creating demand for your category or your specific products or services. Content educates your audience, shapes their perspective and positions your offerings.
For content to create significant demand, it must be broadly distributed. To impact the largest possible share of your audience, barriers to discovering content, consuming content and sharing content must be removed.
In other words, maximizing demand generation requires removing registration capture, and therefore lead generation, from the primary flow.
Combining Demand Generation and Lead Generation
For the best results, you cannot combine lead generation and demand generation. Instead, lead generation and demand generation work together in sequence. The sequence can go in either direction, but it cannot be accomplished effectively in a single step.
Lead Generation First
Lead generation programs are used to create a marketing database. Email, telemarketing and other one-to-one marketing activity drives demand from this smaller audience with targeted sharing.
Drip-based email nurture programs, which have a very low incremental cost per contact, and the recent rise of marketing automation has made this approach the primary one I see among B2B technology marketers today.
Demand Generation First
Demand generation programs create interest in your product. Leads are captured as a means to fulfill on the specific interest that was created by the demand generation program. Contact me forms are an alternative to content offers where significant demand has already been created.
Do you put demand generation or lead generation first? Or do you effectively combine both in a single step? Share your experience or perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).
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