Lead Gen

Demand Gen vs Lead Gen Marketing Methods

A lot of people don’t understand the difference between demand generation vs lead generation because many marketers mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. 

To drive revenue growth profitably, predictably, and reliably, marketing needs to attract new audiences, build trust, and drive engagement, then monetize that engaged audience to fuel your sales pipeline with qualified, sales-ready leads. 

Effective demand generation strategies solve the first two needs: growing your audience and building trust in your company and solutions. Successful lead generation strategies monetize that trusted and engaged audience by getting them to identify themselves, confirm the need for your solution, and express interest in engaging with sales. 

Together, they work hand-in-hand to drive pipeline and revenue growth for your organization. 

Better Marketing Hub is a great example of how these two work together. This website features a variety of smart & helpful content intended to answer marketing leaders’ most pressing questions. The content is developed and promoted effectively to ensure it is findable in their moment of interest and the channels they prefer. 

As visitors engage with our content, identify who they are, opt-in for future communications, and provide information about their needs, our automated lead generation programs deliver messages and offers intended to solve their needs. Smart marketers know how to leverage both demand generation and lead generation strategies to get incredible results.

In this article, we compare demand gen vs lead gen strategies, and how they can affect your overall marketing performance.

What Is Demand Generation?

The goal of demand generation is to attract new audiences, then build trust and engagement by helping potential buyers recognize that they have a need, then identify and evaluate potential solutions for that need. Of course, this is done so that the company has enough inbound interest to support pipeline and revenue needs.

As the name implies, your targeted audience will have a problem your company can solve, and they’ll be looking for a solution. Your demand generation strategies must make sure the answers to their questions are findable in their preferred communication channel, and that you’re able to capture that inbound interest for your company’s solution. 

This can include earning media coverage, blogging, syndicating content on various industry trade publication sites, engaging social media channels, and so on.

Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be gated content; the target audience should have full access to everything. Otherwise, you won’t be able to put them into your sales pipeline.

Lead Generation Business Concept

Main Types of Demand Generation Tools

The concept of demand generation relies on more than one inbound channel. There is no such thing as a magic bullet. In fact, the more channels you have, the more likely it is that your qualified prospects will reach your sales pages.

Needless to say, you better have a great content marketing team that can create relevant, compelling and differentiated content that your buyers will value. They also need to have experience with inbound marketing best practices.

Simply creating and posting content is not enough to attract new audiences and convert engagement into qualified leads to fuel your pipeline.

Here are some of the most common demand generation marketing strategies:

Media Coverage

If successful demand generation requires attracting new audiences and building trust, there are few demand generation strategies more effective than earning media coverage from trusted organizations. This media coverage capitalizes on the media outlet’s established audience and strengthens your organization’s reputation as a credible solution provider.  

Search Engine Optimized Content

Search engine optimized content, or SEO, makes it easier for your target audience to find the answers to their most pressing questions in their moment of interest. Google calls this the “zero moment of truth,” or ZMOT – the moment in the buying process when someone researches a product before purchasing. 

When people search something on Google or Bing, they’re looking to solve an immediate issue. This is why SEO often converts better than social media marketing: people tend to use social networks for educational purposes but may not be actively seeking a solution. 

Once this anonymous prospect reaches your site, if you make it easy to engage and you offer something of value, there’s a good chance they will stay engaged on your site and subscribe for future communications after reading the initial content that attracted them. In turn, this will also increase the odds of making a future sale.

Social Media Posts  

Nowadays, a lot of people would rather listen to the opinions of strangers than trust what brands say. For this reason, your prospective buyers are listening and engaging in discussions happening in various social media channels to find out how others like them solve similar challenges that they’re experiencing. 

YouTube Videos 

YouTube is unique from other social media channels in that it has evolved to become both a social media channel as well as a search engine. Nowadays, a lot of people skip the Google search and go to YouTube to find videos that will help them solve their issues, then engage in the comments to get others’ opinions of the solution. 

For example, they might wish to self-diagnose a problem, learn new skills, evaluate the differences between two different products, or troubleshoot an existing product. Smart YouTubers research their target audience, the problems they’re looking to solve, and how they buy, then produce content that is optimized to make sure that YouTube’s algorithm serves up their content first when buyers search for answers. 

While prospective buyers might get all their answers with one video, there’s a good chance that they’ll consume the other relevant content in the channel. Eventually, that consumption will lead to true engagement that the content creator can convert into leads. 

Guest Posts 

Most companies utilize guest posts as a method of getting backlinks. As such, they are usually tools for their SEO campaigns. However, we should never neglect the fact that people are actually reading these articles. 

Like everything else on this list, guest posts can become a crucial part of your demand generation content marketing suite. You can use them to reach a well-defined target audience on websites that have more visits than your own. 

If you post articles on websites from the same industry offering complementary solutions to yours, the quality of the inbound leads will also be much better. 

Influencer Marketing 

This type of demand generation is highly reliant on an influencer’s sales skills. If this person is able to showcase your products in the right way, influencer marketing can become the best advertising choice for attracting loyal customers.

Influencer marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Most internet users are fed up with annoying companies, which is why they’re more likely to connect with an influencer. An influencer is an average person, just like you, making them much easier to relate to.

Articles and Interviews with Industry Experts

One of the biggest challenges for new brands is demonstrating that they have enough experience and knowledge to perform certain tasks. Even if you give out free stuff, a lot of potential clients might be worried about hidden costs or the fact that your information or software isn’t good enough.

Most B2B sales representatives will put emphasis on reputation and authority as something that can increase conversion rates. When creating advertising campaigns, you need to convey that trust. This is where industry experts come into play.

Whether you decide to do interviews or make ads with them, industry experts can quickly bridge the gap between your company and more authoritative brands. 

Lead Magnets – Free Resources and Demos

Before you can monetize your engaged audience to fuel your sales pipeline with qualified leads, you must get your audience to identify themselves and give you permission to market to them in the future. 

Growing your opted-in email list will enable you to lower your marketing costs, as you’ll be able to shift from higher cost marketing channels to the low cost email channel. One of the best ways to do this is by providing free stuff. 

These offers are called lead magnets, in that they’re the critical conversion of an engaged audience to a potential lead for your products. 

Perhaps the best way of turning audiences into quality leads is by letting them try your products and services. Examples of highly effective lead magnets include checklists, cheatsheets, templates, guides, infographics, reports, and product comparison toolkits. 

For example, you can give a free demo of your marketing automation software to turn B2B prospects into subscribers. You can use the same approach by giving out online calculators and apps, free audits, walkthroughs, various PDFs, and so on. 

You can use almost any channel to give out free stuff. For instance, you can rely on industry trade publications, online forums/groups, social media channels, and websites to deliver these free promotional resources to your ideal customers.

Retargeting Campaigns 

The overwhelming majority of your new audience will not identify themselves, give you permission to communicate with them directly, or raise their hand to talk to sales. 

Retargeting campaigns give brands a second chance to engage prospects. This might have happened because they didn’t find the information they were looking for, weren’t impressed with what was presented, or perhaps not ready to engage with sales.

Retargeting works by utilizing “cookies,” a small piece of data stored by the Web browser that remembers users who visited your advertisement or webpage and continues to serve up messaging and offers to attract them back to your website. 

During a retargeting campaign, you’re able to change your approach, the information you provide, and your offer strategy. 

Ideally, you should figure out why the prospect has abandoned before investing in retargeting. By utilizing this information, you can create a new approach, making it more likely that you’ll convert the lead.

What Is Lead Generation?

If demand generation aligns with the early stages of your customer’s buying journey, lead generation aligns with the latter half.

During demand generation, a company attracts new audiences to their content and secures permission to market to them in the future. That way, they can deliver personalized messages and offers in a lower cost communication channel.

Lead generation then seeks to monetize that engaged, opted-in audience to fuel the pipeline with sales leads. 

With lead generation, a company continues to engage their audience to identify early stage leads and to cultivate them until they’re ready for sales pursuit. During this crucial step, smart marketers will continue to deliver value to the prospect, and, in exchange for that value, learn more about the prospect, their needs, their decision making timeline, and willingness to engage with sales. 

Oftentimes, brands will completely neglect lead generation tools. They will manage to attract a lot of potential buyers to their website, and then they won’t convert them. 

In fact, the lack of lead generation is why many b2b organizations are experiencing increasingly high costs of sales and struggling to accelerate revenue growth. They’re wasting the demand they’ve worked so hard to create. 

Key Lead Generation Tools

Just like demand generation, there is no such thing as a magic bullet for lead generation. In fact, the magic is in the mix of the tools you use to identify, qualify, and deliver leads to sales. 

Determining the optimal approach for a certain buyer persona and need is what lead generation is all about. If you fail during this step, all your previous marketing efforts will be for naught.

Free Resources: eBooks, Whitepapers, and Reports

Similar to lead magnets used to convert new traffic into engaged, opted-in audiences, you can use free resources to generate a lead. The biggest difference in the content used to generate a lead versus obtaining permission to market to someone directly is the perceived value of the asset and how it supports latter stages of the buying process. 

For example, product comparison sheets, interactive total cost of ownership or return on investment calculators, free audits/assessments, and workshops are all great in qualifying needs and determining willingness to engage with sales. 

These assets are typically viewed as high value by the prospect – worthy of completing a web form to access them. 

Often, the company will get a lot of data about their potential customer throughout this engagement. As they download your assets and trial your products, they will leave numerous personal or business information that you can use to pitch them later on. 

Dimensional Direct Mail

Direct mail is an often overlooked aspect of marketing. To a lot of marketers, this is an obsolete method of doing business. However, you should never neglect the power of that personal touch.

When you send a personalized letter or a dimensional package to someone’s home address, you’re able to make a unique impact. This is something that digital channels cannot do. 

Your company can get all these addresses from prospects as they fill subscription forms and other types of documents on your site. This data enables you to create an experience with your brand that is compelling and differentiated in today’s digitally-led world. 

Direct mail is especially useful for organizations that experience the “complex sale” – solutions that are considered purchases and technical in nature, as they usually need more time to convert and persuade. 


During the time of COVID, webinars have become extremely popular. In fact, they provided relief to many individuals who were struggling with social isolation and everything else the pandemic entails. 

Webinars are a great way to connect with people over long distances. The most important thing about them is that they provide a personal experience. 

The leads will be able to see and hear company representatives and learn more about how the company’s products solve challenges they’re experiencing. Because of that, you will no longer be some faceless brand that wants to take their money.

Another great thing about webinars is that they allow you to gather all the prospects in one place and pitch them all simultaneously.

Live Events 

Live events have numerous similarities to webinars.

In certain industries, live events are the best place to make business deals. They’re especially awesome for long term sales cycles when companies and consumers have to make complex decisions. 

Live events include conferences, trade shows, keynote events, and user summits. The main purpose of these events is to establish face-to-face contact between sales reps and leads. Oftentimes, brands use them as a way of promoting new products, services, technologies, and sharing relevant news.

As one of the better lead generation tactics, live events can help you make a major impression on a wide audience. They usually require a lot of preparing and strategizing, but sometimes, live events might be your only way of generating leads.

Lead Scoring 

Lead scoring doesn’t have anything to do with content. Since not all leads are created equal, businesses rely on this tool to identify and differentiate between leads, as well as support different lead handling workflows based on the fit and sales-readiness of the leads to increase performance and impact of marketing campaigns. 

With lead scoring, you’re able to determine the profile fit of companies and contacts, understand the recency, frequency, and relevancy of their behaviors to determine how qualified and sales-ready they are, then handle them in the most appropriate way to maximize conversion to sales. 

What’s the Difference Between Demand Gen vs Lead Gen?

As already mentioned, these are complementary growth strategies. To some people, these methods might seem interchangeable, but this cannot be further from the truth. 

In fact, if you try to swap them and tinker with the formula, you will experience a shrinking audience, declining marketing performance, a weakened sales pipeline, and missed revenue targets.  

Both of these approaches are data-driven. So, while you might have your gut feeling about what works from previous experiences, it’s very important to pay attention to what the data is telling you about the rapidly evolving marketplace, changing buyer preferences, and changing dynamics in the selling environment.

Keep in mind that neither of these methods takes priority. Both of them are equally important if you wish to make your business successful.

During demand generation, you’re trying to create content that attracts and engages the right audiences. Often, your success rates will vary based on your search engine optimization prowess, ability to earn media coverage, and skills in growing your social media following. 

A brand has done its job if it managed to attract and engage a large audience with their smart & helpful content to generate demand for the organization’s products. However, this audience and their needs have to be relevant in order for the organization to successfully convert that demand into sales revenue. 

Lead generation uses that initial engagement and trust to explore the audience’s needs and act upon them to fuel the pipeline. 

Should I Invest More in Demand Gen vs Lead Gen?

Good question. Both of these processes are relevant for your business, and you won’t be able to get new customers without them. 

But what’s the ideal proportion between the services? If I invest more in demand generation, can that make lead generation obsolete? This one is hard to answer.

Often, your decision will be based on what you sell and how your ideal target audience wants to buy what you have to sell.

If you’re selling inexpensive products that a buyer would expect to purchase online without ever having to speak with a sales rep, you should focus on demand generation and make sure your ecommerce capabilities are fully optimized to prevent waste. 

If what you’re selling is considered a capital expense that requires the approval of a buying committee, or is highly technical in nature and requires the expertise of a sales executive to buy what you’re selling, lead generation becomes critically important. 

Last Thoughts on Demand Gen vs Lead Gen

Sometimes, you can use the same content type for demand generation and lead generation. However, lead generation content will always require more effort from your buyers to consume, so you will need to deliver more value to ensure the “give-get” is viewed as reasonable by your prospects. 

No matter how you wish to approach these strategies, make sure to properly represent your brand and product throughout the whole sales funnel. Otherwise, the interest won’t result in a sale, and all that effort you put into generating demand will be wasted.

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