Demand Generation Marketing

Demand Generation Marketing Explained

If you are struggling to meet your lead goals, or marketing generated leads are not converting into sales, you might need to rethink how you’re trying to create demand for your products.

Demand generation marketing is a more comprehensive approach to marketing that shifts the focus from finding potential customers that have already decided exactly how to solve their business problem and the features/functionality they need, to creating an environment that attracts and educates prospective customers much earlier in their buying journey. 

Demand generation marketing starts first with building awareness for a particular problem, educating the prospect with ways to solve the problem, and motivates them to want to speak with a sales rep that can help them evaluate and purchase the solution. 

Demand generation marketing requires you to focus on how your organization solves problems, not trying to find someone that has already figured out exactly what they need. 

This article will break down what demand generation marketing is, the fundamental features of a demand marketing approach, and some useful strategies to help you get the most out of your demand marketing efforts.

What Is Demand Generation Marketing?

Demand generation marketing is a strategy that attempts to increase awareness of problems and solutions within a target market. The idea is to communicate with potential customers about problems and solutions before they’re even aware of your company or product.

Rather than telling a customer, “You need this, and here’s why,” demand generation focuses on communicating a problem to a target market so they’re the first to say, “I see a problem and I need a solution.” 

It then leads them along a journey where they eventually say, “I know this company and how they solve similar challenges for people like me in companies like mine.” Your brand and product should be the solution they’re looking for.

This is different from more traditional lead generation marketing which focuses on generating handraisers from people that have already determined exactly what they need and have evaluated competitive offerings. 

Of course, lead generation is still required, but it’s not the starting point of the strategy. The difference is subtle, but it results in an entirely different way of thinking about your marketing efforts.

There is a significant overlap between lead generation and demand generation. The difference lies in the details of the initial contact and communication with potential customers and where they are in their buying journey. It’s a problem-focused strategy rather than a commoditized feature / functionality / price sensitive strategy.

An Example of Demand Generation Marketing

If the definition is still unclear, here’s a simple example to illustrate the strategic difference between a demand generation approach and a lead generation approach.

In this case, let’s say our company produces home exercise equipment. A traditional lead generation approach would focus on targeting potential customers that have already decided that they want a treadmill that’s appropriate for running at high speeds. They then see the features and functionality of the product to differentiate it from competing treadmills.

We may pay for an infomercial extolling the virtues of our equipment and why it’s better than everyone else’s. We are forced to simultaneously A) educate the consumer about why exercising at home is great and B) why the competition’s treadmill is inferior.

The problem with this approach is that savvy consumers have grown to distrust this kind of advertising. They just assume they’re being manipulated by a company trying to sell a product because the supposedly helpful information is packaged with a sales pitch.

The demand generation approach takes a different tack. Rather than focusing on the consumer and the product, demand generation focuses on the problem, which is that a lack of exercise leads to poor health, susceptibility to disease, and shorter lifespans. 

It may focus on raising awareness around specific health problems that the organization’s equipment might be uniquely suited to solve, as well as the most common root causes of lack of exercise. 

It then educates on why having at-home equipment eliminates those excuses, then educates on the different categories of equipment and suggests speaking to sales for more detailed information about available solutions. This might include financing if that’s one of the barriers that have prevented someone from buying before. 

In this case, our advertising budget is spent on producing free content explaining the dangers of poor health and how exercise can mitigate these risks — particularly when done at home. Exposed to this information and wanting a solution, the potential customer seeks out home exercise products.

This is where brand awareness becomes critical. When the consumer seeks out a solution, our product must be the obvious and preferred choice, perfectly suited to solve the problem.

Why Use a Demand Generation Marketing Strategy?

On the one hand, a demand generation marketing approach is riskier and less direct because you are counting on the customer to seek you out. But if your brand awareness is correct and your product or service is excellent, you can solve the customer’s problem and develop a long-standing relationship that can produce repeat business.

The main benefit is that you allow the potential customer to recognize the problem themselves rather than trying to sell them something they aren’t sure they need yet. This is a far more effective long-term strategy because the customer sees you as a solution they sought rather than as a salesperson pestering them about a problem they didn’t know existed. More leads will result in sales. 

Demand generation requires close cooperation between sales and marketing to create a positive feedback loop of demand leading to sales, which leads to more demand. By focusing on demand rather than product-centric leads, the marketing team helps to create a constant source of repeat business long after the initial conversion from lead to customer.

Demand Generation With Inbound Marketing

Demand generation marketing is the strategy, but inbound marketing is the tactic that makes the strategy effective, as well as how initial interest is eventually converted into sales.

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting customers to your product or service with (typically) free and informative content like social media posts, ebooks, websites, videos, podcasts, and other tools that educate, entertain, and grow brand awareness. No sales pitch is required.

The idea is that you can attract savvy customers by first giving them something of value. This helps build trust and associates your brand with a positive experience. When the customer eventually seeks a solution, they will turn to a brand they already trust.

Key Pillars of Demand Generation Marketing

Lead Generation

First, it’s important to define what a lead is. The simplest definition of a lead is a prospect who has demonstrated an interest in an offering. A qualified, sales-ready lead is a prospect who fits your ideal profile of a customer, has a need that aligns with what you’re offering, and is willing to engage with sales. 

Lead generation is the process of identifying and qualifying the right leads to fuel your sales pipeline. 

Marketing and Sales can generate leads through many channels using a variety of messages and offers. Some of the sources of leads include earned media coverage, social media engagement, digital advertising, search engine marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. 

The most effective offer strategy to attract leads is to offer smart and helpful content focused on helping prospects recognize they have a challenge worthy of solving, understanding the potential solutions that exist, and evaluate those solutions to make a buying decision. 

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing relationships with buyers at every stage of their buying journey. A successful lead nurturing program focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need to build trust, support their research, and maintain a connection until prospects are ready to engage with sales and make a purchase. 

According to Reed Business Information, less than 12% of B2B leads will buy within 90 days of initial inquiry. Lead nurturing enables you to “show them the love” until they are sales-ready. Educational content and enabling tools that help build a sense of urgency to solve their business challenge are the most effective offers in lead nurturing programs. 

Pipeline Acceleration

Over the past two years, a difficult economy has led to elongating B-to-B sales cycles,

slower buying processes, and more no-decisions from buyers. As a result, smart marketing and sales leaders are joining forces to close deals faster.

There are three core pipeline acceleration strategies: small net fishing campaigns intended to address an emerging gap at the top of the opportunity pipeline, pinpointed offers and sales enablement assets designed to keep specific opportunities moving toward close, and purposeful positive interactions with late-stage opportunities that can push the opportunity across the closing finish line. 

You’ll know that a pipeline acceleration strategy is successful if the demand velocity/sales cycle shortens while engagement increases. 

Lead Recycling / Lead Reconstitution 

Did you know that less than 1.5% of marketing-generated leads ever result in a sale? The majority of leads are often dropped, ignored, and mishandled by sales. Additionally, a lead’s situation often changes – key decision-makers leave the company, projects get delayed, budgets get frozen. This is especially true as companies are trying to recover to pre-pandemic revenue levels. 

What should you do with all of those prospects who didn’t complete the buying journey? Should you forget about them, or ignore it completely? Some may never be customers, but others might have a problem that only your business can solve. It’s just that the timing wasn’t right. 

Smart marketers invest in lead recycling programs for stalled leads and lead reconstitution programs for closed lost leads and opportunities. For leads that have stalled and become non-responsive, simply ask them if they’re still interested in solving their business challenge. For leads that were dispositioned as lost, send relevant communications and offers that align with the lost reason. 

Recycling and reconstitution programs have the highest return on investment. Why? Because the prospect was already interested and will appreciate you staying in touch even though they weren’t ready to buy from you. 

Demand Generation Marketing: Step-by-Step

Next, let’s take a look at how to apply a demand generation marketing strategy.

1. Know Your Audience

You need to understand where your potential customers congregate and their channel preferences.  This means researching online and real-world meeting places so you can understand the people who need your product. You also need to understand the challenges they’re looking to solve. 

If you don’t understand your target market or buyer personas, you can’t create awareness and a sense of urgency around solving a challenge. . You have to have a deep understanding of who you are communicating with so you can leave the breadcrumb trail they will find and follow back to your product or service.

The importance of knowing your audience, their needs and preferred channels cannot be overstated. If you don’t, all of your subsequent demand generation efforts will be unsuccessful.

2. Create Awareness for the Problem

Once you understand your audience, you can develop methods to educate your audience on the presence of a problem worth solving. . This means developing and publishing effective and engaging content that provides real value to the audience without being a sales pitch. As the audience consumes your content, trust is established and brand awareness is built.

Good content includes free ebooks, white papers, research reports, videos, social media posts, and informative websites, just to name a few. It’s not enough to slap together some mediocre content and offer it for free. Customers will see right through it. Your material needs to be genuinely valuable.

3. Become Findable and Omnipresent 

To successfully create demand for your company’s solutions, your company and its solutions need to become omnipresent for your target buyers. Being omnipresent means that your company and its solutions are so findable they’re almost unavoidable. 

This includes earning media coverage, engaging in social media, and improving your search rankings for your website with search-optimized content. When they see your messages and land on your website, they have to instantly understand that “yes, these people understand my problem and have solved similar problems for people like me in companies like mine.”

Remember to be consistent in all of your messaging and offers. You must create a comprehensive and coordinated brand image that communicates the best solution to the problem you have presented. Otherwise, your demand generation will just help your competitors.

4. Create Conversion Opportunities

Once you have successfully developed a brand image, you need to be sure to create ample opportunities for customers to take the first step towards a solution. Generally, this means having effective conversion opportunities available through your website, which creates leads. 

You need to make it incredibly easy to download software trials, speak to a subject matter expert, or meet with a sales rep in whatever channel the customer prefers. 

Finally, be careful about being too pushy. Many companies will gate their content behind overly complicated web forms that ask for too much information or push sales too early. Make sure that whatever you ask from the prospect feels in alignment with the value you’re giving and where they might be at in their buying journey. 

It’s a lot like dating. If you’ve just met and are on a first date, do not try to ask the person to marry you when you’re just getting to know each other.

5. Convert Leads to Customers

To successfully convert a lead to a customer, the transition from marketing to sales must be seamless. Customers are always looking for red flags, particularly in a digital marketplace rife with scams and misdirections. 

Don’t allow a marketing and sales misalignment to derail a customer’s journey through the sales funnel. Make sure that sales know when they have received a lead, that they have what they need to effectively and efficiently follow up with the lead, and that they make it easy for customers to buy. 

6. Retain Customers

A critical aspect of any marketing effort is to retain customers. With a demand generation approach, you have an advantage because they sought you out in the first place. However, it becomes essential to continue solving their problem effectively, which will give you a loyal repeat customer.

Demand Generation Strategies

Here are some specific tools you can use to create demand for your product or service:

1. YouTube Videos

YouTube is a video hosting platform that allows almost unlimited uploads by creators. The demand marketing potential of such a simple system cannot be overlooked. With minimal technical skills, you can develop and publish carefully-crafted long- or short-form videos that explain your message. 

Since the barriers to entry on YouTube are so low, the competition is extreme. So remember, keep your videos short, informative, and entertaining, edit out as much dead time as you can, and leave your audience wanting more. And maximize your production values.

2. Podcasts

Podcasts have exploded in popularity in recent years because they give audiences access to long-form conversations between experts in various fields. Producing a podcast and hosting experts is a powerful way to draw in potential customers interested in your message.

From a technical point of view, podcasts are even simpler to produce than YouTube videos because they often don’t require a visual component. And like YouTube, anyone can produce and publish podcast content on platforms like Spotify.

3. Webinars

Webinars are virtual events hosted by an expert on a particular topic. The goal is simple: communicate a problem to a captive audience. Webinar events usually include audience interaction, which allows you to further fine-tune your message and to gain insight into what your audience finds important and which aspects of your message are unclear.

The main difference between a webinar and a YouTube video or podcast is that the event occurs at a specific time, which gives virtual attendees access to the guest speaker.

4. Lead Magnets

Lead Magnets are incentives offered in exchange for contact information. Practically speaking, this means someone signs up on your website in exchange for an ebook, white paper, or free subscription. The main benefit here is that they sought you out directly and voluntarily signed up to become a lead.

The onus is now on you to not screw up the opportunity. If the content you offer in exchange for their details is low quality or otherwise useless, you’ll definitely lose the customer. You must provide balanced content that A) is of legitimate value, and B) still encourages the consumer to want more. 

5. Blogs

Blogs are probably the easiest demand generation strategy you can adopt. Using any number of free tools, you can publish limitless, search-optimized content on the internet to educate your target audience on problems you can solve. Then, you can directly advertise your product or service alongside your free content.


The key aspect to remember about demand generation marketing is that you are creating a situation where a customer seeks out your solution to their business problem, rather than engaging with you much later in their buying journey – often after a competitor helps them define what their solution requirements are. While this may seem riskier at first, it holds the potential for higher conversion rates and more loyal, profitable customer relationships.

We hope you found this article useful. If you’re interested in other great content about business and marketing, feel free to check out the articles on our site.

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