Looking to learn about the main differences between demand generation vs lead generation? You’re in the right place.
Think about this … Your Sales and Marketing teams could make great dance partners, if only they’d learn to stop stepping on eachother’s feet!
Who’s the clumsy one of the pair? Well, not to take sides but Marketing teams love to repackage key sales tactics, tweak them slightly, and say “Look at us and this great idea we came up with, now increase our budget and we’ll make it happen.” Talk about two left feet!
I kid, I kid. I love our Marketing people, but yes, I’m back today to draw the line. Why slap the “Lead Generation” label on activities that are Sales and belong in Sales? Lead Generation has become a catch-all term and it really shouldn’t be. People are getting confused.
It’s time for a refresh on Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation.
What’s the Main Difference Between Demand Gen and Lead Gen?
The big difference between Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation is like the difference between a party and dinner for two. Let me explain…
Demand Generation is the party. It’s broad, wide, and open to all. Anyone within earshot is welcome to join in the revelry. The goal is to give a potential prospect an experience to remember, and to be memorable for all the right reasons. Done right, you will identify the right people at the party, the prospect will know what you do and why, and the good experience will put them at ease with your brand.
Lead Generation is a smooth seduction, a give and take. In exchange for some information, the hot date begins. The end goal is to be looked at as a partner, and be chosen by the prospect for the right reasons. Lead gen is all about moving your prospect down the funnel to make the sale.
So Demand Generation sits at the top of a prospect journey or funnel, while Lead Generation are the activities near the bottom, drawing an otherwise disengaged prospect closer and closer to the sale. Lead Generation is doing its job when a qualified lead is nurtured to the point he or she makes a very well-informed decision.
What is Demand Generation?
Feel like leads have slowed to a drip? Maybe your funnel just needs a bigger mouth!
I like to say, “He or she that has the biggest pool, will make the most money.”
Demand Generation hinges on your ability to speak authoritatively as a brand in a way that educates and moves people. In some cases, I’d go a step further and describe this essential skill as executive thought leadership. It all depends on the size of your brand and sales team.
Here’s the problem. Positioning yourself and your brand as the go-to expert, someone who understands the prospect’s unique set of problems in their industry sounds wonderful to anyone who loves the spotlight, but not all executives have upleveled their self image to step into a role like that.
Is it a lack of experience with the subject matter? Unlikely. Anyone at the C-Level should have the know-how to speak brilliantly about their field, and give an amazing conversation. An aversion to the spotlight is more likely to blame. If that’s you, afraid of drawing attention to yourself, it could help you to think of Demand Generation less as shining a spotlight on yourself and more as confidently and compassionately offering your expertise. Whatever you have to do to clear the mental hurdles, now is the time to do it.
Your brand needs to get found. Don’t let your playing small stand in the way.
Some examples of Demand Generation include:
- Blog posts with SEO
- Guest appearances on Podcasts, TV, Radio, Blogs, Industry events
- Hosting expert discussions and panels
- How to Videos
- Tweets, LinkedIn, anything done on social media channels that is public
One of the best examples of Demand Generation done well is the Kleenex brand. They so perfectly mapped the problem of a leaky nose to their solution of the facial tissue, that now people have trouble calling tissues by any other name. “Please pass a Kleenex!”
Like Fish in Water
In US culture we are almost totally blind to Demand Generation because it’s the water we swim in. Let’s talk about Demand Generation in recent news, and I’ll show you how Demand Generation is actually intertwined with contemporary American culture.
When the COVID pandemic set in and no one could find toilet paper, the running joke was that the pandemic was created by the evil masterminds at Charmin. It was obviously supply chain issues and not a Demand Generation scheme that made Charmin seem like the go-to. So, the scarcity actually served to make Charmin pull away from the competition and enter the zeitgeist as the best and most desirable toilet paper on the market (if only you could find it!).
Toilet paper companies don’t create pandemics. But with a tasteful and well-timed joke, and with enough Demand Generation over the years, a brand identity certainly can profit off one.
These big companies like Kleenex, Coke, Doritos… they don’t stop just because they’re ahead, and neither should you. When you enter the prospect’s radar, it pays to keep the party going. Keep the brand voice alive and in tune with the times.
What is Lead Generation?
I’m a sales person who knows the importance of lead gen. This period of discovery is so valuable for designing a compelling offer for the prospect. What I love about lead generation is that there’s always an opportunity to sell. I mean, if you’re focused on innovation and growth, there will always be new pain points you’re finding out about. You’ll be handed ideas to improve the product. And then, a smart team can take any product improvement and create repeat business. They can even enter brand new markets. That’s why I like it.
Your team should be developing content that awaits the prospect just behind a velvet rope. In exchange for simple details, like an email address, phone number, and maybe even budget range, give the prospect any number of enticements which we will call “lead magnets.”
Some examples of lead generation include:
- Tools & Templates
- Webinars or virtual events
- Live in-person events
In tech companies there’s a little more gray area, because giving away Tools and Templates could be part of a “freemium” business model. If you’re not familiar, whenever you are able to get a free version of an app, but special features lie just behind a paywall, that is a freemium model. Smart, effective, and lucrative!
Not sure how to make a lead magnet or what to talk about at a webinar or in an ebook? Then it’s time to do your homework. Talking to people, lots of people is the antidote to writer’s block. As the prospect enters the consideration stage, demonstrating thought leadership and genuine care is the key.
Cold Calling for Lead Generation
Now, this is where most teams fall short. Though they may be thoughtfully planned, lead generation tactics can actually alienate a prospect who just wants to be heard. Large, well attended webinars may feel like a huge success to a marketing team, all the while leaving every prospect in the room feeling a bit anonymous.
Avoid perpetuating your prospect’s “lonely island” syndrome by offering them access to a private group, such as on LinkedIn, or even write a personal note.
People love to feel important and included.
There is even more you can do to break the ice with a prospect and finally get that business relationship started. In this digital age, a phone call is still far and away the most personal thing you can do to ramp up lead generation.
I want you to try cold calling! I hope you get to feel that cold sting of rejection and learn to take it in stride. You know what? As you mature professionally you might even grow to love cold calling. If you honestly believe that you are indeed the solution, you will build your confidence to understand that the prospect needs you. Then, and only then, prospecting can become a fun game.
And hey, if you don’t love cold calling (it’s an acquired taste), you can always outsource your sales department. Just be cautious here, as not all lead generation or appointment setting services are created equal. In fact, some are downright bad. But the good ones can fill your pipeline with qualified sales appointments pretty much on demand (pssst – that’s what we do here at C-Level Partners, but we’re not the only lead gen service in the game).
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: Can I Do Both at Once?
When you’re working with slim budgets or shrinking margins, it’s so tempting to put Demand Generation on hold and focus on Lead Generation. The marketing team seems to win the lion’s share of budget so often, but that’s a big mistake.
A company needs both Demand and Lead Generation to be working simultaneously and at all times to make this dance happen.
Now that you know how different Demand Gen and Lead Gen are, it’s obvious to see which belongs on which team’s plate.
Why shouldn’t Demand Generation just be turned on and off as needed? Because you need a steady flow of top-of-funnel prospects that know you exist.
And you shouldn’t avoid lead generation activities because it’s how you move the prospects further down the funnel and ultimately to a sale.
Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen – Some Parting Thoughts
While it’s a bit tricky to pin down the exact definition of these concepts, it’s important to have a foundational understanding of demand and lead generation and what they can do for your business. From tire-kickers at the top of the funnel, all the way down to the close and ink-on-paper at the bottom of the funnel, it’s important to know how to attract and convert customers or clients.
Hopefully this guide has demystified these two strategies and offered you some tactical advice on how to get started (or improve!) your demand gen and lead gen. And don’t forget to get in touch if you’re looking to increase qualified leads and close more sales the C-Level Partners way.
Until next time,