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Demand Gen vs Lead Gen: Two Gens Enter, One Gen Leaves?

January 17th, 2017 | 2 min read

By Darin "Doc" Berntson

Demand Gen vs Lead Gen: Two Gens Enter, One Gen Leaves?

Okay, let me spoil the ending for you. No, Demand Generation and Lead Generation do not fight it out in a post-apocalyptic marketing Thunder Dome, where one annihilates the other. They learn to coexist, happily and productively bringing in fresh leads, in the new utopia of a holistic inbound marketing strategy.

But why were they fighting in the first place? Well,

  • Demand Gen wanted to give away the company's marketing content to customers for free, but,
  • Lead Gen was only interested in trading the company's content for customer information.

You can see why these two strategies seem mutually exclusive, and they are if you try to treat one of them like the other or use them for the same purpose.

So let's look at the differences between demand gen vs lead gen.

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is, essentially, putting yourself out there and generating interest in your product or service through un-gated content. Un-gated content is freely available and requires no commitment, sign-up, or submission of customer information. Unlike similar strategies, such as cold calling, tv commercials, or email campaigns, the content is passively available and provided to share information and educate rather than make a sale. Why in the world would you bother? Because it's the first step in creating your brand culture. This is not merely brand awareness, but a step beyond.

By regularly distributing un-gated content online, you reach the largest possible audience. Basically, you leave the gate wide open so that customers are free to come to you. That doesn't mean that you're just continuously spilling content out there into the world willy-nilly, or that you're leaving lead conversion up to chance. For example, in promoting your blog posts, webinars, and eBooks through Facebook, not only are you able to target loyal customized audiences and strengthen those relationships by offering the most relevant content, but you can target lookalike audiences who mirror their habits and interests.

Another key demand generation strategy is allying your brand with other leaders in your field. Writing guest blogs, featuring influential participants, and co-authoring content can all contribute to establishing your brand's credibility. The process of demand generation is demonstrating your expertise through generated content that promotes your brand as a “go-to” within your audience's area of interest. Provide high-quality content, and your company will gain attention, respect, and a following that demands your product or service. Once you have that following, Lead Gen can enter the picture.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation, in the simplest of terms, is the acquisition of data. It is generating a customer profile for use in targeted marketing campaigns or strategies. Can you see the significant difference between the two yet? With lead generation, you are actively approaching or targeting specific demographics based on the information you've obtained about them, while demand generation provides an opportunity for all demographics to approach you.

Now, of course, not all of the consumers of your free content are going to transform into solid leads. This is where seeding lead generation into your free content becomes appropriate and practical. An example of lead gen holding the friendly hand of demand gen is the call to action at the bottom of a blog post or an offer to sign up for an additional product or service. Still, there is no required exchange of information for continued access to your ongoing quality un-gated content.

As you can see, there's no need for demand gen and lead gen to battle it out. They can work together quite well. Just don't expect demand generation to gather customer data for you, and don't expect lead generation to create a cultural following for your brand.

The gateway to your content can't be both open and closed at the same time, so just choose which strategy to apply to what content and create an overall marketing plan that envelops them both.

Until next time...


Darin "Doc" Berntson

Owner/Head Coach @ Bernco Media. Digital sales & marketing since 1997. Passion for teaching companies to be the most trusted voice in their space. They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach & HubSpot Certified Partner & Trainer. Reversed Type 2 Diabetes doing KETO. Wears Mickey Mouse Daily. Daydreaming of next Disneyland Trip.