Are demand generation and lead generation the same? No, they are not! Here’s why.


Although businesses today continue measuring their digital marketing success by the number of leads their campaigns generate, the truth is that lead generation is no longer the be-all and end-all of B2B marketing. While campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other channels still bring a great deal of value, many potential customers fail to connect to a brand and to the people behind it through mere lead-generation tactics. They are instead watching videos, listening to podcasts and/or webinars where they can ‘learn’ stuff and be educated. They are in fact being ‘captured’ by demand generation and later drawn into through lead generation. 

Here’s a more structured description of the differences. 

Demand generation is at the basis of your marketing efforts. It’s about creating interest in and demand for your product or service. It’s about building awareness by developing large amounts of appealing content. Demand generation is not a series of campaigns with target KPIs; it rather attempts to provide value to your potential buyers throughout their entire journey – from the moment they are exposed to your product or service for the first time, through developing their trust on your brand, to the point when they make their first contact with you. 

Demand generation is educating your potential buyers so that at the end of their learning journey they come to you. Studies show that 70% of the decision making is made without actually contacting a company or person but rather by learning via eBooks, webinars, LinkedIn articles, and similar. Good demand generation can be measured by the number of visits to a website to learn more about a product or service, the number of assets requested, or registrations to a webinar.

Lead generation, on the other hand, are the actual campaigns you develop and launch to collect information about your potential buyers and convert them into leads. It has more to do with the tactics you employ to get your prospects to contact you so you can send them more information about your offering. Some of these tactics are CTAs, landing pages with forms to be completed, and even sales-intelligence software like ZoomInfo, all of which effectively ‘mine’ data about prospects, their contact and other information.

Lead-gen is a ‘cold’ and automatic transaction for attracting potential customers to your product and converting, without any brand influence or education. Content syndication, telemarketing, lists, forms and others are some of the tools used to generate leads. But these are mere ‘contacts’ not a real lead that is fully prepared to move to the next level of engagement, not captive audiences. There is no trust or loyalty developed and a lead may make a purchase from you once and never come back. It will not create continuity and long-term loyalty.  

As always, the combination of the two is what will give companies the winning edge. Demand generation creates interest in your brand, lead generation brings prospects in. There is an understanding today that potential buyers in social channels will respond to lead-generation campaigns but will not develop an attachment or loyalty to the brand, which is achieved by demand generation. 

Here are some tips to generate demand for your product or service: 

  • Pick a topic where you can stand out and develop a strategy around how you want to present it – select the channel that is best for you, for example, podcasts, and create thought-leadership content that demonstrates your edge.
  • Participate in conversations and forums about that topic so you develop a voice for your company; create and/or participate in communities that want to learn about that topic.
  • Define a target audience of both potential buyers and industry peers.
  • Position yourself as the expert on the subject matter by having one or two of your experts host a podcast or webinar, and/or interview other industry authorities. 
  • Promote your content on your website, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and twitter. You can later repurpose the content in blogposts to obtain even more exposure. 

Once you have your demand-generation strategy in place, lead-gen kicks in. Your content educates and attracts leads. Next time potential buyers visit your website or make a search, they’ll find new content about your product or service. 

To generate leads, create campaigns around your new assets, make sure your landing pages have clear CTAs, write ads, remarket, improve your contact page so they can leave their information, send direct mails, and use any other technique that has been successful for you so far. 

In summary, demand generation and lead generation cannot exist one without the other for successful marketing and long-term loyalty. You must create interest in your brand by producing content that will make you stand out, position you as an expert/industry leader, and grow your audience. Through lead-gen, you then engage your target audiences and convert them into quality leads to which you can offer your product or service.  

At Xtra Mile we’ve perfected the art of demand and lead generation. If you want to know how it’s done, contact us!  

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