What is demand generation?
More ink is being spilled on the topic, but many commentators use conflicting definitions. It all starts with a more familiar concept, lead generation.
Lead generation refers to capturing consumer interest for a product or service. In the digital marketing world, we often look at lead generation in terms of conversions: Prospects putting themselves on your radar by joining your email list, for example.
Demand generation is related, but it’s another skill – one that can help you build the profitable online presence you’ve been looking for.
What is Demand Generation and Why is It Everywhere?
Demand generation is about driving awareness of your company and what you have to offer. It involves building a relationship that lasts throughout the buyer journey.
In that sense, it goes hand in hand with digital inbound marketing and the spectrum of relationship nurturing techniques – but it also goes a step further.
What separates demand generation is the long-term positioning of your brand as a credible thought leader: A voice people will turn to when they are in need of an expert opinion.
How Demand Generation and Lead Generation Differ
Lead generation has a long pedigree in sales and marketing, going back far before modern digital marketing. Because so much of lead generation took place inside conventional outbound-focused organizations, the term has a connotation of going after a high volume of prospects.
The thinking goes that if you put enough people in front of a skilled sales pro, you’ll end up with sales. Everyone is a potential customer – at least, everyone within a very broadly-defined market segment. So, lead generation is a step in a process that often ends with a high-pressure sale.
Ideally, demand generation will differ in two key ways:
- Demand generation means prospects will come to you rather than you chasing them;
- With an effective pipeline, demand generation needs only a fraction of the prospects.
Content Marketing is the Key to Effective Demand Generation
Like many things in today’s inbound marketing world, good demand generation is a marathon rather than a sprint.
Every time you put out a piece of useful content, you build up the conditions for the right prospect to find you. Then, you have the chance to nurture and strengthen that relationship until the final buying decision is made.
There are three foundations for success:
- Defining what your company’s ideal customer is like;
- Determining their burning questions and pain points;
- Responding to those needs with helpful, useful content.
This is the recipe to turn your brand – including your websites, social media, and other platforms – into a consistent magnet for prospects who are already genuinely interested in what you offer them.