Definition, Strategies, Benefits, and Examples
Demand generation is a marketing strategy focused on identifying consumer needs, promoting your product effectively, and generating potential leads for your business.
When it comes to helping your customers understand your brand, you’re likely going to run into the term “demand generation.” Simply put, a demand generation strategy is used to increase awareness of your product, or more simply generate demand. That doesn’t particularly mean that your main focus will be lead generation—more on that in a bit—so much as it means that you’re focusing on putting your brand in places where customers can start to understand what you offer.
How this works is by putting your brand in places where customers are most likely to engage with it anyway. Take this example, for instance: if you’re selling tomatoes, you’re not going to want to let people know about your tomatoes at a laundromat. You’re going to go to a grocery store, right? Demand generation is a marketing strategy that looks at consumer need, and the product you’re offering, and then finding the perfect way to bring awareness to that product in a way that will hopefully later translate to promising leads.
Demand generation is a type of inbound marketing and is the umbrella term for the full marketing strategy (or “marketing funnel”) that creates interest in your brand’s product or service.
While a demand generation strategy technically encompasses the entire customer journey from interest all the way to lead generation, an easier way to think about demand generation is through the lens of how a potential customer feels about your product or service. A demand generation marketing strategy starts by assessing how well a potential audience knows your brand, identifying ways to introduce that brand to a new buyer group, and then nurturing that relationship by gaining trust and authority. What is the problem that your brand can solve, and how much does your customer trust your brand to be the solution for that problem? This is particularly important in business-to-business (B2B) demand generation, as other businesses are searching for solutions to get their own brands into the public purview.
Demand generation strategy can vary from brand awareness campaigns on social media all the way to thought leadership (webinars, eBooks, white papers, etc.) in your brand’s industry. At the end of the day, demand generation is largely about working to ensure your potential audience knows about the brand you represent, the value behind it, and the trust that the customer should have in your brand.
Demand generation has the potential to help the entire customer journey, whether it’s dealing with creating demand for the product or the sales team pursuing qualified leads.
The main difference between demand generation and lead generation is that demand generation is a type of inbound marketing that helps establish customer awareness of your brand or product. Lead generation is more focused on the buyer and is a part of demand generation strategy.
The relationship between demand generation and lead generation can be complicated. While the terms may seem interchangeable, they’re anything but. Lead generation is a piece of the larger demand generation puzzle. While demand generation can include lead generation as a later step in a larger marketing strategy, demand generation is mostly about creating awareness for the product or service and how it can be an opportunity for customers. For example: while a social media campaign may eventually drive a purchase, it ultimately is on social media to create wider awareness. That would be the demand generation side of the equation.
Lead generation is the more specific part of the strategy that turns interest in the product into action. This stage will often involve the sales team behind the product or service. Lead generation is the kind of marketing that turns interest in a brand into qualified leads.
As previously stated, demand generation is a type of inbound marketing aimed at developing awareness for a brand and its services. However, the importance of demand generation is far beyond establishing general awareness; at its best, a good demand generation marketing strategy can help to imbue a value and trustworthiness in your brand that may not have existed beforehand. It’s, in a phrase, reputation setting at a marketing level. And when it comes to B2B marketing, being able to affirm the trustworthiness of your brand is paramount.
On the business side, demand generation is the first (and necessary) step to moving onto lead generation, which results in a more tangible action by the customer. Customers begin using your brand and its product at a higher rate, reinforcing the opportunities presented at the start of the demand generation marketing process.
The most obvious benefit of demand generation is that if executed successfully, it results in lead generation and increased customer use of your brand’s product or service. But benefits of a successful demand generation marketing campaign don’t stop at lead generation.
Overarching cost reduction
Brands spend an exorbitant amount of money trying to retain customers,1 whereas demand generation programs can help establish a reputation beforehand and eliminate smaller costs later on in the marketing process.2 By establishing itself as a trustworthy, knowledgeable source in the industry, a brand has the potential to retain customers and develop a meaningful relationship with its customer base. It also affects the way that future campaigns will be run, whether that’s a better return on ad spend (ROAS) or a lower cost per click (CPC).
Brand awareness and reputation
In the end, brand awareness is one of the greatest assets that comes out of demand generation. A good demand generation program can introduce your brand to a whole new set of customers—not simply with the objective of selling a product or service, but by becoming a valued part of the life of that buyer. The brand reputation established in the early stages of demand generation doesn’t just have the potential to result in quality leads; it can create long-standing brand relationships with customers who only turn to your brand to solve the needs in their day-to-day. It can also bolster the reputation of your brand, carving out a space for your brand as thought leaders via published case studies, webinars, etc.