Demand generation builds brand awareness. Lead generation turns brand-aware prospects into paying customers. You can’t have lead generation without demand generation.

A case of mistaken identity

Quite often you won’t hear anything about demand generation.

Or, if you do, it’s used interchangeably with lead generation.

It seems that when talking about lead generation, a lot of businesses forget that in order to get leads, people first need to know your business even exists.

Sandra Oh on Grey's Anatomy. Text reads: according to Google, you don't exist.

This is where demand generation comes into play.

The interest built through your demand generation strategy will flow directly into your lead generation strategy.

Therefore, for your lead generation to be effective, the prospects have to already be familiar with your brand and your solution.

They need to want your product.

Otherwise, you’re wasting money collecting the emails of unqualified leads who might not ever buy.

Without demand generation you could get leads that don't buy. Woman saying: Are you freaking kidding me?

This is exactly the reason why demand generation and lead generation each deserve to have a defined place in your marketing plan.

Using both will allow your audiences to flow seamlessly from problem aware prospects to most aware customers.

(Read up on Eugene Schwartz‘s stages of awareness to help form your marketing strategies)

Demand generation vs lead generation: Defined!

Demand Generation:

  • Gets people interested in what you’re selling
  • Takes prospects from problem aware to most aware
  • Nurtures prospects into qualified leads
  • Invloves free content
  • Top-of-funnel

Lead Generation:

  • Focuses on showing how your solution solves a problem or fulfills a desire
  • Takes leads from product aware to most aware
  • Nurtures qualified leads into paying customers
  • Involves gated content
  • Bottom-of-funnel

Creating content for demand generation and lead generation

When we look at demand generation vs lead generation, it’s not so much a “vs” as an “and”.

They are best used together and influenced by your marketing and sales teams.

The interest created through your demand generation paves the way for the information collected during your lead generation.

A marketing funnel, like this one from Ahrefs, follows demand and lead generation.

It begins with building awareness and filters down to the conversion.


In this type of marketing funnel, you’ll create free content that educates the public about your business and your expertise.

Then, you’ll use that content to move prospects to your gated content. That gated content includes a call to action (CTA) that moves leads towards a paid product.

And all along the customer journey they are being nurtured by your content, building a relationship with your brand and starting to see you as a trusted source of information.

What does demand generation content look like?

In demand generation, you’ll develop valuable content and distribute it to potential prospects – for free.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t be paying any money. (You might decide to invest in paid ads or pay to place your product in a live event.)

But your prospects will be able to access this content without having to give you any information.

Which is ok!

Providing you’re following up with your lead generation.

David from Schitt's creek. Text reads: You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna follow up.

As this strategy is all about building brand awareness, you’ll want to start off by doing some voice of customer research.

Find where you can post your content and what type of content your ideal clients want.

Should you be posting on LinkedIn or Instagram?

Do your prospects want to read blog posts or listen to podcasts?

Some content you could develop includes:

  • Blog posts (your own or guest posting)
  • Podcast episodes (create your own or apply to be a guest)
  • Press releases
  • Influencer collaborations
  • Product videos
  • Thought leadership pieces
  • Expert interviews

Take a look at Justin Blackman‘s example. He became a go-to expert after his guest post and follow-up Tutorial Tuesdays on Copyhackers.

He put himself out there and has continued to build authority and increase his expertise since this post.

Demand generation example. A guest post on the Copyhackers' website.

Demand generation is all about increasing awareness of your brand and making prospects understand that you can solve their problem.

What does lead generation content look like?

Lead generation takes all those prospects and gives them more content they can take with them.

Entering their email is all they have to do to access it.

Some content can include: (Link to Anna’s “Ideas for lead gen” post)

  • Ebooks
  • Resource guides
  • Case studies
  • Free tools and apps
  • Free courses
  • Whitepapers
  • Free webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Free downloads
  • Quiz funnels

Copyhackers has a great free course, Conversion Copywriting 101, that gives students access to 29 lessons from experts in copywriting.

A simple form is all visitors need to fill in to get this information.

Lead generation intake form example from Copyhackers

If you need a lead magnet, fast, check out the following Tutorial Tuesday. Bob Sparkins from Leadpages explains how you can create a high-converting lead magnet in 10 minutes.

Lead magnet necessities

An important addition to your lead generation content is including a call to action on all your lead magnets.

Your CTA is the next step you want those qualified leads to take. Whether it’s to book a call or purchase a product – you need to have a CTA that directs your leads to their next step.

This is also a great opportunity for you to create a survey on your Thank you page.

Instead of just the usual ‘Thanks for subscribing!’, include a survey to find out more about what brought your prospect to your site.

This is an invaluable piece of data you’re going to love having.

Which leads me to another important reminder:

Have a dedicated landing page to direct leads to.

Don’t drop them off in the middle of your homepage and expect them to figure it out.

Have landing pages with one CTA.

Focus on what the goal of that page is and don’t divert your prospect’s attention away from it.

This landing page example is from an ad I clicked on Facebook for a free masterclass from Mamas & co.

It only has one CTA and gives multiple opportunities to sign up for the free webinar.

Landing page example from lead generation ad. COmpany is Mamas and co.

Do you really need to use both?

No, but…

Without demand generation in place, leads could sign up for all your free content without having any intent to ever purchase.

And without a solid lead generation plan, all your interested prospects will never give their contact information.

Without either of these two strategies, you could be missing out on a big portion of your audience.

And ultimately, missing out on a big portion of your conversions.

So, it might be in your business’ best interest to sit down and plan out a strategy.

Look at demand generation vs lead generation when it comes to the content you develop and plan where and when you’re going to distribute it.

And to which audience.

Get out there and start creating the hype around your brand!

(And don’t forget to get their emails after!)