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Building Buzz: What is Demand Generation?

August 16, 2019
Carl Michener

Isn’t ‘demand generation’ synonymous with ‘marketing’? We hear that a lot. After all, marketing is meant to encourage sales and build brand preference. Isn’t that generating demand?


The answer is that demand generation is a subset of marketing. Marketing includes package design and pricing discounts. Demand generation does not. Think of it as all of the marketing programs you use to inform customers about your products and/or services.

A demand generation program can do many things: it can build awareness of and preference for your products, help you engage with new markets, create awareness around exciting new product features, get people talking about what you do, and re-engage customers that you already have.

What many people don’t realise is that unless you sell something simple and inexpensive like breakfast cereal, demand generation doesn’t just apply to top-of-funnel marketing actions. Well-built demand generation programs reach down through the funnel, informing every action, to educate and build relationships while capturing contact details. This contact capture transforms a fraction of your audience into actual leads, as key to making sales happen.

With our customers, most of whom are B2B organizations, the ultimate goal of demand generation is ultimately to sell more, yes, but also to build strong prospect and customer relationships for the long term.


The many actions that make up demand generation

To effectively generate demand, marketers need to do many things well: respond to customer requests and questions across platforms (social media, email, telephone, chat), promote inbound marketing materials like blog posts and eBooks, host webinars as we do, engage with social media, and of course build and execute email marketing campaigns.

What sets demand generation apart from other sales and customer acquisition tactics is very simple: a commitment to building relationships with customers for the long term. So while pricing discounts, telemarketing sales calls and advertisements that follow prospects around the Web play a role in generating sales, they don’t tend to build long-term demand.


The role of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing has a bigger role to play in demand generation than outbound. Think of outbound as getting in front of a prospect when they have no choice in the matter. Tactics include traditional advertising, telemarketing and email blasts to purchased prospect lists, cold calling and, more recently, robo-cold calling.

Inbound marketing, by contrast, doesn’t force engagement. It relies on prospects to engage. As mentioned, tactics include blogging, social media, videos, podcasts, newsletters, eBooks and email campaigns targeting warm prospect lists. It stands to reason, then, that the key to successful inbound marketing is creating quality content that aligns with customers’ interests and helps build a community around your brand.

Generating long-term demand is, of course, a more reliable way of selling and ultimately more profitable than engaging in an endless series of quick-sale tactics. And if you rely on an outside salesforce, a well-planned demand generation program should do the heavy lifting up front, educating prospects and making selling easier.


Demand generation webinar series Sept. 4

Join our demand generation webinar series

Want to learn demand generation best practices and apply them to your business?

Join us for the first of our four-part demand generation webinar series kicking off Wednesday 4 September at 9 am (UTC+2) with Demand Generation for B2B, episode #1 of this comprehensive series.

Demand generation specialist Samuli Isomäki and customer lead Nana Hjelt, both from ID BBN, will explain what demand generation is, how it differs from inbound marketing and most importantly how it can help you start a process of lead generation.


Carl Michener
Carl is a content strategist, storyteller and writer. He spent the past 20 years working in client-side and agency-side marketing in Toronto, Canada. A member of the ID BBN team since 2006, Carl’s passion is creating arresting campaigns that take audiences out of their comfort zones. Carl loves anything outdoors, especially adrenaline-inducing gravity sports, having fun with his two kids, the arts, and great fiction.