In our dig­i­tal age where one’s per­sonal brand (the words you choose to describe your­self in a bio) can be changed at will, it’s worth a deeper look at why we include what we do. I look at my bio and still won­der why I chose those words. Most times, the choices were made to rep­re­sent myself in the best way pos­si­ble, telling oth­ers where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and who I’ve worked with. And like any­one famil­iar with SEO, I want to make peo­ple aware of who I am through search engines as well. Hmm, lofty ideals but it does tell a story, my story. My story is a mar­keter with a dig­i­tal mind­set in which words have spe­cific mean­ing. One phrase stood out to me just today to give me cause to reflect on my choices.

As part of the Global Demand Gen­er­a­tion orga­ni­za­tion, his team uses the Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud to deliver on KPI-driven results includ­ing world­wide sub­scrip­tions, tri­als, sales leads, and revenue-based metrics.”

I put myself in your place and did a search engine query on the term “demand gen­er­a­tion.” I was quickly bom­barded with state­ments such as “it’s dif­fer­ent than inbound mar­ket­ing,” “it isn’t lead gen­er­a­tion,” “drive aware­ness and inter­est,” “lead man­age­ment,” “strate­gic rev­enue mar­ket­ing ser­vices and con­sult­ing,” “cus­tomer buy cycles,” and “it’s all con­tent mar­ket­ing.” The vari­ety and scope blew me away.

What Is Demand Generation?

Okay, I promised some wise words and here they come: “I know what demand gen­er­a­tion is as part of the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing effort.” How­ever, guess what? That isn’t impor­tant because it’s your per­spec­tive that really mat­ters, and my job is to influ­ence your per­spec­tive so that you can take action. I’m going to bor­row Hubspot’s step-by-step guide to Inter­net mar­ket­ing to illus­trate my point with a slight mod­i­fi­ca­tion of putting some place mark­ers in the flow.

  1. Define a key­word strategy
  2. Opti­mize your web­site to get found
  3. Cre­ate blog and other mar­ket­ing con­tent  (inbound mar­ket­ing)
  4. Pro­mote con­tent & par­tic­i­pate in social media (demand gen­er­a­tion)
  5. Con­vert site vis­i­tors into leads  (lead gen­er­a­tion)
  6. Nur­ture leads with tar­geted mes­sages (lead man­age­ment)
  7. Opti­mize your mar­ket­ing for mobile
  8. Ana­lyze and refine strategies

Yes, demand gen­er­a­tion is an aware­ness effort designed to drive traf­fic to your web­site to cause poten­tial cus­tomers to “inquire” about your prod­ucts. Once they hit the land­ing page though, there is the sub­tle turnover of the “inquiry” to the lead gen­er­a­tion folks to develop the lead. This could be done through email nur­tur­ing, lead scor­ing, call cen­ter ser­vices, or events or webi­nars, depend­ing on goals and resources.

Indeed, demand gen­er­a­tion is not lead gen­er­a­tion. It’s an enabler for lead generation.

That leaves us to clear up the inbound mar­ket­ing ver­sus demand gen­er­a­tion dilemma. After all, both terms accom­plish the same end—driving traf­fic to a web­site via con­tent cre­ation. The nuance here is the tran­si­tion from a gen­eral mar­ket­ing fun­nel effort (inbound) to a spe­cific sales mar­ket­ing fun­nel effort (gen­er­at­ing demand, from the per­spec­tive of sales value). It’s the old shell (in our case fun­nel) game in all its glory. Which fun­nel is the prize hid­ing under?

Demand gen­er­a­tion is the sales side of inbound mar­ket­ing; it comes com­plete with back-end goals related to con­ver­sion rates and rev­enue, whereas inbound mar­ket­ing is a pre­cur­sor to demand gen­er­a­tion and leaves the ROI issues to the demand gen­er­a­tion peo­ple in your orga­ni­za­tion. Super simple—front-end aware­ness ver­sus back-end nur­tur­ing and closing.

Sir­ius­De­ci­ has pro­duced a report that gives us some insight into what kind of ROI num­bers we can expect from demand gen­er­a­tion. These were reported in a blog titled “An Incon­ve­nient Truth About B2B Demand Gen­er­a­tion.”

I have young boys who have seen Lion King many times. The results remind me of the scene when Simba returns to reclaim his king­dom from his uncle and his friends look at the des­o­la­tion and say, “We’re going to fight your Uncle for this?” If you’re good at inbound marketing/demand gen­er­a­tion, you have to gen­er­ate 70 inquiries to gain one con­ver­sion that leads to rev­enue for a 1.47 per­cent con­ver­sion rate.

We mar­keters do indeed weave a tan­gled web. Why did I include demand gen­er­a­tion in my bio? It’s a key­word that gets me rank­ing on the search engine. In fact, one of my ear­li­est blogs, “Social Enable­ment Strat­egy,” popped up in the search engine results as I nav­i­gated my way through the tan­gled web.

Your Turn

Does any of this con­fuse you? I’d love to hear from you and answer your ques­tions to the best of my own per­sonal knowledge.