B2B Demand Generation And Lead Generation Aren’t The Same Thing

Every business ultimately has the same goal: sales. But to truly achieve growth, you can’t just sit back and wait for customers to come to you. You need to go to them, with B2B demand generation campaigns that educate, inspire and turn prospects into real leads. So what’s the difference between demand gen vs. lead gen? And how can you maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of both types of marketing?

What Is Demand Generation?

B2B demand generation is marketing that helps drive interest in your product or service. In short, it means making people want to buy what you’re selling. You’ll typically use brand positioning and awareness tactics to generate excitement in your target audience and encourage them to move further down the funnel. Demand gen is an essential piece of building your pipeline and nurturing your customers. You’ll need sales and marketing alignment, quality content and a long-term strategy.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is marketing that helps capture specific information about your customers so that they can be qualified or contacted. Lead gen focuses specifically on converting target audiences into quantifiable leads that are passed on to sales, so it happens further down the funnel than demand gen. You’ll still need great content and a solid strategy, but your exact tactics will vary. 

Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen: Main Differences

Both B2B demand generation and lead generation aim to excite and educate an audience in order to get them to buy your product or service. But because they are used at separate stages of the buying journey and have distinct goals, there are many differences between demand gen vs. lead gen. 

Target Audience

Because demand generation aims to increase interest at the top of the funnel, it targets a wider audience than lead gen. However, you can still improve your marketing ROI by targeting people whose pain points your business can solve and who will be interested in your product or service. You do this by creating an ideal customer profile and from there, narrowing it down into a target account list.

Effective lead generation occurs further down the funnel, so your target audience will be smaller. It will typically be based on engagement with your upper-funnel content – for example, you might retarget those who have engaged with your blog or visited a demand-gen landing page. You’ll also want to set up a lead nurture strategy for those who have already provided information via a form fill but aren’t yet ready to convert. 


B2B demand generation aims to interest and excite your audience. It introduces them to your brand, builds trust and increases your brand authority, positioning you as a thought leader in your industry. It does all this by putting the customer first, using “you” language, and speaking to their pain points first and how you can solve them second.

Lead generation aims to differentiate your product or service from your competition. Once your audience knows what you provide and why they need it, they’ll want to know how you do it better than anyone else. This is where you get into the details of your product, but remember to still keep the focus on how it benefits the customer.

Content Types

Demand generation content casts a wider net than lead gen content. It uses elements of brand awareness, like storytelling and bold, attention-grabbing copy and creative, but also educates your audience by focusing on more general pain points or current events in your industry. Blog posts, short videos, infographics, ebooks, interactive content and campaign-specific landing pages are all excellent demand gen formats. Also important: Demand gen content is free and ungated. 

Lead generation content, on the other hand, is often gated – this means that prospects are required to fill out a form before they can access the content. Because these prospects have already shown interest in your brand, they’re more likely to be willing to give information, especially if you provide truly valuable content. Virtual events, webinars, white papers, proprietary studies, calculators, data sheets and free trials are effective lead-gen content. A lot of lead generation also happens at trade shows and events, which can also be considered demand generation.


Because the funnel stage and content types differ, the KPIs for your demand gen vs. lead gen campaigns will also differ. It’s especially important for B2B demand generation to shift away from the “leads, leads, leads” mindset. Many B2B products and services have long sales cycles that make it difficult to calculate success based on leads alone and even to connect a conversion back to the touchpoint that truly started it all. 

Demand generation is measured by engagement, which in turn can be measured by a variety of KPIs depending on the content you use. Blog views, landing page views, email open rates, and clickthrough rates on your ads, emails and landing pages all indicate engagement. Use a scoring system to aggregate all of these engagement KPIs and rank your prospects. The most engaged prospects become your MQLs (marketing-qualified leads) and are passed on for lead generation targeting.

Lead generation is measured by, you guessed it: leads. Because lead gen content is gated, or it contains a form, phone number or other direct CTA, it’s easy to quantify how successful your lead gen campaigns are. However, your measurements shouldn’t stop at leads – you need to track how many of those leads become customers in order to truly calculate your marketing ROI. It’s also important to use marketing influence to connect leads back to the demand generation efforts that first interested them and gain a more holistic view of your sales funnel.

Ultimately, B2B demand generation and lead generation are very closely related, and both are equally important to your business strategy. Effective demand generation is what brings you qualified leads, and qualified leads are more likely to respond to your lead generation tactics. At BOL, we’ve developed a proven system for Performance Demand Gen that will help you crush your MQL goals – check it out here and contact us for more information.