Lead generation vs. marketing. Understand the difference.

A cup of coffee sits next to a notepad that reads, "Lead Generation" and "Marketing."

Do you expect your business developers to do marketing? Do you expect your marketers to generate leads? If so, this decision could be wasting money and missing solid leads.

Business owners often get marketing and lead generation confused and there is an important difference. Understanding the difference will help you direct strategies specific to your business development goals.

Marketing, also referred to as ‘demand’ generation, drives awareness and interest in a company’s products and services. If the conversion can be applied online with no interaction with the company, marketing is then critical to driving awareness, trust, and authority with your products and services. This is where social media, public relations, email marketing, SEO, online ads, community engagement and other tools come in. These are all marketing tools to build demand. Marketing focuses on brand positioning, awareness and reputation. It is a long-term ongoing strategy. Blogging is a good example of demand generation, as it pushes content out into the worldwide web and encourages sharing to get the best possible reach. There may be a call-to-action on the blog, such as ‘sign-up for our email for more information’ but it is not required to gain access to the blog. Read here why content generation is so important.

On the other hand, lead generation drives interest or inquiry into products or services. If your conversion requires sales interaction, negotiation, or is a longer sales cycles, lead generation is critical to target and acquire qualified sales leads nurtured through to a close. HubSpot is a prime example of lead gen, if you want to download a report or white paper you have to provide your name, email, phone number, company, size of company, etc. The content you want is gated and you have to give your info to get what you want.

There is definitely overlap as it relates to marketing and lead generation. Small businesses most often focus on overarching communication services while larger companies will have a sales team focused on lead generation and a marketing team for content, awareness, etc. Any lead generation activity should have the support of marketing.

Success and measurement also differs between the two. Marketing views success by the reach of your message/content and the engagement achieved. Lead generation is often focused on capturing customer information via gated content or downloads – ultimately how many people fill out a form per month and this isn’t necessarily focused on the quality of the lead, just quantity.

Because of the overlap of the two, it can be very confusing. Educating yourself on what your company needs is important to your overall sales and marketing success and will ensure you seek the right solution for your company. Don’t be left wondering why you aren’t achieving your desired results.

Sources: Hootsuite.com, MarTech.com, Content Marketing Institute

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