This week I am giving a webinar discussing best practices for demand generation webinars. Recently I gave a presentation on content marketing webinars. Are they the same thing? Should I just reuse my same slides?

I say they are not equivalent, although there are overlaps. Because terminology is a tricky thing, you will no doubt hear marketing professionals interchange the two phrases. Actually, there is a third phrase to consider as well: “lead generation.” Let’s see if we can build a case for differentiating the three.

Content marketing is a tactic where you provide informational value for your targets by making resources available to them. The “content” is intended to improve understanding of your products/services or of the environment in which they are applied. Content may take the form of white papers, data sheets, blog posts, magazine articles, web page copy, in-room presentations, or webinars (this is not an exhaustive list).

The primary goal is not to get the prospect to make an order, or even to enter the sales process as a defined lead. Its purpose is to establish goodwill, trust, and interest in the minds of your targets, while also establishing your subject matter expertise and reliability as a company they would feel comfortable doing business with. It can be very hard to objectively measure the performance and effectiveness of a content marketing campaign.

Lead generation has a much more specific goal. The success of lead generation efforts are gauged purely on whether they create viable sales leads that can be turned into new revenue. Lead generation is a preliminary support function for the sales process. As such, it has two goals: To build a desire for your offerings and to identify the most likely sales targets who are worth spending time on.

I think of demand generation as an umbrella term that includes both of the previous two activities. Anything that increases demand for your offerings falls under this category.

Content marketing resources may inspire prospects to want to use your products or services. In other words, you have generated demand.

Lead generation is certainly a subcategory of demand generation, as it is designed to build demand to the point where a prospect is deemed ready to talk to a salesperson. But lead generation is not a requirement of demand generation.

A TV infomercial is an example of demand generation that bypasses lead generation entirely. It combines a marketing setup and a sales pitch leading people directly to place an order. Some webinars fall into this category as well (more commonly targeted at individual consumers than at business-to-business commerce).

Demand generation also includes special offers, incentives, coupons, and other sales tactics designed to stimulate immediate action on the part of a prospect. You may choose to include such an offer in a marketing webinar to create heightened demand and urgency in moving forward with a purchase.

These terminology distinctions may seem like an academic exercise, but it is vital that you know what you need to accomplish with each marketing activity you undertake (including webinars) and how you will determine the success of your efforts.

If you want to hear more about demand generation webinars, I invite you to register for my BrightTALK presentation on Thursday, April 30. You can click here for more information.

Read more: