Demand generation is fantastic, but without actual leads, a business can’t experience sustained growth – and without sustained growth… well, you know what happens. Sometimes demand generation and lead generation are used interchangeably but they’re not exactly the same thing; let’s take a look.

Lead generation is marketing with the sole purpose of building a contact list for future follow-up. Content drives this process when it’s placed behind a sign-up form referred to as a gate. Leads know you will communicate with them again in some fashion – typically via email. Examples of lead generating content include e-books, whitepapers, case studies and webinars.

Demand generation is marketing with the intention of creating a desire for your products, services, or even your industry at large. It’s more about building awareness for a challenge your buyer may someday experience and tees you up to solve it, when they’re ready. Demand generation uses un-gated content with calls-to-action at the bottom pointing to a gate such as “sign-up for our newsletter” or “download this e-book.”

Content is (still) king for good reason

The Internet is noisy with content because almost every business is using it to drive demand and leads. The challenge for Xerox Channel Partners is how to use it to disrupt buyers along their journey in positive and helpful ways so they see you as a resource worth subscribing to.

A brief history of content as a lead magnet

In one form or another, content has been part of demand and lead generation for over a hundred years. For example, beginning around 1895, brands published and distributed magazines in their names. Then in the 1930’s, we saw brand-centric shows on radio and TV (think: soap operas). Much later, as the Internet grew, so did content; first with blogs, eBooks, articles, and reports and then quickly expanding into podcasts, videos and webinars. Then, sometime around 2013 the buyer’s journey shifted towards self-serve and content made an about face from brand-centric to customer-centric. That’s where we are today.

Creative content marketing for lead generation

If the goal for generating leads is to obtain contact information for the purpose of future follow-up, then you need creative, relevant, and unique content they can’t get elsewhere. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Gated videos
    Brainstorm ideas for a video series your audience will be interested in such as “print TV” or “green marketing ideas.” Include insights from interviews with experts or show unique ideas that contribute positively to their work lives. Have some episodes un-gated for demand generation and gate others. Then, invite viewers to opt-in and send them emails when new episodes are added.
  1. Success secrets from experts
    Think about the industries you cater to and others you would like to break into. Most people are interested in opinions of experts in their industries. Search for expert insights and cull them into a gated list article or e-book.
  1. Create a survey
    Survey current customers on industry topics and use the data to create a gated report. Give participants first access to the data in exchange for their input and once the results are developed into gated content, use it to grow your list.
  1. Build a case study based on your own business
    If you’ve done any experiments within your business and gained insights that will help others, it’s a perfect opportunity to create a case study from the findings.  For example, have you studied firsthand how to save paper or reduce printing costs? Or maybe you’ve gathered data on how to prolong the life of a copier.  Curate that information into a “what we learned from…” case study such as “what we learned from servicing 2500 office printers,” and gate it.
  1. Opt-in mini-course
    Use a marketing automation tool to set up a series of emails with tips and tricks on topics of interest such as reducing printing costs or using ConnectKey apps to supercharge your business. Invite viewers to a mini-course that runs over 12 weeks with a new snippet of helpful information delivered via email bi-weekly and an option to sign up for a new course at the end of the current one.

When getting started with lead generation it’s important not to get overwhelmed by the content development process. Start small by adding a newsletter sign-up form to your website and as time and resources allow, build e-books and other gated content.

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