Lead generation and raising brand awareness are usually ranked the top two marketing priorities for business-to-business (B2B) companies. The question is, which one is more important? In this post we'll cover what brand awareness and lead generation are, and how to use them to accelerate sales.
What is brand awareness?
Brand awareness is the extent to which your company or product/service is recognized in the market by potential customers. Ideally, if they need your product or service, you will come to mind and they will contact you. However, the difficulty is getting your product or service known in a cluttered and noisy marketplace – and keeping it top of mind. Not so easy. Companies with low brand awareness complain about a lack of inbound leads. Additionally, your brand has to be seen as credible and experienced and, depending on your industry, perhaps innovative and/or methodical.
What is lead generation?
Lead Generation is the initiation of buyer interest or inquiry into products or services. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. In our experience, when we are asked to deliver leads, it is usually sales leads. Traditionally, lead generation was left to sales, through techniques such as cold calling or social selling. Companies that struggle with lead generation typically have sales people that complain about a lack of brand awareness that hinders their efforts.
How does brand awareness work?
Brand awareness is about communicating to the target market at large and presenting the company to as many potential customers as possible. It is sometimes more general in content or theme and conveys a lot information about the company. There is often no Call to Action and no information required by the reader / user of the information.
How does lead generation work?
Lead generation, meanwhile, has the goal of acquiring new contacts to become sales leads. It uses more specific content and offers that coincide with the information needs of prospects later in the sales funnel. It almost always requests information from the reader or user, usually as a form to be filled out in exchange for provision of an offer like a whitepaper, free assessment, or free trial.
Bring brand awareness and lead generation together to maximize sales growth
Most B2B companies think that lead generation is the more important of brand awareness and lead generation.
But in our experience, growth comes faster with activities that deliver both brand awareness and lead generation.
In B2B, the combination of a brand that is known and credible, alongside lead generation campaigns that arrive during the purchase cycle of a prospect, deliver the greatest sales results. It's almost always a question of balancing the amount of activity and investment in each activity, rather than choosing one or the other.
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