B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on April 30, 2018

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The Mezzanine team spends a lot of time talking to clients about the difference between brand awareness and lead generation. Most of our clients come to us for help acquiring more leads and while we want to help their business grow through new leads that turn into sales, we also recognize that growth will come faster with activities that deliver both brand awareness and lead generation.

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness is the extent to which your company or product/service is recognized in the marketplace 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 consumer 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.

Bring brand awareness and lead generation together

To further confuse you, tactics or campaigns for both can be similar, with only slight differences in how they are executed to swing one way or another. And, it is MUCH more difficult to execute a lead generation campaign without brand awareness. Why? Because you have to explain the brand and the product or service at the same time you build credibility and communicate the offer. That’s a lot to squeeze into a short attention span with a Call To Action (CTA) that gets results.

Both brand awareness and lead generation are deeply important and it is tempting to rely strictly on lead generation. However, most buyers want to get something for giving up their contact information, even when they have a demand for your product or service. Marketing can give away something “free” through thought leadership or campaigns targeted to where your buyers are already looking.  Brand awareness and lead generation campaigns can look similar, but if you look closely, brand awareness is about targeting the audience and presenting the company in front of 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 CTA other than completing a form (and even that sometimes falls off in brand awareness) whereas lead generation, with the goal of acquiring new contacts to become sales leads, will use more specific content or offers that coincide with the information needs of prospects later in the sales funnel - and they always require a form to be completed.

The following is one approach to having a brand awareness and lead generation strategy that delivers new customers and new revenue:

Brand awareness activities need to introduce your brand in a fun and creative way. Part of the art and science behind marketing is understanding how to balance creative marketing with a results-based approach.

Tactics include: 

  • Partner Marketing (please select your partners wisely!)
  • Referral programs
  • Thought leadership campaigns that educate at a broad level.

Lead generation campaigns include targeted search engine marketing (Ie – Google Adwords), where potential clients are asking to self-identify as a lead rather than download thought leadership, and direct mail or email programs where leads are asking for meetings leading to sales.

We know its confusing and there is a lot more to know than we can write into a short blog. Please get in touch if you would like to learn how we can help.

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