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1st March 2024

Growth Marketing vs. Demand Generation

These two B2B marketing strategies are having their moment in 2024: growth marketing, and demand generation. But what are they? What's the difference between them? And how can you use growth marketing and demand generation strategies to grow your business?

Growth marketing vs demand generation really boils down to what part of the marketing funnel you're targeting.

Demand generation is all about raising brand awareness: mostly to attract prospects at the top of the funnel, but also to nurture them over time to think of your brand when they're in an active buying cycle.

Growth marketing takes more of a full funnel approach. The idea is to grow your business using every part of the marketing funnel, from initial awareness to happy repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations. Growth marketing strategies rely on innovation, moving quickly, and using data.

In this blog, we'll cover:

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What Is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing looks at all of your marketing efforts holistically to create a full-funnel, multi-tactic strategy specifically to grow your business. But what does that mean for tech marketers in reality?

Growth marketing is thought to originate with Facebook, which back in its early days created a growth team tasked with growing the site's user base as quickly as possible. They didn't use traditional marketing methods: they used the tactics of “internet marketing 101: test, optimize, rinse, and repeat”, according to former Product Manager of Growth, Andy Johns, with spectacular results.

B2B growth marketing concentrates not only on the classic strategies of raising brand awareness, attracting new leads and nurturing potential buyers to purchase, but also on growing revenue, retaining existing customers, and getting word-of-mouth referrals – all of which help create sustainable growth.

In fact, B2B growth marketers use a funnel called the Pirate Funnel, which looks like this:

Growth marketing vs demand generation image showing the 'AAARRR' model

(You see why it's called the Pirate Funnel. AAARRR!)

It's related to, but not the same as, growth hacking. Growth hacker marketing is often employed by start-ups who want to – well – grow.

Growth hacking is all about experimenting with various fast-paced, low-cost tactics to find the winning formulae. B2B growth marketing focuses more on the long game: it’s a holistic, long-term approach.

But the experimental spirit of growth hacker marketing is also important in growth marketing. A/B testing, responsiveness to customer feedback, and using lots of different approaches to see what works, are typical. The results of these experiments then inform the growth marketing strategy going forward.

In fact, not just the marketing strategy. B2B growth marketing often takes an all-hands-on-deck approach, engaging the entire team to respond to customer feedback and data. Many growth marketers use it to actually improve or change the product itself, not just the way it's marketed.

You can probably see by now how important data is to growth marketing. The idea is to glean as much data as possible from all campaigns, and use it to hone your growth marketing strategy.

How Does Lead Generation Work With Growth Marketing?

Lead generation is a very important part of any B2B growth marketing strategy. To grow, you need to attract new customers, and lead generation is the first step.

It's best to use a number of different lead generation tactics to widen your potential audience, and find out which work best.

As we said before, data is the key here. Any growth marketing B2B lead generation campaign needs to generate high-quality, accurate and validated data so that growth marketers can measure a campaign's effectiveness. Be careful to choose a lead generation agency that offers transparent, traceable, 100% digital data.

As well as the obvious ones – like SEO, website marketing, social media, email marketing – you could try:

  • Content syndication (using an agency like Headley Media).
  • Display advertising (to support your overall strategy by boosting brand awareness).
  • Webinars (hosting your own and attending others').
  • Video content.
  • Special offers for email subscribers or free trialists.

Explore lots more Outbound lead generation ideas and inbound lead generation strategies to boost your growth marketing strategy further.

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is the art of creating demand amongst relevant prospects. The aim is to get them to organically think of you when they're in the consideration and purchase phases of an active buying cycle.

It’s not the same as lead generation, which is usually a short-term, transactional, outbound marketing strategy.

With lead generation, you’ll probably use gated content to capture contact details, whereas your demand generation strategy will use ungated content to tempt a bigger audience to read your stuff.

You can see here the differences between demand generation vs growth marketing. A B2B demand generation strategy typically focuses on the earlier parts of the funnel, where brand awareness is created, unlike growth marketing, which looks at the full funnel.

Most demand generation agencies will help you plan campaigns that will boost brand awareness, via content marketing and advertising. To tie demand generation into your B2B growth marketing campaign, ensure that you're using plenty of different types of content and different platforms – for example:

  • Blogs and articles on website.
  • Guest blogs or quotes on a partner's website.
  • eBook or video distribution via relevant content syndication platforms.

You should also ensure that your demand generation company is able to feed back accurate, usable data and insights, as fast as possible, and that they're prepared to move as fast as you are to act on customer feedback and results.

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Growth Marketing vs Demand Generation: 5 Key Differences

There are a few major differences between growth marketing and demand generation. 

Difference 1: The Funnel

The main difference between growth marketing and demand generation, as we've mentioned, is their place in the marketing funnel:

  • B2B demand generation = mainly upper-middle funnel (building brand awareness, nurturing leads).
  • B2B growth marketing = full funnel (brand awareness through to customer retention and recommendation).

Difference 2: Inbound vs Outbound

Growth marketing and demand generation are both largely inbound marketing approaches. However, in growth marketing, you can see outbound marketing strategies used as well – as long as they can be deployed and adapted (or dropped, if necessary) rapidly.

For example, classic digital lead generation methods such as mass email and search advertising are vital, as well as content syndication on content hubs to reach bigger audiences.

Difference 3: Traditional vs Innovative

On the other hand, despite its trendy buzzwordability, demand generation usually uses more traditional marketing methods than growth marketing.

Demand gen typically uses classic digital inbound methods like content marketing, display advertising and social media posting. To tie these in with growth marketing, change them up regularly and harvest the data for which work best.

Difference 4: Data

Data! You should definitely use data to make your B2B demand generation strategy most effective, but it's not quite as imperative as it is in growth marketing.

As well as information on which tactics resonate best with customers and potential customers, use intent data to find out more about who your customers are and what they're looking for.

Difference 5: Brand Awareness

We've talked a lot about brand awareness in connection with demand generation strategies in B2B, but here's the thing: what if you're running a small SaaS business or start-up that doesn't have much 'brand' to speak of in the first place?

Lots of businesses are thriving in the digital age without anyone having heard of them. What was the last thing you bought on Amazon (or other online marketplaces)? Had you ever heard of the company that actually supplied it? Growth marketing tactics, such as continuously updating your SEO and search advertising against keywords, can be very effective for growth without brand recognition.

Looking for growth marketing tips and demand creation services? 

To help you choose a transparent and trustworthy supplier we recommending using our handy lead and demand generation checklist when checking out potential demand generation agencies.