Bonus material: Demand generation calendar.

B2B demand generation has become a buzzword everybody talks about, but you rarely see practical examples or case studies.

For many B2B marketers, demand generation is all about running ads to ungated content with occasional thought leadership, podcasting, and blogging. These activities should be added to your demand gen mix, but they are not the complete demand strategy.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you:

  • A framework we used to generate 72 inbound opportunities and >$1 mln inbound pipeline for with just 2 FTEs in the 1st year of business
  • Modern demand generation campaigns that drive results
  • Demand generation waterfall to create awareness in the target market
  • How to introduce and launch demand generation in your company and get support from senior leadership

Let’s dive in.

Demand generation vs lead generation vs demand capturing

Before we’ll dive into practical stuff, let’s quickly nail down what demand generation is and how it is different from lead generation and demand capturing.

What is demand generation?

From my perspective, it’s a long-term ongoing activity to create awareness in the target market, and generate demand for your product. The ultimate goals of demand generation are: 

  • Increasing the volume of inbound opportunities (companies reaching out to you about your product) from your ICP. 
  • Warming up target accounts to make it easier for sales to connect with them. Sales will talk to accounts that are already aware of your product.
  • Shortening the sales cycle and increasing the win rate

What is lead generation?

These are short-term sales-focused tactics that are supposed to generate sales opportunities fast, even from companies that are not actively buying. Lead generation tactics heavily depend on volume and include standard tactics like:

  • direct ads, 
  • gated PDF with further sales outreach, 
  • webinars where they pitch their product.

This graph perfectly explains lead generation tactics.

What is demand capturing?

Demand capturing is identifying engaged accounts that fit your ICP (companies that demonstrate a significant interest in your product – we’ll cover it later) and marketing to companies that are actively looking for the solution.

To wrap it up, I want to share a graph created by Gaetano Di Nardi that provides a great comparison of all three functions.

Most B2B companies don’t understand lead generation and treat it as an offensive tactic. They assume that there are tactics that can convert companies that are not actively looking for a solution with a specific tactic, fast.

Hence, they run direct ads, promote gated content, and webinars where they pitch the product.

B2B companies are impatient and want the results NOW.

Lots of them have pressure from the investors or are led by CEOs/CROs that don’t have a marketing background. These people assume that marketing is all about making customers aware that their product exists.

Even if different marketing initiatives make sense to them, these ideas are shut down just because:

  • it takes time to launch and get results
  • it seems to be non-scalable and non-predictable.

These companies are ready to spend years changing marketers, marketing agencies, and SDRs to get short-term results. But they are not ready to invest the same time in doing the right things that produce long-term wins and growth.

They are product-biased. 

They assume they have the best product in the market, and they need just 2 things: a skilled person who can write great copy for ads + sales veterans who can sell anything to anybody.

They live in their delusional world looking for people who excel at «sell me this pen».

This continues until they learn the lesson the hard way and understand that «LEADS» are the consequence of 

  • brand awareness, 
  • demand generation, 
  • WOM & customer advocacy,
  • great product.

They become interested in your product not because they saw an ad telling how great your product is or a cold email from SDR.

They become interested when they believe your product is one of the best possible solutions to their challenges.

Lead generation is not a linear function. At least, not in B2B enterprise sales and marketing.

Don’t expect that automated, templated email and Inmail cadences amplified by multichannel ads will grow your pipeline.

It’s a buyer-dominated market, and you must market the way your customers are buying, not applying gimmicks and growth hacks.

If it makes sense, why then do B2B companies still prefer lead generation to demand generation?

Here are 5 reasons.

1. It’s easier and faster to launch.

You can buy ZoomInfo, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and sales outreach software to launch a cold outbound campaign in a few hours. The same with direct-response ads.

Compare it to marketing activities that should create awareness or generate demand where you need to leverage customer insights and have the right skill set.

2. Scalability.

Lead gen can be scaled faster by adding more budget or hiring more SDRs. Awareness, demand generation, and ABM programs take a lot of time to scale.

3. Direct attribution.

Lead generation campaigns can be easily attributed to revenue in your analytics software, so they seem to be more predictable.

Demand gen campaigns require a mix of self-attribution, customer interviews, and digital tracking which most companies don’t have. As a result, they can’t see an impact on revenue.

4. Linear funnel.

Lead generation function is linear: ad/cold email → Landing page → Demo call → Deal Won/lost.

B2B demand generation is not linear.

5. Lead gen can be easily outsourced.

You can quickly find and hire a lead gen agency or growth hacker that will be working on booking meetings for you without involving your team.

Demand gen can be outsourced only partially and requires close collaboration with your marketing team.

Here is a harsh truth about lead gen.

Most of your buyers are not actively buying, so your ads and outreach will be ignored and generate miserable ROI. You’ll burn out your budget and your market fast.

The lead gen function puts leads, not revenue, as a core metric, so your team will never focus on demand generation and market to the cold audience. As the result, your product will always be compared to others and your company will be perceived as “yet another vendor”.

Lead gen scales faster, but in the long term, the lead gen performance significantly decreases.

B2B demand gen demistified

Drawbacks caused by lead gen:

  • Non-differentiated positioning and marketing message
  • Lack of account research and personalization
  • High CAC

Compare it to demand generation and ABM programs that scale slower but in the long term significantly over-perform lead gen by:

  • Shorter sales cycle
  • Higher ACV
  • Higher lead to conversion/win rate

Let’s discuss the B2B demand generation function and how to launch it.

Demand generation waterfall

I look at B2B demand generation as a demand waterfall that has 3 pillars:

  1. Awareness and demand generation activities.
  2. Content distribution
  3. Demand capturing

1. Awareness and demand generation activities.

To develop an efficient demand generation strategy, you need to understand the buyer journey first: how your customers are searching, learning, and buying.

The next step is defining demand activities that can create awareness and demand and align them with the buyer journey. These activities can include:

  • Create demand and awareness via proactive thought leadership.
  • Launch a 1:few partnership webinars and market research with niche associations or communities
  • Create personalized content hubs for buyer’s enablement and further nurturing
  • Content co-creation with target accounts
  • Interview target accounts on your podcast
  • Target accounts with top-performing content to boost awareness
  • Retarget accounts with detailed case studies/use cases to identify engaged accounts for nurturing and demand capturing
  • Well-researched guest posts on the blogs/newsletters/communities your target accounts are following
  • Blog posts focused on solving specific challenges/answering questions your buyers have instead of generic writing for a high-volume keyword
  • Proactive content distribution
  • Niche-focused events to boost awareness and establish a relationship
  • Collaboration with thought leaders
  • A newsletter that covers a specific topic in-depth instead of pitches and corporate press releases

I usually categorize and put them into 4 pillars.

B2B demand gen demistified

4 pillars to create awareness and demand

1. Content collaboration. 

Content collaboration with 5 audiences, including launching a podcast, blog articles, partnership webinars, and guest posts:

  • Target accounts
  • Thought leaders
  • Engagers (platform active members)
  • Communities & associations
  • Industry media

2. Events.

  • Micro-events with thought leaders for a specific group of target accounts
  • Summits
  • 1:few and 1:many educational webinars

3. Social engagement.

  • Engage with the 5 audiences I mentioned above. Quite often, engagers and thought leaders might return a favor and feature you in their podcast, newsletter, or blog.
  • Start a thought leadership program. Repurpose best-performing content to target accounts and boost brand awareness.
  • Engage with niche communities and associations. Answer questions, run AMAs, and collaborate.

4. Paid promotion.

  • Boosting your top-performing content to target accounts

Why these 4 pillars?

Here is the truth.

In most markets, there is no demand for your product or your product category. People simply don’t understand they have a problem your product solves. Lots of education is required.

Now, if they are not looking for a solution, how are you going to market to them or, at least, attract their attention?

B2B buyers don’t log in to social or the community because they want to see a new product ad. They do it to see updates from their peers, learn from the thought leaders and engage with the community.

They come for content and entertainment.

You can create awareness and demand only when you’ll be consistently connecting and engaging with your target audience, and talking in different formats about:

  • the challenges your target buyers have,
  • solutions & ideas they can apply,
  • practical advice and market insights

2. Content distribution.

Whenever I discuss demand generation programs with B2B marketers, I often hear back that they don’t have a clear content distribution plan. They just sporadically share published content on social and promote it via ads.

Here is the truth.

Unless you are a well-known brand that constantly produces top-notch content your audience is eagerly waiting for, you need to have a proactive distribution plan.

Here are 5 ways to get your content noticed by your target audience.

5 content distribution tactics.

1. Grow your audience you can connect with directly.

Assets like email newsletters, WhatsApp/Telegram channels, or your own community enable you to directly communicate with the target audience. You become independent of social algorithms, Google updates, or traffic costs.

These assets simplify the process of accumulating your audience and have a low entry barrier.

2. Borrow audience.

Find non-competitive companies that also sell to your audience and run co-marketing campaigns with them:

  • Educational webinars
  • Mentions and link exchange
  • Featuring each other on the podcast, etc.
  • Publish guest posts on industry-known media

Whenever you run these activities, mention your assets to “borrow audience”.

3. Leverage social & communities.

Engage with the target audience in the channels they use for research and education, including: 

  •  Industry communities and associations (like Trenches – a free community for B2B marketers)
  • Social media
  • Old-fashioned forums that are still popular in many conservative markets

4. Involve sales in content distribution.

If this sounds controversial, think about these facts for a second:

  • 90% of B2B decision makers never respond to cold outreach (HBR).
  • 62% of B2B customers respond to salespeople who connect by sharing content and insights that are relevant to the buyer (LinkedIn).
  • 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with brands that have a strong, cohesive professional social media presence (LinkedIn).
  • 92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as an industry thought leaders. This credibility is often attained by posting regularly on social media (LinkedIn).

First, sales reps are already connected with your target accounts. Every piece of content is a fantastic non-sales touch to open or reengage the conversation.

* Non-sales touch means a message or email without pitching or following up with prospects. Consider it an email to your friends. You ask about how it’s going and share relevant content that might be helpful or valuable for them.

Second, by sharing the content sales position themselves as trusted advisors, not SDRs nobody wants to talk to.

One caveat:

The content that you produce should be in-depth and comprehensive. No salesperson will share content that will make them look amateur.

  1. Paid promotion.

I mention paid promotion as the last tactic because of the fact I mentioned in the beginning: 

If your company is an unknown brand, and you rely on paid promotion only, you’ll burn out the marketing budget fast.

Paid promotion amplifies the 4 tactics I mentioned above but doesn’t replace them. Here are some ideas on how you can use it.

  • Promote your best-performing organic to target accounts that engaged either with your content, visited your website, or signed up for the recent event.
  • Use short clips from podcast episodes with the thought leaders and show them to their followers that fit our ICP. Later, retarget them with the content from step 1.
  • Retarget accounts that visited your product page with case studies and short customer testimonials.
  • Collect engagement insights, manually connect and engage with accounts that hit your engagement threshold.

Watch below the webinar where we explain with Justin Row how to set up a perfect content promotion and demand capturing ads strategy on LinkedIn.

There are many conversations comparing demand generation to demand capturing, but the truth is that you need both.

You can’t expect your car to ride if the wheel, tire, or anything else is missing.

The same with B2B marketing.

Create awareness -> Grab attention -> Generate demand -> Capture the demand → Onboard and expand – this is a B2B marketing 101.

3. Demand capturing.

Let’s leave theory aside and focus on demand capturing tactics.

Traditionally, demand capturing in B2B marketing means 

  • Running direct ads related to your product (e.g. Ad promoting email marketing software to people who search on Google for this keyword). 
  • Optimizing landing pages for the same keyword. 
  • Running a retargeting campaign promoting a demo or free trial to people who visited the website.

While these tactics are wildly used for low ACV B2B products with a short sales cycle, they generate miserable returns for complex high ACV products with long sales.

The main difference is that in complex B2B, we capture the demand at the stage where buyers show engagement and significant interest in your product, but didn’t make a decision if they want to go with your product.

They might be doing research, evaluating vendors, checking your use cases, or trying to figure out if your product is the right fit for your needs.

So instead of trying to push them to book a demo, we leverage these insights to connect with the engaged accounts and learn more about their needs.

Here are 3 ways we capture the demand in complex B2B.

2 ways to capture the demand in complex B2B.

1. Set up an engagement threshold and track account engagement across multiple channels and your website to identify accounts that demonstrate high interest in your product.

Example of engagement threshold:

  • Spent 30 minutes on your website reading a case study
  • Checked the pricing page
  • Signed up for a product webinar
  •  3 visits in the last 30 days

You can proceed with warming up and activating the engaged accounts with account-based marketing tactics and retargeting promoting dedicated case studies or customer stories.

Here is a video where we explain in detail the process of tracking account engagement.

2. Buyer enablement program:  solution-based content hubs to capture the demand from the warm prospects (e.g. ABM content hub).

Content hubs provide 2 fantastic benefits.

1. Buyer enablement.

Keep in mind that quite often sales won’t be talking to the decision-makers, but to the Champions.

These people will be selling your solution internally and will get lots of questions like

  • Budget justification and ROI
  • Vertical use cases and results they can expect
  • Migration, security, and onboarding
  • Risks coming from selecting you as a vendor

You can put inside the content to address all of these points.

2. Intent insights.

You’ll see who and how often engaged with your content, and what exactly they consumed. It gives priceless insights for precise and timely follow-up.

Follow the process, and your sales team will never complain about the pipeline and marketing-sourced revenue.

In the next section, I’ll share a short overview of our company’s demand generation strategy. You’ll see a demand waterfall model in action.

Overview of’s demand generation strategy

B2B demand gen demistified

I know that aside from theory, you want to see a practical example of the demand generation strategy. Let me share a simple demand gen strategy we used with Vladimir when we launched at the end of 2020.

In 2021 (the first year of business) we generated 63 inbound opportunities and a $600k pipeline with 2 FTEs.

9 pillars of’s demand generation strategy.

B2B demand gen demistified

1. LinkedIn thought leadership and proactive engagement. 

Every workday, our senior marketing team (Andrei, Vladimir, and Stapho) posts actionable content about account-based demand generation and proactively engages with 4 audiences:

  • Engagers
  • ICP
  • Event organizers
  • Partners

As a result, 91% of our inbound requests mention LinkedIn as the channel where they first heard about us.

2. Monthly webinars.

Every month we host an educational webinar with tech companies that serve similar audiences – B2B tech companies with high ACV.

We don’t pitch, both promote with a partner the event, expand the network and generate awareness and demand.

In 2021, we hosted 9 webinars with Chili Piper, Nick Bennett, lemlist,