Growth marketing vs demand generation – how are these actually different?

The marketing world is full of buzzwords and trends.  

Almost like marketers are good at selling an idea…

A couple of the key buzzwords that have sprung up over the last couple of years and have lasted are ones which many people don’t really understand.

Growth marketing vs demand generation. What exactly are they and how are they different?

Most people will throw these bad boys out indiscriminately despite, I reckon, not really knowing what they actually mean. 

So, if you’re curious about the definitions or just want to know how they differ, here’s the low-down.  

What is demand generation? 

Demand generation is all about creating demand for your product and offer. You’re basically trying to create interest and awareness for what you offer.  

Generally speaking, demand generation is focused on education.  If we take a look at the old stages of awareness, it sits more towards the left-hand side. 

Eugene Schwartz stages of awareness

You’re hoping to increase the number of people who are aware of your brand and offer. And, of course, if you manage to position it well, you should see more people then convert into customers.  

Generally speaking, the key metrics for demand generation are a little different to growth-focused strategies. You’re really looking at increasing…

  • Impressions
  • Traffic
  • Time on page

Personally, I like to think of demand generation as a “top-of-mind” play.

You’re there and showing up in people’s feeds etc in an effort to be a brand they think of. 

one of the best examples I’ve seen of this is what The Hustle guys did after selling to HubSpot. Sam partnered with Shann and they created a number of new pieces of media which they “stacked” to continually remain top of mind for entrepreneurs.

The hustle media stacking for growth marketing
The Hustle’s media stacking approach offering more info and products to the same audience.

In this example, all of the offers have an overlap in audience, but they’re on different channels and so help Sam and Shaan stay top of mind.

If you can remain in their feeds when they’re not ready to buy, you’ll be one of the first brands they think of when they are ready to buy.  

Pros of demand generation

  • 1. Increased Lead Generation: Demand generation helps generate a high volume of leads for your business. By targeting the right audience and creating compelling marketing campaigns, you can attract potential customers and generate more leads.
  • 2. Improved Brand Awareness: Demand generation strategies focus on creating brand awareness and visibility among your target audience. This helps in building brand recognition and establishing your business as a trusted and credible source in the market.
  • 3. Higher Conversion Rates: Effective demand generation tactics are designed to attract qualified leads who are more likely to convert into customers. By targeting the right audience and delivering personalized content, you can increase your conversion rates and drive more sales. It might not be fast as you’re also targeting out-of-market peeps, but it should lead to higher CVR down the line.  
  • 4. Enhanced Customer Engagement: Demand generation involves creating engaging and interactive content that resonates with your audience. This helps in building stronger relationships with your customers, increasing customer loyalty, and fostering repeat business.
  • 5. Competitive Advantage: Implementing demand-generation strategies can give your business a competitive edge. By effectively targeting and engaging with your audience, you can differentiate your brand from competitors and attract more customers.
  • 6. Long-term Growth: Demand generation is not really about short-term results; it focuses on long-term growth and sustainability. By consistently attracting and nurturing leads, you can build a strong customer base and ensure a steady flow of business in the future.

Cons of demand generation

  • 1. High Costs: Implementing demand generation strategies can be expensive, requiring investment in marketing campaigns, technology, and resources.
  • 2. Time-Consuming: Developing and executing demand generation campaigns can be time-consuming, requiring extensive planning, research, and analysis.
  • 3. Uncertain Results: Despite the efforts put into demand generation, there is no guarantee of immediate or significant results. It may take time to see a noticeable increase in demand or conversion rates.
  • 4. Competition: In a saturated market, demand generation efforts may face intense competition from other businesses trying to capture the attention of the same target audience, making it harder to stand out.
  • 5. Lack of Control: Demand generation involves attracting and engaging potential customers, but it does not guarantee their conversion into actual customers. This lack of control over the final buying decision can be a disadvantage.
  • 6. Inconsistent Lead Quality: Demand generation strategies may generate leads, but the quality of these leads can vary. Some leads may not be genuinely interested or qualified, resulting in wasted time and resources.
  • 7. Difficulty in Measuring ROI: Determining the return on investment (ROI) of demand generation activities can be challenging. It can be difficult to accurately attribute sales or conversions solely to demand generation efforts, making it hard to assess the effectiveness and justify the expenses.
  • 8. Evolving Market Dynamics: Consumer preferences, market trends, and industry dynamics are constantly changing. Demand generation strategies need to adapt and evolve to stay relevant, which can be challenging and require continuous effort and investment.

Common demand generation strategies

With demand generation we want to be in front of as many people as possible. 

We need them to see us, talk about us, and give us their details so we can continue to stay “top of mind”. 

A couple of the common strategic goals include…


Find people with an overlapping audience and work with them to talk about your brand.  

We’re talking partnerships with…

  • Email newsletter creators
  • Non-competing brands with an overlapping audience
  • Bloggers and influencers with overlapping audience

Wherever your audience is, you need to be seen there. So get to working on those partnerships.  

Content marketing

This is an obvious one, but one most people get wrong. A lot of people believe they should just target high-volume keywords and people will find them in search. 


AI search is taking a lot of that away. 

You should be creating content that aligns with the problems of your ideal users. Then promote it in the communities, social channels, and partnership sites etc where they hang out.  

I’ve put a good free training together on how most people get content marketing wrong and how you should do it instead. Drop your email below and I’ll send it to you. 

Lead capture

You’re going to need content for this in the form of things like webinars and or lead magnets.  

However, once you have the content you’ll be able to capture leads of your ideal users. 

Capturing leads itself is useless without some form of follow-up. 

So you’ll also need to build some form of nurture into your content strategy. that could be newsletters, content updates, feature updates etc. 

Just try not to make it too boring. 

What is growth marketing? 

 I’ve written countless times about growth marketing at this point.  

 In short, growth marketing is marketing that focuses on growing the overall position of the business. And by that, I mean growing revenue.  

Growth marketers will usually look at the entire model of the business and look at how they can increase key metrics like…

  • Leads
  • Sales
  • Churn
  • Referrals

And they’ll be assessing how they can improve metrics in those areas to better contribute to the overall health of the brand. 

It has more of a short-term focus as we want to see the revenue and growth graphs going up and to the right in as short a time as possible so we know what’s working. 

Don’t confuse it with growth hacking though. Usually, growth hacking will focus on a single metric like user acquisition and will be very short-term plays. Growth marketing focuses on the entire model and how it continues to business growth. 

I have a set system I use which focuses on 4 key stages and how they link together to create a seamless system.

Growth marketing framework

There’s a good explanation of how I approach it all on the growth model audit page.  

Pros of growth marketing

  1. Increased customer acquisition: Growth marketing strategies focus on finding new customers and expanding the customer base, leading to increased sales and revenue.
  2. Cost-effective: Growth marketing often relies on shorter feedback cycles and is focused on saving money. The result is faster payback at a cheaper cost.  
  3. Scalability: Growth marketing strategies can be scaled easily to accommodate business growth and changing market conditions.
  4. Measurable results: Growth marketing relies on data and analytics to track and measure the effectiveness of campaigns, allowing for continuous optimization and improvement.
  5. Adaptability: Growth marketing embraces experimentation and testing, allowing businesses to quickly adapt and iterate their strategies based on the insights gained. 

Cons of growth marketing

  1. Resource Intensive: Growth marketing often requires a significant investment in terms of time, money, and human resources. It requires constant monitoring, testing, and optimization to achieve desired results.
  2. Limited Scope: Growth marketing focuses mainly on short-term goals, such as increasing user acquisition or conversion rates. It may overlook long-term strategies, such as building brand loyalty or customer retention, which are crucial for sustainable growth.
  3. Risk of Over-Optimization: In the pursuit of rapid growth, there is a risk of over-optimizing certain metrics or channels, which may lead to a narrow focus and neglect of other important aspects of the business.
  4. Potential for Burnout: The fast-paced nature of growth marketing can lead to high levels of stress and burnout among marketing teams. The constant pressure to deliver quick results can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
  5.  Ethical Concerns: Some growth marketing tactics may border on unethical practices, such as aggressive marketing techniques or manipulation of user behavior. This can damage the reputation of a brand and lead to negative customer experiences.

Common growth marketing strategies

With growth marketing being all about the results, let’s take a look at the kind of strategies and approaches a lot of people use to get the most out of it.  

Paid advertising

There’s an argument to be made here for PPC in any form of marketing, but with growth marketing there’s little better for getting something new off the ground. 

I’ve worked on strategies for completely unknown brands and managed to attract thousands of leads in weeks thanks to PPC. 

It’s a super fast way to grow. You just have to make sure you have enough cash to ride out the payback period else you’ll be in trouble.  

Onboarding focused on value

Once you have someone’s lead or they’ve signed up for a free trial, you need to help them get the most from your product. 

 If they don’t see the value, they’ll churn.  

One of the best campaigns I’ve run here is something I call “highest value feature” campaigns. 

Find what feature your best users cannot live without and explain how to get the best from it in the onboarding. 

It usually helps the user get immediate value from the offer and keeps them paying.  


There’s loads of ways to run referrals. 

Affiliate campaigns, discounts for promos, even social share promos that simply increase reach. 

A good referral strategy is key to effective growth marketing. 

You have the potential to turn each and every one of your users into a sales assistant bringing in more customers. 

Which could lead to exponential growth.  

So what are the major differences between demand gen and growth marketing? 

If we’re summing this up quickly, we could say that demand generation is about increasing the profile and reach of your brand. 

getting people to engage with it and potentially become leads. 


So you remain top of mind for when they’re ready to buy.  

Growth marketing is about aggressively looking for those who are ready to buy and getting them into your funnel so you can see the key metrics like revenue and profit go up. 

Growth marketing vs demand generation – which should you choose for your business? 

As a growth advisor, I am biased. 

I will also choose growth marketing because I’m an impatient little bitch. 

However, what I will say is that demand generation can make the job of a growth marketer so much easier. 

When your product is known and trusted the growth strategies you can implement are wider and more successful.  

My usual play is to set up a growth engine first that drives results., then work on demand generation to further fill the top of the funnel. 

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