Marketing Vs Lead Gen

The difference between marketing and lead-generation

3 minute read

3 minute read

Today I'm sharing a simple concept that has really helped some of our clients in recent digital strategy workshops.

It's about the difference between marketing and lead-generation.

Once the penny drops with this people start making different decisions, and begin choosing tactics that more directly affect results.

How do you describe what you do?

Do you describe yourself as a marketer or a lead-generator?

Are you involved in marketing work or lead-generation work?

Most people describe themselves as marketers, it's the word that's normally in our job titles, and we buy in digital marketing services.

But what happens when we flip it and describe ourselves as lead-generators and start buying in lead-generation websites and retainers?

Let's take a look.


Obviously marketing is a broad term that incorporates a range of tactics including highly targeted lead-generation tactics.

But when we speak to in-house marketers and ask about their marketing activity they predominantly describe:

  • Social media posts to their followers
  • New content on their website such as blogs and videos
  • Paid campaigns and remarketing ads
  • Email newsletters sent to a list
  • These tactics are all very well and should be part of a marketing strategy.

But they're low-level in terms of generating new customers because they are largely seen in a small bubble of people who are already engaged with us.

The trap is that this marketing feels like it's working - we see our posts, we see lots of likes and comments, it feels like we're doing something valuable.

It is of some value, but is very limited.


When we have conversations about lead-generation they're very different.

Because lead-generation is specific, focused, measurable.

When we help people set up lead-generation campaigns we're discussing advanced tactics that are mostly focused towards people who don't yet know us.

The sort of tactics we're often implementing with clients are:

  • Highly targeted paid search campaigns
  • Lead magnets such as white papers and scorecards
  • Performance websites with high conversion rates
  • Email automation and remarketing to nurture prospects

The end result of this work is less visible, it's quieter activity that we don't have to work on every day - it simply sends a flow of valuable new prospects to our CRM. Every time we log in there are more in there, to nurture and follow up with.

It's obviously highly profitable - this is where the revenue is, there is where we grow our business and deliver record-breaking results each year.

The proof

We experimented with this idea with our own tactics here at Bespoke.

For 12-months we reduced traditional digital marketing activity such as social media posts and blog writing by around 90%. Some months we posted nothing.

Instead we ran a small number of carefully planned, highly targeted paid campaigns with a valuable asset built for them as a lead magnet.

We backed this with a performance website that would convert those leads.

The result is we're having our most successful year in 22-years and have been close to fully booked for as long as we can remember.

We've see similar results amongst clients by shifting focus this way too.

So the takeaway today is simply to consider how you label yourself and the work you do - is it marketing or is it lead-generation?

A simple shift in mindset, but one that transforms marketing departments.


If you haven't yet be sure to get your free Digital Strategy Audit where you can score your business on this and similar topics.

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Steve Brennan Author
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Steve Brennan

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Steve Brennan is Co-founder and CEO of Bespoke, and author of the Amazon #1 bestseller, Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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