How to balance brand awareness with lead generation

By Cathy Colliver


Louisville, Kentucky, USA


Marketing can feel like a tug-of-war between brand-awareness tactics and lead-generation tactics. What’s important to keep in mind is that both are key to a complete marketing strategy.

Marketing is an ever-changing discipline, and depending on business goals, sales goals, and company priorities, you may find different situations call for brand awareness vs. lead generation.

Marketing strategies based on whether they are focused on brand awareness or lead generation.
Marketing strategies based on whether they are focused on brand awareness or lead generation.

When brand awareness is critical

Are you repositioning your brand? Establishing a new brand or go-to-market identity? Launching a new product? Making big changes in the services you offer? Merging with another company and consolidating brands?

Whenever there is a sizable change in one of these areas, establishing (or re-establishing) brand awareness is critical.

Do you have ongoing, baseline marketing activities like content marketing, search marketing, or a social media presence? While these tactics can tie into lead generation, the long-term benefit will serve brand awareness.

The benefit? You are top-of-mind when your target customers are in the consideration phase. Plus, cultivating brand marketing baseline activities can be valuable in providing deeper engagement with existing customers.

When lead generation is critical

Do you want to increase revenue? Grow average sales or products used with existing clients? Grow your client base by converting prospects? There are a lot of sales goals and priorities that lend themselves to more of a lead-generation focus.

Keep in mind, though, that even short-term campaigns should fit into your long-term marketing strategy. Are your lead-generation tactics using messaging that is on brand? Are you optimising both short term within a campaign and long term across campaigns and your baseline brand-marketing tactics?

Keep in mind, the point of lead generation is delivering a relevant message at the right time so you can convert not only an impression into a lead, but also a lead into a customer. Understanding what your customer needs and the value they get from your offering is key to delivering the right lead-gen message at the right time.

Bridging the gap between brand awareness and lead generation

How can you effectively transition from brand awareness to lead-generation messaging along the consumer journey? We know by now the consumer journey is not linear and people are going to pop in and out, not necessarily in the order you’re thinking they will.

“Fifteen years ago, CMOs mostly focused on branding and they did it well,” explains Jonas Hemmingsen, GroupM Nordic’s CEO. “Now you have marketers who are digital natives but not necessarily with the experience of building strong brands. Finding the right mix between investing in short-term sales and long-term brand building is increasingly difficult.”

So, it’s important to build strong brands with relevant messages that potential customers can connect with and layer in short-term lead-generation tactics aligned with that same message.

Remember that you can use brand storytelling techniques to bridge the gap and have a through line between your brand-awareness and lead-generation messaging. 

The Herald Sun leverages content to drive digital subscriptions, a practice that is increasingly common in the media world. This is a great way to connect value messages both long term as a brand-awareness play, and short term to generate leads and conversions.

Not an either/or game

Brand awareness and lead generation are not an either/or choice. And it’s not even about which one goes first and how you create touchpoints in a linear way to lead from one to the other situation.

One of my favourites Ann Handley quotes talks about the benefits of slow marketing, and Seth Godin has a nice blog post on the express and the local. Both of these speak to the benefit of taking the long view to make effective change and, in the end, get there quicker.

Think about how you can layer both brand-building and lead-generation tactics into a holistic brand marketing strategy. In turn, this can help you test and learn about more effective and more efficient marketing and advertising tactics. Slowing down to effectively map out and optimise a complete strategy can help you get to where you want to go faster.

About Cathy Colliver

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