There are subtleties. Just make them obvious.

Marketing is many things – everything from product initiation and branding to market penetration modeling and ROI calculations. But is it lead generation? Or is lead generation just a marketing function?

If getting your name out and creating awareness is marketing (and it is), what makes the leap in prospects’ minds from knowing about your product or service to trying it out? How do you create enough interest to persuade them to consider you as a vendor – to put you on the list for evaluation and, hopefully, a purchase?

That’s where lead gen plays a very vital role – a role that, like a role in a movie, may take time to develop. Yet every scene and act can move the “plot” along: from awareness to interest, understanding, involvement, and, finally, commitment. But it wouldn’t be a good plot without at least one twist – that lead gen is the climax of the story; that you can only generate a lead after getting prospects involved in the story. And the story is the nurturing process.

Nurturing is what comes after the movie trailer, the print and TV and online ads, and the reviews – all the things that create awareness and motivate you to buy a ticket. But (and this is a critical point) that ticket only opens the door. In B2B marketing, in particular, it’s the start of the consideration stage, the point at which the storytelling gets underway.

But B2B and even B2C buyers now control how much of the story they learn about. They can walk out of the nurturing “movie” at any time, and it’s up to the nurturers to ensure that the story is compelling enough to hold people’s attention… and encourage them to want to know more.

Will this be, like a plot-line, a linear process – a to z? Probably not. Some people may veer off at k and want to know about k1, k2, and k3. Some might jump from b to n and then to a purchase. And that’s the nurturing challenge – having the right information when the prospect requests it (or is ready for it).

Once the story unfolds and people get more and more “into it,” they’ll reach a point when they’ve evaluated it sufficiently to decide to stay to the end. When that happens (and determining that point will rely on your own criteria), it’s time to step out of the movie and attempt to create the best ending – for the company and the prospect. That’s the point at which the person is qualified, is identified to Sales, and becomes a generated, “marketing qualified lead.”

Is that Marketing? Yes. But it’s the specific discipline of lead nurturing which results in lead generation which puts you in contention to close the sale. If you want to know how to do this (and how we’ve done it for decades for client after client), let us know.

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