There are various definitions for demand generation, and it is often used interchangeably with either inbound marketing or the more popular lead generation. But demand generation is more than either of these two. Though it does include large amounts of marketing, its scope comprises a much larger process.
Demand generation is not broken up into campaigns, but does include strategies and systematic planning. It essentially comprises the whole sales process, even the part where the sales are actually converted into profits. As the name suggests, it focuses on creating demand---the propensity of the sales or business lead to purchase your products or services. While lead generation can be achieved through sheer dumb luck (a low budget video unexpectedly gaining virality status), demand generation requires a systematic, progressive and continuous process to create a steady demand for your product or service. There is no end to demand generation, as long as your business exists, you will need to create and foster a demand for your products and services to remain profitable. If you fail to create a demand for your merchandise in the first few years of your business, then there is little chance that you will ever achieve ROI.
Demand generation includes everything from lead generation to lead management. The entire sales process is not simply about finding leads, setting appointments with them and then converting them into profit. It should have a more long term goal of creating a steady flow of leads. Demand generation improves the (1)find--->(2)attract--->(3)meet--->(4)convert process and integrates the lead management segment into the mix. In fact, demand generation places a significant emphasis on lead management. Lead generation without lead management is merely a single transaction and leaves out a lot of potential business opportunities unexplored. With lead management, businesses are not only able to capture more leads but also identify which leads are already sales ready so that sales people can convert them right away. Content marketing is also a large part of demand generation. Without quality, knowledgeable and valuable content, sales leads and business leads will not see your products and services as useful for their own business.
The processes under lead management are found in the later part of the demand generation process. After the sales and business leads have been found, they need to be qualified. The lead scoring system plays an important part in this stage. Once the sales or business leads have been scored, they are finally sent to a salesperson to be closed. Demand generation is a complete and holistic integration of all these processes. In the previous illustration, if some leads are not able to immediately reach the last segment (convert), they undergo lead management where they are eventually returned to the attract--->meet--->convert segment. Similarly, leads who are successfully converted undergo the same process. This is what makes established businesses even more profitable. There are various software available to facilitate demand generation, but the in general, demand generation undergoes the same process.