Demand Creation: A Quick Refresher Course for Marketers

Bleu shopping

Marketers have been tasked with creating demand for their products and services for years. Even though marketing has evolved, the core principles of demand creation haven’t changed much, and today’s best business minds understand that the best way to create a demand is to create a desire.

Before the rise of digital marketing, demand – and desire – could be created with tools as simple as a printed poster and a phone. Now, online research is pervasive, people value their peers opinions over companies and social media marketing has become extremely powerful.

The buying cycle is more complex, and attracting customers requires a much more integrated approach. On the upside, we have much more information available to us today to identify a market, understand it and reach it more strategically than ever before.

While you’re probably familiar with and engaging in demand creation strategies already, it never hurts to take a step back and get a refresher on the fundamentals. Read on for some quick demand creation tips, ideas and examples.

Don’t confuse demand creation with lead generation.

It’s important not to confuse demand creation with the other popular marketing term lead or demand generation. They’re often used interchangeably, when they’re in fact, two very different things that need to be viewed, approached, and measured differently. Lead generation will follow once the foundation around “why” your target customer needs your product or service has been set and you have successful stimulated the demand.

Demand Creation is about creating demand for something where either none exists or you don’t know if it exists and need to test to find out. This is often necessary if you are launching a new product or service, entering a new market where you don’t know if demand exists, or if there is no awareness of who you are as a brand so you must create the awareness to tap the demand that may or may not be there. – Robert Pease, VP of Product Marketing for Salesfusion

Think about the psychology.

Take this example of how Starbucks created demand as explained by Steve Faktor on Forbes. Starbucks created a premium industry from a cheap commodity. Before that, coffee was something we bought for $1 at the diner to stave off a hangover. Now your morning cup is big enough to transport a small shark.

Tactics used:

  • At one point you could see three Starbucks from a single corner in NYC – and the logo from space.
  • That powerful smell. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the smell of burnt beans is like foreplay for caffeine.
  • Premium pricing that says ‘this is a treat’.
  • Created it’s own language. Cool enough to be in the Venti crowd?
  • Smart expansion to related categories. Even music. I can’t wait to buy their chairs.

Why it worked:

  • It’s easier than sleep
  • People with small apartments needed places to meet.
  • Caffeine is an unregulated, addictive drug.
  • Daily shopping (and drug) habits are hard to break.

Plant the seed.

Whether you’re looking to ramp up demand for a whole new market category, new or improved product or an existing product, it’s all about planting the seed in the minds of your customer.

Almost every consumer has a problem or need that they don’t yet know about, but once they see or hear about a solution, they will have that “aha moment”. When the iPod came out, no one was thinking that they needed a small, portable device that could hold thousands of songs in their pocket. If Apple hadn’t first created demand, why would consumers have cared about the iPod? – MicroArts

Know your market.

This is crucial. If there’s no market for the product or service you’re offering, that’s a huge red flag. Start by asking some questions to identify your market size and focus areas, including:

  • How big is the overall market today?
  • How rapidly is it growing?
  • What segments are most lucrative?

It always helps to get to know and understand your prospects’ needs, conduct qualitative research through user feedback and conversations. Sometimes all you need to do is ask.

Dig in to the data.

Once you know your addressable and available markets, take a deeper look at the demographics. Market studies, journals, reports, social media channels and existing customer data will help you quantify and segment the markets and identify those that make the most sense.

Demand generation is definitely a data-driven strategy. In addition to choosing themes and marketing channels that your leads and customers will love, you need to make sure that you’re targeting the right people with the most appealing offers possible. – HubSpot

Publish content about the challenge you solve.

Interesting, informative and educational content that proves that your company or product solves an important problem that is plaguing your target customer will help gain attention and build trust without being pushy or salesy.

Release an explainer video that relates to your business or a humorous video they’ll want to share with friends (think Old Spice or Dollar Shave Club’s spots), an infographic that educates consumers about a pertinent issue, or a blog post written by your CEO that contains industry insights.

Sync up with sales.
A few years ago, HubSpot coined the term “smarketing,” which captures the notion of integrating sales and marketing departments. Effective demand creation means that the same message that marketing is taking to the market needs to be consistent with how sales reps are positioning the product. One way to do this is to provide the right sales tools to the sales team at the right time and in the right formats and create a culture of open communication across the teams.

How does your company create demand for your products or services?

Share your strategies in the comments section below.

Julie Ford

About Julie Ford

I joined Glance Marketing in November 2014 following a year and a half as a marketing consultant working with clients to ramp up their online marketing strategies with powerful content. I lead the development and management of successful content marketing strategies for Glance Marketing's clients.

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