In this chapter, we set out to answer the question on everyone's mind: can marketing actually create demand?
We'll explore the difference between demand, performance, and activation. We'll illuminate the most important demand lever you can pull: supply. And we'll explain the fundamental principles of in-market demand vs. out-market demand.
- Demand marketing's own existential crisis
- Demand for what?
- Can marketing really create demand?
- Demand acceleration: Accelerating market adoption
- 1. Growing your supply: Doorways to purchase
- 2. Accelerating interest: Out-market demand acceleration
- Positioning the product
- Beware of tradeoffs: Reach vs. attention
- Out-market demand acceleration traps
- 2. Activating sales: In-market demand acceleration
- Narrow your target
- Refresh memories closer to purchase
- Rational persuasion for the win
- In-market demand acceleration traps
- How to measure demand acceleration: leading and lagging indicators
- Wrapping up
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Demand marketing's own existential crisis
Demand has attracted quite the buzz over the last few years, especially in B2B.
But like we saw with brand and brand building, demand has suffered its fair share of misconception due to its ambiguous name too.
So let’s clear up any confusion before we get started. There’s a lot.
Historically, “demand marketing,” “sales activation,” and “performance marketing” have all meant the same thing: persuasive product messaging targeted toward in-market buyers with the goal of driving immediate growth.
Just like “brand marketing” and “brand building” have meant the same thing: universally relevant, emotional messages targeted toward out-market buyers (non-customers) with the goal of influencing future growth.
In that respect, demand marketing/performance marketing is to brand marketing as sales activation is to brand building: opposites.
Then there’s “demand generation.”
Here’s where it gets confusing (if it’s not already): The “demand” in “demand marketing” refers to accelerating existing demand, not creating new demand. Hence the name demand marketing (and its association with the bottom of the funnel) and not demand generation.
Demand generation, on the other hand, is a marketing communications tactic that seeks to accelerate and capture existing demand (in-market) while also creating new demand with out-market buyers.
See the difference? And the confusion?
Some demand marketers run the old playbook (in-market demand acceleration); others run the new playbook (out-market problem awareness + in-market demand acceleration).
But it gets a little more confusing…
Demand for what?
It’s fashionable these days for marketers to implore brands to “create demand,” but demand for what?
Demand for your brand?
Demand for your particular product or service?
Market demand for the problem you solve?
All of the above?
It depends on who you ask.
Like we covered in the last chapter, it’s brand building’s job to generate demand for your brand, irrespective of its products.
In this scenario- the brand scenario- demand is really just a synonym for “preference.”
By reaching and influencing future buyers before they enter the market, brand building generates demand for your brand so more buyers prefer you when they move in-market.
Demand generation, on the other hand, aims to generate market demand for the problems you solve and the ways you solve them.
It’s product-oriented, not brand-oriented.
For example, suppose you sell an innovative project management platform.
Demand generation would aim to help potential buyers identify problems you solve, then give them the tools to start solving those problems on their own, then educate them on how you solve those problems better than others.
Think of it as a one-two punch: problem awareness + solution awareness = demand generation.
Since demand generation focuses on products and solutions, it’s inherently more targeted than brand building. More specifically, it targets people or businesses who currently have the problems you solve and the means to solve them, not the people who might have those problems in the future.
Still with me?
Let’s recap: Whereas brand building is the story of the brand and its potential buyers, irrespective of its products, demand generation is the story of the brand’s products and the problems those products solve.
Brand generates demand for the business. Demand generation generates demand for the business’s products or services.
For multi-product businesses like, say, Nike or Salesforce, this division becomes much more obvious.
Since Nike sells literally thousands of products, and Salesforce sells at least a dozen, it wouldn’t make sense for either to build their brand positions around any single product, problem, or solution.
They both have too many product positions, target markets, and paradigm shifts to make any one their brand position. Which is why their brand building targets all potential buyers with a broader, more universal message about the categories they compete in and the customers who buy them.
Good. Now it gets more confusing.
The real question marketers need to ask, though, is whether or not marketing communications can actually create market demand like demand generation claims it can.
Does marketing create demand that didn’t already exist?
Or does demand exist in the market already, in which case it’s marketing’s job to supply unmet needs and accelerate adoption?
Let’s find out.
Can marketing really create demand?
The fundamental question demand generation asks is: How can we get more potential buyers to move in-market faster?
For most, the answer to that question starts and stops with marketing communications.
But can advertising or marketing communications actually create demand?
To a rational economist, no.
They would tell you that demand exists in the market as unmet needs and businesses exist to supply those needs.
But what about some of today’s most prized products or services that people or businesses didn’t actually know they wanted before they hit the market?
For example, that same rational economist never would have uncovered market demand for a $7 cup of coffee. That’s because market research would have told him that, based on feedback from real people, the market didn’t actually demand $7 cups of coffee. Then came Starbucks, and you know how that story ends.
So does that mean that marketing did, in fact, create demand for $7 coffee?
The demand for coffee already existed in the market. Like, a ton of it: “cup of Joe” literally means “the common man's drink.”
Marketing did the hard work of creating value in the mind, or accelerating the adoption from standard coffee to higher priced coffee.
Important, but also not creating demand.
The truth: Demand doesn’t always exist in the market before the supply shows up, and consumers often behave in unpredictably irrational ways. But that doesn’t mean marketing can just drum up demand with a few well-placed ads or blog posts either.
No amount of messaging, thought-leadership, or advertising is going to create demand for a product/service that solves a problem people don’t want to solve or scratches an itch people don’t want to scratch. Period.
For example, Starbucks couldn’t sell a $7 cup of bean water if there wasn’t market demand for coffee first, no matter how much their customers thought they would never pay that much for it.
That means that, first and foremost, the market really does control demand, not us.
And, most importantly, the hero of demand is not communications; it’s your supply.
That’s right: How you supply demand (product, price, distribution) plays a more critical role in driving demand than marketing communications ever will.
That’s not to undermine the importance of marketing communications.
Like in the Starbucks example, how much credit does marketing communications get for spawning a new generation of coffee drinkers?
Simple: Marketing communications is responsible for creating product awareness and value in the mind. No small feat.
Though supplying the demand always comes first, marketing communications can, in a very economically irrational way, get people to buy what they don’t know they want or need.
So does that mean marketing communications can actually create demand?
“Create” and “generate” both oversimplify and mislead marketers.
They ignore the role your supply (i.e meeting unmet needs) plays in facilitating demand.
Like we mentioned in the intro chapter, somewhere down the line marketing turned into marketing communications- and here we are trying to communic-ify everything.
If marketing could create demand, do you think 95% of new products would fail every year? Unlikely.
We think there’s a better way to describe what marketing actually does on the demand front: it accelerates it.
Marketing can accelerate interest, adoption, and intent.
But make no mistake: that’s a job for both physical availability (product, price, distribution) and mental availability (communications).
Demand acceleration: Accelerating market adoption
Think of demand as the bridge between brand and activation. It’s marketing’s job to get as many people across it as possible.
If brand building opens doors to your brand, then demand acceleration opens doors to the market and your products.
It starts with physical availability: products or services that fulfill unmet needs, at the prices people are willing to pay, in the places they like to buy.
But we don’t all sell simple products or services to sophisticated buyers, do we?
Many of us in B2B and B2C sell complex products or services to unsophisticated buyers who don’t fully understand their problems, don’t know the opportunity cost of not solving them, and/or don’t know (or trust) the solutions available.
Which means it’s up to marketing communications to accelerate interest around those products or services by educating the market, reducing perceived risk, and setting people on the path toward investigating a solution.
Therefore, mental and physical availability work together at the product level to accelerate demand.
Too many marketers, especially demand marketers in B2B, see demand marketing as largely a function of marketing communications when, in fact, demand is a much broader activity that spans many roles and responsibilities within the marketing department.
And that’s exactly why demand acceleration sits in the middle of our growth framework.
It marries the worlds of mental availability and physical availability.
It opens doorways between out-market and in-market.
And it puts the emphasis on expanding your market with your supply, then communicating that supply to the world. Not the other way around.
So what does demand acceleration look like in practice? Three phases:
- Growing your supply: Approach your supply as an opportunity to grow physical availability (expand your buying pool), not just to differentiate. Brands that are easier to buy for more people on more occasions get bought more often. Period.
- Generating interest (out-market): It’s up to marketing communications to accelerate product interest by helping the market identify unmet needs and illuminating possibilities.
- Accelerating intent (in-market): When buyers move in-market, brands need to refresh memory associations and nudge buyers forward.
Let’s explore each.
1. Growing your supply: Doorways to purchase
There’s doorways to the market whether buyer’s associate you with them or not (mental availability) or whether you can functionally serve those buyers once they enter (physical availability).
For example, if you only sell one product at one price to one segment in one geographical area, that doesn’t open many doors to your products for in-market buyers to walk through.
But that doesn’t mean other doorways to the market don’t exist; they do.
They just don’t lead to you because you don’t have the physical availability (product options, pricing tiers, broader distribution) to capture the people who enter. So they go to your competitors who do.
That means doors open both ways: The different needs of the category and its buyers open doors to the market through which they can enter (AKA “category entry points”); and the availability of your supply opens doors to your products for which they can purchase.
When those doorways don’t align, you lose potential customers to someone else, no matter how much of a brand you’ve established with them.
In other words, how you supply the market’s demand is a continuous cycle of opening more doors to purchase, and, ultimately, to growth.
This part- the part about how you supply demand- gets left out of every marketing framework known to humanity. Yet for all of us, it’s the single most important barrier standing in the way of sustainable growth.
It’s like a dance between mental and physical availability: how can you satisfy more needs in more places for more people so that more of the people who want to buy from you can?
That’s growth in a nutshell: penetrating deeper into your TAM over time via product, pricing, and distribution.
And it all starts with a product people want.
Steve Jobs was the best product marketer in the world.
He grew Apple to prominence with innovative products.
Then got fired.
Then watched Apple almost go bankrupt at the helm of a leader who didn’t understand product.
Then came back.
Then grew Apple back into a global leader by introducing new world-class products.
Easy, right? Hah.
Jobs knew how to orient around the customer and locate unmet needs, even before buyers knew they had them.
But most of us aren’t Steve Jobs. And that’s ok- as long as we realize it.
Supplying the market’s unmet needs isn’t about satisfying every nanoscopic difference in the market with a new product, service, or feature. Not unless you want to become the toothpaste company with 50 variations of fluoride or the software platform with 120 features no one will ever use.
That’s not what we mean when we say opening doors to the market.
Product innovation is important, and satisfying the different needs of real partitions in the market accelerates adoption. But too often, brands launch new products for the sake of “new,” then dilute their resources away from things that really matter, like their core products or competencies (the ones that everyone want).
When growing physical availability through product, the kind that opens doors for more buyers, remember the following:
- Functional and emotional needs: Any addition to your product repertoire, whether new features or new products, should satisfy real and meaningful functional or emotional needs of your market. Which means you need to locate them first.
- Core products matter most: Everyone wants to be Steve Jobs. But don’t reinvent the wheel at the expense of your current breadwinners or core competencies. Make your core better and more widely accessible for more people in your market first. Your core drives growth now, it’ll drive more growth later. Simple beats complex.
- Subtlety works magic: Smaller size ice cream cones, longer character limits, integrations with more software, “flaming hot,” a few more logins per month, 2GB free storage, circle tea bags instead of square, new colors… Some of the most effective product updates or innovations of all time have been subtle, not giant.
- Sometimes it’s perfect: You don’t need constant change. Innovation isn’t mandatory. Just ask Coca Cola who tried changing their recipe in 1985 and failed. Don’t innovate to innovate; innovate with intention.
Last, beware of the product delusion trap.
It’s easy to think that brands compete on product superiority. But oftentimes they don’t.
Your buyers aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for good enough.
That’s not to say differentiation is unimportant. But like we covered in the last chapter, buyers rarely perceive meaningful differences like marketers do.
More often than not, the best option is rarely obvious.
Even in “high involvement” purchases like financial services, little evaluation occurs, as shown in this study from B2B Institute:
Above all, your product is a manifestation of where you want to play and how you think you can win.
That means product decisions should come from a proper diagnosis of the market first, then a sound marketing strategy.
The more unmet needs you solve, the more accessible your product(s), the more doorways to the market, the more customers in your CRM.
Coca Cola is the biggest brand in the world.
Everyone knows their name. And no matter where you find yourself in the world, a Coke is within arms reach.
Therefore, Coca Cola produces an incredibly high return on mental availability because their physical availability is so well distributed- you can literally buy a Coke anywhere.
If you’re not readily available or easy to buy, you're wasting valuable mental availability. Which is why distribution usually has the greatest influence on sales compared to price, product, or marketing communications.
When it comes to distribution:
- Be ubiquitous: be the easiest brand to find
- Be distinctly you: make yourself easy to identify
- Be frictionless: be effortless to buy
- Be creative: iPads in vending machines, spas in airports, packages in lockers outside 7-11, Teslas in malls. Don’t limit yourself.
And don’t be lazy.
For example, if you sell direct-to-consumer from your website, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in-stores or on Amazon. Reach matters.
Or just because you offer a SaaS service online, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have channel partners or integration partners.
Remember: The quickest path to growth isn’t always satisfying a new unmet need; it’s satisfying the same needs for more people.
Alas, price. The bastard of marketing, unfortunately.
Not only does price open doors to the market and your products, but it’s the gatekeeper of profit. Which is kind of a big deal considering that it’s hard to sustain growth without money.
So what about pricing?
First, price doesn’t live in a silo.
If you want to use price to create more opportunities for more people to buy, you can’t ignore its relationship to the product and your buyer’s perception. They go hand in hand.
For example, offering multiple pricing tiers wouldn’t make economical sense if the value received from said tiers didn’t change too.
Just like if you want to charge high prices for shoes, buyer’s better feel like they’re getting them from a luxury brand.
Pricing is a waltz between value given and value received.
Second, little data exists to suggest that price promotions really work.
Sure, in the short-term, price promotions will absolutely drive short-term sales.
But at what cost?
Many times, most of those promo sales were either already on their way in, diverted from stores that didn’t have a promotion, or from existing customers who would have bought anyways. Tread lightly.
Third, it’s tempting to think of price merely as a tool for capturing more of the value that your products create. But it’s better to think of price as a tool that can create its own value.
One of the easiest ways to create doorways to the market is to make your products more affordable for more people. If you can reduce price as a barrier, you can massively expand your buying pool.
For example, when Mercedes first arrived on the scene, they only offered a high-priced luxury sedan. Now they offer a model for as low as $30K. Not cheap by any means, but hardly a “luxury” price tag.
Last, some sage advice I received earlier in my career regarding pricing: just raise them.
2. Accelerating interest: Out-market demand acceleration
Accelerating product interest has two goals:
First, teach people how to want what you sell.
Second, build a broader network of memories linked between your brand and relevant buying situations (CEPs).
Sound like magic? Hardly.
The truth: We don’t all sell toilet paper or gum balls. Many of us, whether B2B or B2C, sell complex solutions to unsophisticated buyers who have latent needs or wants that need to be awakened.
It’s marketing’s job to awaken them.
By creating real value in the mind.
Some potential buyers don’t fully understand the complexity of their problems, the degree of their pain, or the opportunity cost of not finding a solution.
Other potential buyers have needs they want to satisfy, but they don’t want to get blamed for being wrong, or they think it’s too risky, or they don’t know where to start.
And still other potential buyers know a product or service exists but they don’t know how it can help them.
That’s a lot of opportunity to create value, meet future buyers at critical moments, and accelerate interest in solving problems.
How do you create value in the mind?
- Market education (BrandGen)
- Positioning the product
BrandGen: The intersection of brand and demand
Can you build brand and accelerate demand with the same activity?
In other words, can you grow mental availability with future buyers while simultaneously generating interest in your products?
We call it BrandGen: Communications oriented around the universal problems your product(s) or category solve, not about your product(s) specifically. And it’s the dominant brand strategy for most digital-first brands.
Without delivering value online, good luck earning attention on social media, through podcasts, on YouTube, or via your website. It won’t happen.
BrandGen gives future buyers the tools they need to diagnose problems you solve, then sets them down the path toward investigating a solution. All while opening doors to the category for digital-first brands.
How does it work?
Diagnosis and prescription.
Step 1: Diagnosing problems
While marketing communications may not be able to move people in-market on its own, it can certainly help illuminate problems people didn’t know they had, then set them on the path toward investigating a solution.
To do that, first you need to give out-market buyers the tools they need to identify and understand problems you solve.
In a word, accelerating demand is about diagnosis.
The more tools or knowledge buyers have to diagnose their problems or needs, the faster they’ll move in-market.
Step 2: Prescribing a solution
It’s one thing to help future buyers diagnose or uncover real unmet needs; it’s another entirely to give them the tools to start satisfying those needs on their own- without your products or services.
Accelerating demand is about the problems you solve, not the products you sell that solve them. It’s about giving future buyers the tools to start solving those problems on their own.
In doing so, BrandGen eliminates steps in the buying process by moving people from problem unaware to solution aware quicker.
While it’s certainly possible to grow mental availability with future buyers while also accelerating demand for your products or services, that doesn’t mean you should stop short of true brand building.
Whereas brand building should reach all future and potential buyers, even those who haven’t entered your category yet but who might in the next few years, demand acceleration only reaches those who have the problems you solve now.
Makes sense: You’d be hard pressed to resonate with people who might enter your category in the next few years with a message about problems or needs they don’t currently have.
Actually, the market is even narrower than that: BrandGen reaches people who have the problems you solve now and who want to learn more about those problems- which isn’t all of them.
That makes the demand acceleration audience (and BrandGen by extension) much smaller than brand building’s audience.
What happens when you outgrow that market? When you add new products or services? When you solve new problems and satisfy new needs? When you want to earn the attention of the buying committee, not just the champion? Or when you need to reach more than just heavy media consumers?
That’s where brand building comes in.
Positioning the product
Most people will tell you that your positioning needs to tell a story about how your product or service makes the old way of solving problems obsolete.
If it actually does, more power to you. Lean into it.
But for many of us, our products or services don’t reimagine the world. And that’s ok.
You can’t craft a narrative about a new paradigm shift unless you actually have one. If you want one, take a step backwards and investigate your product.
For everyone else, remember what we said about positioning in the last chapter: Forget what you learned about limiting competition by narrowly positioning for a segment. That’s not how it works.
When it comes to out-market demand acceleration, use positioning to build a broader network of memories linked between your product (not just your brand) and relevant buying situations (CEPs).
Notice the difference from last chapter?
Whereas brand building should associate you with relevant category buying situations, demand acceleration broadens that network of associations by linking your products (and you by association) to relevant needs too.
Beware of tradeoffs: Reach vs. attention
Accelerating product interest is fundamentally about accelerating behavioral change through market education.
Education about the problems you solve and the ways you solve them.
You can’t do that in a 30 second TV spot or a 6 second social ad.
Well, not unless you’re Gillette and just need to notify the market of your new razor (what are they on Mach900 now?).
It takes frequency (like everything else), but it also requires more attention.
To help future buyers diagnose problems you solve, and to give them the tools to start solving those problems on their own, you need minutes, not seconds.
That means three things on the demand front:
- You’ll sacrifice some reach in exchange for attention
- You’ll need channels that offer minutes, not seconds
- You’ll need to provide something of value worth the time
Out-market demand acceleration traps
Traps, traps, everywhere.
When accelerating market interest, beware of these boobie traps.
Market adoption: Why a lot is out of our hands
Marketing needs to do the hard work of getting people to want what they sell.
But a lot of times that’s out of our hands.
Take Tesla, for example.
In the course of a decade, Tesla went from almost bankrupt to one of the biggest companies in the US.
In 2012, they sold just 2,000 cars. In 2021 they sold 1M cars. That’s an increase of 50,000%.
Did Tesla revolutionize their electric vehicles in a way that suddenly brought more people into the market?
The electric vehicle market just hit mainstream adoption: 5% of US cars are now electric, signaling the transition from early adoption to mainstream adoption.
Tesla's sales growth is in lockstep with adoption growth.
First, you can create the right product, sell it at the right price, distribute it in the right places, and promote it with the right communications and still face market inertia.
Even if Tesla could sell 1M cars back in 2012, there never would have been enough demand. The market controlled a lot of Tesla’s growth.
Second, businesses need to plan for slow adoption.
Elon knew sales would suffer in the start. Just like he knew they would take off in step with market adoption. But he had a plan: keep the business afloat while the market matured.
Too many businesses in new categories or emerging markets ignore the adoption curve. Then they go out of business because they don’t have the resources to sustain a war.
Third, marketing needs to do the hard work of getting people to want what they sell, but they’re not magicians.
Marketing didn’t magically accelerate adoption for electric vehicles (though Elon is a masterful PR guy).
Government subsidies, rebates, state and local legislature, rising gas prices, ecological consciousness, and increased competition all played a much bigger role in accelerating demand.
That’s not to say marketing can’t accelerate adoption. It can.
But adoption is the biggest barrier facing many businesses in new categories, and no matter what message you communicate or for how long, adoption is usually slow.
Jamming people through a purchase funnel
The traditional marketing funnel overestimates the importance of the evaluation phase to buyers.
Like we pointed out with the product delusion trap, even when making complex decisions, buyers don’t always belabor evaluation. Quite the opposite actually.
That’s why we should hold mental availability in such high esteem: More often than not, buyers are just looking to rubber stamp the brand they remember easily. They’re looking for good enough- and to prevent overthinking.
That also means that it’s not marketing’s job to jam (AKA “nurture”) people through an artificial purchase funnel. That’s not how they buy.
An advertisement or an email can’t move people in-market. Buyers go in-market when they’re ready.
2. Activating sales: In-market demand acceleration
Whereas out-market demand acceleration is about reaching long-term prospects, in-market demand acceleration is about reaching short-term prospects.
The goal is to drive immediate sales from in-market buyers. No beating around the bush.
How do you do that?
Narrow your target
Brand is the land of broad reach. Demand acceleration is the land of targeted messages.
For example, Geico might build brand with all category buyers using cavemen and geckos, but they activate sales closer to purchase with targeted offers for motorcycle drivers vs. car drivers or teens vs. adults.
When it comes to in-market demand acceleration, now’s the time to pull out the tailored messages for real partitions in the market.
Let your market know you built solutions just for them.
Refresh memories closer to purchase
Brand associations take years to establish, but they decay much quicker.
It’s our job to refresh those memories closer to purchase so buyers don’t forget us.
Even brands like Coca Cola and McDonalds invest billions of advertising dollars every year to refresh memories.
The first step to refreshing memories is to build them in the first place. That’s brand building’s job, and it does that by using a series of distinct brand codes unique to your brand (characters, colors, jingles, styles, patterns, shapes, etc.).
Second, ensure your in-market demand acceleration features the same distinct brand codes from your brand activity.
Remind in-market buyers that they already know, like, and trust you.
If Progressive uses Flo in their brand ads, they use Flo in on their website and in their activation campaigns. Consistency matters.
Rational persuasion for the win
Remember System 1 vs. System 2?
When marketing to in-market buyers, System 2 reigns supreme.
That’s because people who are in-market want to know how to buy now, which means they need information, not emotion.
Pricing, product info, customization, sales process, procurement…
These things require deliberate, conscious thought, not unconscious, automatic thought. Which is why rational messages deliver the biggest direct responses, not emotional ones.
And in B2B:
In-market demand acceleration traps
Traps, traps, everywhere.
When accelerating in-market intent, beware of these boobie traps.
Too many activations
If you’ve ever subscribed to a health or beauty newsletter, then you know exactly what excessive activation looks like: pitch slaps and promotions galore.
Price promotions do two things really well:
- Erode profits: Promotions rarely attract new customers to your brand, but they’re excellent at discounting prices for people who were already going to buy from you.
- Train customers to expect discounts: Yes, this really happens. If you always send promotions, customers will always expect them. And wait for them.
Be careful when pitch slapping your audience to death.
While it’s easy to measure direct response campaigns, it’s much harder to measure how many potential customers you pissed off doing it.
From 2008 to 2016, short-termism (excessive in-market targeting) drove a stake through marketing effectiveness.
Things have gotten better for some, largely because of their adoption of the principles we explore in Marketing, Fast and Slow.
But for most, the allure of short-term, immediate sales is too much to resist. So instead of expanding their buying pool over time, they shrink it.
One problem: When you over-invest in short-term, immediate sales at the expense of brand building, marketing slows down.
How to measure demand acceleration: leading and lagging indicators
Demand acceleration takes place at the product-level. Which means measurement should take place at the product level too.
If you're a single-product business, you might find it difficult to separate sales attributed to demand vs. sales attributed to brand. But I'd say that's a good problem to have.
Either way, we have some leading and lagging indicators to get you started.
Demand acceleration leading indicators
It's much easier to measure in-market demand acceleration because it typically entails online paid ads. As for out-market demand acceleration, not so much. Even still, these metrics will help you figure out if you're moving in the right direction or not.
- Brand or product aware traffic: Is there an increase in the aggregate total of direct traffic, branded organic, and paid branded traffic? And if you’re running demand acceleration programs for specific products and not others, do you see an increase in direct traffic, product-related organic, and paid product-related traffic?
- High-intent website traffic: Are you getting more website visitors who navigate to high-intent web pages like product pages, pricing pages, shopping carts, or demo pages?
- “How did you hear about us?” (self-reported attribution): Whichever channels you're using to accelerate out-market demand, they should show up in self-reported attrition if they're working.
- Campaign metrics: Conversion rates, CPA, CPL, ROAS, etc.
- Pipeline metrics: Conversion rates from stage to stage.
Demand acceleration lagging indicators
Simple: Product sales and revenue.
For in-market demand campaigns, track performance at the campaign level. Which campaigns result in downstream revenue?
For out-market demand acceleration, things get harder to attribute since it often overlaps with brand activity. But you can still isolate baseline sales (or website sourced sales) by product.
Brand building will lift all ships. But out-market demand acceleration will only lift the products you generate interest around.
You can’t talk about demand without talking about supply. Period.
The fastest way to accelerate adoption for your category or products is to open more doorways to the market through physical availability: product, pricing, distribution.
But that doesn’t mean marketing communications doesn’t play a critical role in teaching the market how to want what you sell.
We may not be able to create demand, but we can give buyers the tools to identify problems we solve, then set them on the path toward investigating a solution.