In this chapter, we explore the critically important job of marketing to the smallest group of potential buyers you can reach: the ones right in front of you.
When immediate prospects know what they want but just need to buy it, can they easily find you? And if they can easily find you, can they easily buy you?
Let's find out.
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What does capturing demand mean?
What does demand capture mean? Let's start with what it doesn't mean.
There’s this misconception that capturing demand is any marketing targeted toward in-market buyers.
It’s the part that markets to the people who are looking to buy right now. Like, at this very moment.
That means immediate prospects, not all in-market buyers.
For example, people who are walking down the supermarket aisle or opportunities in your sales funnel.
Capturing demand is about ensuring the people who feel good about buying your brand follow through on that intent. But if they feel good about you, that means they already know you.
What if they don't already know you?
If all you do is spend money competing for the last-minute attention of a tiny group of buyers who want to buy now but know nothing about you, good luck. When given an option, rarely do buyers reach for the brand they've never heard of before.
So when people say things like, “You can scale to $10M ARR by just capturing demand," it’s a bit misleading. You can't.
Sure, you can scale sales to over $10M ARR by marketing to all in-market buyers, both people who just entered the market for what you sell and people who are trying to checkout now, but not by just marketing at the point of purchase. That doesn’t even make sense.
Together, accelerating in-market demand and capturing in-market demand combine to make up what some call "sales activation."
When it comes to capturing demand efficiently, three things matter most:
- Being easy to find and buy
- Being rubber stampable
- Targeting the right people
Let’s explore each.
1. Being easy to find and buy
Capturing demand typically has less to do with ad campaigns and more to do with being easy to find and buy.
Like, literally, when people are looking to buy your brand or a product/service you sell, can they easily find you and purchase from you?
This part has less to do with persuasion, and more to do with having a presence in the places people buy, then reducing friction on their way to checkout.
Last chapter, we talked about the importance of physical availability (product, price, distribution) and how supplying more of what the market demands expands your buying pool.
Here, we’re talking about being physically available for the people who you can serve.
In the Marketing, Fast and Slow diagram, that’s the people within your serviceable market (the green and blue dots).
When the people who you can serve with your current product(s), pricing, and distribution want to buy now, how can you make yourself easier to find and purchase?
- Website UX: Is your website easily navigable? Is it easy to check out and buy? Easy to book a demo? Easy to talk to sales? Easy to get a reply?
- Shipping options: Do you offer next day delivery/same day delivery? Do you have cheaper options?
- Perceived ease: Have you made booking a holiday online seem easy? Or do you need to overcome a stigma?
- Promotions/discounts: Tread lightly, but promotions can give you extra visibility. Think better end caps in retailers or better presence on marketplaces.
- Distinctiveness: Are you easily identifiable on the shelf? Do you evoke brand memories created from your brand activity?
- Presence: Are you readily available to buy through the channels your serviceable market prefers? Website? Marketplaces? Integration partners? Retailers? Google? Tik Tok? Not available in a day or a week; available right now.
- Sales: Can you keep momentum moving (we can btw, you should find out)? Deliver value? Teach buyers how to buy what you sell? Sales is the secret to capturing demand for any B2B brand.
- Rational information: At this stage, buyers don’t want riddles; they want clear information about how to buy. Can they find it?
The list goes on.
Bottom line: Don’t underestimate the value of being easy to find and buy.
There’s a reason why the first responder to a sales contact wins 35-50% of sales. When people want to buy, they want to buy now.
2. Being “rubber stampable”
A rubber stamp is a metaphor for an endorsement without careful thought.
At this stage in the game, most people have a few brands in mind, and they’re just looking to rubber stamp their initial preference for one of them so they can move on.
Their System 2 brain is trying to work as little as possible to cross the finish line; it’s desperately looking for shortcuts. This isn’t typically a laborious evaluation (despite what many think).
“Oh they worked with AirBnB? Ok, I’ll go with them.”
“4.8 star rating with over 1,000 reviews like every other brand on the planet? Ok let’s sign”
“Sales guy sounded super nice. They must all be like that.”
“I heard my neighbor say she liked this brand.” *Puts it in cart*
“They’re a Google partner? Then they must be great.” (LOL)
You can’t control all of this.
But capturing demand is when the following pays off:
- Social proof
- Money-back guarantee
- Free trial
- Free returns
- Meet the teams
- Test drives
Even better: When the sum of it all is ubiquitous and undeniable, it’s hard to say no.
3. Targeting the right people
You can’t capture demand from the wrong people. Period.
You can fill your pipeline with poor quality leads, drive non-targeted visitors to your website who don’t fit your qualifying criteria, or run promotions to people who will never buy and none of them will turn into customers.
That’s a flaw in your targeting, not necessarily your ability to capture demand.
Google the demand capturer
Is Google a place for activating sales or capturing demand?
According to Dr. Grace Kite and Byron Sharp, Google PPC is more like a supermarket aisle than anything else.
Think about it…
A paid ad on Google is less like a traditional direct-response ad and more like securing shelf space at the supermarket.
With a traditional direct-response ad like, say, a mailer, newsletter promo, or DRTV spot, the ad reaches a passive audience with a compelling offer.
With a paid search ad, your ad only fires when someone actively searches for a keyword you bid on.
The difference? Intent.
When you walk down an aisle at the supermarket to buy the next thing on your list, you walk with purchase intent.
You're ready to buy, you just need to find the right product on the shelf.
Oftentimes, you don't even know which brand you'll choose, you just know it's on aisle 4 next to the baking goods.
It's the same with Google...
When you search Google for a product or service, you search with intent. You just need to find the product on the digital shelf (page one).
Which makes paid search ads the shelf space you buy on, not the direct-response ad that brought you to the supermarket. Or, in terms of availability, search PPC is physical availability, not metal availability.
When you think of it like that, is it any question whether or not you should have a presence?
Could you imagine Heinz or Post sitting in a marketing huddle questioning whether or not they should pay to put their ketchup and cereal in the grocery store where their buyers buy?
Of course not.
Like in a grocer, when it comes to paid search ads, better placement equals better results. But not having placement is like not securing shelf space where your buyers buy.
A better question is whether or not your paid search spend should even come out of the marketing budget. After all, the marketing department doesn't pay the "slotting fee" to get their products stocked on a retailer's shelves.
Demand capture traps
Traps, traps, everywhere.
When capturing in-market demand, beware of these boobie traps.
Creativity isn’t just about good design or catchy copy; it’s about enduring ideas, changing behavior, and maximizing resources.
But when it comes to capturing demand, don’t get cute.
At this stage, buyers want useful information about how to buy now. Give it to them and get out of the way.
Existing customers and loyalty marketing
It’s tempting to think that your existing customers make up a massive growth opportunity.
Makes sense: They already know and trust you. They already give you their money. You already know their needs. If you can just get them to give you a little more…
But your existing pool of customers makes up your smallest addressable market, both in size and dollars.
Literally, it’s the smallest group of prospects you can target. And whereas new customers start at $0 and spend upward, existing customers start at whatever they're already paying you and start upwards- which is usually a smaller amount than when starting from $0.
That’s not to say loyalty, retention, or repeat purchases don’t matter. They do- a lot. And if it’s a problem, you need to fix it (the less that goes out, the less you have to put back in).
But loyalty marketing, retention marketing, or upselling will never produce the growth acquisition can.
According to research from Binet and Fields, targeting existing customers leads to the fewest business effects reported: sales, profit, penetration (duh), price sensitivity, and loyalty.
That, and the Law of Double Jeopardy: Believe it or not, acquisition drives loyalty, not loyalty marketing or retention marketing.
What does that mean? Bigger brands have more customers who are slightly more loyal; smaller brands have fewer customers who are slightly more loyal.
So if you think your existing customers need more love, tread lightly.
Deliver a phenomenal customer experience, of course. If you do that, they’ll likely buy from you again.
But any significant targeting existing customers won’t produce sales and profit like acquiring new customers will.
Cost per acquisition (CPA)
What's cost per acquisition?
The cost to acquire a new customer, right? Wrong.
Google loves to report cost per acquisition because it makes them look like the hero.
For example, if someone types in a branded keyword (e.g. “Klieintboost agency”), clicks on the first Google ad they see, then converts on your website, that’s not a conversion for Google; it’s a conversion for something else.
That person was already on their way to purchase. Which means something else brought them there, whether it was an OOH ad, a direct response promotion, strong mental availability from your brand activity, or something else.
Either way, the CPA that Google (or other ad platforms) reports is not the real cost to acquire that customer. Not even close.
Businesses that over-value CPA end up spending too much money on short-term capture demand activity targeted toward people who were already going to buy.
How to measure demand capture: leading and lagging indicators
All roads lead to revenue. At least they should when it comes to capturing demand.
Demand capture leading indicators
Keep it simple. Thankfully, when it comes to capturing demand, there’s tons of useful (and easy to measure) leading indicators at our disposal.
- Search impression share: When your running demand capture campaigns on Google (branded campaigns vs. competitor campaigns vs. non-brand high intent campaigns), how much of the market are you reaching?
- High-intent website traffic: Are you increasing traffic to high-intent website pages like product pages, promotion pages, pricing pages, or demo pages?
- Free trial upgrades: Freemium SaaS company? Are freemium users actually upgrading to paid accounts?
- SQLs to closed/won rate: Are the leads that make it to meetings turning into revenue?
- Checkout rates: Are people converting once they put it in the cart?
- Sales cycle duration: Both brand building and demand acceleration contribute to quicker sales cycles, but a frictionless sales process contributes too.
Demand capture lagging indicators
Are the people in your sales funnel, your shopping cart, or your trials turning into real revenue?
Are the people who come through your website from branded Google searches or high-intent queries converting into revenue?
Are website visitors who visit high-intent webpages converting into revenue?
There’s no better way to measure the real effectiveness of your demand capture efforts than by finding out if it’s converting into revenue.
Capturing market demand is about being easy to find and buy right now (physical availability). That doesn’t mean all in-market buyers; that means the ones who want to buy now.
For example, if I can’t find you on the grocery store shelf because you don’t stand out, you’ve got a demand capture issue.
Or if I make it to your website but can’t figure out how to talk to a sales executive without jumping through seven hoops, you’ve got a demand capture issue.
Don’t fumble the ball at the goal line. It happens all the time.