There’s a universal truth that persists no matter how good your product or service is, or how much you spend on marketing:
Sometimes, your perfect customer isn’t ready to buy right now.
- Some of your prospects just don’t know you yet.
- Others know you, but aren’t sure they’re ready to trust you.
- Still others are trying to choose between you and your competitor.
- And some people aren’t even aware that they need what you offer at all.
When someone doesn’t know you and doesn’t trust you, the likelihood of them clicking on your ad that says “Buy Now!” is very low (but not impossible).
On the other hand, someone who is ready to buy will respond better to an ad that says “Buy Now!” than a weaker offer like “Click Here to Learn More.”
Both of these kinds of potential customers can be a goldmine of traffic, leads, and sales if you have a strong understanding of customer problem awareness.
Think of customer problem awareness as a “journey” customers take, starting from the point where they aren’t aware they have a problem to the point where they decide your product fits their needs.
If you know where someone is on their problem awareness journey, you can deliver the right message at the right time to create and then capture their demand.
Let’s talk about how and when to capture or create demand based on your customer’s level of problem awareness.
Understanding Demand Creation vs. Demand Capture
Without demand, there can be no sale. Yet demand alone doesn’t translate into sales.
Customers have to know what you can do for them and trust that you’ll deliver.
You need both demand creation and demand capture as part of your marketing mix.
What is Demand Creation?
Demand creation, also called demand generation, is marketing that aims to stimulate demand for a certain product or service in the market.
Creating demand is the first step in the marketing funnel. It involves building awareness, positioning relevance, supporting validation, and more.
The most effective form of demand creation taps into your target audience’s existing interests to build trust with them, while positioning yourself (your product or service) as the answer to their wants and needs.
Once you’ve generated demand for your offer, you can move on to step two: converting that demand into a sale.
What is Demand Capture?
Demand capture is marketing that aims to take the demand for your product or service and convert it into real sales or leads.
Demand capture happens further down your marketing funnel than demand creation, focusing on the part of your audience that already knows they want what you offer. The only thing left to do is give them that final push to convert!
Leveraging 5 Levels of Customer Awareness to Create & Capture Demand
In general, the less knowledgeable a customer is, the lower their demand for your product or service. After all, how can they want something they don’t know exists; how can they yearn to fill a need they haven’t realized yet?
For any business, it is important to balance both demand creation and capture in order to grow. To figure out that balance, you need to know where your customers are right now and ask, “What does my prospect already know?” about their problem and your solution?
To answer those questions you need to understand where your target audience is on the customer problem awareness scale.
In his groundbreaking book Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz emphasized the importance of customer problem awareness and identified five different levels. They are:
These people don’t even know they have a problem, let alone one you can solve for them! Of course, this doesn’t mean their lives are perfect ‒ they just don’t realize it can be better. You have to open their eyes.
- Problem Aware
There’s a problem, and they know it, but they may not fully grasp it yet and definitely don’t know the solution(s). You can help them make that connection.
- Solution Aware
Now, you’re getting somewhere. These people already know products or services like yours, so they’re open to learning about what makes yours better.
- Product Aware
Finally, at this stage, people are familiar with your product or service. But they probably know your competitors’, too. Now, you need to persuade them to make the right choice.
- Most Aware
This is where you want people to be: a loyal customer who’s fully aware of what you have to offer, and can be guided towards repeat or new purchases.
Where your target audience falls in this scale will dictate:
- What kind of information you need to give them;
- How you should speak with them; and
- What offer will produce the best results.
Knowing your customer’s problem awareness level is crucial in determining which type of promotion will be most effective for different segments of your target audience.
When to Use Demand Capture vs. Demand Creation
For customers with less problem awareness, you want to entertain, educate, and inspire trust in your business through content like:
- Blog posts
- Social media updates
You have to build trust with your prospects before they’ll be receptive to your offer, especially if your solution or business is brand new, unique, or has never been advertised to them before. Launching right into your products or services without making a connection makes people feel like you don’t care about them (so why should they care about you?).
Demonstrate that you understand their problem and experience their pain through relevant, relatable copy and content.
Near the bottom of your funnel, where customers have greater problem awareness, you want to seal the deal and capture demand with higher-commitment content like:
- Product demos
- Free trials
- Free consultations
- Product details and spec sheets
At this stage, you can ask customers for some contact information in return, which gives you a chance to start that sales conversation.
Bridging the Gap Between Demand Creation and Capture
Rather than dividing customer problem awareness into five neatly-separated shelves, think of it as a spectrum. Many people exist somewhere between two levels. You can’t focus all your attention on one level.
If you concentrate solely on capturing demand, you leave out scores of potential customers who just haven’t been acquainted with you yet.
On the other hand, if you raise awareness without taking steps to capture demand, you’re leaving money on the table.
Plus, as more governments crack down on online data collection and privacy, it’s becoming harder to pinpoint the people in your audience that are actually ready to buy. This makes it more important than ever to layer in both demand creation and capture.
Focusing too much on buyers who are at one point of your sales funnel will mean you miss out on buyers who are coming in at other points.
The ideal marketing funnel is built around generating demand and then capturing it. These two elements are essential for generating more traffic, sales, and leads, especially as new privacy regulations make traditional lead generation more challenging.
TrafficSoda can help you audit your existing marketing materials and develop a strategy to close those content gaps. If you’d like help getting started, reach out for your free strategy proposal now.