Remembering the Forgotten Discipline of Marketing

by Kayla Anderson, Marketing Manager - 05/15/17


Tom Webster of Edison Research and BrandSavant is imploring marketers to reconnect with their roots. With so many bells and whistles, it is easy to lose sight of what makes consumers choose your brand. Here's a synthesis of Webster's insights from Marketing United 2017. 

Why do most startups fail? Because their product does not fit their market. With competition being as fierce as ever, healthcare is not immune to the same consumer demands.

So why are we spending so much time generating demand that may not be there? Webster walks us through this thinking and has suggestions for how to slow down, back up, and see the big picture. 

Content's Place in the Marketing Funnel

Webster argues that content marketing is more effective for lead nurturing than demand generation. Think of it like this: Most people find content through search engines (most likely Google.) This means that they already have interest (demand) in the product or service you're offering.

Your marketing did not suddenly inspire them to need this new widget—they were already looking for it.

In order to successfully identify and communicate with your market, you need to understand the four types of consumer demand.

The Four Types of Demand

Observed Demand

If you are marketing to observed demand, your market already knows they need it. In healthcare, this may seem familiar. We are in a highly competitive industry where people are often coming to your hospital or practice when they already have a problem. This dynamic will not likely change, but perhaps healthcare can be a bit more creative in identifying other types of demand that exist in our services? 

For these reasons, Webster concludes that observed demand has a low probability of marketing success.

Discovered Demand

Webster outlined two products that perfectly illustrate discovered demand, which is when you see an existing (observed) demand in a new way.

The first is the development of the smoking cessation drug, Chantix. Chantix was created because doctors found that certain medications that treated depression also helped smokers kick their habits. The drug didn't change much, but the way it was marketed did. Chantix has successfully carved our a corner for itself and helps thousands of smokers quit every day.

Another example of discovered demand is Special K. Initially, Special K was only a cereal. However, market research showed that adults that were trying to lose weight were substituting their dinner for Special K. Rather than continuing to market themselves as only a breakfast cereal, Special K released a full range of products to help people snack healthy and lose weight. 

The more specific we can get with our segments, and the more we can specifically solve our problems, the more marketing success we will have.

Webster concludes that marketing for Discovered Demand has a high probability for success. 

Predicted Demand

Predicted demand is the gamble that given A and B, C will probably happen. The classic example Webster cites is the very first Macy's store window. Before the 1890's, plate glass was not possible. Because of this, windows were often small and no one thought to display items like we see on the corners of every city block today. 

Once plate glass was invented, Macy's quickly saw an opportunity to revamp its storefront with huge plates of glass and create a holiday window display. Because of advancements in glass technology and the fact that humans process things visually, Macy's postulated that people will probably buy more items if they see them displayed as they are walking down the street.

Macy's invented window shopping so that it could boost its sales, and other retailers quickly followed suit. Retailers are still using this marketing practice today, over 100 years later.

As you may have guessed, Webster cites predicted demand as having a high probability of marketing success.

Generated Demand

When you rely on demand your organization is responsible for generating, you're taking a huge risk. Your market may not want what you are trying to generate demand for, and it is a huge drain on resources. When organizations rely on demand generation alone, they are 90% likely to fail and spend exponentially more on advertising, staff, and resources. 

Generated demand has the lowest probability of marketing success. 

Try This Instead

Voice of Customer Data

Voice of Customer (VoC) data is the qualitative data we are gathering every day—even if we don't know it. Comments on your hospital's Facebook page, Yelp reviews, Doctor reviews, that survey you conducted three years ago—all of these contain valuable customer insights. 

Marketers should always ask questions and, as Webster puts it, "be the bullhorn for the voice of customer" in our organizations. 

We covered a few ways to systematically gather VoC data in a previous blog post, but the bottom line is this:

Instead of generating demand for your products or services, instead examine where on your customer journey you can ask more questions. Then based on the response, you will know what your market wants and possibly get a step ahead of them. 

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Topics: Audience Segmentation & Targeting, Content Strategy

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