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  • 24 March 2015
  • Dr Billy M.

Inventing demand: Is it possible?

There is a story about a group of computer programming whizzes who designed sophisticated software that could combat any cyberthreat to a network. To ensure they profited from their endeavor, they packaged their work as antivirus software. This could only go so far, however, and once all known viruses were eliminated, continued sales for their product plummeted. Being business savvy, they decided to reengineer their marketing model: the group created a new virus, surreptitiously released it into the cloud, and voilà! Demand for version 2.0 of their software soared.

You do not have to resort to Machiavellian tactics to create demand—but you can invent it. All it requires is a measure of creativity and strategy.

Successful demand creators recognize there will always be a gap between what people buy and what they really want.

Capture your customers' emotional space
If your products or services are not selling well, chances are you may have overpriced them, overestimated their demand, or targeted the wrong market. To be successful, you must generate desire for a product or service through its ultimate quality and value to customers. When customers find truly high-quality stuff, they spread the word, and your products or services end up selling themselves.

To do this, you have to establish an emotional connection with your audience. Focus on creating and capturing the emotional space in the market by paying attention to how the message, feel, story, aesthetics, and ergonomics of your product or service connect with customers or clients. Only then can you make your product or service magnetic and ultimately create demand.

Find triggers

Even if your company has created a product or service that solves a problem or presents an opportunity, people may believe that what they have always done works just fine. You have to show them there is a better way to live life or do business, and make them realize they need what you provide.

You need to find a trigger.

Even though you have invested in marketing efforts to reach a large chunk of potential customers, most will be unwilling to try or buy until a trigger moves them to act. Figure out how to overcome consumer inertia by searching for the right triggers—this will involve some experimentation until you get a positive response.

Increase value through exclusivity

In general, anything exclusive—that is, anything that is scarce, or denied to some people and offered to others—will tend to attract more customers and generate desire within your audience.

  • Offer membership, paid or otherwise, but restrict the number of memberships you offer each year. Limiting the number of members who can enjoy such benefits as discounts, sale prices, or free downloads creates demand for your services or products through exclusivity.
  • Offer "limited editions." Promote a slow-moving product with a "limited time only" approach to encourage fence-sitters to make a quick decision. Limiting an item leads consumers to believe they are not only getting something others cannot buy in the future, but also that the expense is justifiable because they are investing in something that will never be offered again.
  • Take preorders. Provide loyal and/or longtime customers early access to a product by notifying them a few weeks in advance via e-mail, text, or phone. This is especially helpful if you are launching a new product. Besides securing sales in advance, these excited purchasers can be your brand evangelists, likely to spread the word to potential customers.
  • Offer incentives. Much in the way "happy hour" sessions can boost drink sales in pubs, incentives—offered to, say, shoppers or clients who come into your store before noon—can create an air of exclusivity and increase your product sales.

Successful demand creators recognize there will always be a gap between what people buy and what they really want. They leverage this knowledge to create exciting products and services. Demand creation, like any other discipline, can be learned and effectively applied across your business environment.

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