What If There’s No Search?

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Sometimes a company sells a product for which there is little or no explicit demand. Search volume is very low simply because people don’t perceive a need or desire for the product or service. Examples of such products and services include the following:

  • Complex, technical solutions or services
  • Fundraising by a nonprofit organization (few people search for opportunities to make donations)
  • New inventions that solve a problem or fulfill a need, where people are unaware that such a solution exists (for example, those “As Seen on TV” inventions)
  • Entertainment (such as books, music, or movies) from little-known or unknown sources

Fortunately, there are ways that such advertisers can still drive traffic to their websites and persuade visitors to convert. First, let’s distinguish between two types of advertising: demand fulfillment and demand generation.

Demand fulfillment advertising rightfully assumes that people are actively seeking the product or service being advertised. Search PPC is an obvious example, as are the Yellow Pages (both the paper and online versions). When people consult the latter, they already have a need or desire clearly in mind, and they are merely narrowing the range of possible solutions.

Demand generation advertising assumes no prior need or desire. It’s the advertiser’s job to interrupt some normal flow—such as a TV show being watched or a magazine being read—with a message that quickly performs the following two functions:

  • It interrupts the normal flow, preferably in a sensitive, unobtrusive way.
  • It persuades the reader or viewer that there’s a benefit to taking an action, such as visiting a storefront, ordering online, and so on.

Referring back to the buying cycle, in demand generation advertising, the target customer is not in any of the phases of the cycle. It’s the job of demand generation advertiser to nudge or push the reader or viewer into the cycle, actively engaged and considering the possibility of a purchase or other conversion action.