Brand to demand — a relatively new phrase based on timeless marketing principles — is the only marketing worth doing. Here’s why.
Brand or demand marketing? Let’s put the debate to bed once and for all.
Because the point of sale, that ‘final click,’ is not an isolated event, or a stroke of luck.
A customer’s picture of your brand and ultimate decision on whether to buy your products accumulates in the mind over time. And that picture is painted by dozens of interactions with both brand and demand content.
Brand and demand feed off of each other, so it only makes sense to unite the two. Marketers need to build, plan, design, amplify, and measure as part of a single, continuous stream instead of focusing on siloed efforts.
This integrated approach is marketing at its most intentional and sophisticated level. But how do we define brand-to-demand marketing, and is this concept really all that new?
Defining Brand-to-Demand Marketing
The goal of brand marketing is to build a positive impression over time and create brand salience. Demand marketing involves identifying prospects who are ready to buy and employ tactics to convert their interest into sales.
We define brand-to-demand marketing as an approach that balances both long- and short-term growth strategies to build the brand, earn trust and deliver leads.
This is achieved by connecting all the touchpoints along the audience’s knowledge journey with relevant and timely content.
The philosophy behind brand-to-demand marketing is not new. The concept is rooted in the findings of Binet and Field’s groundbreaking 2013 study “The Long and the Short of it.” Their work illustrates the relationship between sales activation and brand building, and how combining the two enables sustainable brand growth over time.
Our approach to brand-to-demand marketing is grounded in recognizing that there is a better way to engage with modern audiences.
The most advanced among us are cognizant of the increasingly apparent interconnectivity between brand and demand, reaching an epiphany: if each side’s efforts ultimately feed into the other’s, why not unite brand and demand under a singular strategy from the get-go to achieve a more potent result?
What’s the Business Case?
As marketers, we know brand strategies don’t necessarily connect to a sales pipeline, and demand doesn’t always lead to increased awareness in the market. The problem is that if you over-index too much in brand you’ll have a lot of pipeline, but not a lot of conversions. And if you over-index on demand, you don’t build customers for the future.
But when the efforts from both sides are designed to complement one another, we’re able to reach a new, previously unattainable level of cohesion across the entire marketing program —
creating a really powerful growth engine, helping us achieve our goals of:
- Driving company revenue stream (sustainably)
- Reducing price sensitivity (important in a parity market)
- Building preference for your brand and therefore your products
- Delivering long-term sales stream through repeat customers
- Generating bigger payoffs in terms of profit and shareholder value
- Saving money by reducing waste and improving operational efficiencies
The brand-to-demand marketing approach is a sustained approach that continuously engages with audiences inside and outside of the marketing funnel in a value exchange that drives growth for both audience and brand.
To be good, we need to do both. But to be great, we need a more intentional, unifying strategy. The ideal state is to develop a long-term strategy to build preference, which helps to achieve faster, short-term wins during moments when buyers are more receptive to ‘demand’ campaigns.
What’s the Right Balance?
But what is the right ratio between brand to demand? This all depends on the competitive situation and business goals — you may be changing the ratio of budget and marketing activities towards brands and demand at any given time.
For example, if you’ve spent a lot of time in brand building but you’re not seeing a lot of revenue coming through, you may need to tip the favor towards sales activation for a little while.
If you’re a relatively unknown brand, such as a new business or as in many cases, a brand that should be well known but is having a brand awareness issue, then you should consider spending some time investing in brand building. You still need to do a degree of sales activation but you may want to channel more budget into brand building, and vice versa.
The time frame for when to perform this balancing act depends on your sales cycles, customer expectations, and even broader industry trends that shape your offerings.
The key lies in regularly fine-tuning your brand to demand ratios based upon the unique details and goals of your brand, the product/campaign, and audience response. Resist the urge to over index on either side. Because if you don’t invest enough in demand, you neglect driving sales for your organization. And if you don’t invest enough in brand, you’re simply not going to have any future customers.
As we seek out tactics that will lead us to achieve a proper ratio, there’s been a trusted hero of the brand-to-demand approach sitting right under our noses: content.
Brand-to-Demand Marketing = Ideal End State. Content = Vehicle.
If brand-to-demand is the modern way to engage audiences, content marketing is the way we’ll achieve this successfully.
Sophisticated marketers know that one asset or blog post does not result in a subscriber, let alone generate a lead. Trust takes time to develop, and the consistent cadence and drumbeat of a long-term content program can help to build and nurture real relationships with audiences.
A recent FocusVision report reveals that a B2B prospect will consume an average of 13 pieces of content before making a buying decision.
This data indicates that the buying process is getting longer, and audiences are feeling more empowered to conduct their research online, reaffirming the influence and opportunity content can have on the vendor selection process.
By releasing a steady stream of content, your audience interactions become repeated and meaningful, and their receptivity to your brand messaging and communication gradually heightens. Loyalty is earned, after all. And when this consistent drum beat aligns with memorable brand campaigns, you build brand recognition and loyalty across the marketing funnel.
Content: A Through Line
Far too often, marketing orgs relegate content to just one part of their operations. They use it to grow search traffic, go viral on social, or tease product updates. But content is a natural broker between brand and demand strategies. For the brand marketers, content both precedes and carries the narrative forward from an advertising campaign in substantive ways. And for demand, it helps to qualify prospects through the valuable content pieces they have consumed.
When leveraged appropriately, content can foster an ideal balance between the two camps.
Another advantage of content is its ability to tell a compelling story.
The best content programs deliver on customer expectations via a master narrative — supporting the creation of seamless messaging and a consistent customer experience, which has now become table stakes.
These are the type of content campaigns that unfold logically, delivering key benefits to the audience along every step of their customer journey. The content we deploy along the storyline can be anything from an inspiring branded documentary video to a ‘how to buy a camera’ guide. It all depends on the needs of the customer, and the information they require to get from point A to point B. By mapping content against audience intent, you can solve any breaks in the customer journey.
To put it plainly:
- Content builds the brand by targeting audience needs and interests
- Content connects the brand-to-demand continuum
- Content creates a halo effect for demand strategies
Through a story-lined approach, brands can extend their campaign narrative and create meaningful audience interactions throughout the entire funnel, ultimately nurturing prospects to conversion.
📖 Related Read: How to Tell an Unforgettable Brand Story
The new industry benchmark requires an integrated strategy involving both brand and demand approaches — a balanced mix of both short and long-term tactics to achieve sustainable growth.
We believe high-value, journalistic content marketing accelerates this integration by producing content relevant to the knowledge journey, serving messages to the right people, at the right time, on the right channels.
We believe content is where brand meets demand — a sweet spot that fosters brand loyalists and fuels consistent ROI that compounds over time.
We shouldn’t be thinking about brand versus demand or sales versus marketing, but how to deliver a killer and cohesive customer experience.
If you’re ready to take the next step, take a look at studioID’s brand-to-demand principles, the critical drivers that will get your brand-to-demand program launched and set up for success.
Lead the way to long-term marketing growth. Get your copy of studioID’s Definitive Guide to Brand-to-Demand Marketing.