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If you are generating leads or interest in your business, but are struggling with making sales or deals happen, you may be mistaking the type of demand your prospects are showing.

If you have had limited success in the types of marketing you have been doing, you may be too limited in how you market and to the levels of demand you are reaching.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Should I spend more time educating potential customers on the benefits of our service or product or should I spend more time telling them why we are better than the competition?” The answer often lies in the type of demand you have generated or are seeking. The first type of demand is called primary demand.

Primary demand is when a potential buyer, or prospect, is showing interest in a product or service for the first time. Often times it is because the prospect was never exposed to the “concept” of the product or service or never really understood it. But now due to new circumstances she has an apparent need all of a sudden.

You may recognize primary demand when someone says, “Hmm… that sounds really interesting and something I/my company could use. Please tell me more.”

Basically, when someone has primary demand for your services or products they are at the stages where they are at first only considering your “type of service or product.” They have to be convinced that this is even right for them before they even consider you (or someone else).

At this point, they have not even compared you to the competition. Therefore, when facing primary demand situations you have an excellent opportunity to gain new business. It’s also an ideal way to “sidestep” your competition!

When you have a prospect with primary demand for your products or services your goal is to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, and EDUCATE this person. Ask questions to uncover possible problems this person is facing or opportunities he wishes to explore. Then when appropriate, explain how your product or service is the perfect match.

If you have good communication skills you can close almost all deals when a prospect has primary demand.

We will discuss strategies and approaches to create more primary demand in a minute. But first let’s move on to the second type of demand, “selective demand.”

Selective demand is when a prospect has a need, has identified the need, and is ACTIVELY seeking out a solution. In these cases the prospect will come to you if he feels comfortable in your company’s ability to solve his needs.

This sounds good right? Buyers who already know what they want. No need for educating them. Just get to the point and sell. Well, it’s not that easy!

When someone has selective demand they are more proactive in their search for information. They usually give themselves enough time to compare the quality, value, and offers of different companies. So while they are calling you they are also likely calling others as well.

So before we go any further, do you now understand the difference between the two types of demand? Can you begin to see how your approach will vary greatly?

Quick summary so far:

Primary demand = Someone has identified a need for the first time, often using your help. To sell and market your solution use education, exploration of problems, and explain and demonstrate how you have the solution.

Selective demand = Someone has identified the need or problem on her own and is already seeking a solution before you came along. To sell and market to someone with selective demand, first determine how you can better serve your prospect’s needs and communicating this clearly to him, before he goes to someone else!

A few examples for demonstration:

A financial advisor would create “primary demand” in someone when he teaches the powerful, compounding effects of interest and why it is so important to begin investing today.

An organizational development consultant would be facing “selective demand” if he had to convince a company why his approach to improving productivity was better than what the competition used.

An executive coach would create “primary demand” if she first helped someone overcome a problem in productivity, then determined other problems that existed, and finally offered to help solve these problems.

A wellness center, that teaches relaxation techniques through yoga, would gain a strong competitive advantage and win more “selective demand” if their marketing focused on how they were better capable than their competition to solve the health concerns of their customers and prospects.

Go ahead and substitute your company into these types of situations.

Ok. So you are thinking, “Sounds good, Chris. So how do we use this?”

Here’s your REVENUE GENERATING strategy…

Part 1: The explanation above discussed how to identify which type of demand you are dealing with and how to act appropriately. Refer to it as your reference guide.

Part 2: (Just below) Describes exactly how to generate higher levels of each type of demand.

Part 3: (At the bottom) Determines which is the optimal mix for your business.

Ways to increase “primary demand”:

Use “pre-emptive” marketing. Rather than wait until the day comes when your prospects discover they have a need and allow them to do their own search, hoping they find you and call you, make sure you reach them first!

Ways to do this:


– by focusing on the problems you solve, you are likely to meet interested people

– use especially when marketing to businesses

Direct Mail

– use your letter to 1st help the reader identify a problem or need, 2nd magnify this problem or need to how it affects his business or life, and 3rd provide a solution using your company

Display Ads in newspapers

– similar approach as in Direct Mail, but uses print media instead

– use ads LARGE enough to get noticed


– it’s a great way to get people’s attention…if you can first get the publicity


– get referred to the people and businesses likely to benefit from your offer

– many times people will be receptive to new ideas when they are referred by someone they already know and trust


– often a “tough sell”, but if you reach enough of the right people it can work

– stick to telemarketing to businesses

– leave consumers who are at home eating dinner alone! (Thank you!)

These marketing tactics tend to work best for primary demand because they catch someone when they are “not already” considering your business or your type of product or service.

Just remember, these people did NOT expect to hear from you or about you on this particular day. So you must tell them in your marketing, right up front “What’s in it for them.” In other words, you must use your marketing to ask probing questions, identify needs, and then educate them on how their problems can be solved using your product, service, or company.

Ways to increase Selective Demand:

Four Steps:

1) Determine where your prospects typically turn to for more information about your type of services or products.

For example: Internet Search Engines, Yellow Pages, Classified Sections, Business Directories, Advice from others.

2) Do everything possible to gain tremendous exposure for your company in the specific places that your potential customers turn to when looking for a company like yours.

If it’s a form of media, (online or offline) advertise there.

If it’s word of mouth, identify who has strong levels of “influence” over other people’s decisions and build relationships with these people.

3) Recognize your company’s strongest competitive advantages and communicate them in all marketing and advertising you do. Do NOT be another “me too” company and look like everyone else. You will NOT get noticed that way. Stand out in a GOOD way.

4) Have excellent customer service and “incoming call” sales people ready to answer all questions and sell your company. If necessary, have great sales people who can meet prospects in person on appointments to close business and start new relationships.

So, which one should we focus on, gaining more primary or selective demand?

That’s a tough one, but in most cases I suggest BOTH.

If you are what I call a true “marketing hustler” who can get out there and is very proactive in marketing, you may be able to generate enough leads by generating enough primary demand.

However, there are cons as well. You may find yourself spending quite a bit of time trying to sell or market to people or businesses that don’t quite understand what you do and feel they have no real need.

Why not at least devote a bit of your marketing budget and efforts to generate you qualified, selective demand?

If your company’s products and services are of much higher quality, better priced, and/or better serve customers’ needs you will likely win out in a head to head advertising/marketing battle. Proudly display your company wherever customers are likely to search for you.

It is probable that you will win most business anyway, especially if you have an established, strong identity.

However, when you combine both approaches and appeal to both markets you A) gain a share of the “established” market – those consumers or businesses actively seeking a solution, and B) open new territories and expand into “untapped” markets by generating primary demand.

So, your marketing homework for today…

Answer the following questions:

When people express interest in what our company provides, can I judge whether they were already actively seeking a solution (selective demand) or if I just “sparked” a new interest (primary demand)?

Do I have a different sales/marketing approach when dealing with inquiries and questions for both types of demand?

Do I have a “pre-emptive” strategy that allows me to reach new potential customers and help generate new, or “primary” demand? In other words, am I beating my competition to the chase?

Do I have appropriate exposure for my business so that when prospects are seeking a company like mine, they will find us (even if they also find our competitors)?

Where does most of our business come from now? Are we fully maximizing this approach? Can we also attract more of the other type of demand?

Where do most of our competitors “drop the ball”? Is there an opportunity waiting?

So in conclusion, begin to look at your business in 4 new dimensions.

Dimensions 1 and 2 are that different types of buyers react differently to you and your company because their levels of demand vary. Market, educate, and sell appropriately.

Dimensions 3 and 4 represent new marketing approaches you may want to consider. It is highly likely you may have been favoring one approach more so over the other. It is time to consider investing time and money in the other!

This Marketing article was written by Chris Philippi on 2/11/2005

Chris Philippi is president of Philippi Marketing & Associates, a retail consulting firm specializing in helping independent retailers and small retail chains increase sales quickly, easily, and without expensive advertising. Chris is co-author of The Worlds Greatest Business Mentors and is available for speaking engagements and consulting around the world. Contact him at
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