Demand Creation vs. Demand Capture in B2B—Key Differences and Why They Matter

What Is The Difference?

In the simplest terms, the difference between Demand Creation and Demand Capture lies in their approach to the market. Demand Creation is about generating new interest or awareness in your products or services, often targeting audiences who may not yet realize they have a need for what you offer. It’s about planting seeds and nurturing them. On the other hand, Demand Capture focuses on attracting customers who are already in the market for your type of product or service. It’s less about education and more about convincing them that your solution is the one they should choose.


In the high-stakes world of B2B marketing, demand is more than just a buzzword—it’s the lifeblood of any successful business. Whether you’re a startup looking to make a splash or an established company aiming to scale, understanding how to generate and capture demand is crucial. But here’s the kicker: not all demand is created equal.

In the marketing community, two terms often get thrown around—Demand Creation and Demand Capture. While they may seem similar, they serve different purposes and require distinct strategies. So, what’s the difference, and why should you care?

This comprehensive guide aims to demystify these concepts, offering actionable insights and practical examples to help you decide which approach—or perhaps a blend of both—is right for your business. We’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of each, from the strategies and tools you can employ to real-world applications that have proven successful.

So, buckle up as we embark on this journey to decode Demand Creation and Demand Capture, helping you make informed decisions that can propel your business to new heights.

What is Demand Creation?

Demand Creation is more than just marketing jargon; it’s a strategic approach that aims to generate interest and awareness in a product or service. Unlike Demand Capture, which focuses on “low-hanging fruit,” Demand Creation is about planting seeds in fertile ground and nurturing them until they’re ready to bear fruit.

Definition and Importance

At its core, Demand Creation is about stimulating interest in what you’re offering. It’s not just about getting your product in front of people; it’s about getting people to think differently to recognize a need they didn’t know they had. This is especially crucial in B2B marketing, where the sales cycles are longer, and the stakes are higher. A well-executed Demand Creation strategy can position your brand as a thought leader, build strong relationships with potential customers, and ultimately drive long-term growth.

Strategies for Demand Creation

Content Marketing

Content is king, and in the realm of Demand Creation, it wears the crown. High-quality, valuable content can educate your audience, solve their problems, and guide them through the buyer’s journey. Whether it’s blog posts, whitepapers, or webinars, content marketing is a powerful tool to establish authority and build trust.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the unsung hero of Demand Creation. By optimizing your content for search engines, you increase the visibility of your brand. This is a long-term game, but the payoff is worth it. When potential customers search for solutions to their problems, your content should be what they find.

Posting on LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t just for job hunting; it’s a goldmine for Demand Creation. Regularly posting insightful content, sharing industry news, or even just commenting on relevant posts can build your authority over a topic. It’s a fantastic way to engage with your audience, especially in the B2B space, and subtly create demand for your services without overtly selling.


Don’t underestimate the power of the spoken word. Podcasting has emerged as an incredible tool for Demand Creation. It allows you to dive deep into topics, interview industry experts, and provide valuable insights in an easily digestible format. Podcasts can position you as a thought leader in your industry and give you a platform to connect with potential customers on a more personal level.

Creating a YouTube Channel

Visual content is a compelling way to create new demand. A YouTube channel allows you to showcase your expertise, offer tutorials, and even give behind-the-scenes looks at your company. It’s an excellent platform for educating your audience and creating a community around your brand, which in turn generates new interest and demand.

What is Demand Capture?

While Demand Creation is about generating new interest and awareness, Demand Capture is the art of seizing existing demand in the market. It’s about identifying those ripe opportunities where potential customers are already looking for a solution and guiding them towards your offering.

Definition and Importance

Demand Capture is the tactical counterpart to the more strategic Demand Creation. It focuses on immediate results, targeting individuals and businesses that are already in the market for a product or service like yours. In the fast-paced world of B2B marketing, where every lead counts, Demand Capture is essential for short-term growth and quick ROI.

Strategies for Demand Capture

PPC Advertising

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a quintessential Demand Capture strategy. It allows you to place your offering directly in front of people who are actively searching for it. With the right keywords and ad copy, PPC can be a highly effective way to capture demand and convert it into sales.

LinkedIn Ads Lead Gen Forms

LinkedIn Ads with lead gen forms are a powerful tool for Demand Capture. They allow you to target professionals based on various criteria like industry, job title, and company size, ensuring that your message reaches the right audience.

Cold Email Marketing

Cold email is a potent tool for Demand Capture. It targets individuals who are already in the market for a solution, offering them a direct path to what they need. The key is to personalize the message and provide immediate value, making it easier for the prospect to take the next step.

The 1-6% Dilemma: Why Both Demand Creation and Demand Capture are Crucial

In any given market, only about 1-6% of potential customers are actually “in-market” for your product or service. These are the individuals and businesses actively looking for a solution, and they are the primary targets of Demand Capture strategies. The remaining 94-99% are not ready to buy now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future.

The Limitation of Focusing Solely on Demand Capture

Many marketers make the mistake of focusing all their efforts and budgets on this 1-6%, often through Google Ads and other Demand Capture activities. While this can yield quick wins, it’s a short-sighted approach. True scale and long-term growth come from being part of the buyer’s journey before they’re ready to make a purchase.

The Power of Demand Creation

Demand Creation is about being there for potential customers when they’re just researching solutions. It’s about educating them on the available options and becoming a part of their consideration set long before they’re “in-market.” By the time they are ready to buy, your brand is already top of mind, giving you a significant advantage.

A Real-World Example: Philip Ilic on LinkedIn Ads vs. Google Ads

As the founder of, a Linkedin Ads agenc, I often create content argueing that CMOs should allocate more budget to paid social, specifically LinkedIn Ads, to capture the larger 94-99% of the market that’s not yet ready to buy. Google Ads are great for capturing the 1-6% who are in-market, but LinkedIn Ads allow you to engage potential customers much earlier in their journey.

For instance, by creating content that convinces a CMO to shift more budget towards LinkedIn Ads, I’m not just capturing existing demand; I’m creating new demand for my services. The CMO, influenced by my content, might decide to hire my company,, because I helped shape their strategy.

The Synergy Between Demand Creation and Demand Capture

While Demand Creation and Demand Capture may seem like two separate entities, they are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. Understanding how to leverage both can result in a balanced, effective marketing strategy that covers all bases.

Why You Need Both

In a perfect world, you’d capture all the existing demand while simultaneously creating new demand. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and resources are often limited. That’s why it’s crucial to strike a balance between these two approaches. Ignoring one in favor of the other can lead to missed opportunities and stunted growth.

How They Complement Each Other

Demand Creation is your long game, building brand awareness and relationships that will pay off in the future. Demand Capture, on the other hand, is your quick win, converting those who are ready to buy now. When used together, they create a marketing ecosystem where you’re always engaging with potential customers, whether they’re ready to make a purchase or not.

Examples of Synergistic Strategies

  1. SEO + PPC: Use SEO to build long-term brand visibility and PPC for immediate results.
  2. Content Marketing + LinkedIn Ads Lead Gen Forms: Create valuable content to educate and nurture your audience while using LinkedIn Ads to capture those who are ready to take action.
  3. Podcasting + Cold Email: Use podcasting to establish thought leadership and cold email to directly engage with prospects who are in-market.

The Ultimate Goal: A Balanced Marketing Ecosystem

The end game is to create a balanced marketing ecosystem where Demand Creation and Demand Capture coexist. This ensures that you’re not just fishing in a small pond but casting a wide net to engage with as many potential customers as possible.

The Messy Reality of the Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is rarely a straight line. It’s more like a web, with multiple touchpoints and channels that potential customers interact with before making a decision. This underscores the importance of being present on multiple platforms and offering various types of content to engage with your audience at different stages of their journey.

Why a Multi-Channel Approach is Essential

In today’s digital landscape, buyers have more options than ever. They’re not just going to find you through a single channel or piece of content. They’ll likely interact with your brand multiple times, in multiple ways, before they’re ready to make a purchase. That’s why it’s crucial to have a multi-channel approach that combines both Demand Creation and Demand Capture strategies.

A Real-World Example: The Complexity of Multi-Channel Interactions

Speaking from personal experience, as someone who runs a LinkedIn ads agency, I always ask how buyers end up on a sales call with me. The answers are far from straightforward.

For instance, someone might initially discover me on YouTube, then connect with me on LinkedIn. They’ll follow my posts for a few months while also being retargeted by my LinkedIn ads, which mostly offer helpful content. One day, they’ll Google my company name and sign up for a call through my website.

Or sometimes, they’ll first find me through a LinkedIn post, binge-watch my YouTube videos, and then DM me on LinkedIn to initiate a conversation.

In another scenario, they might stumble upon an article I’ve written that shows up in Google search results. Intrigued by the content, they’ll notice my LinkedIn link next to my name in the article, connect with me, and eventually send a direct message.

The Takeaway: Be Everywhere, But Be Relevant

The key takeaway is that you need to be everywhere your potential customers are, but you also need to be relevant. It’s not just about casting a wide net; it’s about casting a smart net that captures attention at the right time and in the right context.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Demand Creation and Demand Capture

So you’ve implemented a multi-channel approach, blending Demand Creation and Demand Capture strategies. But how do you know if it’s working? Measurement is the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy, and it’s crucial for understanding the ROI of your efforts.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Understanding the right KPIs to track is essential for gauging the effectiveness of your strategies. For Demand Creation, focus on metrics like brand awareness, engagement rates, and customer lifetime value. For Demand Capture, look at conversion rates, cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and immediate ROI.

KPIs for Demand Creation

  • Brand Awareness: Social media impressions, website visits, and mentions.
  • Engagement Rates: Likes, shares, and comments on your content.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The total value a customer brings over the entire relationship.

KPIs for Demand Capture

  • Conversion Rates: The percentage of leads that turn into paying customers.
  • Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA): The cost to acquire a new customer.
  • Immediate ROI: The immediate return on investment, often measured within a short time frame like a month or a quarter.

Tools for Measurement

There are various tools available to help you measure these KPIs. Google Analytics is excellent for tracking website metrics, while platforms like HubSpot can provide a more comprehensive view of customer interactions across multiple channels.

The Importance of A/B Testing

Never underestimate the power of A/B testing. It allows you to compare two versions of a campaign to determine which is more effective. This is particularly useful for Demand Capture strategies like PPC and LinkedIn Ads, where small tweaks can result in significant improvements.

The Unseen Impact: Dark Social and Measurement Challenges

While metrics and KPIs are essential for understanding the effectiveness of your strategies, it’s crucial to acknowledge the limitations of these measurements. One significant blind spot in analytics is “Dark Social,” the untraceable sharing and engagement that happens outside of conventional social platforms.

What is Dark Social?

Dark Social refers to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs. This includes links sent via email, private messaging apps, and even word-of-mouth recommendations.

The Challenges of Measuring Dark Social

Because these interactions are not easily trackable, they often go unnoticed in your analytics dashboard. However, they can have a significant impact on both Demand Creation and Demand Capture. For example:

  • YouTube Channels: People might be watching your YouTube videos without ever interacting with them, making it difficult to measure the true reach and impact.
  • Podcasts: Listeners might share your podcast episodes in private messages, leading to new audience members you can’t easily track.
  • LinkedIn Posts: Someone might screenshot your LinkedIn post and share it in a Slack group, prompting a manager to reach out to you without your knowledge.

Why Dark Social Matters

Ignoring Dark Social means underestimating the full scope of your marketing efforts. While you may not be able to measure these interactions directly, being aware of their existence can help you tailor your strategies to encourage more visible forms of engagement.

LinkedIn Ads: A Dual Tool for Demand Creation and Demand Capture

LinkedIn Ads offer a unique advantage in the world of B2B marketing. Not only can they be used to capture existing demand, but they’re also incredibly effective for creating new demand. Let’s break down how you can use LinkedIn Ads for both purposes.

LinkedIn Ads for Demand Creation

The 180-Day Retargeting Layer

One of the most effective strategies for Demand Creation on LinkedIn is the use of a 180-day retargeting layer. This allows you to continually engage with users who have interacted with your brand, keeping you top of mind over an extended period.

Ungated Content and Content Distribution

LinkedIn Ads are perfect for distributing ungated content to a laser-focused target audience. By using LinkedIn’s robust targeting options, you can guarantee that your content reaches your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), thus creating new demand.

LinkedIn Ads for Demand Capture

Bottom-of-Funnel Ads

When it comes to capturing existing demand, LinkedIn Ads can be incredibly effective, especially with bottom-of-funnel ads. These are ads that directly ask the user to take a high-commitment action, like requesting a demo or scheduling a sales call.

Here is an example of a Single-Image Ad with Call-To-Action (CTA)

Lead Generation Forms

LinkedIn’s lead gen forms are another powerful tool for Demand Capture. They allow you to collect valuable information from potential customers without requiring them to leave the platform, making the conversion process as frictionless as possible.

This is what lead gen forms look like:

Your Actionable Guide: Implementing a Balanced Strategy

Theory is great, but action is better. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you implement a balanced Demand Creation and Demand Capture strategy in your organization.

Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Before you can create or capture demand, you need to know who you’re targeting. Create a detailed ICP to guide your marketing efforts.

Step 2: Allocate Budget and Resources

Decide how much of your budget and resources will go into Demand Creation vs. Demand Capture. A 50/50 split is a good starting point, but this can vary based on your business needs.

Step 3: Choose the Right Channels

Based on your ICP, choose the channels that will be most effective for both Demand Creation and Demand Capture.

Step 4: Develop Content and Campaigns

Create content and campaigns tailored to each channel and each stage of the buyer’s journey. For Demand Creation, focus on educational and engaging content. For Demand Capture, create compelling calls-to-action.

Step 5: Measure and Adjust

Use the KPIs and tools discussed earlier to measure the effectiveness of your strategies. Be prepared to adjust your approach based on the data.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid: Navigating the Balance

While implementing a balanced strategy for Demand Creation and Demand Capture is crucial, it’s equally important to be aware of common mistakes that could undermine your efforts. Here’s what to watch out for:

Over-Reliance on One Strategy

Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky. Whether it’s focusing solely on SEO for Demand Creation or PPC for Demand Capture, an unbalanced approach can lead to missed opportunities.

Ignoring the Buyer’s Journey

Failing to consider where your audience is in their buyer’s journey can result in mismatched content and campaigns. Always tailor your strategies to meet your audience where they are.

Neglecting Dark Social

As discussed earlier, ignoring the impact of Dark Social can result in an incomplete understanding of your marketing effectiveness. Always consider the unmeasurable but impactful ways your content is being shared.

Inadequate Measurement and Adjustment

Setting and forgetting your campaigns is a recipe for stagnation. Always measure your results and be prepared to pivot based on the data.

Frequently Asked Questions: Your Quick Guide to Demand Creation and Demand Capture

1. What is Demand Creation?

Demand Creation is the process of generating new demand for your products or services through brand building, education, and engagement.

2. What is Demand Capture?

Demand Capture is the process of capturing existing demand in the market, usually through direct response marketing tactics like PPC ads and SEO.

3. Can I focus solely on Demand Creation or Demand Capture?

While it’s possible to focus on one, a balanced approach that incorporates both strategies is generally more effective.

4. How do I measure the effectiveness of Demand Creation?

Key metrics for Demand Creation include brand awareness, engagement rates, and customer lifetime value.

5. How do I measure the effectiveness of Demand Capture?

Key metrics for Demand Capture include conversion rates, cost-per-acquisition, and immediate ROI.

6. What is Dark Social?

Dark Social refers to the sharing of content that occurs outside of measurable channels, like private messages or emails.

7. How do LinkedIn Ads fit into this?

LinkedIn Ads can be used for both Demand Creation, through content distribution and retargeting, and Demand Capture, through lead gen forms and bottom-of-funnel ads.

8. What is the 180-Day Retargeting Layer?

It’s a LinkedIn Ads strategy that allows you to continually engage with users who have interacted with your brand over an extended period.

9. What are some common pitfalls to avoid?

Over-reliance on one strategy, ignoring the buyer’s journey, neglecting Dark Social, and inadequate measurement are some common mistakes.

10. Where can I start?

Begin by identifying your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), allocating your budget, and choosing the right channels for your strategies.

Conclusion: The Balanced Approach is the Winning Approach

In the ever-evolving landscape of B2B marketing, the debate between Demand Creation and Demand Capture is more relevant than ever. But as we’ve explored in this comprehensive guide, it’s not an either-or situation. The most effective strategies incorporate both, creating a balanced approach that captures existing demand while also building new demand for the future.

From understanding the messy reality of the buyer’s journey to navigating the challenges of Dark Social, we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’ve also delved into actionable steps you can take, common pitfalls to avoid, and even answered some frequently asked questions.

So what’s the next step? It’s time to take action. Revisit your marketing strategies, measure their effectiveness, and don’t be afraid to pivot. Whether you’re looking to distribute ungated content through LinkedIn Ads or capture leads with bottom-of-funnel calls-to-action, the tools and strategies are at your fingertips.

Remember, the key to long-term success is balance. And now, you have the roadmap to achieve it.

Further Reading 

👉 If you’re digging this deep dive into Demand Creation and Demand Capture, you’ll definitely want to feast your eyes on these must-reads:


Philip Ilic

Philip Ilic

B2B Growth Specialist

Phil helps B2B SaaS companies with growth marketing and is a deep specialist in Linkedin advertising and paid social more generally (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). He runs a paid social agency called and is the founder of


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