LinkedIn Advertising Strategy in 2023: Shifting from Demand Capture to Human-Centric Demand Creation

Are you tired of the same old LinkedIn advertising strategies that focus solely on capturing existing demand? 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll shift the paradigm. We’ll delve into a human-centric approach that aims to create new demand, not just capture what’s already there.

Main Takeaways

  1. Out with the Old, In with the New: Traditional LinkedIn advertising methods are outdated. It’s time to shift from a metrics-only view to a human-centric strategy that focuses on creating new demand.
  2. The Human Element: Stop treating potential customers like numbers on a spreadsheet. Understand the psychology of demand and the buyer’s journey to create a more effective advertising strategy.
  3. Quality Over Quantity: Forget the MQL mirage. The key metrics that matter are those related to revenue. Focus on customer lifetime value and actual revenue generated, not just leads captured.
  4. Creating vs. Capturing Demand: The old playbook focuses on capturing existing demand, which is like fishing in an overfished pond. The new strategy is about creating demand, and building a pipeline that will fuel your growth for years to come.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Why We Need to Rethink LinkedIn Advertising

    • The Old Playbook Isn’t Cutting It
    • The Limitations of Traditional Methods
    • The Missing Human Element
    • The Shift to a Human-Centric Approach
    • What to Expect in This Guide
  2. Part 1: The Flaws in Traditional LinkedIn Advertising

    • The Problem with the “Demo-First” Approach
    • The Sales-Led vs. Marketing-Led Conundrum
    • The MQL Mirage
    • The Demand Capture Illusion
  3. Part 2: Time for a Paradigm Shift: Creating Demand, Not Just Capturing It

    • Focus on Revenue Metrics, Not Just Middle-Metrics
    • Creating Demand > Capturing Demand
  4. Part 3: How To Craft Demand
  5. The LinkedIn Strategy: From Top to Bottom

  6. Conclusion: The New Era of LinkedIn Advertising

    • Main Takeaways

Introduction: Why We Need to Rethink LinkedIn Advertising

The Old Playbook Isn’t Cutting It

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been around the LinkedIn advertising block a few times. You’ve probably followed the playbook—set up campaigns, targeted high-intent keywords, and watched those Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) roll in. But let’s get real for a second. Are you actually satisfied with the results? Or do you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending loop of metrics that don’t really tell the full story?

The Limitations of Traditional Methods

Here’s the deal: The way we’ve been taught to approach LinkedIn advertising is, frankly, outdated. We’ve been schooled by the likes of HubSpot, Salesforce, and other industry giants who have shaped our understanding of marketing for the past decade. But times have changed, and so have the tools and resources at our disposal.

The Missing Human Element

The crux of the matter is this: We’ve been so engrossed in numbers, metrics, and data that we’ve forgotten the human element. We’ve been treating potential customers like just another number in a spreadsheet, completely ignoring the individual experience. And that’s a big no-no.

The Shift to a Human-Centric Approach

So, what’s the alternative? It’s time to shift our focus. It’s time to think about LinkedIn advertising from a human-centric perspective. This means understanding the psychology of demand, the buyer’s journey, and most importantly, how to create new demand—not just capture what’s already there.

What to Expect in This Guide

In this guide, we’re going to break down this new paradigm and give you actionable steps to revolutionize your LinkedIn advertising strategy for 2023. Buckle up; it’s going to be a game-changing ride.

Part 1: The Flaws in Traditional LinkedIn Advertising

Let’s get real. The current playbook for LinkedIn advertising is as stale as last week’s bread. You know the drill: Drive traffic to gated content, get those MQLs, and if you’re feeling particularly audacious, push for a demo or a free trial to capture existing demand. But let’s pause for a second and look at why these approaches are not as useful as they sound. 

Summary Table: Pitfalls of Traditional LinkedIn Advertising

Demo-First and Gated Content ApproachAsking for a commitment too early in the buyer’s journey.Leads to a lack of trust and low intent from users.
Sales-Led FocusOveremphasis on pushing everything through sales.Ignores the changing landscape where marketing-led or product-led approaches are becoming more effective.
MQL MirageObsession with generating a high volume of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).Results in low conversion rates and wastes resources on low-intent leads.
Demand Capture IllusionFocusing only on the 1-3% of the market that is high-intent.Drives up costs and treats your unique offering like a commodity.

The Problem with the “Demo-First” Approach

Imagine you’ve never heard of a company, and they’re immediately shoving a demo down your throat. It’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date—awkward, to say the least. This approach is especially challenging for less-branded, sales-led companies. Why? Because they don’t have the brand equity to make such a bold ask right off the bat.

Table: Why the Demo-First Approach Fails

Lack of TrustPeople don’t know your brand yet.
Low IntentUsers on LinkedIn are not necessarily looking for a demo.
High FrictionAsking for a commitment too early in the buyer’s journey.

The Sales-Led vs. Marketing-Led Conundrum

For years, we’ve been told that everything has to be pushed through sales. But guess what? The landscape is changing. Even sales-led businesses should now be looking more into becoming marketing-led or product-led. Why? Because the human touch point, while important, is becoming less critical. We’re in 2023, folks, not 2003. The old school way of thinking has got to go.

The MQL Mirage

The industry has conditioned us to worship at the altar of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). “How many can I drive on a monthly basis based on the budget?” That’s the question echoing in marketing meetings. But what’s the point of driving a ton of MQLs if they’re converting at abysmal rates? Your sales team is left chasing low-intent leads.

The Illusion of Success

Let’s start by debunking the myth that a high number of MQLs equals success. It’s an illusion, a mirage in the marketing desert that makes you think you’re closer to your goals than you actually are. You might be hitting your MQL targets, but if those leads aren’t converting into actual revenue, then what have you really achieved?

Table: The MQL Mirage vs Reality

MQL FocusReality Check
High VolumeLow Conversion Rates
Short-Term GainsLong-Term Losses

The Sales Team’s Nightmare

Imagine being a sales rep in this scenario. You’re handed a list of hundreds of MQLs to follow up on. You’re optimistic at first, but soon realize that most of these leads have no real interest in your product. They might have downloaded a whitepaper or attended a webinar, but they’re not ready to buy. You’re essentially chasing ghosts, wasting time and resources that could be better spent on high-quality leads.

The Cost of Low-Quality Leads

Let’s talk numbers for a second. Low-quality leads don’t just waste time; they waste money. Every email sent, every call made, and every demo scheduled costs your company. And when those efforts don’t convert into sales, it’s not just a loss; it’s a double loss. You’ve not only wasted resources but also missed out on potential revenue from focusing on higher-quality leads.

The Demand Capture Illusion

The current system is all about capturing existing demand. You’re essentially fishing in a tiny pond that’s already crowded with other anglers. The high-intent market—the people actually ready to buy your product—is minuscule. We’re talking 1-3% of your entire market. And guess what? Everyone’s targeting them, driving up costs and treating your unique offering like just another commodity.

The Folly of Fishing in a Crowded Pond

Let’s stick with the fishing analogy for a moment. Imagine you’re at a pond that’s teeming with fishermen, all casting their lines into the same small body of water. The fish are overwhelmed, dodging hooks left and right. The chances of catching anything worthwhile are slim to none. That’s what it’s like when you focus solely on capturing existing demand. You’re competing for the attention of a very limited audience, and the ROI is abysmal.

The Commodity Trap

When everyone’s vying for the same 1-3% of high-intent buyers, your product or service becomes commoditized. Instead of standing out for your unique features, benefits, or brand story, you’re lumped in with everyone else. Buyers start to make decisions based solely on price, and that’s a race to the bottom you don’t want to be a part of.

The Hidden Costs

It’s not just the direct costs of advertising that go up; there are hidden costs too. Think about the time and effort spent on crafting campaigns that ultimately yield low returns. Consider the opportunity cost of not reaching out to the other 97-99% of your market who might not be ready to buy now but could be excellent prospects down the line.

Part 2: Time for a Paradigm Shift: Focusing On Revenue and Creating Demand

Here’s where we need a seismic shift in thinking. The tools and resources available today are light years ahead of what we had even five years ago. We no longer need to rely solely on driving traffic to leads and converting those leads into SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). LinkedIn and paid social are not Google; the intent here is entirely different. 

We need to stop gating content and obsess over middle metrics like cost per MQL or the number of demos scheduled instead we need to start thinking about a robust content strategy that educates and nurtures, creating brand new demand rather than just capturing it.

Focus on Revenue Metrics, Not Just Middle-Metrics

Why the shift? Because businesses are waking up to the fact that middle-metrics are just that—middle. They’re not the end goal. The end goal is revenue. How much money is your LinkedIn advertising actually bringing into the company coffers? Are those leads you’re so proud of converting into paying customers? If not, it’s like celebrating a touchdown when you’re still at the 50-yard line.

The Metrics that Truly Matter

So, what should you be focusing on? Let’s break it down:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is the big kahuna of metrics. It tells you how much a customer is worth over the entire span of their relationship with your company. If this number is high, you’re doing something right.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This metric tells you how much you’re spending to acquire each customer. If your CAC is higher than your CLV, you’re essentially paying people to leave you. Not a good look.
  • Revenue Generated: This is the ultimate scoreboard. At the end of the day, how much money did your LinkedIn ads bring in? If you’re not tracking this, you’re essentially flying blind.

Table: The Evolution from Middle-Metrics to Revenue Metrics

Old MetricsNew MetricsWhy It Matters
Cost per MQLCustomer Lifetime ValueCLV gives you a long-term view, helping you understand the true value of each customer.
Number of Demos ScheduledCustomer Acquisition CostCAC tells you the cost efficiency of your campaigns, helping you optimize for profitability.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)Revenue GeneratedRevenue is the ultimate goal; it’s the metric that shows the direct impact of your advertising efforts.

The Bottom Line

If you’re not focusing on revenue metrics, you’re missing the forest for the trees. Middle-metrics might give you a nice ego boost, but they won’t keep the lights on. So, shift your gaze from the vanity metrics and focus on what truly counts: cold, hard revenue. Because at the end of the day, that’s the metric that will make or break your LinkedIn advertising game.

Creating Demand > Capturing Demand

As mentioned before, the old playbook focuses on capturing existing demand. Now, imagine a different scenario. What if, instead of fishing in that overfished pond, you could cultivate your own thriving ecosystem? An environment where fish—your potential customers—actually want to swim and are more likely to bite your bait? That’s what creating demand is all about. It’s about nurturing an environment where potential customers not only exist but are actually interested in what you have to offer.

The Power of Educational Content

So, how do you cultivate this thriving ecosystem? The answer is educational content rather than gated content. Gone are the days when you could just throw up an ad and expect people to click. Today’s customers are savvy; they want value. By creating ungated educational content that nurtures potential customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re providing that value. You’re not just telling them to buy your product; you’re educating them on why they should even care in the first place.

The Funnel vs. The Pipeline

In the old model, the focus was on filling a funnel. You’d capture as many leads as possible and then try to push them through to conversion. But here’s the thing: a funnel has a wide opening at the top and narrows down, meaning you lose potential customers along the way.

In contrast, a pipeline is about flow and continuity. By creating demand, you’re not just filling a funnel; you’re building a pipeline—a sustainable, long-term asset that will fuel your growth for years to come. You’re creating a flow of educated, interested leads who are more likely to convert not just once, but multiple times over their lifetime as a customer.

Summary Table: The Paradigm Shift in LinkedIn Advertising

Old WayNew WayImpact on Business
Gated Content, DEMOsCreating educational contentBuilds a more engaged, educated audience that sees value in your offerings
Focusing on capturing existing demandFocusing on creating new demandExpands your market and reduces competition, leading to better ROI
Filling a funnelBuilding a pipelineCreates a sustainable, long-term asset that continually fuels growth

The Takeaway

The shift from capturing demand to creating it is not just a change in tactics; it’s a fundamental change in mindset. It’s about moving from a scarcity mentality, where you’re fighting over the same limited resources, to an abundance mentality, where you’re creating your own opportunities.

Part 3: How To Create Demand 

It’s time to flip the script and focus on creating new demand. How? By understanding your market, educating your audience, and strategically positioning your solution. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Know The Market

The first thing you need to do is analyze your specific market segment. Understand the buyer’s journey by either interviewing existing customers or conducting market research. The goal is to identify the information your potential customers need at each stage of their journey.

List: Key Questions to Ask During Market Analysis

  • What problem does my product or service solve?
  • What are the pain points of my target audience?
  • What information do they need to move through the buyer’s journey?

Step 2: Educate, Don’t Sell

Once you understand your market, it’s time to educate your audience. Start with people who may not even realize they have a problem that your product or service solves. Create content that educates them about the problem’s importance and why they should allocate budget to solve it. This is not the time for gated content or hard sells; it’s about building awareness and credibility.

Table: The Evolution of the Buyer’s Journey

StageOld ApproachNew Approach
Problem UnawareIgnoreEducate
Problem AwareHard SellEducate
Solution AwareClose the DealEducate & Close

Step 3: Be the Guide, Not the Hero

As your audience becomes problem-aware but not yet solution-aware, resist the urge to bombard them with branded messages. Instead, educate them about why your industry category (like LinkedIn ads) is the best solution for their problem. For example, if you’re in the demand generation space, don’t just talk about your company; talk about why LinkedIn ads are a better solution than SEO or Google ads for certain types of companies.

Step 4: Create New Demand

By educating your audience, you’re creating new layers of demand. You’re bringing people from being unaware of a problem to recognizing its importance. Then you’re guiding them to understand why your solution is the best fit. This is how you create new, scalable demand.

List: Content Types for Each Stage

  • Problem Unaware: Blog posts, infographics
  • Problem Aware: Webinars, eBooks
  • Solution Aware: Case studies, testimonials

Step 5: Capture the Ready Ones

Once your audience is educated and in the market for a solution, that’s when you can start capturing demand. Use LinkedIn ads to send lead gen forms or drive traffic to a demo page. But remember, this should only happen after you’ve educated them. By this point, they’re not just any leads; they’re educated, high-intent leads ready to convert.

Here’s the kicker: because you’ve been the one to educate them from the get-go, they’re more likely to choose you over competitors. It’s a phenomenon I’ve experienced firsthand—people come to me already saying, “Look, I already know I want to work with you. I don’t really care about your prices, and I feel really confident about you because I’ve watched all these videos you created.” That’s the power of education-based marketing; it not only informs but also builds trust and loyalty.

Linking It All Together

Creating demand is not just an alternative to capturing it; it’s a necessity for scalable growth. By focusing on education and problem-solving, you’re not just filling a funnel; you’re building a pipeline—a sustainable, long-term asset that will fuel your growth for years to come.

Summary Table: Steps for Crafting Demand in LinkedIn Advertising

StepActionWhy It’s Necessary
1Know The MarketUnderstanding your market segment and the buyer’s journey allows you to tailor your content and messaging effectively.
2Educate, Don’t SellProviding educational content builds trust and awareness, positioning you as a thought leader rather than just another vendor.
3Be the Guide, Not the HeroFocusing on educating about the industry category rather than your brand helps the audience see the broader value and reduces resistance to your message.
4Create New DemandBy educating at each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re not just capturing existing demand but creating new layers of scalable demand.
5Capture the Ready OnesOnce the audience is educated and in-market, capturing them becomes more effective and efficient, leading to higher conversion rates.

The LinkedIn Strategy: From Top to Bottom

Finally, how does this all tie back to LinkedIn ads? Simple. Start with a solid content strategy focused on educating your audience about the problem and why your solution is the best fit. Once they’re educated, that’s when you can start capturing demand with lead gen forms and demos.

By adopting this new playbook, you’re not just capturing existing demand; you’re creating new demand, which is the ultimate key to scalability and long-term growth. So, are you ready to change the game? Because this is how you win in the new era of LinkedIn advertising.


In a world that’s rapidly evolving, clinging to outdated LinkedIn advertising strategies is a recipe for stagnation. The old playbook of capturing existing demand and obsessing over MQLs is not just ineffective—it’s counterproductive. The future lies in a human-centric approach that focuses on creating new demand, not just capturing what’s already there. By understanding your market, educating your audience, and strategically positioning your solution, you can turn LinkedIn advertising from a cost center into a strategic asset. 

So, are you ready to change the game? Because this is how you win in the new era of LinkedIn advertising.

Further Reading

If you found this article insightful, be sure to dive into our other pieces on demand generation strategies and LinkedIn strategies for even more valuable insights and tips to boost your B2B marketing efforts

Check Out: 

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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