Stop Being Clever and Just Harvest Demand, Please

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

When it comes to your PPC campaigns, it is easier, better, faster, smarter to focus on harvesting demand. That’s in contrast to those who are trying to be clever by creating demand for their product or service.

Look, people engaging with PPC ads typically are very clear about what they are searching for. Even if they type a broad term such as “hotels,” chances are they have a specific location in mind. Trying to convince them that what they were originally looking for is inferior to what you are selling can be a fool’s errand.

Here’s a quick and simple ad text example of the difference between harvesting demand and trying to create it. For the example, let’s say a searcher enters the term “Hotel in Denver Colorado”.


The advertiser harvesting demand:

Downtown Denver Hotel

Historic Outside, Modern Inside.

Stay 2 Night & Get Your 3rd Free!


The advertiser trying to create demand:

Colorado Hotel

Warm CO Hotel Close to Denver.

Stay in Boulder & Save Up to 20%.


The first ad is harvesting the demand for a hotel in Denver. The second is trying to create a demand for a hotel in Boulder. And to be fair, the second ad would probably generate some conversions over time. There are some people out there that could be swayed. But the CTR, and CPA are probably going to be too poor to justify the ad spend.

This same theory goes for new products too. Ever wonder why some ideas sound great but the business flounders? It’s probably because it is a good idea, but no one knows they want it. If you have deep pockets and can advertise for months on end without seeing a return, you may eventually create some demand. But if you are like most businesses and are bootstrapping it, you likely will go bust before enough people start demanding your product.

Step back for a minute. Are you running ads for keywords where you are trying to create demand versus harvest it? Why? Is there not enough traffic for more relevant keywords? Can you write better ads, increase CTR, and thus get in front of more qualified searchers?

How to Harvest Demand, Better

1. Write better ads. Increase your CTR and get more out of the searchers who are looking for what you offer.

2. Add more marketing channels. Go to where people who demand your product are. Start running ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and second tier search engines.

3. Use Google’s thinkinsights to find new keyword ideas and to spot trends that may affect your campaigns.

As a last resort: if focusing on more relevant search queries can’t generate the traffic you are looking for, then do yourself a few favors:

1. Go negative keyword crazy. If you’re trying to create demand, at least do it on keywords where you have a chance. If someone searchers for Downtown Denver Hotel, I can’t imagine a world where your ad is going to convince them that they want Boulder instead.

2. Be over-the-top specific in your ad copy, specifically your headline. You’ll kill your CTR, but you’ll keep the bulk of irrelevant traffic off your site.

3. Create landing page copy that speaks to why they should want your product or service instead. Don’t ignore the fact that they were searching for something else.


PPC marketing is supposed to be all about giving people what they want, when and where they ask for it. So I recommend, focusing your cleverness on finding better ways to harvest demand instead of trying to create it.