Two fundamentals of marketing are supply and demand. If you don’ have a handle on these factors you are not doing your job. I’ve spent a business lifetime trying to work in categories with “pent-up demand.”
When there is no demand, the marketer’s job is to create it. That starts with a good product. And it ends with the ability to educate the market as to the value of the good product. Education is expensive. Many moons ago AT&T had an 800 service with a formidable competitor, MCI. MCI had a price advantage. AT&T had a technology advantage. AT&T’s calls connected faster. Seconds faster. That might not seem like a big deal but to businesses doing millions of calls a day, it added up. However, no one knew there was a problem.
AT&T had to educate America about the problem, then provide the solution. That educational cost; I’m guessing took about $20-30 million. Tough road, but it paid for itself.
The moral is, if there is no demand you have to incite it. AT&T had the money.
Virality being what it is today, many start-ups think the social web is all they’ll need to educate a market about a product’s value. Don’t count on it. Those stories are few and far between.