Push vs. Pull Marketing

As a marketer, I am certain you have heard from your customers, your sales channel, and/or your management that no one likes to have emails flooding their inbox or magazines piling up on their desks.  In business to business, this strategy is called “pull” marketing—and it is all about being in the right place at the right time when a buyer is making a purchasing decision and “pulling” for information when they are searching the web, discussing with colleagues, going to their favorite information sites, or participating in social media.

One of the biggest challenges with pull marketing is prospect fatigue.  When fatigue sets in, prospects shut you out, either virtually, by filtering you’re your communications as junk or physically, by overlooking your ad or direct mail piece.  Worse yet, rather than having a positive impact on your brand perception, fatigue can sour your relationship with a prospect or existing customer.  The good news for concerned marketers is that a new strategy for communications around content marketing is developing and it is emerging as buyers realize the breadth, scope, and mass of data available to them in an electronic format.  The concept is centered on creating high value content that can be delivered at the right moment to a prospect who is at a specific evaluation step in the purchase cycle.   If a buyer can get a package of information or a service that assists them in the buying process they are open to getting that information “pushed” to them versus doing all the pulling/searching on their own.  Wired magazine goes as far to debate that this dynamic of pushing vs. pulling for information is ultimately going to limit the usage of the “web” vs. the “internet” where applications are popping up to enable information usage as a service.   http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1

In the same respect, as marketers struggle to break out of the pack with messages on the internet through search marketing and social media marketing it is also important to consider traditional channels that are more “push” focused such as print, email and direct mail.  The way users are interacting with the web at work and in their day-to-day jobs might encourage them to “unplug” when they want to get in depth information, or find out the right questions to ask.  Folio mentions this as a “What is old is new again” phenomena http://www.foliomag.com/2010/seven-reasons-print-will-make-comeback-2011 and discusses seven reasons print will make a comeback.

Whether your audiences are online, or digital, and not turning back; or they are still engaging traditional media, the challenge to capturing their attention is still around high-value content, packaged in a way that is easy for them to absorb, and enabling during the decision making process.  As it relates to time saving and efficiency, it seems “Push” marketing vs. “Pull” marketing would win every time if the content is right.

-Michelle Palmer, Partner, MediaSolve