The future of push vs. pull marketing is a hot debate. With social media continually on the rise, there's a trend to disregard push marketing in its entirety. That's a mistake. Not only is there a place for both, limiting yourself to one over the other will inhibit your ability for profitable growth.
Push marketing is essentially traditional outbound advertising, in which you are "pushing" your message out to the marketplace. Mass media, direct sales, trade shows, email marketing and direct marketing are included in this category. In a nutshell, push marketing is about buying people's interest vs. earning it -- or one-way communication rather than two-way communication.
Many push strategies allow for narrow targeting to ensure you aren't wasting your paid impressions on non-qualified prospects. Case in point: While direct mail may seem outdated, it allows for unprecedented targeting by way of consumer buying patterns, community affiliations, product interests, household demographics, and much more.
In pull marketing, you make yourself visible by providing educational or entertainment value to others in the hope that prospective buyers will make the connection with what you do, visit your website, or otherwise make contact to learn more. Examples of pull marketing techniques include social media messaging, search engine optimization, "infographics" (graphic representations of data), white papers, blogging, public relations and speaking engagements.
The need for pull strategies in marketing is on the rise. Consider that more than 200 million Americans have registered their phones on the "Do Not Call" list. Over 40 percent of direct mail is never opened. Over 85 percent of consumers skip TV ads. That's why marketers are reporting they will invest more in pull marketing strategies this year than ever before.
While there may be less upfront financial investment in a pull strategy, it certainly carries a longer sales cycle, and the resulting time investment is often significant. Because your call to action in push marketing is more direct, the "time to first sale" is often shorter, though the upfront cash investment is higher.
Limiting your overall marketing strategy to just one or the other will impair your ability to reach all prospective buyer categories. Plus, remember that there are buyers who don't even know they have a problem, let alone considered a solution. Or maybe you have a solution that is so new that your prospects aren't even sure how to research it. In these instances, push marketing is necessary in order to help prospects realize their need and consider your solution.
The bottom line: to deliver ample market coverage, lead generation, and profitable sales growth we must push and pull a variety of levers.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).