Push Vs. Pull - What Should be Your Brand's Marketing Style?
Every marketer is faced with this quintessential dilemma of whether to use push or pull marketing. We quite feel your pain, but what if we say that you don’t need to sweat over it anymore? To reach to the bottom of this problem, how about we discuss both the marketing styles and address a few questions along the way. We assure you that by the end of this post, you will gain clarity on how to go about marketing your brand.
Let’s Start with The Definitions
Push marketing involves taking your brand or products directly to your potential, future customers. It allows you to play a more dominant role and inform your prospects about your brand. In simple words, it’s literally like pushing yourself into their world like those salespersons who make cold calls to sell credit cards or go door-to-door selling discount coupon booklets! As is evident, push marketing is often considered interruptive. You aren’t the pamphlet they hoped to see plugged inside a magazine. You aren’t the radio jingle they wanted to hear or the billboard ad they expected to see on the highway or at the bus stop! Yet you are there.
Pull marketing, on the other hand, is subtle and more on the lines of inbound marketing. Through a pull tactic, you try to encourage customers to engage with a medium through which they ultimately end up finding you. You allow the consumer to think they are in charge. But, mind you - it requires as much effort as the push marketing drill. For instance, let’s say you are a real estate agent. You have a website and a blog. You want people to know about you and hire you to house hunt and sell for them. Now, in order for your customers to know who you are by themselves, you will need to make yourself discoverable. For that, you will rely on search engine optimization.
How Do you Know Whether to Push or Pull?
Customers today don’t want to be ‘sold’ to. They want to make purchase decisions on their own. So, naturally, when you reach out to them with sales-laced messages — in form of ads or other traditional means of push marketing tricks — it totally turns them off. The aftermath? They turn you down and head in the opposite direction!
So, What Changed Over the Years?
Why is it that people are not as responsive to push marketing as they used to be? The simple answer is that consumer behavior has evolved. Today, a customer’s journey is longer and non-linear. They are no longer buying anything off the shelf merely after having read or seen an ad.
According to a study by Google and CEB, titled The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing “customers reported to being nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point. More accurately, 57 percent of the sales process just disappeared.” This clearly suggests that they prefer to take their own sweet time to research and then decide if they want to buy from a brand at all.
In fact, prospects find custom, educational content like blogs, case studies etc. (pull content) more useful than salesy messages. They also seek their friend’s advice and suggestion before making any purchase, read online ratings and reviews and do tonnes of other things than just give in to your cold call!
Does That Mean Push Marketing Is Really Dead?
Certainly not. Although, Demand Metrics suggests that “Staples of the outbound marketing approach are no longer found to be effective.” However, let us be fair and add that pull might score better than push, you still need to both push and pull levers depending on where the buyer is in your marketing funnel. It can help you overcome your biggest challenge of generating traffic and quality leads. Brands like Nike and Dunkin Donuts, among numerous others, are proof that a combination strategy pays off. They advertise heavily offline as they do online.
For a better understanding of how you can follow suit, let’s discuss each stage of the marketing funnel, the corresponding buyer’s persona and which strategy you should ideally go for.
It is the top of the funnel where people are aware of their problems and still looking for solutions. Considering, your brand is unheard and unknown, it works best if you begin with push strategy. You will be able to get people curious and create a demand for your product.
Start with a classic push marketing strategy i.e. run a PPC campaign and purchase ads but not without a plan. By that we mean, you need to do your homework and figure out where your prospects hangout (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Twitter, SlideShare etc). Only then should you target your future customers. In fact, you can also think of affiliate marketing and push people from other connected or complimenting businesses towards you.
Moving on, if you are an established brand you can use pull strategy to your advantage. Tailor valuable content for your prospects so that they can find you and eventually trust you for your knowledge. Start with interactive content as it is engaging, educational and popular with the masses. Since your prospects are still at the top of the funnel, create quizzes and calculators that make them aware of your business. Let’s suppose, you are you are an interior designer. You can easily create a ‘What does your home decor say about you?’ quiz or ‘Are you a minimalist or a hoarder?’. You can then link the results to to your blog so that they can learn more about what you do.
Pro Tip: For more interactive content ideas and examples you can use our Idea Generator Tool!
You can also bank upon e-books and guides as they are considered to be high-value. Gate them and ask people for their email address in exchange. This can easily help build your email list and through an email campaign you can obviously show them the way further/deeper into your marketing funnel. HubSpot has an entire section on the website with e-book listings! Time and again, they are able to show the world why they are an industry thought leader.
You can perhaps also create educational webinars and ‘how-to’ videos to showcase your expertise, just like Search Engine Journal.
This is when people, who’ve found you through some medium, are evaluating and ‘considering’ you as a solution provider. They are still researching whether or not your product or service fits their needs. To convince them that you are indeed ‘the’ one, use pull tactics. Begin with case studies and highlight how you were able to help your customers accomplish their goals. By publishing your success stories, you will make a strong case for your brand. A lot of brands including Contently use case study to do exactly the same. See below.
In fact, we also publish case studies to gain our prospects’ confidence. Here’s one where we talk about how Macroscape was able to collect leads and achieve a conversion rate of 36% using an interactive quiz they built on our app.
You can also use two other pull content types: product-specific webinars and e-courses. Both give you an opportunity to subtly persuade them to choose you. See the screenshot of a product-specific webinar by Microsoft. They use it to not only capture leads but also demonstrate their product!
Next, and once again, we’d recommend you to use interactive quizzes and calculators to pull in prospects in your favor. Continuing with the interior designer example, you can perhaps create a ‘Should I Re-do my Rental Apartment’ quiz? As a call-to-action on the results page of the quiz, you can link them to your blog on ‘What You Should Not Touch in Your Rental Apartment’. It’s one way of getting them to engage with your blog and evaluate your knowledge as a designer.
Another excellent way of gaining confidence and propelling prospects to buy from you is through testimonials. We particularly love how Piktochart has a section called ‘User Stories’ on their website. They’ve explored both video and written format. Anyone who may be ‘considering’ PiktoChart is likely to vote in their favor and subscribe to their services. See for yourself.
So, you see, the vital thing is that you engage your prospects in a conversation. Go full throttle on getting more content created, published and distributed on your website, blog and social media channels. Don’t forget the online communities at Quora, Reddit, social groups etc. where you can spark off a discussion, give advice and then carefully introduce your brand.
This is where you need to give one last and final incentive to your qualified leads. Since pull marketing works perfectly, you can send them a discount coupon or recommend a free demo or a free trial. Why? Because they have come this far in their journey of finding a solution and so they must be genuinely interested in your products and services. You can send them these offers through newsletters or use it as a pop-up on your website. Seeing these lucrative, special deals they are likely to give them a shot and eventually turn into buyers. Search Engine Journal uses the exit pop-up to lure their prospects.
BuzzSumo entices their prospects with their seven-day free trial. This free trial gives users a better understanding of how useful this tool can be for them. After seven days, they may feel the need to continue and voila - BuzzSumo has prospects converted to customers!
See how Zapier takes their pricing page to another level by introducing the “Free Forever” plan. It’s an interesting way of asking people to compare the ‘free forever’ plan with the sign-up for the 14-day trial proposition. They will obviously notice the additional features in the latter and register for it. This helps Zapier get their leads closer to finally buying from them.
Now that we have discussed how you can use pull and push tactics across the buyer’s journey, we must also address another important issue, which has to do with the post-purchase phase.
How do you Retain your Customers?
The post-purchase and sale phase is rather crucial if you want repeat business. And, that’s possible only if you give your current customers reasons to come back to you. But, how do you keep them hooked in the first place?
You can do so through pull tactics like sending them relevant blogs or newsletters. Remember the interior designer example? Let’s suppose your prospect hired you to design their home. They may not be in need of your services immediately or for next couple of years, but you can still ensure they remember you by sending them blogs like ‘Space-saving Bookshelf ideas for Small Homes’. Through these timely tips and advice that you send them through email drip campaigns, you will remain relevant to their current life in a small rented apartment.
It’s equally important for you to know that some customers may slip away too. Perhaps you did not communicate with them too often or you overdid it. This is to suggest that keep monitoring where you’re falling short. Unless you don’t get better at relationship-building you are never going to fix the leak in your funnel.
To sum it up, whether your brand should use pull or push strategy will largely depend on which stage your prospect is in. So, essentially your efforts should be concentrated on identifying that first and accordingly pulling your marketing cards.
If you’re already pushing and pulling, then do tell us about the major breakthrough for your brand.