Now TV Commercials at the gas pump! Really? Sometimes in marketing, we "Push" too hard. Take a look at Push Vs. Pull Marketing.
It’s a sunny day in Rochester, NY – not something that happens every day, so I’m inclined to take advantage of it by going for a relaxing motorcycle ride. I strap on my helmet, hop on my bike and ride to the corner gas station. This is a Sunoco station (and yes, the gas brand matters). I roll up to my usual gas pump, and something is very different. Even above the sounds of my Harley Davidson I hear blaring music and voices. I turned off the Harley and there it is – a TV screen on the gas pump. Yes, it’s GSTV
, and it is “Driving Consumers” as the “Nations Largest Gas Station Network.” The largest? How many are there?
The first thing that comes on this self-proclaimed top notch TV network is a 30-second spot telling me how I should buy Sunoco gas. Mind you, this is at a painful volume that even my late grandmother could still hear. I mentioned the brand of gas mattered? That’s because I’m at a Sunoco station, about to buy gas (what else do you do when you pull up to a gas pump?), and I’m watching an obnoxiously loud TV commercial trying to persuade me to buy Sunoco gas. The only thing this commercial accomplished was to get me back on my bike and across the street to buy my gas at a different station.
I am in the Advertising business. I get it. There’s an age old philosophy to Push out ads to whoever you can wherever you can. There are ads on top of ads today. Everywhere from the trucks driving by to the urinals at the local bar. There’s a study someplace that I vaguely remember that tells us as Marketing students that if a “consumer” hears a message 3 times in 60 seconds, the message has a 67% better chance of sticking. Irritation to the point of remembrance. Can’t this go too far? As a marketing professional, I’m embarrassed by this blatant nonsense for an Ad Exec to Push an unnecessary advertisement on me – for something I was clearly already going to buy – on my otherwise relaxing day. I would hope for something a little more creative than trying sell products to people that are in the process of buying that very product. During my retreat from that Sunoco station, that ad had me reeling. Why did GSTV bring out my inner craziness and what bothered me so much about that type of Marketing? That thought compelled me to write this article.
I started studying marketing in college more years ago then I like to admit. This was when the World Wide Web was still an experiment in a computer lab at UCLA. Despite my aspirations to be an Advertising Executive, traditional Marketing never sat well with me. I love creativity and technology, drawing and writing and generally creating anything interesting. That’s what originally drew me to Advertising and Design. However, traditional Marketing struck me as interruptive and well… very often downright annoying. I wanted to design content that was interesting and had some value outside of blindly pushing products as loudly as possible. Advertising allowed me to be creative and make a decent living, but I was determined not to let go of what I know it has the potential to be. This can be explained in part by two distinct Marketing approaches. Push and Pull Marketing. Push versus Pull.
As I shamelessly push this article out through my social media channels, I realize I may sound somewhat hypocritical. Turns out, in my opinion we need a little of both: Push Marketing to distribute content with the hopes of some real Pull. Push marketing can be annoying when ads are shoved down your throat, but without distribution of content the content has no hope of providing anyone any value. But if I push my article out and people like it, then the article will pull in additional readers that are looking for something of value. This is true of all good content.
What is Push Marketing?
Push marketing ‘pushes’ content to the user; it’s one way to describe what’s considered traditional marketing. For example, direct mail – such as all of the junk mail that gets pushed into my mailbox on daily basis, and which in turn is pushed by me directly into the recycle bin. Here’s some food for thought; I receive on average 4 pieces of junk mail per day. Mail delivery through the postal service is 6 days a week, deduct a few holidays, and you’re still left with an estimated 1200 pieces of Push Marketing that immediately gets recycled unread – and includes around 32 fake keys that I’m not trading in any of my time to see if one may actually win a car at a “free car give-away”. And no matter how many times a mailer is sent to me stating that John Smith is the best Realtor, I’m just not going to draw the conclusion that he is the best Realtor for me.
What is Pull Marketing?
Contrary to Push marketing, Pull marketing brings customers to the business. Customers today do their homework. They research the product or service they are looking to purchase. For the 97% of people using a search engine, that means they Google it. They may look at reviews, or get their information from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest. In addition to all the information out there, believe or not, people still talk to actual people. Like in-person, or even on the phone. It still happens. The point is that the average customer today doesn’t behave the way consumers behaved 30 years ago. Because they have easier access to a seemingly infinite amount of information that was available to the average consumer until the widespread availability of the Internet. Today customers can find out almost anything about a product or service before they need to make a purchase; what others that have previously bought it feel about it, how much it costs to buy it, and sometimes how much it costs you to make it. Transparency in business. It’s here now, and understanding this is a fundamental difference among Marketing professionals – and in my opinion underlies a fundamental difference between trying to force products and services on people (push) and providing people with what they need to know to allow them to make an informed decision about what they want or need (pull).
Pull marketing gives you the opportunity to attract customers to your business. Google ‘How to install hardwood flooring’ and you can end up on a website that tells you the best way to install hardwood flooring. If that website also sells hardwood flooring supplies and services, they may have just earned a customer. That’s what is meant by Pull. The customer looked for information, the hardwood website provided the information the customer was looking for and allowed the customer to make an informed decision. If your business provides a helpful way to let the customer make their own decision, and provides educational content and value, then you are starting to demonstrate that your business may be a good fit for that customer without simply stating that you are without really backing it up. The customers will make that decision for you.
Push vs Pull Marketing: Fundamental Differences
Push Marketing (also called Outbound Marketing) pushes content to people. Often this is a shotgun approach and not as targeted as we would like it to be, you are trying to quickly convince people that you are the right choice for them. Push applications can be disruptive. By that I mean you are marketing without the concern that people actually want to see your content. Typically Push strategy involves paid advertising. Pay-Per-Click advertising is an example of how it can be done on the web. You can argue that you are pushing out Pay-Per-Click ads based on a search term that someone is looking for, so it could be construed as a Pull strategy but in my opinion it’s still a Push strategy. You are buying the position, not obtaining it organically based on the value of the content you are providing.
Pull Marketing is also sometimes called Inbound Marketing. Pull strategies involve bringing people to you. There are many content distribution options on the web that employ a Pull marketing strategy. Some include, website content, eBooks, white papers, blogs and social media marketing. You publish content online that is compelling enough for customers to find when they are already interested. This could be an answer to a question that someone is asking. You anticipate these questions, and develop the answer before the question is asked. This type of content can help a customer get to their buying decision on their own; and that type of customer is likely to consider your business for their need.
So, Which Marketing Strategy Do You Need?
Of course I’m going to say you should use a Pull marketing strategy, right? After all, interruptive Push advertising is a shot in the dark and annoys the hell out of people like me; it has been effective in the past, but times have changed. Now you can simply publish your educational, entertaining, and value content, apply SEO techniques to it, and let the Search Engines bring it to people who are looking for it.
But for all its potential to interrupt and annoy, there is value to be found from applying some Push strategies to your content. At
GRIM Digital Media
, our Internet Marketing strategies typically deploy a hybrid of both: some Push, some Pull. I like to use a strategy that I am coining right now. Let’s call it the P2P strategy. (Push to Pull) If P2P becomes a popular buzz word in the Internet Marketing world remember where you heard it first.
Allow me to elaborate on how to implement this P2P philosophy: Create your content – for example, write an article like this one. Post the article on your website, typically on a Blog page. Push the content through your Social Media channels and/or an email campaign. When you “Push” the content, I recommend a teaser in the headline that tells what the article is about followed by a link back to your website where the full article is hosted. If the content is compelling enough it can “Pull” readers to your website, and while they are there maybe they can learn a thing or two more about what you do. You’ve essentially Pulled a reader after the initial Push. If you’re still with me here at the end of this article, it shows how this P2P method can work.
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