Push vs. pull marketing. Where does content marketing sit?
Marketing is all about persuasion. Snappy content persuades people to engage with your brand, your crafted email campaign persuades people that your service can be trusted and your loud advertising persuades them that your product is the one they want.
As you would expect from such a complex and varied form of communication, there are many forms and tactics you can take to achieve your intended result. The two major approaches in persuasive marketing are neatly divided into push or pull.
Also commonly referred to as inbound or outbound marketing in the digital world, push and pull strategies are equally applicable to content strategy as they are to more traditional marketing campaigns.
So let’s break down exactly what they are and how you can put them together to make your content strategy rock.
What is push marketing?
Push marketing is very appropriately named. It defines the pushy salesman technique: yelling at everyone in the vicinity about the fine apples on deal in the marketplace. Essentially you are trying to ‘push’ your products onto potential customers by raising awareness around them and hoping that customers respond and decide to buy.
Also known as an outbound approach, push marketing is assertive and does not attempt to hide the fact that the main object of the exercise is to sell. Common examples of push marketing are:
- Cold calling: Phoning potential customers out of the blue to alert them of your services or any deals with the aim of getting a sales meeting.
- Advertising: Whether it be on television, billboards or pop-up banner ads, the purpose is to spread brand and product awareness to as large an audience as possible.
- Posting or emailing promotional material: This is any form of direct mail listing products and why they are of value. This should not be confused with the inbound newsletter which people must opt to subscribe to and tends to be more news focused.
Push marketing is not very fashionable in the age of personalisation and digital content but it still has a very valuable function. It is very difficult to reach your desired target audience without using some push efforts. For this reasons businesses typically use outbound strategies when they are:
- Launching a new product or service.
- Trying to locate a niche market.
What is pull marketing?
Pull marketing is in some ways the inverse of outbound efforts. Instead of your customers being beaten round the head with your product until they buy it (or alternatively, refuse to and tune out), in pull marketing they come to you of their own volition. This is often because your customers already know what they are looking for and have researched the benefits of your product.
In the digital age the most common successful pull campaigns are led by an inbound content strategy. People searching for solutions to their problems on the web find interesting articles which alert them to your product as a solution. As people understand more about your product they are ‘pulled’ along the sales funnel until they are ready to buy.
The fantastic thing about pull strategies is that they are very empowering for the customer. They feel like they have autonomously made their purchase decision. By travelling through the sales funnel they also have the opportunity to build a positive relationship with your brand, which will encourage future custom.
Alongside inbound content marketing, pull strategies can include:
- Organic social media: A strong and interesting social media following helps to promote your brand and relevant content. Viewers can then take it upon themselves to learn more about you and interact with more content.
- Conferences or specialist meetings: Forums or meetings of people interested in learning how to overcome certain problems are a great place to sell your expertise.
- Expert recommendations: Written or verbal recommendations by those who are recognised as knowing their stuff showcases your offering in an indirect manner.
Push vs. pull … stronger together
With such apparent differences between the two marketing forms, it can be tempting to simply choose one. Choosing one’s favourite and running with it, however, misses a significant chunk of opportunity.
In fact, push and pull tactics are mutually fulfilling. In other words they work together to produce the best results at every stage in your sales process.
Pull strategies are best thought of as a top of funnel activity. They generate initial interest in your brand and what you have to say, but there is little interest in buying anything immediately. The task here is to create the beginnings of a relationship and maybe even persuade customers to sign up to a regular communication with you, such as a newsletter.
This presents the perfect warm leads for push marketing. Once you know a bit about your leads and what interests them about your brand you are in the perfect position to present relevant products. If you have created trust and rightly determined your lead’s situation, this conversation is likely to lead to a sale and completion of the sales funnel.
The functioning of these integral processes gives marketers the tools to engage their target audiences and successfully take leads to conversion.
How does push and pull fit into content marketing?
Push and pull strategies are a key part of successful content marketing. A good way to think about these concepts in relation to content strategy is to align them with the various processes:
- Pull = content itself.
- Push = content promotion.
Content provides a pull factor. Whether it be strong landing pages, relevant blog articles, videos or infographics, your digital content is what piques people’s curiosity and inspires them to learn more.
However, in order for people to appreciate and even find your content you need to push it in front of them. Promotional tactics, be it via an email campaign, paid ads or social media, help to expand your outreach and ultimately encourage customers to your website.