In Marketing, You Need to Push and Pull

 There has been agreement in recent years about the need for industrial marketers to combine both push marketing and pull marketing strategies. In theory, the line between push marketing and pull marketing is clear, but in practice it is blurred, because successful marketers seamlessly weave the two strategies together.

Push marketing, also called outbound marketing, is casting a net to reach your audience. Examples of push marketing tactics include e-newsletters, direct mail, and print or online advertising. The marketer maintains control in terms of targeting the audience, owning the message and selecting the channel. A question related to push marketing is: “How many can I reach?”

Pull marketing, also called inbound marketing, is a way to draw in potential customers, making it easy for them to find and engage with you when they recognize and begin searching for a product or service similar to what your company offers. Search engine marketing, your company website, online catalogs, and social media accounts are examples of inbound marketing. With pull marketing, the customer is in complete control in terms of choosing to engage with you, and your task is to provide useful, relevant content. A question related to pull marketing is: “Who can I help?”

A majority of industrial companies (53%) use a combination of both push and pull marketing strategies, according to the recent IHS Engineering360 research report, “Trends in Industrial Marketing.” However, only a quarter of these marketers are satisfied with their push and pull mix. What’s the source of their dissatisfaction?

The path to a better push and pull mix
A number of factors could contribute to industrial marketers recognizing a need for better diversification between push and pull marketing. These include:

Too slow to shift to pull strategies. Traditional marketing methods are heavily weighted toward push strategies: cold calling, direct mail, and print ads, for example. On the other hand, pull marketing came of age with the digital era. Now the vast majority of engineers, technical, and industrial professionals turn first to digital channels to search for information, news, products, services, and suppliers. If you haven’t caught up to your customers’ behavior, you may not be getting the results you want.

It may be time to take a closer look not only at your push and pull diversification, but also your online and traditional marketing mix. Whether your tactics are push or pull, you should probably be devoting the majority of your marketing budget to digital channels.

Viewing a channel as valuable exclusively for push or pull. One mistake marketers might make is deciding that a channel is exclusively push or pull, and then using it only in that manner. The reality is that many channels can accommodate both push and pull tactics, and in fact the line between push and pull is often vague.

For example, writing a guest article for publication on an industry website is a pull tactic that can draw your audience in, but paying for an advertorial on a website is more of a push tactic. Posting to your social media accounts and earning shares and mentions are pull tactics, while paying for social media advertising is a push tactic.

Marketers should first choose which channels are best for helping connect with their target audience and to achieve their marketing objectives, then deploy both push and pull strategies on those channels for greater impact.

Not integrating push and pull efforts. You may use both push and pull marketing tactics, but are you weaving together your efforts into an integrated marketing strategy? No single tactic should stand in isolation. For example, you might advertise in an e-newsletter to drive prospects to a page on your website where they can register for a webinar or download a white paper. You may also have optimized this page to rank high for specific keyword search results. Or if you publish a searchable online product catalog on an industry website, you can display ads based on the user’s search and results. Take these concepts to a higher level and discover ways to integrate all of your push and pull strategies.

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