Pull Marketing Part 2: The Red Pill or the Blue Pill



Before we start examining pull marketing from the different perspectives (marketing executive, Internet Marketer, consumer, and psychologist) I listed in part one, I feel we must more clearly look at what exactly pull marketing is, how it works, where it is being used and how you can use it.

 Today let’s start with more clearly defining what exactly push marketing and pull marketing are, how they work and why you must understand this.

Based on comments I’ve received here, discussions with other Internet Marketers as well as lengthy strategy sessions in anagencyy setting, it has become quite clear to me that most everyone has a firm grasp on what "push marketing" is and how it works. 

Push marketing at it’s roots is pretty straightforward… start with a product, create a message designed to push emotional buttons and create desire for the product, and then push that message in front of people.  The vehicles used to push a message vary wildly in appearance (TV, radio, banners, billboards, magazine ads, on and on) but the mechanism is the same.  You are basicallyinterruptingg whatever else the target is doing and trying to get them to shift gears and listen to your message.

Push usually = Interruption

Just about anyone can work with push or interruption marketing.  There have been many, many very successful push campaigns over the years as well as many more failures.

The difficulty with push is that over time (often a very short time) people will become more adept at recognizing that push message and will become immune if not averse to it.

Now consider how the marketinglandscapee has changed with the emergence of the social web.

No longer do consumers simply ignore marketing they no longer want pushed in front of them.  Now they stop responding to the message AND they openly tell everyoneelses in the "network" to do the same.  They talk about it and discuss it, they pick it apart and in extreme instances even turn it against the company issuing the message.

This is reminiscent of astatementt made by NEO in the Matrix (sorry, I love the underlying themes inthatt movie so it often comes up as I explain things).  This comes at the very end of part one, where Neo is on the payphone speaking to those of the matrix who are manipulatingcontrollingg what people see:

"I know now what you’re trying to do and I’m going to let them all know"

 Now consider the fact that in the new social media world in which we live, there are hundreds of millions of potential Neo’s each willing and able to passionately contribute to the direction of the "conversation" going on about any one topic.  We are far beyond a single individual making the choice to take either the red pill of the blue pill.

The power of today’s social media and the rapidity with which it grows is all but terrifying to many traditional advertising channels and the institutions that have been built upon them (the first example that should come to mind is television advertising!).

The new socialmediai and it legions of participants have become theferventt gatekeepers of their own communities.  They are quick to speak their mind and will defend their "world" against pushy marketing messages at all costs.

So what do you do?

I think it needs to be looked at in very simple terms.

The book On War was written and published in the early 19th century by a Prussian general named Carl Von Clausewitz. 


One of the more poignant statements he makes in his manuscript is as follows:

"Never engage the same enemy for too long, or he will adapt to your tactics."

Now think about that statement and how it applies to the current marketing world.

It will no longer be good enough to use the traditional marketing media on which most companies have relied for so long.  It has been done for too long and beyond that, the "soldiers" are no longer working in the terrain for which it was developed.

If you continue to use the same marketing tactics upon which everyone has relied for so many decades, you will start to realize rapidly diminishing levels of success.

Here is where your opportunity opens wide before you.

You can take steps to understand the new, social media landscape and start taking steps to work WITH it and in it as opposed to ON it.

To do this, you must understand pull marketing since pushing your message at folks is a dying way of going.

Pull Marketing at its simplest is comprised of first giving something that people want, which results in the building of trust and relationship. 

What follows next is their wanting more from the giver, especially if what they were given the first time carried a very high perceived level of quality.  There are elements ofreciprocityy at work here although they are subtle.  What is really taking place is theopeningg of a communication.  The recipient is in complete control over whether or not the communication continues.  If what they are receiving is sustaining them in some fashion where there was previously a void then they will let more communications flow in.

Eventually astrongg trust bond is formed and the result is the recipient looking for is not demanding more form the source. Thiss can be manifest in their all but asking if there is something they can buy from you.

Marketing scientist extraordinaire Mark Joyner also takes this a step further, proposing that marketers provide full disclosure of what they are doing in their interactions with their target audience.  The idea (which he discloses to the target) is for the prospect to feel you have been 100% up-front with them and have given them all of the facts so they are able to make a properly informed decision.

In this case, they have been given not just that, that they want but also the details on why it is being given.  There is a level of transparency that actually serves to draw them even further in.  This gets into some rather advanced selling psychology which is really anotherdiscussionn altogether.

Now let’s look at a few examples that have been quite effective, particularly as they have used the new social media as they message vehicle.

One of our agency’s clients is a company named Triumph boats.

Triumph boats are made out of a material called Ropelene which is purported ( and is) to be much tougher and moreindestructiblee than fiberglass.

Now, the old method of marketing these boats would have been to create a two-page magazine spread that illustrates the boats, talks about them being tough and tells the reader why they should buy one.

Here is the new method of delivering the message:

The video demonstrates the the most important aspect of the boats… that they are indestructible. It does so though in a humorous way and never once asks you to buy a Triumph.

This first video was so successful in generating interest in the brand that they followed it with another video the next year and even created a site dedicated to the "Testing" of just how tough  Triumph boats are www.ToughBoats.com

The ads never ask you to buy a Triumph but rather use fantastic humor to display one of the strongest reasonsanyonee should want a Triumph.

 This video and the one that followed it were, among some other very creative branding,implementall pieces in the Triumph brand seeing sales figures more than triple over a few years.

Now please note that never in that piece did anyone say "Please buy a Triumph because…". Theyy didn’t have to.  The video beautifully displayed the strongest attributes of the boat but in such a creative, humorous, non "pushy" way that people wanted more, ranging from more videos to buying the boats.

The humorouselementss of the video also served to get people to share it and pass it around gaining more exposure from creditable sources (a friend’s recommendation is one of the most powerful sales tools in the world) than any normal paid ad campaign could afford.

That is beautiful PULL.

The humor and creativity of the ad so beautifully exhibits the strongest attributes of the brand without ever having to say "Here is why we’re great and why you should want one of our boats!"

The humor motivates people to share the video with others which in turn helps build brand awareness… in a very positive vein.

Now that is just one example of pull marketing.  In our next discussion I will delve into a variety of other examples aswelll as discuss Pull Marketing from the perspective of the Marketing Professional.

Until then, I urge you to share any examples you’ve seen ofpulll marketing as well as share your overall feelings about this style of marketing with the rest of us here on this blog.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Comments on Pull Marketing Part 2: The Red Pill or the Blue Pill Leave a Comment

April 14, 2008

Scott Sheperd @ 10:27 am #

Great article. I understand the logic of giving something first. I assume in the boat situation the gift is the humorous video which is at the same time informational. What is happening to me is I get somewhat discouraged that all I see being marketed on the internet are programs on how to make money and not real products. I am a speaker and an author. I do a lot of things in businesses, healthcare and education and have had seven books published. I am trying to market some of these books. One topic I do a lot of is stress. I have a very different approach to stress and it goes over very well in my talks. I have sold a few thousand of the books at my talks. What I am trying to do is figure out ways to generate passive income where I don’t have to do the talk to sell the book. On my website I do give an excerpt of the book for free. Would that count as a giveaway? I’m not sure how to get that excerpt off of my website and into correspondence in my social networks. I also have things for kids and parents on self esteem and for people dealing with loss or illness. It is not superficial stuff. I believe in it and I want to get it out there. That’s why I locked on to you. You look like you know what you are talking about. Thanks for your ideas My website is


  If you go there you can see my products. I also have done some music videos that I have done with original music that is inspirational and one is funny. They are on you tube right now as well as my site. Maybe I should send one of the videos as gift. Oh well. 

Digby @ 10:57 am #

Yes I get the feeling that as consumers get more savvy this will require marketers to adopt more reciprocal tactics. The idea being to start using different psychological triggers. This is a good example of how everything changes over time…

Ned Carey @ 12:35 pm #

Thanks for the reminder about push vs pull. I loved the "Never engage the enemy. . . " comment as well as the video.

April 15, 2008

Charles @ 11:17 pm #

Fascinating series!

This is the sort of marketing thought of which I feel we need much more. The world is changing and unless we change how we are engaging prospects and customers we will be left by the wayside.

The idea of push is really the fast and easy way to do it which I feel is the primary reason it is the most widely used… fat and lethargic we have become 😉

I look forward to the balance of these “examinations” as you call them.



April 16, 2008

Ned Carey @ 8:50 am #

I read Blue Ocean strategy. Yes it is a good book. Actually I listened to it on my iPod during my morning walks. (Listening to motivational and educational stuff on my iPod while I walk is sort of my Blue Ocean strategy to be more productive.)

It reminded my of one of the first books I ever read on Marketing -Positioning by Al REis and Jack Trout. I am sure you have read that one too.

Carol027 @ 10:21 am #

Blue Ocean strategy!

Wow, this has taken a whole new direction.

What I find amazing is that a tremendous number of marketing people have read (or listened to) that book but next to none ever seem to apply the concepts successfully.

We see it in big business some but it is rarely discussed for us little folk.

I do agree grabbing onto pull marketing and applying it could be an important piece to the puzzle of creating “Blue Oceans”.

Sam… are we going to have a completely different series on business differentiation :-) ?


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