Mar 19th, 2008 Archives

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Pull Marketing

The following is an examination of the overarching, marketing technique known as "Pull Marketing."  I refer to it as an "overarching" technique as it is an overall method as opposed to a specific tactic. 

My reasons for discussing pull marketing stem from a variety of perspectives I have on the subject.

Marketing Executive

First, as an executive in a marketing agency I hear this term used at times in reference to individual executions and at times as the focus of an overall campaign.  It is a term we throw around frequently, at times attaching it to work that truly exemplifies the term and at times to elements that really only loosely apply.  We are all aware of the importance of pull versus push marketing as well as just how difficult it can be to design and execute a proper pull campaign.

Independent Internet Marketer

The second perspective from which I contemplate the term pull marketing is as an independent Internet Marketer, conceiving, developing and marketing information products and software.  In the world of IM (Internet Marketing) we are seeing more and more pull marketing being employed, even if the specific term is not applied to it.  When one considers the fact that the vast majority of the Internet (even the hidden Internet) is made up of freely available information accessible to just about everyone wanting to access it… we realize the Internet is a near perfect pull marketing medium.

When one examines the most successful marketing campaigns (that is multi-million dollar campaigns that took place within the incestuous little IM world) of recent months it becomes very apparent that they were built upon the provision of high-quality, in-demand, free content.  The ultimate buyers of the programs and products being offered were drawn to the "answers" to their problems that were being made available in audio and video.  By the time the product being sold was made available it was all folks could do to keep from being cut to ribbons by the frenzy of credit cards that were all but thrown at the sellers.

I could go on talking about just this one perspective for quite a while… but am going to save that for a latter installment of this examination.

The Consumer

Now, on to perspective three which would be as the consumer.

This aspect requires close and in my opinion immediate examination as the landscape of advertising and marketing is now changing rapidly.  Never before have advertisers had so many channels through which to disseminate their messages.  Likewise, never before have consumers been hit with such a deluge of messages.  

The marketplace has never been as crowded as it is today, with an unprecedented number of products and services vying for our attention.

We are all painfully aware of the volume of email (much of it unsolicited) that hits our inbox each and every day.  That is just one single channel.

The traditional media channels such as mail, print, radio and television are all but clogged up with advertising messages that are constantly thrust in prospects’ faces.  Add in a variety of marketing mediums on the Internet such as banners, pay per click advertising, video, audio etc. and it is really almost overwhelming.

The majority of this marketing is push marketing and often very aggressive push marketing.

Here is where the problems arise as the natural reaction to this constant bombardment is consumers becoming more and more savvy and more and more jaded. 

In plain terms, people learn not to look at the right hand column on a set of Google search results.

The immediate reaction of most advertisers when push messages are becoming overlooked is to look for alternate channels through which they can push their message, or they simply stay right where they are and… just push even harder.   The bottom line on this is consumers are getting pretty damned sick of it all and will seek out Tivo-like solutions to employ wherever and whenever possible.

Seems to me a change needs to come about which is all but screaming out for pull marketing methodology.

The Psychology Behind It

The final perspective from which I will examine pull marketing is from a psychological standpoint (yes, besides expertise in marketing, and being a trained chef, I also hold degrees in both Psychology and Biology).

I will not even start into a discussion regarding the psychology involved in pull marketing right now as this post is already getting lengthy.  Suffice it to say, I will cover it in great detail later on as I personally find it fascinating and I feel full understanding of the mechanisms in place and the forces at work is critical to being able to properly harness and use pull marketing effectively.

The image at the very top of this post is a reflection of what can happen when pull marketing is properly used.  A virtual avalanche of attention can result that ultimately may be all but impossible to stop.  It starts with a single attraction and snowballs as more and more

My goal in this series is to answer a base set of questions within the framework of these various perspectives:

  • What is it really?
  • How does it work?
  • Where is it being used?
  • How can I use it?

Please feel free to share your own comments, thoughts and questions on this topic as we go.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

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