Making the Transition from Push Marketing to Pull Marketing

You have no doubt heard of the many benefits of pull marketing, also called inbound marketing. But perhaps you face a common challenge – how to implement pull marketing without disrupting what you are doing with your push marketing model. In other words, how do your reap the inbound marketing goodies, without sacrificing what is already working.


push marketing pull marketing inbound marketing push marketing pull marketing inbound marketing


First, let’s briefly recap the benefits of pull marketing. Here are five of the most important:
  1. Improves sales close rates by 50% or more.
  2. Generates leads at 1/3 the cost of push marketing.
  3. Shortens the sales cycle by 20-40 percent.
  4. Protects your pricing from margin erosion.
  5. Pull marketing is a great way to stay in touch with prospects, and convert them later.

We explored the last benefit (staying in touch) in a past blog post titled How to use Pull Marketing to Stay in Touch with Your Prospects. The basic premise is that pull marketing is much more effective than push marketing at nurturing prospects through the stages of awareness, education, requirements analysis, and vendor selection. As I mentioned in that post, you can’t make the sale if you aren’t invited to the dance. And in today’s world of consumer choice and self-selection, getting invited to the dance is critical to success.

When advising clients on how to transition to inbound marketing, our first rule is to “do no harm.” For example, if a company is generating 200 leads per month through push marketing programs, we don’t try to replicate these results with pull marketing campaigns. Most of the time, this can’t be accomplished in a short period of time. A reasonable would be to generate 10 percent of the push marketing total as additional leads within 90 days – growing the monthly total to 220.

While protecting the existing lead stream in the short-term, we begin to shift funds from push marketing to pull marketing campaigns. Since an average pull marketing lead costs only about 40 percent of the cost of a push marketing lead – every dollar you are able to shift to inbound marketing can be two and a half times more efficient as your push marketing dollar. Over time, this drives down your total cost-per-lead and you are able to generate substantially more leads at the same budget. As an example, we reduced the cost-per-lead for a SaaS software company from $120 to $45 in a one-year period.

Since pull marketing depends heavily on fresh content, you need to have one or more people in your organization dedicated to creating a steady stream of content (social media, web content, sales collateral). If this isn’t realistic, then outsource the function. However you choose to handle this, remember that a dearth in collateral means a much tougher climb to achieve pull marketing success.

No matter how excited you get about transitioning to pull marketing, remember that it seldom leads to overnight success. Inbound marketing strategies can have a strong cumulative impact, but they work better if you start small and grow over time. Here is a post you might enjoy that illustrates this point: Is Social Media a Marathon or a Sprint?

One other important tip: Don’t forget to line up early support from senior management for your forays into pull marketing. Hard core numbers crunchers who don’t understand the long term benefits can and will pull the inbound marketing plug. You will be rewarded if you sell the future vision, start small, and persist.

Carpe Occasio

  • Kim

    Good article – nice to see metrics surrounding push vs pull – makes it easier to gauge success when first implementing.