Pull Marketing – a Valuable Strategy to Stay in Touch with Prospects

Timing is an extremely important element in B2B marketing and sales.  The degree of prospect receptivity can range from zero percent (there is no chance I will buy your product) to 100 percent (where do I sign?).  Most prospects are somewhere in between these extremes.  The trick is to sell the ones who are ready to be sold, nurture those who are in-between, and keep in touch with those who have no interest now but may in the future.

This is where the pull marketing model can be so effective.  It can be a good vehicle to keep your company top of mind, so that when the prospect has a need for your product or service, you are high on their consideration list. One of our Fusion Marketing Partners’ clients refers to this as “being invited to the dance.”  The prospect chooses the time for the dance but you get to be a dance partner – a pretty good tradeoff.

Pull marketing allows prospects to be in control over the timing of the sale.  They are anyway, so why fight this?  Contrast this with push marketing, where you are always trying to get prospects to buy in your timeframe (usually right now!).

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You don’t have to give up on all your push marketing efforts right now.  Perhaps you are filling your lead coffers with push marketing and can’t afford to lose these lead sources.  But you can supplement your push marketing efforts with pull marketing, particularly when it comes to nurturing your existing contact base.

Here are five ways you can keep in touch with B2B prospects until the time is right to engage with them in the sales process:

  1. Connect with prospects through social media.  Every connection you can make though LinkedIn, Twitter or your blog, gives you many future opportunities to educate your prospects and bring them into your sphere of influence.  Here’s a link to a recent post on how to use social media to generate and nurture B2B sales leads.
  2. Publish relevant content.  Make your website and blog a magnet for those who want to learn more about your area of expertise.  This will establish your credibility and make you a “branded expert.”  Reinforce this at every opportunity.
  3. Optimize your website for organic search.  When a potential prospect types a search term related to your business into Google or another search engine, you want to make sure you are near the top on the search results.  There are many specific techniques to accomplish this, but the most important is to have plenty of fresh and relevant content.  This not only gives you the best chance to be noticed but also to drive a conversion.
  4. Be aggressive with public relations.  PR is a low-cost way of getting your message out.  In addition to the use of targeted press releases, submit articles to relevant industry publications and participate in media interviews.
  5. Send “non-salesy” information.   To be considered a trusted authority you need to make sure that you are considered by prospects as a valuable resource, not a persistent salesperson. In other words, your primary objective should be perceived as helping your prospects, not selling them something.   A good ratio of informational vs. sales pitch is 3 to 1.  Five to 1 is even better.

By practicing these online relationship-building skills, you will build a following of loyal contacts. Over time, many of these contacts will turn into prospects, and a subset of these will become customers. It takes patience and it takes persistence, but you will be rewarded with a very cost-effective and impactful B2B marketing and revenue machine.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, revenue growth experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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3 comments

  • Jacob March 23, 2012   Reply →

    I think that pull marketing has push strategy fighting for its life in today’s marketplace. Consumers, en masse, have rejected the idea of being “sold to.” They seem to want everything to come to them through search they conduct independently. Of course this is going to vary from product-to-product, but it looks like that’s where things are headed.

    Given the immense prevalence of pull strategy into today’s marketplace, do you think push marketing will ever have a chance again? I’m aware everything goes in cycles but it’s unclear. I think a growing sense of cynicism among consumers may have killed (if not severely wounded) this method.

  • Cathy Bishop April 2, 2012   Reply →

    Thanks for the tips regarding the pull marketing. This is like the soft selling approach of marketing and they don’t “push” their products or services to people’s throats or hard sell which may turn people off.

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