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 challenge that is common to many of our clients – how to implement pull marketing without disrupting your sales pipeline. You want to gain the benefits of inbound marketing, but without sacrificing what is already working.
First, let’s briefly recap the benefits of pull marketing. Here are five of the most important:
- Improves sales close rates by 50% or more.
- Generates leads at 1/3 the cost of push marketing.
- Shortens the sales cycle by 20-40 percent.
- Protects your pricing from margin erosion.
- Pull marketing is a great way to stay in touch with prospects, and convert them later.
I talked about the benefits of pull marketing for B2B companies, in a past article titled, Use Pull Marketing for Easier and More Productive B2B Sales. Our head to head studies have shown 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, pull marketing is a great antidote to the typical competitive struggle because you are more often dealing with prospects who already have expressed an interest in what you are offering. Instead of hiding, they are more likely to accept the attention of a sales rep. The process becomes one where you help them buy instead of trying to sell them something.
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 500 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 expectation would be to generate 10 percent of the push marketing total as additional leads within 90 days – growing the monthly total to 550.
Simultaneous to 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 (sometimes much less) – 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.
Because pull marketing depends 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. Regardless of how you choose to handle this, remember that a shortage of content means a much tougher road to achieve pull marketing success. It may also require you to spend more on relatively expensive sales talent – to carry out the awareness and education functions that are perfectly suited to pull marketing.
Also, keep in mind that 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.
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.