I Used to Be a Pusher

Why You Need to Explore the Pull Marketing Model

Imagine the next meeting of the local B2B marketing group, and you stand up and say. “‘I’m Chris R and I used to be a pusher.” Not a pusher of drugs of course, but a pusher of marketing. Most of us who have been in the B2B marketing world for any length of time cut our teeth on the “push marketing model.” We made a living by tracking down sources of suspects, promoting to them relentlessly, converting a small percentage of these suspects into qualified leads (prospects), and then selling some of these prospects. In other words, it’s all a numbers game. Throw enough email, ads, phone calls, etc. at enough potential buyers, and a few will shake out at the bottom and actually purchase from you.

The Annoying Door-to-Door Salesman 

The push model in B2B marketing is no different than the door-to-door salesman. He knows that he will annoy many people, perhaps have a couple of doors slammed in his face, but in the end, the numbers work out because he only needs a small percentage of people to say yes to make quota. With a thick skin and relentless attitude, sales will eventually come. But in many ways, this is an unpleasant way to make a living, and this is true regardless if you are beating the streets or beating cyberspace or mailboxes for your prospects.

There are a lot of names for the differences between push and pull marketing. For example, inbound vs. outbound marketing or interrupt advertising vs. fulfillment advertising. But the bottom-line is that some marketers are primarily demand creators and others are demand fulfillers. Being a demand fulfiller (pull marketer) is not only easier but can be more profitable. That’s why there is a major push towards the pull model in B2B marketing and sales.

Create an Ongoing Dialogue With Your Prospect 

The essence of pull marketing is for you to discover where your prospects congregate (physically or electronically), and then provide useful education to make their personal or professional lives easier. You combine this with interesting offers to gain permission to communicate on an ongoing basis. You also provide incentives to come to you when they have a need for what you offer. Unlike the monologue of push marketing, pull marketing creates a dialogue between you and the prospect. The idea is to get the dialogue going before the individual (or business) is ready to buy, so that when they are ready, you are the obvious choice, or at the least, you are in the game.

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Pull is the Future of B2B Marketing

In other words, why be a pusher when you can be the fulfiller of what people already want? It may take a lot of work up-front, but this is certainly an easier and more profitable way of doing business. And the good news is that you don’t have to give up your addiction to push marketing cold-turkey. Just start adding pull marketing strategies (e.g. social media) to the mix and transition over time. Pull marketing is the future of successful B2B marketing. Why not get started now?

We have lots of good ideas on pull marketing at the Fusion Marketing Partners Website.

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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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6 comments

  • Myron Berg June 26, 2010   Reply →

    Great play on words.

    I find it ironic that the traditional approach is the push model, yet very few people actually prefer the cold calling or “door-to-door” style sales. It’s amazing how many books have been written just on how to survive the cold calling approach. I think most of us prefer to engage with people who are already interested in the services or value we can provide.

    So it would seem that many would be highly motivated to achieve success with the pull marketing model.

  • Tina Michaud June 27, 2010   Reply →

    I think this is a great explanation (with examples) of the difference between pull and push marketing. I’ve been in a bunch of meetings and often times the majority of the people in the room have no idea what I’m talking about when I use those terms. But once the terms are explained the “aha” moment happens and they are very interested in learning about pull marketing. I believe it’s definitely the future of marketing. (and it’s already here!)

  • Chris Ryan June 28, 2010   Reply →

    Great points Myron and Tina. We are all looking for that “aha” moment when we realize that there is a better way to do things than the traditional push marketing model.

  • John Leavy June 28, 2010   Reply →

    Chris,
    Great post. Push marketing may play a small role when trying to reach a very select group in your market; but the major of strategies these days have to be “pull” marketing. There’s just too much noise out there for anyone to pay attention to interrupt marketing tactics.

  • Nancy Reed June 29, 2010   Reply →

    Good article Chris. Any marketing that provides warm and/or hot qualified leads with the least amount of expenditure and effort is the optimal way to go. It’s inexpensive and easy to implement. Better yet, the sales team will love their marketing department! Leads acquired through pull marketing are much more apt to buy (convert) as prospects have already shown interest without being “pushed”. Social Media is the best thing to happen to marketing in this decade. Start pulling!

  • Sol Weidemann August 10, 2010   Reply →

    “Have a contest to have a small service that your company provides( like make a closet) as a prize for the best idea that your company can do as a job. Then get all your resources ( friends, family, internet experts) to pick that idea and advertise like hell to provide that for a fee.”

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