For years the battle of ‘Push’ vs. ‘Pull’ was fought on the front doors of restaurants, bars, and retail stores around the world. Ignore the warnings of ‘Pull’ or ‘Push’ and get rewarded with a face-plant against a glass door. Broken noses and humiliation (the silent killer) were all too common casualties.
More recently, marketers have adopted these terms to differentiate between outbound and inbound marketing.
Few marketers that remain gainfully employed ignore the transformation of pull marketing. The hyper-connected consumer has been the catalyst. He’s now in control. His options to access information are limitless; television, laptop, tablet, phone, game console, his car and soon, even his glasses. He decides what to tune in and tune out, and when to engage.
But too often, marketers are staking their flags squarely on the side of pull marketing, and gearing up to do battle with their perceived ‘push’ opponents.
Put down the six-shooters, boys. This isn’t a war. It’s a dance where each partner alternates the ‘lead’ and ‘follow’ roles depending on the rhythm of the maestro’s music.
Make no mistake. The consumer is the maestro. Ignore his signals and your marketing will look more like crunk than a beautifully coordinated tango. No offense to the Soulja Boy fans.
Gone are the days where a massive media budget alone could buy you sales. But the hyper-connected consumer is not necessarily the hyper-informed consumer. The volume and accessibility of information didn’t magically increase our internal CPU’s ability to process it all. It hasn’t eliminated the phenomena of selective perception. And there’s still the point before the Zero Moment of Truth, where consumers don’t even know they have a problem, never mind that a solution exists.
Customer-driven marketing and outbound marketing are not mutually exclusive. There is a role for marketing to genuinely help consumers sort through the myriad data and see new possibilities before they’re obvious. It is possible, and in fact necessary, to incorporate a customer-driven push marketing strategy as part of your overall plan.
And when doing so, here are 3 rules to follow:
- Think Inbound-first. For each message you’d like to communicate or audience you’d like to target, challenge yourself to find an organic, pull marketing approach to reach them first. For those cases where pull marketing won’t work (and there will be cases), consider how customer-driven, Inbound insights can inform your ‘supplemental’ push marketing strategy.
- Context. It’s no longer just about the offer, list, or creative. Context is the new black. Respect the accepted norms of the channels you’re considering. In social media, there is very little tolerance for interrupting the user experience. On the company website, you might be able to get away with some proactive chat windows, for instance. Test your consumers’ boundaries and make modifications quickly.
- Permission. Explicit permission should be the rule before you engage anyone with an outbound marketing touch. If you’re breaking into a brand new market, this might be difficult. In those cases, attempt to leverage the permission of others (such as a trade association or business partner) to get your foot in the door. But make sure the context of that permission is genuine.
Follow these guiding principles, and your push marketing will be flowing to the rhythm of the maestro’s music.
Now I’m going to go try to get that stupid Souljah Boy song out of my head…
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