It is more important than ever to understand the differences in and relationships between “Push” and “Pull” marketing given continued advances in technology, the corresponding proliferation of mediums and the ever shrinking global marketplace. I’ll also apologize in advance as I’m using this post as yet another opportunity to rant on the damage caused by those would be subject matter experts who are anything but…The only thing worse than no information is misinformation and the sad fact is that when it comes to the topic of marketing it is all too common to view misinformation, flawed business logic, analysis gaps and a variety of other constructive misinterpretations being flaunted around in the media as gospel. As you might have guessed today’s blog post was inspired by misinformation I read in a trade magazine on the topic of “push” and “pull” marketing.

The article I referred to above was written by a professor at one of the country’s leading business schools and published in a marketing industry trade magazine. While he accurately defined push and pull marketing he completely omitted (actually denied) the importance of the relationships between the two marketing approaches. I point this out only to caution readers that just because someone claims expertise doesn’t mean that they actually possess it. There is a huge difference in being conversationally literate and being able to use the right “buzz” words, and having deeply rooted subject matter expertise…Anyway, enough of the rant and onto the meat of the post…

Push marketing is the old-school approach of pushing marketing out to consumers via all manner of mediums and distribution channels for the purpose of creating interest in a product, service, event, brand, etc. Pull marketing is inversely driven by the recognition of a need, want or desire on the part of the end-user and/or consumer who seeks out the marketer. So, you may be asking yourself what’s the big deal here? The big deal is one of recognition…it is the classic battle between the late adopter and the first mover…The marketing savvy organizations vs. those who just don’t get it.

Many traditional push marketing organizations are late adopters in recognizing the inevitable shift to pull marketing and the race is on for these market lagers to develop competencies, shift budgets, build relationships and integrate campaigns in an effort to remain competitive. Consumers are much more knowledgeable today than ever before. They have access to more information as well as being armed with the technology that allows them to aggregate and synthesize data to make sophisticated decisions over very short periods of time.

It really isn’t a question of either or, but one of understanding the how and when of using the proper application and mix of the two approaches to build a truly integrated marketing approach. The issue is not radio, TV or print (Push) vs. Blogs, Podcasts, forums, RSS or online social communities (Pull), but rather how to create the right message for the right mediums in a fashion that creates synergy and interaction between push and pull marketing. It is not yin vs. yang, but yin and yang and thus it should also be push and pull not push vs. pull.

At the end of the day all we are talking about is understanding that the only true constant is change. Markets evolve and mature and that requires companies who have a desire to remain competitive to embrace change through innovation, knowledge management, business intelligence and personalized relationship marketing. Control of the marketing message is transitioning from the marketer to the end-user with consumer control (user-driven content) growing at an unprecedented rate of velocity.

If your enterprise defines digital marketing as having an e-commerce enabled corporate website you are already behind the curve…If your company is not racing to understand and integrate new media and social media channels into your marketing mix you are already losing customers whether you know it or not…


Mike Myatt
Mike Myatt

Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Boards of Directors. Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, he is recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on leadership. He is the bestselling author of Hacking Leadership (Wiley) and Leadership Matters… (OP), a Forbes leadership columnist, and is the Founder and Chairman at N2Growth.

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