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Part II: push vs pull marketing

December 15, 2007

Hadn’t intend to write a sequel to this push v pull post, but a few very concrete tactical ideas were taking up space in my brain….

Making “pull” happen means putting few to zero resources in “push” things like a direct sales force, outbound emails, and telemarketing. In my previous post, I focused on high-level concepts, but more practically, here are some thoughts of where to spend your marketing dollars:

Creating a great website first, SEO second: Write useful, informative content your audience — be they customers, journalists, or consumers — wants to read without stuffing search engines with keywords. If you know the audience you’re writing for, the content of your site will get a decent ranking from the search engines. Then, you can optimize the site with the header tags, linking, alt tags, add your company’s name to the Yahoo! directory, work on your linking strategy, and all the other things that the SEO experts talk about.

Word of mouth and creating evangelists: Do you trust your friends’ recommendations or what some marketer tells you? Studies confirm that what you’re thinking: friends of course. Word of mouth is the most powerful way to market your products.Risk-free offers, trial evaluations, open or closed beta testing are ways to get people to try your stuff and, by extension, create some evangelists. There are ways, too, to systematically encourage word of mouth. For example, tell-a-friend programs. Working Assets gives their customers a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for 12-months if their their friends signed up to use the phone carrier’s service.

Perhaps the simplest way to encourage word of mouth is by shocking your customers with a product or level of customer service that knocks their socks off.

Advertise: Start with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and/or specialty engine ad networks and search ads first. They’re targeted. Experiment with other types of advertising such as banner ads.Scoble may say that newspapers are dead (and by extension, I assume he means print publications because they’re disappearing, consolidating, and crumbling too) but more pragmatic folks believe, and I agree, that print publications work perfectly well for some audiences. It’s just way more expensive than a lot of online marketing and it’s hard, if not downright impossible, to measure its impact. But the bottom line is that you have to go where your customers are, online or off.

PR: Hiring agencies is another surefire way of spending a lot of money. These days, it’s often equally effective to start a conversational marketing PR strategy. Talk with customers, bloggers, and influences in your space. And listen. Those conversations will turn up online and in print. It’s a slow process, but it ultimately turns into coverage for your company and products, and it doesn’t cost a dime. I think agencies are better suited to some industries than others, but you need to keep a close eye on your spending.

Conferences: Still one of the best ways to brand a company and get your name out, but they are expensive and very time consuming.

Channel marketing: Get someone else to push for you! :)

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