By Adriana Rocha
The business terms push and pull originated in logistics and supply chain management, but are also widely used in marketing:
Push Marketing pushes content to the consumers. Also known as “traditional marketing,” or “outbound marketing”, push is the “grandmother” of modern marketing. Direct mail marketing, such as catalogs and brochures, as well as Radio and TV Ads are prime examples of push marketing. The marketer is in control of what the message is, how it is seen, when and where.
Pull Marketing is the opposite of push marketing. Also known as “inbound marketing”, this type of marketing “pulls” a consumer into the business, meaning: the customer seeks out your company. Today’s consumer is an avid researcher. He or she reads reviews, conducts keyword searches and asks Facebook friends for suggestions. Pull marketing creates an opportunity to attract the customers who want answers you already provide. When you see a social media offer for a product you love, this is pull marketing at work. Blog posts, eBooks and other online-content machines are also forms of pull marketing that live on the web.
Let’s face it – traditional push marketing tactics are pricey and steadily becoming less effective. With an ever increasing number of ways for consumers to easily ignore advertising and find the information they want quickly online, it’s critical to understand the paradigm shift in consumer behavior that continues to rapidly proliferate: people are increasingly ignoring push marketing, and embracing inbound, or pull marketing.
What Caused the Shift from Push to Pull
More than anything, the Internet is what has had the greatest effect. Through search engines and social networks, consumers have all of the information they need right at their fingertips, and no longer want or need unwanted ads to tell them about products or services – they find out about them on their own terms.
Until the early 2000’s when the Internet exploded into mass popularization, the main methods for businesses to market to consumers was through traditional advertising and PR. And for a long time, this worked just fine. Consumers received ads without a big fuss, and they were fairly effective at generating sales, although nearly impossible to accurately track.
But as advertising messages became more and more prevalent in virtually every aspect of daily life we as consumers have become immune to them, and started to subconsciously filter and tune out anything that smelled of advertising or sales. Then DVRs, satellite radio, email, and countless other filtering mechanisms empowered us to ignore advertising even more easily.
“Push Market Research” is in decline.
For many years, marketing has also relied on “push market research” methodologies, in order to understand consumers’ needs, habits and behaviors. “Push market research” could be defined as a research methodology in which a marketer or researcher attempts to get their questions in front of their potential respondents, with or without them having a desire or interest to respond. Example: door-to-door, street intercept, telephone surveys, online surveys. Unless someone is passionate about answering surveys, then they probably don’t find those surveys to be entertaining or prompted at the right moment.
I’m not saying that “push market research” should be immediately considered as negative, since it can be very efficient if executed properly. However, with the quick growth of online research methodologies and proliferation of online panel companies, survey routers, etc. consumers have been bombarded with invitations to participate in surveys. People have created similar immunization to ignore survey invitations, especially because of the poor user experienced offered in most of those surveys. Additionally, consumers nowadays have many ways to contact directly the brands and organizations they want to communicate with, especially through social media. They can also express their opinions, sentiments and share experiences with other consumers, easily at any time using their mobile devices, so they don’t need to answer surveys in order to get their opinions out and to be heard.
“Pull Market Research” is on rise.
Brands have already learned the importance of “pull market research”. Instead of just using push methods, Brands have used social media listening and advanced text analytics tools in order to understand what consumers spontaneously share in social media and public websites. However, analyzing public social media data for understanding consumers’ needs, habits and behavior has many limitations. Additionally to the lack of profiling data and superficial information available – that don’t allow researchers dig into the whys – accessing public social media data has become increasingly challenging with social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter limiting the access to their data through public API’s.
Smart Brands have then created their own private spaces for consumers to dialogue with them directly. “Pull market research” creates an opportunity to attract the consumers who you want to talk with, empowering the users with tools to let them spontaneously express themselves, and then you can “push” questions just when needed.
I truly believe that successful market research should adopt the best of both worlds, push and pull methods, such as insights communities – one of the fastest adopted methods by the market research industry worldwide. Companies have built research communities for many years now, but more than ever we see how important those communities have become as a source of innovation and inspiration for marketing, as well as a key part of the standard consumer insights tool-kit.
Have you combined “Push and Pull” Market Research techniques? I would love to know your thoughts and experience.
5 Differences between Push Marketing and Pull Marketing ( http://www.dmn3.com/dmn3-blog/five-differences-between-push-marketing-and-pull-marketing)
The Rise of Pull Marketing & Why it’s Crucial for Franchisees (http://empowerkit.com/blog/marketing/the-rise-of-pull-marketing-why-its-crutial-for-franchisees/)
How To Balance Push And Pull Marketing(http://www.digitaltonto.com/2015/how-to-balance-push-and-pull-marketing/)