The term inbound marketing is commonly heard among marketers today and those wishing to promote a product or service.
Less common is the term pull marketing. In many ways, these two terms overlap, but they are not the same thing.
First, some basic definitions:
Inbound marketing is defined as a strategy for promoting a company, a product, or its services using a variety of content venues such as blogs, videos, e-books, newsletters, whitepapers, social media, and other forms of what generally falls under the umbrella of content marketing. Once a web visitor has come to a site, he or she finds quality, credible content that helps build confidence and trust between this visitor and the company and, with trust, ultimately sales.
Pull marketing, on the other hand, is a strategy designed primarily to draw (i.e., pull) customers to a company, usually through advanced search engine optimization (SEO). The ultimate goal is to pull visitors to the company, it’s website, its products, or its services.
Because pull marketing is so focused on SEO, the “pulling” needs to happen first before the inbound marketing can be successful. This shows how closely interlinked the two are. Pull marketing is not new, but it has not always been so online focused.
Pull Marketing and Inbound Marketing Introduce Tickle Me Elmo
Historically, pull marketing has often been used to generate interest for a product before its introduction using more traditional means such as advertising and PR/communications. An example of this was the introduction of Tickle Me Elmo by Tyco in 1996. Tyco assumed there would be a demand for Tickle Me Elmo but was not quite sure exactly how big that demand would be, so it started employing a number of pull marketing strategies to build interest and excitement for the product and to gauge demand.
Tyco did not use the Internet for its pull marketing, since, in 1996, few people were even sure what the Internet was, let alone how to make it work for them. It advertised the coming toy in magazines and on television, had it written about in magazines directed toward parents (in other words, using a PR strategy), and employed a number of other venues to get the word out.
Well, Tyco’s strategy worked. Once Tickle Me Elmo hit the market, Tyco saw its profits multiply five times its initial projections, reaching $350 million in sales the first year the product was introduced. Many observers called Tickle Me Elmo an overnight success and were surprised at how well it took off. However, Tyco sees it differently. Working subtly behind the scenes, Tyco knew it had pulled attention to the product long before its introduction, and the results were a big payoff in sales.
Making Pull Marketing Work
So how do we make pull marketing work for us? Today with the Internet, it is actually a twofold strategy. First, several months before introducing a product, use content marketing techniques and PR/communications to generate a need and interest for the product. Discuss pain points and why a product is necessary to eliminate these pain points.
Perhaps it is a machine that can perform the same tasks as other similar machines but at a third of the price. Start talking about it.
Once the product is introduced, the first thing to do is to advertise it. Yes, advertising comes first. Follow this up with traditional PR/communications such as article placements, then move to content marketing. And using pull marketing, make sure information about the product—what it does, how it saves money, how it addresses challenges, and how it performs—is as SEO optimized as possible. Effective SEO strategies will make it easier for potential customers to find out more about your product and its benefits.