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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Marketing

Last time, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) designer Cecil the Cyclops discussed proper design placement techniques for printed marketing communications. This week Marka explains “push” and “pull” marketing strategy to marketing novice Cecil. Remember, fire = print.

It was a balmy afternoon and Marka and Cecil had reached the 18th hole of Vesuvius Fields, the best Olympian golf course available to non-deities. Marka was attempting to discuss “push” and “pull” marketing with the talented young Cecil, who still lacked an understanding of many marketing fundamentals.

“I think I like ‘pull’ marketing better than ‘push,’” Cecil said, wiping a film of sweat from his uni-brow. “Say you’re hanging off the edge of Mount Olympus – wouldn’t you rather be ‘pulled’ up than ‘pushed’ down?”

“I’m not sure you fully understand the two concepts,” Marka replied, trying to remain patient with her unpolished protégé.

“I admit it. I’ve just been trying to keep up with you,” Cecil said. “In reality, I’m more confused than Odysseus on the island of Circe.”

Marka was in a playful mood (plus, she was shooting even par). “Perhaps a visual demonstration is in order,” she offered, picking a golf ball up off the grass. “Say I’m a sales clerk in a store that sells golf supplies.”

“OK...” Cecil said.

“Buy this bag of golf tees,” Marka urged, dangling a bag of tees in front of Cecil’s colossal face. “If you do, I’ll give you a golf ball in that bin for free!”

“That’s ‘push’ marketing?” Cecil asked.

“Yes. A ‘push’ strategy consists of sales and promotional activities that suggest, or ‘push,’ a mutually beneficial solution on the customer, often at point of purchase,” Marka explained.
“I see,” Cecil said uncertainly.

“When you have a product that’s a commodity, or at least is perceived that way—like a particular brand of golf tees—‘push’ marketing is often necessary,” Marka counseled.

“Why?” Cecil asked.

“A Drachma bag of tees looks like any other Drachma bag,” Marka said. “However, if the sales clerk is given a spiffy incentive to sell one brand of tees over another, he or she will hand one bag to the customer and say, ‘Don’t forget these.’ In turn, sales of this common product will grow faster than similar competing products.”

“Gotcha,” Cecil declared. “Now what’s ‘pull’ marketing?”

“Say a customer enters the pro shop and asks the clerkm ‘Where are your Nike brand golf balls?’ ” Marka said.

“Now, all the clerk has to do is point to where they’re displayed,” Cecil contributed. “The selling has already been done!”

“Right!” Marka teed off with a thwack that echoed across the verdant, impeccably-manicured Olympian landscape. “But there’s still a chance that the customer may buy a different brand of balls than Nike…”

 “...if the customer is exposed to a ‘push’ marketing message from another brand,” Cecil said, interrupting his mentor. “If the sales clerk has been asked to prioritize selling ‘Athens’ brand balls, for example, he or she might say things like:

"Athens balls fly longer and straighter."
"Did you know ‘Athens’ balls are on sale today?"
"2 out of 3 golfers prefer ‘Athens’ balls once they try them."

“Right! ‘Push’ marketing programs can also involve in-store signage, flyers handed out at point of entry into the store and similar means,” Marka continued. “The customer may decide he’d rather buy Athens balls on sale than Nike balls for full price, despite his original intention.”

“How does a B2B push/pull strategy differ from a B2C one?” Cecil asked.

“I like the way you’re thinking,” Marka encouraged, “but hold on...that’ll have to wait until after this tee shot.”

Today’s Fire Point:
Before deciding whether “push” or “pull” marketing activities are right for your company, you should fully understand the differences between the two. “Pull” marketing strategies are excellent for lead generation. “Pull” marketing vehicles like TV and radio spots, online search and banner advertising and viral buzz marketing campaigns get people to initiate contact with a company. Once prospects are qualified, “push” marketing strategies can help influence buying behavior. Incentivized sales pitches, self-talkers and point-of-purchase displays are examples of push marketing.

FIRE! In Action
“Pull” Marketing for Less (part 1): Vizio

The electronics company has risen to financial success on the strength of a low-cost marketing campaign that includes buying cheap billboard space, soliciting media reviews and developing closer relationships with retailers. As of 2009, Vizio is the best-selling LCD TV brand in the U.S.

Next week: The “Pull” vs. “Push” marketing discussion concludes with an overview of B2B and integrated “push” and “pull” tactics.

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