Push vs. Pull Marketing: What Is Your Preference?

Everybody in sales needs new clients. In a perfect world, they file through the door with little effort on your part. That is possible if you are the lowest cost provider. It has certainly worked for Wal-Mart. Most financial professionals want new clients prepared to pay full price. How are you going to get them?

Consider the concepts of Push Marketing and Pull Marketing. This can be simplified to marketing strategies vs. sales strategies. In Push marketing, you are doing something in the marketplace that raises your visibility, creates demand and has potential customers walking through your door. It Pull marketing, you are employing a sales force who identifies prospects, turns them into clients and are frequently paid on their individual results.

A great example of Push Marketing is Viking River Cruises. They have been a major sponsor on PBS since 2011. Most viewers associate them with the PBS program Masterpiece. (1) They introduced the concept of European river cruising to American audiences. This presents a challenge to travel agents because people do not call up and say: “I want to take a river cruise.” They say “I want a Viking river cruise.” There are 25+ companies operating European river cruises. (2) Most Americans probably could name only one. Viking’s strategy works. A British friend recently returned from a Viking river cruise. “It was filled with Americans” she explained.

What about an example of Pull Marketing? Consider the telemarketers who call, asking if you are interested in selling your house. “We represent a buyer in the local area. Are you interested in selling your house at (address)? No? Do you have any other properties you would be interested in selling? No? Thank you for your time.” Despite the DNC rules, these calls are prevalent.

An obvious observation is push marketing is expensive. LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, spent 9.5 billion Euro on advertising in 2022. (3) People will stand in line behind a velvet rope to shop in a Louis Vuitton store.

Examples of Push and Pull Marketing for Financial Professionals

Let us consider different client acquisition strategies you may have used or are considering.

  1. Running ads on social media. (Push marketing) This costs money, but it represents targeted marketing. You get someone’s interest, they get in touch with you. You may have harvested enough data to contact them directly.

  2. Personally posting and actively engaging on social media. (Pull marketing) This takes time, but not a lot of money. As an example, you build a network of first level connections on LinkedIn. You post. You respond to notifications. You answer messages you receive in reply. You get a dialog started.

  3. Public seminars. (Push marketing) You have run ads or initiated a mail campaign to build an audience at an outside location. You stand before the group and present material. It might be educational. The effort you put into attracting the audience determines how many people show up. This costs money.

  4. Cold calling (Pull marketing) This is possibly the oldest prospecting strategy in the industry. Many people started this way, back when calling from the white pages telephone directory was an accepted practice. You are investing your time. There are few other costs. It’s a numbers game. It is restricted by the DNC rules today.

  5. Mailings (Push marketing) This is a form of advertising requiring printing and postage. You might be directly seeking prospects to do business or prospects interested in attending a seminar. It is likely you have received these mailings at home for dinner seminars put on by competitors. The recipient calls and makes a reservation to attend.

  6. Calling business owners. (Pull marketing) This is a variation on cold calling. B2B calling is treated more kindly under the DNC rules. All you need is a phone and a list of names to call. Getting through screeners is challenging. The cost is low, usually just your time.

  7. Client/prospect dinners (Push marketing) Like referrals, you are encouraging a client to refer a friend with the added incentive of dinner at a nice restaurant. The groups are often small. You are investing the cost of the dinner to have them bring someone to you, which makes this referral strategy not pull, but push.

  8. Referrals (Pull marketing) You are creating a situation where someone walks through your office door and expresses an interest in doing business. Like cold calling, the effort goes into getting someone to take action. You are selling an idea to clients: Why they want to send someone in your direction.

  9. Speaking to groups (Push marketing) These are speaking engagements. Instead of prospecting a person and getting them interested (pull) you are prospecting an organization (pull) but getting them to put you in front of a room full of people. You might need to buy lunch for everyone as the cost of admission, making it a Push strategy.

  10. Cold walking (Pull marketing) As a financial professional, you are making the effort to get someone interested. You might be going door to door down a commercial street or business to business in a corporate business park. Your objective is to meet the owner and introduce yourself. The major cost is your time.

  11. Online webinars, podcasts. (Push marketing) These require building an audience, keeping them coming back and bringing friends. It provides a platform where you can educate and advertise. It is very similar to public, in person seminars.

  12. Approaching friends (Pull marketing) You are raising your visibility with people you know. You are seeking to identify a problem you can help solve. You are competing to be one of several advisory relationships they currently have in place.

  13. Walk Ins, Call Ins. (Push marketing) These people came through the door because an outside force made it happen. They might have seen an advertisement. They saw your company name on the top of the building. The brand brought them in.

  14. Introductions/Networking. (Pull marketing) You are raising your visibility, one person at a time. You have identified prospects and make the case to friends and clients for them to put you into the same room. The costs are low, mostly just your time.

  15. Print media ads (Push marketing) You have run ads in the newspaper. You promoted a seminar. People responded to your ad by reaching out and calling or attending an event.

  16. E-mail campaigns (Pull marketing) As a financial professional, you have identified a group of prospects. You drip market. E-mail is one channel. There are others, like texting. You are personalizing the approach. It is similar to cold calling. You are seeking to cultivate the interest of a specific person and get them to engage with you. The cost is low, only your time.

  17. Radio, TV advertising (Push marketing) Similar to print ads, you have paid for mass media to get your message to a larger audience. You are paying to build name recognition for your firm. When they have a need, you want to be the first name that comes to mind.

There are many ways to get new clients. It usually comes down to Push or Pull. You get them to walk through the door or you need to first find them for yourself.

Related: Going From Nobody to Somebody: Who Do You Need to Know

  1. https://www.travelweekly.com/Cruise-Travel/Insights/Viking-and-the-PBS-viewer

  2. https://www.tourradar.com/rg/europe-lines-companies

  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/410677/lvmh-group-s-ad-spend-worldwide/