With push marketing, you have a business and you need sales, so you make a list of potential clients and go after them.
Perhaps you join a networking group where you can interact with other business owners on a regular basis.
You hope that once they know, like and trust you, they will send clients your way.
You might also contact people in related industries and educate them about your services in case their clients need your help. Perhaps you buy ads in a trade publication, get a booth at a trade show or sponsor events. All these efforts are directed toward getting your company in front of the right people.
This takes a lot of effort, and business owners who spend energy on these push marketing strategies do so instead of investing resources in building their brand’s reputation and credibility in the market.
It makes sense: When you are either out there making connections or in your office working for clients, it’s hard to find time for anything else.
PULL MARKETING THROUGH BRANDING
The pull marketing strategy involves focusing your effort predominantly inward. You spend time building your skills, value and brand credibility rather than searching for the next sale.
This is a longer game that requires discipline and sustained effort.
If push marketing is the hare, pull marketing is the turtle.
But when you implement this strategy and you remain highly focused on what you do best, you can actually build a reputation that pulls clients to you in a relatively short amount of time.
Focus is key. When you are laser-focused on what you do and for whom you do it, you can build skills, reputation and value at a much faster rate. There are no silver bullets in networking or branding, and both practices require some time investment up front. But the ROI from building a brand with the pull strategy is stronger and lasts longer. And the more effort you put into building your value and reputation, the faster and stronger the pull will be forever after.
Let’s imagine two graphic designers: John and Mike.
John is a talented, creative guy who does great work. He can design logos, websites, brochures, ads—whatever you’d like. He knows Adobe Creative Suite really well, and he is very pleasant to work with. When you meet John, you think, Why wouldn’t I want to hire this guy?
Like most solopreneurs, John spends most of his free time networking. Because he is honest, likeable and good at what he does, he gets plenty of referrals. But at any given time, the people he’s meeting are also meeting other Johns, so although he gets leads, he spends a lot of time pitching, writing proposals and trying to plead his case.
Mike is also a graphic designer, and as talented as John. But a few years ago, after doing a couple of wine labels and brands, he decided to specialize in wine, and he started investing his energy in building his brand.
Mike adores wine brands, loves to drink wine, and lives in wine country, so it was the perfect opportunity to immerse himself in his niche.
Rather than spend his time hunting for clients, he builds his knowledge and skill set. He does tastings and even takes a sommelier class. He visits vineyards and talks to wine-company owners and investors. Every experience adds to his ability to help his clients and creates an opportunity for content. Every time Mike tastes a wine, he photographs the label, comments on what it’s communicating and shares that on social media.
With each new wine client he learns something new about wine brands and the industry in general.
After a few years he has seen many wine brands succeed and fail, and he has studied thousands of wine labels at different price points.
At this point he is not only a great designer, he has also built a reputation in the wine industry.
He is not just designing labels that look nice; he is also bringing years of experience to the creative process.
He often knows much more about the wine business than the clients themselves.
So while Mike’s core service is designing the brand and label for wine companies, he brings a breadth of knowledge to every project that is hard to top.
His Instagram feed is full of beautiful posts about delicious wines, labels and vineyards, with useful tips about the photo. His blog touches on all aspects of the wine industry, and he shares things he learns as he continues to educate himself. Wine bottlers and wine lovers alike follow him.
Mike doesn’t have to network officially because he meets people at every wine-related activity.
And rather than handing people his card and trying to find referrals for others in hopes of reciprocity, he is hoisting a glass with fellow wine lovers and connecting on a meaningful level.
When you visit his site, the experience is congruent. Everything in his brand and marketing supports the fact that he is an expert in wine brands.
This is pull marketing through branding
Mike spends time building his skills and reputation, and his ideal clients find him. He can charge more for his work because he is worth more to clients.
If John and Mike were both up for a wine job, who do you think would get it? I’ll bet Mike is not only more likely to get the job, but that he could charge much more and still land it. Why? Because his brand demonstrates that he is to be trusted, and that he knows what he’s doing.
Is focus enough to create pull marketing?
Focusing is the first step.
If Mike focused his niche on wine brands but didn’t do anything else to build his skills in this arena, he would still be better off than John. When networking, at least he would say something memorable and shareable.
But pull marketing requires more than just narrowing your focus.
This is about being your brand with every drop of your being, and in every action you take.
Using your valuable time to meet small groups of people networking is a short-term strategy that I recommend you do only when you have invested energy into being a brand worth remembering.
If you want to pull people to you and avoid the endless cycle of hunting for clients, you need to put aside time to develop a pull brand and marketing strategy.
That means investing a significant amount of time in building your skills in your chosen niche and demonstrating your knowledge to the world. A meeting is a one-time occurrence. An article, a photo or a video? Those last forever.
Push marketing has its place, but it is infinitely more valuable when paired with a firm foundation of pull marketing strategy.
The difference between meeting a few people and telling them what you do when you have a Mike brand instead of a John brand is almost unquantifiable. If John meets 10 people and none remembers what he does, he might as well have stayed home.
If Mike meets 10 people, the chances are much more likely that at least one of them will remember him, know someone in the wine space, or love wine and follow him on social media (if only to get his wine recommendations)—or all of the above.
Who would you rather be: John or Mike?
Both require effort, but only one promises future value you can rely on.