Are You a Push Marketer or a Pull Marketer?

push-or-pull marketing

Today’s guest post is from social media expert Chris Syme (@cksyme).

When I was growing up, traveling salesmen were common occurrences at the front door. I’ll never forget the time a vacuum salesman showed up eager to demonstrate how effective his product was. Being polite, my mom invited him in for a demonstration and the first thing he did was take out a container of dirt and dump it on our rug. My mom was horrified. I doubt she ever heard a word he said. It did not matter if he had the best vacuum cleaner in the world. All she could think of was how quickly she could get him out the door so she could clean her dirty rug.

The vacuum salesman embodied a common flaw in marketing: his approach relied on pushing a message rather than pulling the customer in by addressing what was important to them. He had a method that relied on his message and not the customer’s interest. He was a push marketer.

When selling anything from books to refrigerators, we need to be an advocate for the buyer, not for our product. We want to draw people to a conclusion to buy, not push them. We want to be a pull marketer.

Push Marketing Repels

The era of push marketing began with the advent of TV commercials. Brands had a message they wanted to get across and they put together ads informing consumers about the benefits of their products. Their products were at the center of their messages, not the consumers’ needs. They were the sources of information and we trusted them. They created an inflated need for their product and we bought in. Basically, selling was based on hype.

After the internet became a cultural mainstay, consumers discovered that they had a wealth of information at their fingertips. They gathered their own information, made comparisons between products, looked at consumer reviews, and made buying decisions based on their real needs. And so began the era of pull marketing. Smart brands spent time and money crafting content that pulled in buyers based on identifying and meeting a real consumer need.

Social media has created a buying culture where the consumer is in control. As Jay Baer wrote in his book Youtility, “Smart marketing is about help, not hype.” If you want to be successful at selling today, you need to quit pushing your needs (please buy my book) at potential readers and concentrate pulling them in by putting their needs above yours. Give them something valuable.

What Is Valuable Content?

Valuable content meets the needs of the consumer. And what are their needs? In two studies, one done by marketing expert Amy Porterfield and the other by Buffer, we find two sets of needs that drive people when they go online. The two look very similar:

Six things people want from you online:

  • Giveaways/discounts
  • Advice about a need (dating, childcare, laundry, buying a car, etc.)
  • Warnings
  • Amusement: everyone loves to smile and laugh
  • Inspiration: stories of humans beating the odds, being generous and caring
  • Amazement

Deliver content that makes an emotional connection. People want to feel:

  • Happy
  • Inspired
  • Compassion
  • Informed
  • Supported
  • Connected

You’ve Got to Give to Get

In The Content Code, author Mark Schaefer talks about the reciprocity we create when we give our fans something of value and connect with their needs. They feel obliged. If you are stumped about how to create valuable content, chances are you are stepping up to the marketing plate thinking about your needs first. In the words of John David Mann and Bob Burg, you want to be a Go-Giver, not a Go-Getter.

I use a simple formula to define the reciprocity culture of social media, called the 80-20 Rule. In order to earn the permission to sell in social media, 80 percent of social media posts need to be giving value and making a connection with the buyer’s needs, and 20 percent of posts should be about direct selling.

In my online classes I go into detail about how to set up, organize, and schedule content using the 80-20 Rule. I call it the Content Bucket System. You have to give value to gain trust. And trust is the basis of loyalty. Loyalty builds repeat sales and motivates your fans to help you sell your books by word-of-mouth.

You’ve Got to Let Them Know You

I listened to a podcast recently with well-known wellness expert Doctor Josh Axe. He was asked for his No.1 key to building millions of followers and customers just using Facebook. It didn’t surprise me when he said “You’ve got to let them know you.” Sounds simple, but those words drive fear into many an author’s heart. You mean I have to talk with my fans? The more you befriend your fans, the more they will gravitate to your content. That is pull marketing. Author and business coach Chris Brogan puts it this way: “Don’t treat your customers like a bunch of purses and wallets.” Be a human, be a friend.

If you’d like to learn more about how to write valuable content and master pull marketing, I recommend you subscribe to my free weekly tips sheet on book marketing. Currently I am giving away a three-resource book marketing pack as my thanks. You can find out more here.

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion and tagged , , .
Chris Syme

Chris Syme

Chris Syme has over 20 years experience in the communications industry and is the principal of the award-winning agency, CKSyme Media Group. She is a former university media relations professional, a frequent speaker on the national stage, and the author of the popular SMART Marketing For Authors book series. Her new book, The Newbie’s Guide to Sell More Books With Less Marketing, is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook. She is a co-host of the Smarty Pants Book Marketing podcast with her indie author daughter Becca Syme. Chris and her husband Terry live in Montana and have two grown daughters.

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14 Comments on "Are You a Push Marketer or a Pull Marketer?"

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Great advice, Chris. As a consumer, I respond much better to products being advertised through social media when they are ‘giving’ instead of just repeating ‘buy my things’. Thanks for sharing.


[…] Are You a Push Marketer or a Pull Marketer? (Jane Friedman) When selling anything from books to refrigerators, we need to be an advocate for the buyer, not for our product. We want to draw people to a conclusion to buy, not push them. We want to be a pull marketer. […]

Rhoda Baxter

This is very interesting, thank you. Do you have any tips of how to enable access so that fans can talk to you? I have a few fans who talk to me – and I happily chat back – but I have no idea how to increase engagement. Have I got fans who aren’t happy chatting to me?


[…] Chris Syme: Are You a Push Marketer or a Pull Marketer?  […]


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