From Push to Pull Marketing

John Hagel
Marketing News Weekly
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Key Takeaways

​What? Traditional marketing is still driven by the three I’s—intercept, isolate and insulate

So what? Instead of the three I’s, think in terms of the three A’s: attract, assist and affiliate.

Now what? You should be helpful to customers in modest ways, build trust and over time get permission to access more data and become even more helpful.

June 23, 2017

Redefining strategy and measuring success in a changing marketing landscape

Much has been written about the impact of technology on marketing and how it’s changing the job of the CMO, but I’d argue that we’re on the cusp of a much more fundamental change to the marketing relationship—one focusing on attention.

Businesses are competing for people’s minds and time, making us increasingly protective of both. And if you’re a marketer who wants to connect with people rather than alienate them, you’re going to have to rethink your approach.

Going Beyond the Three I’s

One way to frame this shift is to say that we’re moving from push to pull. Even as technology changes its means, the traditional marketing model is still driven by the three I’s—intercept, isolate and insulate—all of which are about pushing information at people. Intercept means getting people’s attention wherever they are and whenever you need them. My favorite example is video screens above the urinals in the men’s room—talk about a captive audience. Once you intercept, under this model, you isolate, trying to get your message across without interference or distraction. Finally, marketers have tried to insulate people over time to create a walled garden where it’s just you and me forever.

But often people don’t like being culled from the herd. If they’re feeling manipulated and annoyed, they may respond by pushing you away.

The Three A’s: Attract, Assist, Affiliate

Instead of the three I’s, think in terms of the three A’s: attract, assist and affiliate. Attract means motivating people to seek you out. Assist means helping people before and after a purchase, so they get more value and use from your product or service. That leads to the third affiliate. Instead of focusing on one-to-one marketing, bring in any and all participants that could be helpful to the prospective buyer, creating a broader ecosystem of participants that the customer wants to interact with.

This is a big change, but it’s not optional. Companies are going to have to walk away from a method that got them where they are today. If they don’t, they’ll likely be displaced by entrants who can offer customers the kind of engagement that benefits them.

Technology and the Trusted Advisor

The three A’s can’t scale without technology. Marketers are likely going to have to use the internet and Big Data to collect rich records of interactions and analyze that data for patterns that lead to deep, real-time insight about customers and their needs. They may also have to rethink the idea of customer assistance. It’s not just waiting for the customer to ask you something; it’s being thoughtful and proactive.

In effect, marketers will need to become trusted advisors to their customers: “I have some information about you, and based on that I can give you recommendations that are going to be really valuable to you.” A risk, of course, is that if you misuse the data and bombard customers with unwanted recommendations, they’re gone. You should be helpful in modest ways, build trust and over time get permission to access more data and become even more helpful.

A new ROA and ROI

These models are new enough that they can’t always be measured by traditional metrics. We all know about return on investment and return on assets, but what if we thought in terms of a new ROA: return on attention? If the numerator is how much it costs to get the attention of a customer, then the denominator might be the economic value of that attention—that is, the value of the relationship you can expect based on that attention. On an individual level, that may be a small number, but technology makes the cost of attracting customer attention similarly low.

I’d also like to suggest a new ROI: not return on investment, but return on information. Track carefully how much it costs to accumulate information about a customer, and divide that by what you can earn by using that information more effectively.

Privacy Is Different Under Pull

When we talk about customer information, we have to consider privacy. I’d argue that privacy concerns are more an issue with the old push model, in which marketers have an incentive to generate revenue by selling customer data to as many third parties as possible. In contrast, in pull marketing, your focus is on being more and more helpful to the customer. Many people will disclose information if they’re confident it will be used to help them and not be misused by others. That’s a key to addressing the privacy issue: demonstrating through repeated action that the data you’re accumulating is being used for the benefit of the customer.

The Skills Companies and Individuals Will Need Most

Such a big shift in focus can have a significant impact on marketing operations. I foresee three big changes in operations happening over the next five years. Successful companies will find better ways to integrate technology with marketing initiatives. They’ll learn how to identify relevant third parties—influencers or potential affiliates, for instance—and motivate them to become more helpful to customers through the company’s platform. Finally, getting up to speed with the analytics around Big Data is going to become more and more critical. Many marketing departments have a lot of work to do in that area.

In terms of individual marketers, it’s less about hard skills with particular software than it is about empathy and passion. Ultimately, what we need in marketing departments are people who can put themselves in the customer’s shoes and say, “What does the customer need, and how can I help the customer get it, wherever it resides?” If you’re committed to making an impact on the customer by being more and more helpful, you’ll either develop that ability, or you’ll find ways to connect to those skills wherever they reside.

Want to find out more about the shift to pull-based marketing? Visit: to learn more.

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Author Bio:

John Hagel
John Hagel is co-chairman of Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge.
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Displaying 1 Comments
October 12, 2017

Use these 3 (Attract, Assist, Affiliate) tips help to how your campaign worked out and promoting the strategy to create a lot of to one relationship marketing will help to promote your business. Overall blog is excellent keep sharing :)

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