Although the drumbeat about content marketing began a few years back, it seems to have become rather loud over the last few months. We even see content marketing agencies and software pushing (pun intended) their products and services on a daily basis.
Content marketing is not a particularly new phenomenon unless you consider the end of the 1890’s new. That’s right: as long ago as that companies were creating content they would distribute to consumers in order to give them information as opposed to selling them something. The theory is that compelling content creates a relationship – engagement – with the consumer and that at some appropriate point the recipient will turn to your company when they’re ready to buy.
I’m a fan of content marketing. I think most people don’t like being sold to unless they’ve put their hands in the air and said “I’m ready to buy and I need information.” Those kind of marketing messages – TV and other ads – are push content. As Imus used to say “I talk, you listen” except what was being said by marketers was manufactured and shoved out the door. Content marketing is more “pull” marketing. It’s a newer model than the old push strategy.
But is push dead? I don’t think so. Here is why.
The basic definition of pull marketing means that you engage consumers or prospective/current customers. To do that you need to know something about them. If they’ve bought, you have that information and they know a bit about you through experiences that have left lasting, positive impressions. Hopefully you’ve dazzled them with world-class customer service (which I think is push marketing too). If they haven’t bought (yet), maybe you’ve been helpful to them in other ways.
The implication is that, of course, is that you need to be discoverable. You can’t do inbound marketing if you’re invisible. If you’re trying to give potential customers the idea that they need to engage, they need to know that they have a problem for you to solve first. Maybe they haven’t done that – defined the problem – so how can they be considering a solution?
That’s where push comes in. Sure, it may be intrusive and unfashionable and ridiculed as interruption marketing. But it has a role in the marketing mix. Even so, we have to keep a few thoughts in mind. We can’t spam people – drop unwanted messages on them over and over again. People have learned to tune those messages out. Even as we’re talking “at” them, we can try to anticipate their needs and wants even as we’re defining their problems for them.
No, push isn’t dead, but it needs to be changed to match the ways in which consumer expectations have changed. Then again, if your marketing plan is still very much a function of last century, your revenues might be stuck there too. Make sense?