When push comes to shove: 2 push marketing tips

Everywhere you look, people are telling you that the newly empowered consumer is the engine that drives the marketplace. Shoppers now use social media to scour the internet for reviews and search engines to find exactly what they’re looking for. With these powerful tools at their fingertips, why would consumers need to wait to be directly engaged by companies?

The answer is that direct marketing techniques still hold tremendous sway over consumer habits and perceptions. Even in this age of consumer-guided commerce, traditional promotional techniques like mass media, phone sales and especially direct mail are still essential tools for capturing consumer attention and making a personalized pitch to them.

In short, these techniques – often referred to collectively as “push marketing” – remain crucial components of any company’s efforts to attract and retain customers. Instead of sitting on their hands and waiting for the consumer to “pull” activity toward them, these companies need to get the ball rolling by targeting the right customers, sending the right materials and using the right tools and techniques to solicit responses.

Here are two tips to get the most from your push marketing initiatives.

Treat your customers with respect

One of the reasons some experts have started to decry traditional marketing approaches is because these old-guard techniques are increasingly being viewed as out of touch and too “top down.” Choice has become a buzzword for marketing efforts of all kinds, and approaches that don’t give consumers options are sometimes seen as not respectful of the modern consumer’s preference for freedom and flexibility.

This point of view, however, misses a crucial point – consumers are willing to give up choice if they believe they are receiving something of value. Even though shoppers have become savvier about spotting – and ignoring – promotions, the vast majority of them still look favorably upon direct marketing efforts that treat them as individuals, provide them with useful information or help them simplify some aspect of their life.

In a recent blog for Forbes, Phil Johnson, a marketing expert, discussed the ways in which creative direct promotions can garner good will, boost engagement and capture elusive market share. The key, according to Johnson, is to avoid gimmicks and treat customers with dignity.

“Consumers want respect and to be dealt with as individuals,” he wrote.

Pushing the envelope

Many business experts point to trends like commercial skipping and signing up for a “Do Not Call” list as indications that push marketing is on the decline. As a result, some companies are focusing on longer-term, less direct pull methods like SEO and speaking engagements to attract customers. There is no denying that these methods are becoming increasingly successful, but some experts believe that shifting the balance too far in this direction could hamstring growth.

In an editorial for the Memphis Daily News, Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO of RedRover, explained how even in the current climate of empowered consumers it can still be incredibly useful for companies to use direct engagement efforts, such as custom printing technology, to tell a specific subset of consumers about a new product or service.

“Remember that there are buyers who don’t even know they have a problem, let alone considered a solution,” she wrote. “Or maybe you have a solution that is so new that your prospects aren’t even sure how to research it. In these instances, push marketing is necessary in order to help prospects realize their need and consider your solution.”

Even as consumers are taking more control over their engagement decisions, companies that use new tools and tailored marketing techniques can give themselves a big advantage over firms that wait for shoppers to come to them.

“While direct mail may seem outdated, it allows for unprecedented targeting by way of consumer buying patterns, community affiliations, product interests, household demographics and much more,” Turner-Wilson wrote.