The Way of the Ice-Cream Cart


Most marketers have heard of the dichotomy of inbound and outbound marketing.

But there’s a middle way, something in between pull and push marketing, and it works like an ice-cream cart.

Let me take a step back and examine the two extremes:

Pull Marketing

Pull marketing (inbound marketing) is like opening a store on a crowded street.

Some of the people passing by notice the store, enter, and buy the products.

In cyberspace, the street is analogous to a search term or keyword.

The more popular the keyword you bid for or create content around, the more people you can expect to visit your store.

The position of the store on the street is also important. People are likely to buy from the first store they find.

Similarly online buyers are more likely to buy from a store that turns up at the top of their search results.

Push Marketing:

Push marketing is a bit like a door-to-door salesmen.

Email marketing (without opt-in) is very similar to door-to-door sales.  Telemarketing is also a form of push marketing.

Nurturing email messages (email with opt-in) feels very different to a recipient.

They feel like a door-to-door serviceman calling to check whether the product is all right and if you’re happy with it.

Push-Pull Marketing:

In between push marketing and pull marketing lies a middle way.  It’s the way of the ice-cream cart.

The cart goes where customers may be found.

The sound of an inviting bell from a safe distance creates awareness of the cart.

Though the bell invited contact, the decision to complete the contact is left entirely to the prospect.

Giving the buyer a choice makes push-pull marketing a lot more acceptable to people.

Push-Pull Digital Marketing

Social media tools can execute marketing strategies that are analogous to an ice-cream cart.

The bell-ringing step is performed by interacting with customers.

The interaction may take the form of liking a piece of content which a customer has created.

The interaction may take the form of following a customer.

The interaction never takes the form of a solicitation.

The Way of the Ice-Cream Cart

Upon experiencing the interaction, the customer has two choices. They can:

  1. Check out the product on sale, or
  2. Carry on with their life.

And that is what the way of the ice-cream cart is all about.

It is about pushing to the customer the awareness that they can pull something useful if they wish.





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