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When to Push and When to Pull With Your Marketing When determining your marketing mix, look at the reasons, impacts, and capabilities of each approach.

By David Meltzer Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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When I'm doing business coaching, I'm often asked questions about what marketing approach is best for a particular situation. When do I push -- and when do I pull?

Related: 10 Marketing Strategies to Fuel Your Business Growth

The old-school approach of "push" marketing works well in the early stages of a business, where you need to get your name out in front of many customers and establish your place in the market. "Pull" marketing normally occurs throughout the life span of an operation, becoming more and more productive as you're able to leverage your brand and positive word-of-mouth to attract more business.

Still, it is very difficult to succeed in marketing yourself, your product/service or your brand without the mix of push and pull marketing.

Mixing it up

To find the right mix, do what I call a RIC evaluation. I consider the Reasons to use either push or pull marketing, the Impacts that each approach can have and the Capabilities that I have, want or need in order to execute a given marketing campaign.

I tend to stay away from push marketing because I believe in utilizing the "Five to Thrive" system:

  1. Stimulate the interest of others.
  2. Transition that interest.
  3. Share a vision.
  4. Manage/develop that vision.
  5. Thrive.

In my experience, this combination is the best way to "push" your product, service or yourself.

You can stimulate interest in a variety of ways, but it most commonly comes from simply asking for someone's business.

Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Creepy Marketing Practices and Build Trust With Your Customers

When to push

The only time I "push" is when I'm making a specific ask: "Can I help you with this project?" or "Can you introduce me to that person?"

Many business people eschew this kind of in-person marketing, preferring to "push" their product or service using third-party advertising on outlets such as TV, newspaper, radio and traditional signage. Of course, you need to drop some serious coin to participate in most kinds of push marketing.

Other options for push marketing include promotional ads, emailing ads to a database and targeted/paid ads on social media. Paying for SEO (search engine optimization) is yet another path.

Working with endorsers and influencers is another option, one that has become much more viable than ever before. But, no matter what method you choose, it's necessary to combine all the push messaging with a broad ask. For example:

"How can I be of service?"

"How can I provide value to you?"

"How can you help me?"

Those three questions are the essence of marketing a business (or person), and if you express them effectively, you will be able to manage and develop a vision, and then thrive. Thriving will create a pull effect, shifting you from an offensive approach to the defensive side of marketing.

Related: How to Measure Your Marketing Success by Focusing on the Invisible ROI

The power of pulling

You don't always have to be on the offensive; you have the option of utilizing the "ask and attract" methodology to pull in new business.

You can choose to "pull market" yourself, your product, your service or even your network of relationships. Showcase the value of the assets that you have by providing case studies to back it up.

If you ask questions like "How can I be of service?" this will bring you relationships that will allow you to provide value. The key is to know where to send your leads once you "pull" them in. Have "buckets" in place, separating your leads into categories for each business unit to utilize.

Related: Ask These 3 Questions to Determine Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

Content as an attracter

Once your brand is established, you can focus on using content to build a brand that resonates with the target market.

Show how some unbiased third-party benefits from your product or service. Don't be boring. Provide testimonials that sizzle!

Be very active on social media. Post consistently and with authenticity.

Create your own blog, sharing with others what you know best. Find your frequency, share your situational knowledge with the world, and you will receive value back.

Some people choose to write a book to gain credibility. This will likely be a major investment of time as well as money, but consider that you'll have a platform that can attract business nationwide -- even worldwide (as long as you properly market the book).

If writing isn't your style, you can start your own podcast. Over 44 percent of the population now listens to podcasts, making audio a great avenue to attract and ask.

Related: This Marketing Strategy Is a Game Changer for Resource-Strapped Startups

Push, pull, no bull

Whatever path you choose to take, put a strong intention on it. Work on improving and fine-tuning that marketing method every day, relentlessly and without quitting. Make adjustments as needed so that your push marketing efforts are as effective and efficient as possible.

Have a positive pursuit of your potential in pulling people toward you. Keep an open mind and allow beneficial things to happen that perhaps you hadn't even counted on.

Using your marketing skills to ask for and attract business will allow you to have consistent streams of business and a great ROI. Soon enough, you will be on the defensive, focusing on "pulling" your way only the best, most valuable clients.

David Meltzer

Co-Founder of Sports 1 Marketing, Speaker, Author and Business Coach

David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing and host of Entrepreneur's podcast, “The Playbook”, is a Top 100 Business Coach, global public speaker and three-time international best-selling author who has been honored by Variety as “Sports Humanitarian of the Year”.

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