What is Push vs. Pull Branding?

pull n. – a force drawing someone or something in a particular direction or course of action.


Untitled (Twitter Post)


May I Have Your Attention, Please?


In 1999, Seth Godin published Permission Marketing which is now considered prophetic. In it, he swore off “Interruption Marketing,” or the act of attempting to steal attention from audience members. He advocated instead for “delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” In other words, instead of trying to appeal to all audiences, just focus on the right audience—the ones who find value in your products or add value to your workforce. After all, your business isn’t for everyone, so why should your messaging be?

Over time, the discussion on push vs. pull marketing devolved into a discussion on push vs. pull tactics. Why? Consumers felt that most radio and TV ads were interruptions and have opted for alternative subscription services that allow them the option to go ad-free, or custom-tailor their ads to their interests.

A Similar, Yet Different Sensation for Employees

As digital tools replaced paper-memo-and-carbon-copy culture, employees also became empowered to choose which messages they received from their employer, and which could be ignored.

Yes, you read that right. Employees are ignoring messages from their employers. According to a 2018 Gallup report, only 32% of employees are engaged at work. That means two thirds of the workforce is disengaged, defined as not “involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work and workplace.”

Marketing and HR have similar challenges. An increasing number of people who, if they’re not engaged with the message, have the option to ignore the media.

So, what’s the solution? As marketers, we must first embrace the responsibility to improve the message and give our audience more control over which content finds its way to their inboxes. We must also be more mindful of the words we use when attempting to convey our message. Let’s focus on ensuring our message is sound and effective. Let’s speak to consumer and employee audiences with the goal to attract as well as we repel. To forgo the acts of exerting force on people. To draw people toward our ideas, our beliefs and our purpose by telling stories that stir… and stick.



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