Leadership Lesson: Push-pull or pull-push marketing and sales?

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on April 5, 2019

Formerly, many leaders believed that marketing pulled on customers to create interest and draw them into the sales net. Something like angling with a good lure to attract the fish. Then, the sales team landed the net and completed a sale. But two important things have changed. What?

The often blurred distinction between sales and marketing became clearer. Many thought that marketing and sales were the same. While they are intertwined, they have both similarities and distinctions. And, the advent of the Internet for email, video, e-marketing and e-sales (with or without social media) created a new, commercial e-media game. Globally.

“Marketing is a contest for people's attention.” – Seth Godin, American author. “Job titles don't matter. Everyone is in sales. It's the only way we stay in business.” – Harvey Mackay, American businessman

Four transaction types (and you thought there were two)

A common ground of understanding modern business models is that we have two forms: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). Yet, today there are two more: consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and consumer-to-business (C2B).

B2B business-to-business

One business markets and sells to another business. Example: a tire manufacturer markets and sells their product to automobile producers. Your new Ford might come with Goodyear or other brand tires. The tire producer creates pull marketing and sales to the auto company via promotions and engages a sales team to push the auto company’s internal buyers. The tire producer’s marketing team also pulls the auto company with large incentives, while the sales team cultivates multiple auto company executives with a push to close orders for large volumes of tires.

B2C business-to-consumer

A business markets and sells to consumers. Example: the same tire manufacture in the above example also offers replacement tires to automobile owners. The tire company pulls tire distributors and consumers with marketing and sales actions to lure buyers into purchasing the tires. A tire store is a target for the tire producer to both push and pull. Likewise the consumer (car owner) is an additional target for pull and push marketing and sales. A Ford owner can be compelled to buy a new set of Goodyear tires.

C2C consumer-to-consumer

Earlier forms of this business model have been selling one’s used auto to another consumer interested in in a pre-owned car. The marketing and sales push-pull tools have been automobile trading magazines, ads in newspapers, displaying the car in a common pool of used cars in a neighborhood parking lot. Now, the push-pull marketing and sales is online via special websites (and they take a cut for helping to market the car). eBay is an example of an online marketplace where consumers sell to other consumers. 

C2B consumer-to-business

Arcane? Not really. The same ideas about push-pull and pull-push marketing and sales apply here. Examples: automobile and other scrap yards purchase damaged cars and other items to turn into parts; special stores purchase used gold jewelry to melt and refashion; consumers sell used books to used bookstores (likewise used records, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. to stores that carry these items). The marketing and selling is provided by both the business and the consumer.

The bottom lines

The point: in every business model there are both push-pull and pull-push marketing and sales actions that can be utilized productively. Use them in every type of transaction: B2B, B2C, C2C, and C2B.

Click here to read this article on the Phoenix Business Journal site.