Long before social media erupted as "the next big thing, many observers noticed that, as power shifted towards the consumer, PUSH marketing would be replaced by PULL marketing. We even wrote a paper called When Push Comes to Pull ( Download Push-pull) back in 2002!
And I'm pleased to discover on a recent reading that our predictions then are now becoming today's reality. For example, here are 3 prognostications dated 2002:
1. There'll be a shift in focus from promoting to listening, from selling to serving, from control to relationship building and from marketing as sophisticated promotion to a committed form of customer care.
2. A task/event driven approach will be enbled by the widespread adoption of open standards, XML-wrapped web services and service-oriented architectures.
3. A collaborative, event-driven approach to satisfying consumer's needs will, in turn, be enabled by a new business ecology comprising service providers, brokers, channel managers, affinity agents and network providers........
Sadly, with every generation and every new, "next big thing", the lexicon is reinvented to distinguish those "in the know" from those still struggling to keep up. That trend is unfortunate because it only slows down the process of diffusion.
The word now being used to describe PULL marketing (ie where the customer assembles the information they need when and where it is convenient to them, is INBOUND marketing and I think Mike Volpe of Hubspot is the author. Not that I wish to appear critical of Mike as he is a GREAT communicator; has done much to advance understanding of this critical marketing shift and his firm delivers practical solutions that deliver results. Hubspot's slides on the topic are a good place to start and The Social Times Consultancy has just published this precise summary of Inbound Marketing that is useful for those in a hurry.
The graphic of the magnet - copied, without permission from the Social Times post - provides the thousand word summary: PULL or INBOUND marketing is all about ATTRACTION.
STOP PROMOTING and START ATTRACTING
That means stop talking about how great you are and start living and modeling your values and brand attributes. For tourism destinations that means ensuring that you ARE friendly and welcoming. Have you interacted with airline check-in staff recently or the taxi drivers that provide that critical first impression?. If you claim to be green and sustainable, is that commitment immediately obvious to the visitor on arrival and throughout every aspect of their experience? If you have positioned your city as one that is cool and creative, is WIFI ubiquitous and free?
It's an old maxim that "like attracts like". The beauty being that customers will self select if you act authentically and consistently with your brand's values. Given that so many parties are involved in the delivery of the experience, such consistency cannot be assured without widespread community effort. Branding is not a task that can be delegated to an agency no matter how creative or clever. A destination brand has to "ring true" and reflect the past, present and future aspiration and values of the community and they way its residents would like to welcome guests. PULL marketing is really all about service delivery and exceeding guest expectations. The concept maybe about 10 years old now - hardly new - but from an execution point of view is hardly out the womb!