Are You Leveraging Pull Marketing Yet?

If you aren't, here's your blueprint for success.

By: Chia-Li Chien | Published 10/06/2009

Everyone chases prospective clients through push marketing, promoting products to an audience that might not be aware of them. You can't do without push marketing to build brand awareness. But you should also employ pull marketing in the mix. That's where the customer comes to you because she's interested in your product.

One-time investment banker Rob Slee, author of Midas Marketing, defines pull marketing as "the door swings in your way." Here's his pull marketing blueprint:

Step 1: Establish yourself as a resident expert.
Step 2: Attract market makers (companies that already have the clients you're looking for and have meaningful relationships with them).
Step 3: Offer a compelling value proposition (what's in it for me) for the market makers.

Following these steps could result in a floodgate of distribution channels. Here are some examples.

  • Fidelity (a market maker) offers a 401(k) plan to many Fortune 500 companies. These Fortune 500 companies became Fidelity's market makers. Why? Because the employees of these companies will automatically go to Fidelity for other investment needs. The door swings to Fidelity when it has plenty of Fortune 500 companies as its market makers.
  • Debbie owns a four-attorney firm. She approached a business association with a compelling value proposition for estate planning services. The members of this business association fit Debbie's target market exactly. To help the association refer members to her, she offers to take 15 percent off the estate planning service, which is already below the price charged by the big attorney firm in town.
  • eBay creates its own market makers by creating a market for buyers and sellers to meet. The buyers and sellers in the market have the ability to voice what they want, and eBay provides and improves upon that. "American Idol" uses a similar approach: It allows "buyers" (viewers) to pick and choose whom they like. Then it markets directly to these buyers (or market makers).

Tina (not her real name) is a known expert in deal-making between manufacturers and material suppliers. Tina has spent the past 20 years winning numerous awards and gaining recognition in her industry, medical raw materials. She has established a global network of manufacturers and suppliers. Most important, she knows that the market makers are typically Fortune 500 companies who require a high standard of quality and service.

Her firm not only meets these standards, but also creates potential savings for the market makers. Getting into the matrix of Fortune 500 companies is a daunting task. Tina did it by creating a network of relationships and using a few key contacts to establish the connections she needed.

Tina started by hiring a retired sales vice president from one of the market makers. He quickly established a relationship with the market maker and won several major contracts during a down economy. Because of the company's compelling value proposition--getting the material at near cost for the market maker and using newer technology to improve the end-product and appeal to consumers--the company's doors are now swinging in. Tina's company has effectively leveraged pull marketing after many years of push marketing.

If a business has predictable markets, this will enhance the company's multiplier when calculating its market value. The historical multiplier or selling multiple can be found in the International Network of M&A Partners database. When pull marketing begins to work, there is more time to improve customer relationships, build necessary technology and innovation in services or products--more time to work on the business instead of in the business. Where are you in creating marketing space for your company? Are you leveraging pull marketing today?


Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps women entrepreneurs to convert their business into meaningful personal wealth.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at or


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