Push and Pull Marketing Strategies: Using Them to Your Advantage
By Chris Rimlinger
As talk of a double-dip recession grips the nation, educating franchisors and franchisees on successful marketing strategies of operating a franchise business has become paramount. During these unstable economic times, franchisors should take a hard look at their existing marketing plan and make the necessary adjustments to generate a modern-day, impactful, and cost-effective strategy that benefits their brand, both nationally and locally. A multi-channel and organized plan will help your franchise system unite in a common effort to acquire and retain customers, leading to long-term growth.
As most franchisors and marketers already know, promotional marketing is typically divided into two categories, “push” and “pull.” Push strategies create consumer demand; the marketer pushes the message out to the target audience and is in control of the message—what it is, how it is seen, and when and where it is consumed. Pull strategies are created by consumer demand, enticing the target audience to voluntarily request your product or service and pull it through the delivery channel.
A franchise system’s marketing plan should encompass a balance of push and pull marketing strategies to expand the brand’s reach and attract new consumers, maintain lasting relationships with existing consumers, and meet sales goals by creating demand and satisfying existing market needs.
It is important to note that certain marketing strategies may be more effective for some franchise systems than others due to specific characteristics of the business (size, industry and consumer demographic). With that in mind, when considering marketing tactics, know that your company will have to adjust accordingly to create one that fits its specific business and goals. One path to marketing success that will always remain tried and true is the powerful conjunction of push and pull marketing tactics. Here are a few examples of each.
One path to marketing success that will always remain tried and true is the powerful conjunction of push and pull marketing tactics.
Garnering Consumer Loyalty
To increase traffic and obtain loyal customers during the rough economic times, many business owners have integrated direct marketing and customer loyalty programs into their marketing initiatives. Direct marketing tactics push the brand in front of the consumer and remind them of the company’s presence. As consumers have become more frugal with the recent recession, offering timely incentives and loyalty programs through direct mailing makes it more likely that the consumer will pull in the offerings with frequent and regular visits. Direct mail, and shared mail in particular, is also a proven, affordable and customized marketing technique, making it a perfect candidate to promote a franchise system’s loyalty program and other timely offerings.
The old adage, “it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one,” makes a perfect case for a dedicated loyalty program. Whether it’s a full featured card system or a simple newsletter, there are many benefits to implementing these initiatives to increase customer loyalty. Some of them include:
Identifying the triggers that converted secondary spenders into primary spenders;
Learning which categories and products are important to primary customers; and
Creating custom trade areas and subsequent targeting to help optimize other integrated media spend.
All marketing, regardless of the medium, can and should be tracked and analyzed to ensure the strategy is worthwhile and is making a powerful impact. Tracking can be as simple as keeping count of how many coupons are redeemed or investing in the endless options of automated marketing systems and data-analysis resources. Tracking and analyzing are important because they offer the opportunity to quantify the effect of a campaign and determine if it is in fact reaching initial goals.
Mobile Coupons Leverage Consumers’ Addiction to Mobile Technology
Coupon usage is on the rise, prompting businesses looking to capitalize on the trend to create a mobile strategy. For example, Money Mailer, has released a smartphone application to connect with the iPhone and Android users who are shopping on their phones. Money Mailer’s Coupons App helps businesses make sure their message is in front of local consumers when they’re ready to buy and helps consumers ensure that they never miss out on a deal.
A mobile App can be something as simple as a search function to help users find the nearest location or a commerce-based App that lets users make purchases from their phone. Take a look at your business and your customers to help determine what kind of App should be built.
When creating a mobile App, it’s important to keep the ultimate goal of the App in mind. Determine what service the App will provide users and then focus on making that experience as rewarding as possible. Your franchise only has a few seconds to convince a user to keep your App, and even then if they don’t see the value after using the App a few times, they’ll delete it. Above all, keep it simple–if your App needs a user guide, you’ve done something wrong.
Once you’ve launched your application, it is important to track and analyze its effectiveness by tracking downloads, usage and sales. Be sure to keep an eye on your App reviews as well; this feedback is often your first indication of a problem. When done correctly, a mobile App is a great pull marketing strategy that a company can use to engage consumers wherever, whenever.
Social Media is a Low-Cost Way to Build Relationships
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are low-cost tools that can strengthen a franchise system’s marketing plan and have proven to be more than just a fad. The beauty in social media is the two-way communication it provides to both a franchise system and consumers. Franchise systems should take full advantage of the conversational aspects of social media as a platform to reflect the brand’s personality.
To use social media to your brand’s advantage, it is imperative to understand that social media is not a one-time push–it is all about long-term interaction and relationships. In the real world, relationships are maintained by keeping in touch and the same goes for social media. Take Facebook for example. If a consumer pulls the franchise brand in by joining as a fan, it is important for the brand to respond and demonstrate its appreciation toward the consumer. By posting on the consumer’s page, tagging them in a status or “liking” their action of becoming a fan, it shows the consumer that he is important to the brand. It is also a low-cost means of pushing a franchise system’s message out to the consumer, who will be more inclined to visit the page again and create a long-lasting relationship. Social media marketing is all about finding the healthy balance of giving and taking, pushing and pulling.
By monitoring fans’ interactions, comments or feedback received from a contest, a franchise organization can adjust its marketing strategies to give fans more of what they want. Social media also allows your business to analyze your key target market by gathering demographic information based on fans that are interacting with your brand. This can help target other push and pull marketing strategies to be as successful as possible.
Understanding the Impact of Push and Pull Marketing
As franchisors continue to map out their marketing plan for 2012, keep in mind the various push and pull marketing strategies such as loyalty programs, mobile marketing campaigns, social media and direct mail. All of these and more can be extremely helpful in leading a franchise brand toward success. Depending on the size of the system and the type of consumers they target, franchisors may need to develop and restructure these strategies over time.
Measuring and tracking your marketing tactics will also help determine the most effective marketing strategies for your specific business and determine if the results are meeting the set goals. If they are not, the campaign can be adjusted, whether it is the type of medium, keywords and messaging or the incentive itself. In addition, any demographic data collected can be used to help identify new potential audiences. Whatever it may be, it is imperative to track, analyze and adjust all aspects of your campaign to create and carry out the most cost-effective and powerful plan.
Giving franchisees the tools to success and helping them implement a sound marketing plan will create a positive image for your franchise system and lead to overall growth and success.
Chris Rimlinger is senior vice president, marketing for Money Mailer Corporate, a leader in the U.S. direct marketing industry.