Want to Pull in More Patients? Quit Pushing!

Lawnmowers, elevator buttons and football blocking sleds — if you’ve seen Geico’s commercials with Salt-N-Pepa, you know that sometimes the right thing to do is “to push it, push it real good.”

With your marketing? Not so much. Simply put, the Internet has completely upended the traditional ways of reaching today’s consumer and pushing your message at her — which is what advertising has traditionally done — will more than likely generate nothing but pushback in return. Smart marketers, on the other hand, realize that pulling consumers in is the key to both getting their attention in the first place and engaging them for the long-term. As Sanjay Dholakia of Marketo puts it,

Brands are starting to shift from an era of mass marketing and advertising — where we talk at people for a single moment in time — to an era of engagement marketing where we begin to take time to learn more about our customers on a personal, individual level and engage with them over a lifetime.

It’s a shift that Dholakia explores in a series of interviews with some of the people who are leading the way toward this next era of marketing. All are worth reading but for starters, his interview with John Hagel, co-chairman of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, is a must. As Hagel says, “If you think [marketing] has changed over the past five years, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

According to Hagel, the old “push” model was based on what he calls the 3 I’s: Intercept, Isolate and Insulate:

Intercept means getting people’s attention wherever they are and whenever you need them. Then you isolate. It’s you and me and nobody else, I’ve got you and I can get my message to you without interference or distraction. Finally, you want to insulate people over time — create a walled garden where it’s just you and me forever.

But in an era of social conversations, online reviews and near-instant search, that’s simply not feasible. (It also represents what can be considered a fourth I — interruption — and, let’s face it, no one likes to be interrupted.) As an alternative, Hagel suggests focusing instead on the 3 A’s:

Attract means motivating people to seek you out, to find you. Assist means finding ways to help people, both before and after a purchase, to get more value and use from the product or service. Ultimately that leads to a third A, which is affiliate [by] bringing in any and all participants that could be helpful to the prospective buyer at relevant points in time. It’s about creating a broader ecosystem of participants who can be more and more helpful to the customers you’re trying to reach.

Ultimately, it’s about putting it all together — website analytics, lead nurturing, social conversations, online reviews — in order to better understand your audience, provide them the content they’re seeking and help them make more informed decisions. When you do that, you demonstrate that you’re not pushing your own agenda, but rather, pulling for them.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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