family business advisors

The oldest skill in the world (and how you should use it)

Here’s a list of some of the oldest professions.  And that doesn’t include the most famous one!  These professions were based on the earliest human needs.  Based on one or multiple skills.  For instance, a tailor needed some good needlework skills as well as the creative skills needed to design clothes.  Yet, all these professions had a common skill running through them.  This article looks at that one skill which is the common thread between all these professions- marketing.

So, what is marketing?

All of us market ourselves to others every day. Either implicitly or explicitly.  We could be explicitly pitching our product or service to a potential customer.  Or we could be dress in a certain way to position ourselves and our business in a certain way.  The ultimate result of marketing is increased sales.  To achieve that, a lot of businesses adopt push marketing.  Push your product or service to as many people as possible.  And some will buy.   But is that the right way?

Push or pull marketing?

Push marketing is where a product or service is pushed in front of many potential customers.  A hoarding, a TV commercial or buying banner ads online is push marketing.  Push it in front of as many people as possible.  And then wait for the phone to ring.  Its transactional.

Pull marketing is where you spend your time predominantly inward.  You spend time building your business value and skills rather than looking out for the next sale.  And share that value and skills with a potential set of customers.  Rather than pushing your product or service directly.

Which one’s better?  Pull marketing.  It allows you to focus on what you do best.  And make customers aware of you while your business is doing things they love.

Need an example of how to do pull marketing?  Say you are a real estate firm.  Some examples of pull marketing below

  • Generating and sharing content about key questions your buyer’s have- for e.g. how does a buyer use RERA to hold builders accountable to their promises?
  • how your business does things differently. For e.g. Articles in magazines which your customers read on the sustainable construction materials you use.  These shouldn’t be sale specific.  The aim is to get customers to become more aware of your business

Do enough of this consistently and your potential customers come to you.  Sure, you’ll need to do some push marketing as well.  But the basis is a strong brand which pulls consumers.

Why bother with marketing at all? Isn’t word of mouth enough?

Marketing often determines the difference in success between two talented individuals.  Or two companies with equally great ideas.

Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor.  A lot of the conveniences we take for granted today are his inventions or based on his inventions.  Although his inventions spoke for themselves, he was a great at inventing myths around himself.  And increasing the aura around him.  His product launches themselves were different.  His light-bulb launch almost sounds Apple like.

Leonardo da Vinci, the most prolific and multi-faceted inventor actually made a CV!  And the CV highlights what his potential employer was looking for rather than the many inventions he was already famous for. These are examples of how individuals actively marketed themselves and their products.

 So, what should you focus your marketing on?

Getting customers to ‘know, like, trust’ you.  Know, like and trust are the foundation for a sustainable buyer-seller relationship.  If any one of them is missing, you will still manage to sell.  Yet, as soon as there’s competition who offers any of those better than you do, sales could plummet.  Your pull marketing allows your customers to become aware of you.  And then as you continue to engage with potential clients they begin to like and trust you.  Keep in mind though that trust doesn’t get built overnight.  So, treat marketing as a continuous process rather than an event.  And be genuine and authentic.


The aim of your marketing effort should be to get customers to ‘know-like-trust’ you.  Treat sales as a by-product.  Once the foundation of your pull marketing strategy is in place, push-marketing tactics are much more effective.  Push marketing is like growing rice. The endless cycle of sowing and harvesting and then sowing again. Pull marketing is like a mango orchard. It can take years to bear fruit but once the orchard takes root, you’ll harvest fruit for years to come.

Have patience and in the long-term pull-marketing will provide a more sustainable path to growth.   And will bear fruit for time to come.  Happy marketing!

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