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Over Christmas and New Year I have been thinking about the history of marketing and in particular the growth of what is known as push/pull marketing . When Googling both subjects Wikipedia provided some interesting information here


and here


and in particular it provided the following ” Timeline of Innovation ” which was interesting because I was trying to build up a picture of how we have marketed historically, what technologies we have used and which are ” Push ” and which are ” Pull “. 

Timeline of innovation

Although Wikipedia talks about marketing emerging as a discipline in the 1900’s it was clear to me that marketing was going on long before the 1900’s and this is also clear from the above timeline.

As this article says


Push/Pull Marketing itself has been somewhat redefined or understood by marketers over time into something that is pretty simple – some types of marketing are about pushing information to the potential customer and some are about the information being pulled by the potential customer. This is my definition aswell.

What I was curious about was what historically we had done ?? Pulled information or had information pushed ??

I was thinking back to the days when ” business ” was a shop, place of manufacture or an office. It seemed to me that in those times the place itself ” Pulled ” customers – you could argue that thier very presence was ” Pushing ” but I don’t think so. Whilst some businesses may have monopolised the supply of goods or services in a particular area the potential customer essentially visited these premises of thier own free will – much like they now visit websites on the Internet.

It also occurred to me that Word of Mouth ( WoM ) was very important to the business owner and I will assume that these owners adopted mainly a pull approach as they met with various potential customers at Church, the alehouse or other local meetings. They could well have been rather pushy people but I like to think not !

I could also imagine them sending business and personal letters ( although I could not quite imagine a mailshot by stagecoach !! ), keeping records of clients names and addresses ( a database ) and perhaps even giving people ” flyers ” or  putting up ” posters ” .

” Flyers ” and ” posters ” sounds like ” Push ” marketing to me and it was interesting to tie this in with the first item in the timeline – mass ( machine ) produced  flyers and brochures. Then we have the emergence of magazines in the 1700’s and newspaper advertising in the 1800’s.

Clearly there were posters everywhere for them to be banned on private property in 1839 and ” Flyposting ” (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyposting ) has been a problem from then until now.

In the 1860’s we have the emergence of the postcard ( http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/DSphotosea6G1.htm ). Advertising on postcards was allowed from 1872.

So, in the late 1800’s we have push marketing using leaflets and posters and advertising on postcards and in magazines and newspapers. This continues to this day !!

How fascinating to see that at the same time we have the use of the Telegraph ( http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/telegraph.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegraph ) for the first case of unsolicited spam !!! So we ( mostly Americans ) have been suffering from Spam since 1864 !!!! and there we were thinking that it was a 21st Century plague !!

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s we have the concept of ” wired ” and ” wireless ” communications emerging with morse code over wireless signals giving way to voice radio and the first case of radio advertising in 1922 and morse over wired communications ( 1864 ) giving way successively to telex, the telephone and computers up to the 1940’s.

At the same time television advertising first starts in 1941.

We now see the various strands of Technology,Media and Telecommunications ( T.M.T.) being formed with Television,Radio and Newspapers/magazines normally described as ” media “. Media is defined as various means of communications such as Televison,Radio and Newspapers. 

Also forming are the strands of Voice, Video and Data where Voice emerges from the ” wired ” strand that begins with the cables laid for Morse transmission and Data develops from computers and Local Area Networks ( LANs ) to Wide Area Networks ( WANs ) that utilise the ” Voice ” infrastructure initially ( until Internet Protocol – IP  lines become available ). Video used seperate networks and protocols for a long time.

Mobile phone networks are an offshoot of wireless radio networks developing from about the 1950’s to First Generation phones in the 1970’s and Second Generation in the 1990’s.

Another development from ” wired ” communications was video conferencing that worked initially over the ” voice ” networks and then later over the IP networks.

The Internet and the Internet Protocol has become the great converger. All forms of communication, voice,video,data,wireless and mobile utilise the Internet now, wholly or partially.

It is quite clear that we have an almost insatiable desire to connect to one another, to communicate and to obtain or access information. No surprise then that Googles Mission statement is ” to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It is also clear that what initially starts as a means of people communicating or of providing information or entertainment becomes a means of marketing pretty quickly. e.g. printing presses lead to posters and leaflets being produced; wired telegraph quickly led to spam being sent; wireless radio quickly had advertising as did TV; telephones were quickly used for telemarketing; computers and email again produced spam; Internet websites ( and Internet search engines ) carried advertising and mobile phones began to be used for SMS adverts and more spam.

It is quite amusing that in the first instance some people resist or just don’t believe the technologies mentioned will become important or main stream  ( e.g. telephones,computers,mobile phones     ) and then we resist or don’t believe that they will be used for marketing. It is quite clear that any and every form of communication provides the potential for marketing use and more than likely will be.

Looking at some of the current technology options we can determine if or to what extent they are used for push or pull marketing:

Telephone – originally a communications device , tele( push ) marketing has been going on since 1950’s, can be “pull” when used to take calls ?? 

Fax – originally a comms device, fax-spamming ( push )  widespread, not interactive though.

Video conferencing – communications and “pull” eg webinars ??

Computer based email – comms. and computer based spam ( push )

Video ( TV ) – informational, entertainment, adverts are push but you can ignore them and some are so good they are watchworthy ! & we have such channel choice and programme control now..

Video ( eg YouTube ) – entertainment, pull marketing

Radio ( Terrestrial ) – informational, entertainment, adverts are push – can be annoying. Programme control.

Radio ( Internet ) – better ?

Mobile phone – originally comms. SMS spamming but not excessive ( networks control ? ), Internet access widens scope.

Newspapers/Mags ( Offline ) – dying ?? adverts are push but non-invasive ??

Websites – in general pull ??? e.g. forums, directories, social networks, instant messaging, click to chat, click to call etc

Printed media ( Posters,flyers,postcards,snailmailshots ) – definately a lot of push in here !! ( but posters and postcards are pretty passive ?)

Word of Mouth – pull.

 So, what, historically was the situation with regard to push/pull marketing and what is it now ??

It seems to me that despite there being many push marketing applications today there are lots of pull marketing ones. Historically we might say that we used to meet or find people or businesses and then we would communicate with them and then perhaps do business with them. So it was historically a pull dominated situation. 

It seems to me that we are increasingly returning to our origins in that ( particularly with the advent of the Internet ) we find people and suppliers, we communicate with them and then ( maybe ?  ) we buy from them.  

Although there are still many types of push marketing utilised ( e.g. telemarketing ) some forms of push marketing have been so modified that they are fairly innocuous ( television advertising ) and even enjoyed whilst most Internet based marketing ( excluding e.g. spam email ) is pull based. It is also true to say that spammers are already at work in, for example,  social networks so the tradition established with telegraph networks in 1864 is still prominent.  











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