Are You a Producer or Consumer?

Are you a producer using pull-marketing?

Are You a Producer or Consumer?

There are two types of people–producers and consumers. Whether your produce social content for friends and family, or you own a small business and you produce products for people to buy–you’re either on the delivery end or the receiving end.

As a business owner, it’s your job to become the producer.

You innovate, stretch, and work hard for your audience. You help your customers become their best selves. Being a producer is an important role. When done well, consumers will praise you.

When done poorly, you’ll look like a money-hungry monster.

The best businesses pull consumers together. There’s an obvious lifestyle or tribe to join. There’s a cause to rally-around. You build a platform that sticks-out, different than all the other options, using a style contradictory to the norm.


Consumers are acted-upon. When you’re a consumer, you wait for someone to make something for us. We wait for a new show on Netflix. We wait for a new product on the shelf. We wait for a book to be written, a song to be sung, or an app to be developed.

Consumers are passive.

When you’re passive there’s a cap on your quality of life. Most people are part consumer, part producer, but if you weigh heavily to consumption, it’s likely you’re in for a life where someone else is in control of our time.

…and time is the most-valuable commodity we have.


Producers create the products and content for the consumers to consume. Instead of waiting, producers act.

Successful producers draw an audience with their best work.

Producers see their audience through a different lens. A producer builds a business of service. If your job is to create, the entire business model is built around helping consumers get what they want before we get what we want.

Producers are active.

If we consume content, it’s usually for a different reason–to help our readers get what they want.

Producers don’t want for life to happen to them. Producers make life happen around them. Instead of bothering customers and trying to trick them into buying, producers create work so good that it pulls the customers in.


Push marketing is image advertising and interruption marketing. Think of this as marketing by force, or “pay attention to me!” “Buy my stuff!”

When you adopt push-marketing you’ve succumbed to marketing by force.

While this method will earn you sales, it’s the rough way to build a lifetime audience. When you use push-marketing you can sell to one person once. But if you want to build a recurring, long-term relationship with your readers, there’s a better way to get the job done.

  • TV commercials are push-marketing
  • Radio ads and social media ads are push-marketing
  • Image advertising is push-marketing
  • “Buy my stuff!” emails are push-marketing

Think of push marketing as a wooden cart, stuck in the mud. Your customer sits in the cart. It’s your job to push as hard as you can, until you can force the cart to your storefront.

Once you reach the storefront you push the customer out of the cart and keep shoving, hoping she’ll buy what you sell.

Eventually, the customer gets tired of all the shoving and leaves your cart altogether.


The best producers develop a model of pull-marketing. Our work attracts the right customers, using work that’s so good it’s hard to ignore.

Pull-marketing encourages its customers to tell the others, using tools that make social sharing (and social proof) easy to spread among like-minded people.

Pull-marketing helps your audience grow itself.

When you pull you create content that allows consumers to develop their own conclusions. You don’t have to force people to buy. They want to buy. Pull marketing is marketing by transformation, not force.

  • Shareable articles are pull-marketing
  • Innovative ideas that spread are pull-marketing
  • Free content with no ‘ask’ in return, is pull-marketing
  • Giving until it hurts, then giving a little more, is pull-marketing (customers can’t help but feel reciprocal when send the occasional offer)

Look at Your Entire Body of Work

Your business is a collection of all your products and services. This is your body of work. As a thoughtful producer, you think of everything you make under one umbrella.

If you want to serve a certain type of consumer, your body of work should encompass a single niche.

Where some producers fail, is they get lost when creating new products. They try to be everything to everyone, instead of serving a single niche. When your body of work is disjointed, it’s hard for your consumers to latch onto your company.

There’s no universal, pulling theme to the body of work.

Instead, think of all your products as an art show. The museum must curate the work around a single theme. Museum-goers don’t have the bandwidth to try to and develop a theme  for themselves. We want curation. We seek themes and single answers to our problems.

As consumers we need you, the producer, to be the curator. Delivering only your best work to us.

Take the Under

It’s fairly easy to grow buzz around a pull-marketing business. Take the opposite stance from the norm. Show how your counter-intuitive idea is better than the idea the consumer has been told until now.

When you take the counter-argument, it shocks your audience to pay attention.

Of course, your position must be better, else your pull-marketing will backfire. However, the majority of the time following the crowd is the wrong approach. The herd mentality does not use the same brain activity as the individual thinking mind.

If you can encourage your audience to ‘join the dark side’ it’s a fast way to convince readers to join your tribe.

Become a Magnetic Figurehead

Every producer needs a figurehead. If you are a sole-member small business, that figurehead is you. If you want to serve consumers, you need to develop the image as a figurehead.

No one wants to follow a stump.

We follow people who intrigue us. We follow people who motivate and inspire us. We follow people who don’t run in the same direction as the herd. This is the job of a figurehead.

The stronger your personality, the more magnetic (pull) your marketing efforts will be.

Create Work That Does What You Say it Does

There’s nothing worse than falling for trick marketing, only to buy a product that doesn’t deliver. The same is true for your small business.

Not only do you need to be a magnetic figurehead, using pull-marketing to grow your tribe, but you must create products that stand alone.

Your work must do what it says it does.

I know this sounds obvious, but look at how many products you’ve purchased that haven’t delivered on their promise. This happens to me at least once a month.

Disappointing products are everywhere.

Plenty of people get into business, trying to separate people from their money as fast as they can, then moving to a new product before all the flaming torches storm the castle.

This isn’t how we build a producer’s business.

When you’re a producer, you have a duty to your customers. It’s your job to serve them as best you can, using products that deliver on the promises you’ve made. It’s a simple idea, but hard to implement.

Every customer is different.

We all see your product through different eyes. As a producer it’s your job to squash all the questions your reader might have, which could stop her from buying your best work.

Speak to One Customer at a Time

If you want to build a pull-marketing business, you’ve got to sell to one person at a time. This doesn’t mean you have to contact each customer individually. This means your marketing should feel as though a friend is speaking across the table.

In other words, you’ll use the word ‘you’ a lot.

Even if you speak to an entire email list at once, or you address all your social media followers with a video, it’s critical you speak to one person at a time.

Your customer wants to feel as if you’re speaking to her.

When you speak one-to-one the relationship feels more personal. There’s no faceless corporation speaking to me. I feel like the business owner reached-out and shared some great ideas that might help my life.

One-to-one helps your marketing pull.

Email Marketing is a Great Way to Pull Customers

If you want to build a one-to-many small business, there’s a great way to build the infrastructure. Here, we’re talking email marketing.

When you use email, you can personalize the conversation.

If you do your job right, your marketing won’t feel like marketing at all. I’ve written automatic email sequences that are years-old, but still get customer replies.

My readers feel like I’m writing to them in real-time, assuming I wrote directly to them. Sometimes I have to look back and see why they replied to the email, so I can respond appropriately.

This is a nice problem to have–a ‘problem’ you’ll encounter when you build your pull-marketing appropriately.

Email is the great equalizer. You’ve got direct access to your readers without having to spend a dime on ads to reach them. This is the true work of a producer.

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August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell that work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.