Cyberbore's Blog

Tales from a Venture Capitalist

The Pushme-Pullyou on the Internet

Posted by cyberbore on 14 September, 2010

Or…  Do people buy drills or holes?

(c) Annie Saul 2009

© Annie Saul 2009

The PushmePullyou is an animal discovered by Dr. Dolittle, who is a children’s book character invented by Hugh Lofting.  He shuns human patients in favour of animals, with whom he can speak in their own languages.

The PushmePullyou is originally a Llama -like creature with a head at each end and whichever way it goes one end is pushing while the other end pulls.  My version was invented by my daughter Annie after a recent trip to South Africa.

To answer my own sub-heading question though, I was always taught that people buy holes, not drills.

You wake up one morning and you decide you want some shelves in the bathroom, as you do.  You need some holes to put the screws into so obviously you hive off down to the DIY shop to buy a drill.   However the helpful assistant (obviously you’re not at Focus DIY) asks you what you are trying to do and suggests you look at HolyRoller, a new gadget deigned to create screw holes in a wall, just with one quick roll!

It makes no mess, costs less, works instantly and fits in a matchbox – wow!  After that list of benefits, who needs a drill…

So it turns out you didn’t need a drill, you needed a hole.

So far the makers of this wonderful gadget -“Holed-in-One gmbh” – have not tried to sell direct over the internet.  They have been quite successful in “traditional” marketing, but at great cost.  They produced some leaflets, ran ad campaigns, did mailshots, hired sales people and send them to DIY shops.  They have to pay for all the marketing and then give trade prices to their channel.

All of this is “Push” sales and marketing.  It relies on getting our messages pushed in front of people and telling them how wonderful the HollyRoller is.  We hope people see the advert, don’t throw the leaflets in the bin and agree to see our salesman.  Push.  Pushy salesman, pushy adverts, lots of claims and lots of promises of Hole Nirvana.

“Surely,” says the CEO of Holed-in-One, “Ve should sell zis on ze internet, halve our cost of sales und eliminate ze trade discount.  We’ll ze fortune make!” (Acht, he ist German).

The question is, how would the makers of the HolyRoller market this wonderful gadget on the internet?

They’d better set up a website and do some web advertising.  “” is available.  Let’s use our pushy, snappy marketing slogan “Kill the Drill with HolyRoller!” and get holed-in-one up the SEO rankings to the first page.  Our keywords are obviously “HolyRoller, Hole-in-One, DIY, fitting shelves, drilling holes, dust-free holes, fast holes, cheap holes, fits in a matchbox”.   After all, we KNOW people buy holes, not drills.  These are after all our key benefits aren’t they?

But we have forgotten the lesson right at the beginning of our story.  You woke up one morning knowing you needed a drill and went off looking for a drill.  You did not set out looking for a hole.

The Internet is a PULL medium.  People already know what they want and that’s what they look for.  They don’t know they want a “cheap, dust free, fast hole”.  They want an appropriate DRILL – good enough for the job, right price, etc.  If the brand folks have done their job, they want a Bosch or a Black and Decker drill and they’ll be drawn into price, plug-in vs cordless, etc. type arguments.

They will google for “Drill”, “Cordless Drill”, “Bosch Drill” and pull the information out of the cloud and onto their screen.  They are looking at a time convenient to them and they are ready to buy.

Let’s just list that for emphasis:-

  • Search in their own time
  • Know what they want
  • Ready to buy
  • Influenced by branding

If they are going to pull HolyRoller from the cloud, then these are the requirements we have to meet.  What does this mean?

  1. Our web pages respond to their search (they are looking for Drills not Holes!)
  2. Very quickly confirm they are in a place they want to be
  3. Offer them a clear call to action
  4. Overcome their pre-programmed thought that they need a drill

All the SEO has to be aimed at Drills and even drill brands.  We want somebody searching for a Bosch drill to find us.  The best way to do this is to optimise a page (I said “a page” – google index pages, not websites!)  on our site for this purpose.  Get the narrative right and use the right Title, Keywords and Description.  Perhaps we should change the website to “”  or better “”  When it’s found, we want it to look something like this in Google:

Want to find the best way to drill DIY holes?
Do you want the fastest, cleanest (no dust!) and most cost effective drill you’ll ever buy…

Similarly, if we are going to do Adwords, we need to pull people to the ad by being relevant to their search, then attract them in.

Looking for a Drill?
Learn how to make DIY easy
without an expensive drill.

What have we achieved so far?  We have allowed ourselves to be Pulled by our customer and we have started to qualify them.  They are ready to buy, but are they going to be attracted by the promise of an alternative?  If not, they probably weren’t good prospects anyway.  Now where do we take them?

Not to our Home page, which is a “branding” page explaining and extolling the virtues of our product!  We’ve got them hooked so far, they are intrigued. Let’s not waste that.  We need to quickly tell them they are in the right place – which means we need to empathise again with their original search and again with how we persuaded them to pull us.

What we need is a unique landing page, with an eye-catching headine, finally some benefits and a strong call to action – and to start gently pushing. Something like:-


Learn the Secret drill manufacturers want to keep from you – you don’t need a drill to make a screw hole!

It’s true, we have developed a truely remarkable device we call the HolyRoller™

With the HolyRoller™ you can:-

  • Make screw hole in seconds
  • Avoid messy brick dust
  • Adjust the hole size in seconds
  • No drill bits to change
  • Handy size to access tight spots

And best of all – it’s a fraction of the cost of a conventional drill!

Don’t believe us?  The try out our special offer:

Order the HolyRoller™ today and pay nothing.  Try it out for 30 days and if you don’t like it, send it back in good condition and you have nothing to pay.  If we don’t hear from you in 30 days we’ll assume you love it – and process your payment!
Fill in the boxes etc.


You’ll need a holy-rolling video to show people how easy it is of course.

Let’s review what we have done:

  • We have made sure that people have been able to pull us from the cloud using their search criteria (we knew who we were looking for)
  • We have further let them pull us to the second stage and at the same time qualified a few out
  • We have pushed them an attractive call to action, if they seriously needed a hole in the first place!

Job done.


One Response to “The Pushme-Pullyou on the Internet”

  1. John said

    On the ball again…

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