Growing any business requires both push and pull efforts. The "pull" means you have to attract customers with your value proposition and communicate effectively the benefit your product or service brings to a potential customer (e.g. advertising). The "push" are the efforts you put forth to drive customers to your business like direct sales and email marketing. The goal is to make them work in sync and create an effective growth platform.
Far too often I see companies, particularly small businesses, put all their efforts towards the "pull" portion of their marketing campaigns and expect the world to beat a path to their door. Relying on you campaigns and channels to "pull" customers to your business is important but cannot be the only method you use to grow your business. It's not enough to put out a web site, place a few ads and make some brochures and expect that to lead to real growth. To get to where you want to be, there has to be a deliberate "push" strategy to get your message to the people who will buy from you and create the impetus to choose you over a competitor.
This means you need to create a target marketing strategy - who is your ideal customer, where do they sit, what are their needs, how do you reach them and how ofter do you need to attempt a connection before they will decide to buy from you. This usually means direct sales coupled with a true integrated marketing effort that leverages several marketing components like email, content marketing, social, thought leadership and sponsorships in combination to create the number of interactions required to build attention and interest. In particular this means hitting prospects with your brand again and again. You can't do it once or twice and expect that to lead to consistent results.
Today's world is more competitive than ever, especially as it relates to amount of media and content. You can put a lot of effort in to making your brand stand out, but unless you have a lot of force behind it (money, media, etc.) it will probably get lost in the ocean of information that is out there today. That's why it's important to have both push and pull efforts, so if you don't have both think about what you need to do to make that happen.