Putting Together The Best Push or Pull Marketing Strategy
by Julie Weishaar
November 20, 2019
Putting Together The Best Push or Pull Marketing Strategy

Push or Pull Marketing: Which Should You Do?

If you can visualize marketing as a horizontal line, then you have Push marketing on the right and Pull marketing on the left, with plenty of middle ground in between.

And just like political affiliation, you often have businesses and marketers leaning one direction or another.

The problem with looking at marketing as one or another is that Push and Pull strategies often complement one another. Or their benefits are based on circumstances.

So rather than looking at it as which one is better, it is better to look at which one your business situation requires.

Push Marketing: Going to Market

The easiest way to understand Push marketing is by taking your product and service and figuratively pushing it in front of your customer.

Push is taking your product to market. The most obvious push strategy is direct sales, which would be the most “far-right” on the spectrum.

Some other examples of Push marketing are:

  • Events and Conventions Marketing
  • Packaging and Display
  • In-Store Promotions/Add-on Sales

Having a sales team take your business and putting it in front of customers can be very effective, and comparatively quick.

One of the most significant benefits of Push marketing is the direct, near-immediate value. Pull marketing strategies are more of a short-term strategy because they generally lack a continued effect.

Take away your sales team and how much of that business will continue coming back? The answer is very little.

However, if you keep that sales team and they are effective, then you can build long term benefits for your business.

There is a common stigma that Push marketing literally “pushes” a product or service down a customer’s throat until they just buy it.

This is mostly due to poor Push strategies. If your product requires educating the consumer about your product, overcoming an adverse industry history, or more relationship-based sales, Push marketing is for your business.

Pull Marketing: Bringing in Customers

So, if Push marketing is sales, then Pull marketing is nearly everything else.

Pull strategies deal mainly with branding and advertising. Essentially, Pull marketing is building a need or presence for your product, from a distance.

Pull Marketing includes:

  • Television and radio commercials
  • Printed media and billboards
  • Digital advertising

It is important to note that Pull marketing is not synonymous with inbound marketing (a popular digital marketing buzzword); instead, inbound marketing is a subset of Pull marketing.

Branding and advertising keep a business, product or service top-of-mind for a customer and is very useful for low-involvement sales.

Consider the last time a salesman approached you about purchasing a Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola makes a great Pull marketing case)? Now think about how often you see their ads.

Push and Pull Medians

There are some marketing techniques that fall in the middle of the marketing spectrum. Two such would be email marketing and marketing collateral.

Handing out a sales brochure is both Push and Pull, as the salesperson may introduce the item, but the pamphlet provides them further information and keeps it top-of-mind.

Additionally, email marketing is a kind of Push marketing, because it allows the marketer to provide more personalized information to the buyer.

But, it also allows more of a mass outreach, making it pull. The personalized – the more it leans to Push. The more mass-audience based – the more it leans to Pull.

Benefits of Both

The main advantage of using Push and Pull strategies together is that you are no longer looking at your marketing strategy in a disconnected way.

Instead, you are seeing all the pieces. You do not necessarily need to use these all evenly. Instead, use them as they benefit you and as the need arises. This is subject to change from time to time.

Pull marketing is not only useful for low-involvement sales though. Quite often Pull will be used to engage a customer before Push marketing functions.

Larger purchases like cars require massive amounts of Pull advertising, and then a salesman (Push marketing) engages and completes the sale. Very rarely will a person pick a car off a lot and pay the advertised price.

How long does it take to buy a car? Depending on the consumer’s need, it can take a few days if they know the exact model and type they like, and longer if they are unsure what best fits their needs.

Additionally, you build long term benefits while still pursuing quicker transactions at the same time.

Of course, the goal is long term benefits. But you must succeed with the near at hand first. Without the latter, there will be nothing there to carry the business through the near term until long term benefits start to materialize.

Concluding Push and Pull Strategies

Apple is a perfect example of a company that markets themselves well and uses Push and Pull strategies to their strengths.

Apple is by no means a company deployed in bringing the most technologically advanced items. Instead, it is marketing machine focused on promoting its items in ways that relate to people (look at their financial statements).

You may not have anyone aggressively selling you Apple products (don’t get me wrong, they have salespeople just not aggressive) but I’ll be damned if I’m not sold by their packaging!

The packaging and ambience of an Apple store (and website even) is a massive part of their Push marketing strategy.

Additionally, the amount that Apple pours into advertising pulls us in, in a big way. There are their classic “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials.

There are movie product placements, advertisements and white headphones! Then there is the dominant branding of “i” – everything (i.e. iPod, iPad, iPhone, iOS, etc.).

Apple is an excellent case to conclude this topic because they certainly understand when and when not to deploy specific Push and Pull marketing tactics. Their brand value, market cap and revenue reflect the importance of it.

Not that every company must be an Apple, but it is their success cases we should learn from and apply to our own business!

Putting Together The Best Push or Pull Marketing Strategy

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