Push vs. Pull Marketing: How They Differ and Work Together
I recently bought a new laptop. Before deciding which one was right for me, I poured through Yelp and Google reviews to make an informed decision. Once I narrowed my search down to a couple of models, I visited the store to examine specs in person before committing.
To put this in a different way, I was “pulled” into brands by their marketing of laptops for a young professional. Then, I was “pushed” into selecting the right fit by looking at the marketing inside the store. This is how push and pull marketing are at work separately and together.
What is Push Marketing?
Push marketing is a strategy focused on “pushing” products to a specific audience. The goal is to bring what you offer to customers in your marketing. Social media channels are considered to be “push” sources because they’re great for launching new or niche products.
Push Marketing Strategy
Also known as direct marketing, push marketing is a form of general advertising. When I grocery shop, I look for the signs that notate sales and gravitate towards them — picking up limes I never knew I needed. This is an example of push marketing. Similarly, let’s look at Suzie.
Suzie’s marketing company — specializing in local businesses — is ready for its big debut. But these local businesses have no idea Suzie’s company exists. This is a job for push marketing. Suzie reaches out to businesses in her area via email marketing, put ads in participating locations, and create a social media business page to expand her reach.
Because Suzie’s goal is to introduce her company to local businesses as she launches a new product, push marketing is her best option.
For a business that’s been around for a while but still wants to execute a push strategy, another option is running a limited time offer for your product. Use a channel your target market is closely integrated with, such as social media, or use landing pages to your advantage by including a CTA at the end.
Pull Marketing Strategy
You guessed it — pull marketing is the opposite of push marketing. Pull marketing is best for when you want to draw consumers to your product. The goal is to create loyal customers by providing marketing that showcases what they’re looking for.
For instance, if someone is looking for a new babysitter, they might visit Care. They can select a babysitter based on a list of preferences that are specifically shown to fit their needs. To put this in the context of another business, let’s take a look at Luis.
When businesses are looking for a point-of-sale (POS) app, Luis wants his POS system to be the one they choose. Pull marketing channels are exactly what he needs. To pull his target market, Luis starts a blog on his app’s website, runs specialized and high-traffic social media campaigns, and focuses on differentiating his brand.
To amp up his pull marketing strategy, Luis focuses on SEO for his online marketing to make his system discoverable to his target market. Google reviews, and word-of-mouth reviews on sites like Yelp, are his best friends throughout his campaign.
Since Luis has already developed a following from his app’s debut, he can focus on credibility and reliability rather than marketing to make the next sale. After a while, this will pull customers to his business. Pull marketing strategies generally take longer than push marketing to drive results, but this strategy ensures long-term customers and growth.
In the age of consumers educating themselves on products and services, pull marketing has become vital to markets with heavy saturation, like new apps or clothing companies. Pull marketing shows how you are unique as a brand.
Push vs. Pull Marketing
Push marketing, also known as outbound marketing, can lead to quicker sales. It’s powered by what you “push” out to your audience through marketing. Inbound, or pull marketing, starts internally, and is focused on building and perfecting a marketable brand to new and existing customers.
There are a few negatives to push marketing — mainly splitting costs and keeping long-term customers.
If your company is working with a supplier to implement a push marketing strategy, you’d have to split profits with the supplier at the end of the day, which means less revenue for you. Since push marketing focuses on short term sales, building brand loyalty is difficult with an outbound strategy.
A downside to pull marketing is that you might not cater to the right target audience. In order to connect to your consumers, you need to know who they are and what they’re looking for. For instance, an athlete shopping for running shoes might not be interested in advertisements for heels.
To decide which method best fits your business, think about how you want to approach consumers. If you are trying to get the word out about your business, push will most likely be the way to go. If you’re a marketer building brand buzz in your market — perhaps about a specific product or service — pull would probably be best.
Push and pull can also work together. Customers need a push for demand to be created and a pull to satisfy that demand. For those who haven’t heard of your company, a push is needed. For those a little further along in their buyer’s journey, you can pull them in.
Push and Pull Strategy Examples
Going back to Suzie’s marketing company, once she gains leads from her push strategies, she can focus on a pull campaign. She can take to her company’s social media to do client spotlights, run a sale on services, and remind clients to rate her services.
When Luis pulls customers into his app, he can push them towards his product. Luis can integrate push methods into his strategy by sending automated marketing emails, investing in a streaming service ad, or focusing on a social media channel he doesn’t actively focus on.
Image source: Apple
Apple’s iPhone 11 advertising is heavily focused on the three cameras, a new implementation in the iPhone line of products. From this kind of push marketing, we can see that Apple’s market research centered around customers that wanted to see improved camera quality with their next iPhone purchase.
The Star Wars: Episode IX trailer starts with footage from the first Star Wars film, Episode IV. Text entices the viewer to see how a 40-year-long saga will come to an end. Not only is this an example of push marketing for longtime fans, but it’s an attention-grabbing pull to people not familiar to Star Wars, who might be interested in seeing what a movie of that caliber is like.
Lastly, let’s say you work for a startup that sells computer screens. In order to push your product out there, you convince stores like Best Buy to carry it. Based on the market, your strategy could pull consumers in by using your ad space in Best Buy to promote the features of your screens that others don’t, like length, look, and display features.
Most marketing falls into these two general categories, but what you do with inbound and outbound strategies is up to you. When I was purchasing my laptop, I was convinced by a mix of the two and used them to my advantage as a consumer.
Originally published Sep 12, 2019 4:00:00 AM, updated September 12 2019