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Why You Need a Mix of Push and Pull Marketing

Sammi Caramela
Sammi Caramela

Push and pull marketing complement one another. Your business needs a mix of push and pull marketing for a truly comprehensive marketing strategy.

Marketing is both an art and science. You have to be creative to get your message noticed, but precise and intentional with your approach. By considering your customers, as well as your market, you can develop the right strategies for reaching them.

There are two forms of marketing companies use: push marketing and pull marketing. Both serve their unique purposes and should not be used interchangeably. Here's what you should know about each.

What is push marketing?

In the traditional push model, also known as outbound marketing, you are in charge of the timing, content and frequency of promotions. You push promotions in hopes that buyers will develop an interest and respond by purchasing your product or service.

"Push marketing is any kind of marketing that pushes your message or company out to the world," said Mackenzie Deater, content strategist for Evenbound. "Push marketing is inherently disruptive -- a telemarketer, a door-to-door salesman, even the Girl Scouts asking if you'd like to buy some cookies outside the supermarket, all get their message out by somehow interrupting the natural flow of your day."

By pushing your content and brand onto others, you're cultivating awareness and providing an immediate call to action for them to pursue, rather than taking the time to build a more consistent relationship with them.

Examples of push marketing

Push marketing comes in various forms and is far more intrusive than pull marketing.

"Consumers are not actively seeking your services, but instead, you are pushing your product or services right to them," said Shagun Chauhan, a business consultant for iFour Technolab Pvt Ltd. "Push marketing will be in different forms, such as cold emailing, display advertising, face-to-face sales [and] trade show promotions."

Some additional examples include:

  • Billboards
  • Pamphlets
  • Product displays in brick-and-mortar stores
  • Radio/TV commercials
  • Direct selling in showrooms
  • Direct mail

What is pull marketing?

Pull marketing, also known as inbound marketing, is about making your product or service visible to prospects so they find you when they realize they have an interest or need for a product or service and search for answers. It consists of newer marketing channels like websites, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing, pay per click (PPC), email nurturing, and social media marketing.

"Pull marketing works to draw consumers into your brand by offering up valuable content: how-to videos, infographics, a step-by-step blog, or a webinar all work to put the consumer's needs first," said Deater. "The consumer makes the decision that the content is right for them and looks into it on their own time or schedule."

This method works best when you have a loyal customer base and a respectable brand reputation. Otherwise, if consumers don't know who you are, they won't bother tuning into your content.

Examples of pull marketing

Pull marketing requires more work on your end, as you need to attract consumers and make them want to do business with you. In other words, you must earn their trust over time.

"[Pull] marketing is when the customers come to you," said Chauhan. "It usually generates interest in a product or company, telling the customer to come out and seek your services on their own. Pull marketing strategies are almost all online and some examples are social networking, sale promotion, [and] word-of-mouth marketing."

Some additional examples of pull marketing include:

  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • PPC
  • Media coverage
  • Blog posts on relevant topics

Push vs. pull marketing

Rather than push your offer on your prospects who may not be seeking your product or service, you can pull them to you and allow them to explore, evaluate, and decide what they want from you. There are appropriate times when each strategy is advantageous, and both can work together to increase sales and customer loyalty.

Today's buyers increasingly use search to find information about services and products; they do the research, ask friends for suggestions, and read reviews and ratings. As a marketer, your first priority is to make your prospects aware of your goods or services.

If you are a new company with minimal visibility or an established company with a new product offering, a push marketing strategy might be best. Once users have identified a need, you can implement pull marketing.

"Push marketing is most beneficial for startup companies or when one is launching a new product or service," said Chauhan. "Raising awareness is crucial, as without push marketing …  consumers wouldn't have the idea about your new product or services."

Additionally, push marketing is more suited for immediate interactions rather than building lasting relationships.

"Looking at push and pull marketing in direct comparison; we can see that pull marketing is more relationship-focused," added Deater. "It works to build a relationship with that consumer by offering them the information or answers they're seeking. When they have a great experience with that content, they are likely to come back to the brand, when they are ready."

Conversely, Deater noted, push marketing is more disruptive and pressures the consumer to act right away. As a result, you can experience quicker sales.

Chauhan highlighted three key differences between the two types of marketing approaches:

  • Strategy: Push marketing focuses on maximizing brand exposure and highlighting the unique selling points, while pull marketing seeks to build awareness and brand recognition.
  • Channel: Push marketing leverages mass media channels like email, TV, radio, and in-person meeting, while pull marketing gets more specific via SEO, PPC, and social media marketing, etc.

  • Cost: Push marketing is more cost-intensive, while pull marketing requires more work on your end to continuously connect with and engage consumers.

As a marketer, you need to create demand for your products and develop the lead pipeline. Initially, push marketing spawns the demand or need; pull marketing offers a way for users to satisfy that need.

Additional reporting by Vidya Priya Rao. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Image Credit: Povozniuk / Getty Images
Sammi Caramela
Sammi Caramela,
business.com Writer
See Sammi Caramela's Profile
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't writing for business.com and Business News Daily, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. She is also the content manager for Lightning Media Partners. Check out her short stories in "Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror," which is sold on Amazon.