Why You Need a Mix of Push and Pull Marketing

By Vidya Priya Rao,
business.com writer
Aug 08, 2016
Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images

Instead of pushing your offer to your prospects who may not be seeking for your product; draw them to you and allow them to explore, evaluate and decide what they want from you.

In the previous blog, “Push or Pull Conversation – What Do Customers Really Want?” we explained how “shopping habits have evolved and consumers decide what, when and how to shop at their own pace!”

As the marketer, you are not the one in charge – the prospective buyer holds the real control. Accepting this reality, helps you deal with the situation better and discover the best ways to help buyers buy in the way they want to buy, and not try to impose the way you want to sell to them.

As marketers, before we get into specifics of why you need to adopt a mix of both push and pull marketing strategy to promote your business and gain traction.

What Is The Push & Pull Marketing Model?

Push Marketing Model

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

Examples of Traditional Push Marketing strategies:

• Billboards, Direct Mails, Pamphlet distribution
• Door-to-door sales or face-to-face sales in retail shops
• Product displays in a shop in order to attract attention and promote sales
• Trade show promotions
• Public relations
• Radio/ TV advertising

Examples of Push strategies in digital marketing:

• Display advertising (text, image, interactive and video ads) to attract potential buyers who may not know about your company when they are looking for sellers like you
• Cold emails blasts to people, who you perceive may be interested in your product.

Pull Marketing Model

Pull marketing also known as inbound marketing is all about making your product or service visible to prospects and can find you when they realize they have an interest and come to you looking for answers. It consists of newer marketing channels like website, serach engine optimisation (SEO), Search engine marketing (SEM), Pay per click (PPC), email nurturing, social media marketing.

Examples of Pull Marketing strategies:

• Email Nurturing – Just because a visitor shares their contact information doesn’t mean you should jump straight to sending an email with a proposal. You need to nurture the prospect and make them readier to buy by offering them value by sharing relevant content in the form of ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, blogs etc. If this content has worked in the past, there is a high chance that the prospects you are nurturing will find it valuable as well.
• Tried and Tested Product – if prospects can associate themselves with the brand ideology and you have a proven product and have a reputation for innovation, buyers will be drawn to you even without aggressive advertising.

Examples of Pull strategies in digital marketing:

• Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – to generate researcher interest and draw visitors to your website with a high ranking in the organic results of search engines findings
• Pay per Click (PPC) – where you pay the publisher for each click to your website/ app download and try and increase the conversion rate.
• Social Media – where you promote your brand to potential prospects via social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The Difference

The main difference is – Instead of pushing your offer to your prospects who may not be seeking for your product; you draw them to you and allow them to explore, evaluate and decide what they want from you.

Today’s buyers increasingly use search to find out information about services and products; they do the research, asks online and offline social friends for suggestions, reads reviews and ratings. So does this mean the push strategy becomes irrelevant?

Arrive at The Right Mix – Bring the Techniques Together

To answer the question – Why you need a mix of push and pull marketing? – here is my answer:

As a marketer, your first priority is to make your prospects aware of your existence. If you are a new company with minimal visibility or an established company with a new product offering and your existing customers are unaware of your existence in this space or they are unaware of their need for such a product. It’s your duty to inform the world and this call’s for a push marketing strategy. Once users have identified a need inbound or pull marketing really shines, and while they search for information you need to ensure they find you.

In this interconnected world, quite often it’s difficult to determine what triggers a user to seek information in the first place.

As a marketer you need to create a demand for the product and then help develop the lead pipeline. So initially push marketing helps create the demand or need and pull marketing offers a way for users to satisfy that need.

For example, it’s important to identify the buyer being targeted is aware of at least the type of product or service that they are interested in, though they may not be aware of your specific product or brand. Using PUSH you have created a TV commercial, set a camp at their office. This may have triggered the user that they need auto insurance and you could be one of the service providers. But at this stage the user is still not ready to initiate a dialogue.

Once ready, the buyer is looking for auto insurance, he/she may search “auto-insurance” and end up reading a blog about auto insurance options published by a representative of an insurance company, or click on a paid ad that appears at the top of my search results or visit the website of the insurance company. Though you may not know the buyer profile initially, you will be gradually gathering little bits of buyer data as (s)he interacts with your company on the web. The use of re-marketing helps remind prospects of their interests through advertisements placed on different sites visited by them and bring them closer to taking a purchase decision.

“Initially push marketing helps create the demand or need and pull marketing offers a way for users to satisfy that need.

Push and Pull have their advantages and disadvantages, so an integrated marketing approach is the need of the hour, that helps adopt the best of both worlds and drive growth over time.

As you decide how much of your financial resources and time to allocate to push vs. pull marketing, as Christopher J. Ryan rightly said in his book How to Create an Unstoppable Marketing and Sales Machine – As a marketer, these traits will serve you well:

Patience: Yes, you should always ask for the order, but accept your prospect’s time frame for purchase.
Flexibility: Pull marketers require maximum flexibility as they continually search for new ways to inform and please their prospects.
Curiosity: Develop and maintain a burning desire to learn about your prospects and their characteristics (e.g., demographics) as well as their hopes, desires, wants, and needs.
Service Orientation: The old ways of fooling people or tricking people into buying through superior salesmanship are mostly gone. Those who have a true thirst to serve their customers will succeed.”

The next post discusses ‘How to apply push and pull marketing to the buying process?’

The article was first posted in Marketers Touchpoint Blog.

Thanks for reading my post. I write about marketing strategy, integrated marketing, product management and customer experience. You can follow me by clicking the 'Follow' button (at the top of the page).


I have worn multiple hats in my career - sales, consultant, product mgmt, researcher, manager, trainer, marketer, analyst relations, customer relationship, presales & strategist. As a multi-linguist of IT driven business, I speak fluent geek, marketer, sales, consultant, trainer, and tough buyer. I have a unique ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects and navigate complex challenges. My focus has been on: - Globalization and localization balance: creating and executing GTM plan for Solutions across different channels - Sales support and sales enablement - Integrating buyer and seller's organization during merger and carve-out - Prepare business case and cost benefit analysis for projects - Observe market action, talking to other market participants and form a view on the likely future movements of a solution offering - Implementing Knowledge Management in varied organizations - Build, maintain and enhance relationships with customers, partners, colleagues and like minded professionals
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