June 20, 2024

Marketing is both an art and a science. You must be creative to get your message noticed while maintaining a precise and intentional approach. By considering your customers and market, you can develop the right strategies to reach your target audience.

Marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams use two primary marketing methods: push marketing and pull marketing. Both serve unique purposes and aren’t interchangeable. 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 your promotions’ timing, content and frequency. You “push” promotions hoping 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,” explained 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. [They] all get their message out by somehow interrupting the natural flow of your day.”

By pushing your content and brand onto consumers, you cultivate brand awareness and provide an immediate call to action for them to pursue instead of taking the time to build a consistent relationship.

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,” noted business development manager Shagun Chauhan. “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 and TV commercials
  • Trade show exhibits
  • 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 can find you when they realize they have an interest or need for a product or service and search for answers. It comprises 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,” Deater explained. “The consumer makes the decision that the content is right for them and looks into it on their own time or schedule.”

Pull marketing works best when you have a loyal customer base and a respectable brand reputation. Consumers won’t bother tuning into your content if they don’t know who you are.

Examples of pull marketing

Pull marketing requires more work on your end because you must 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,” Chauhan noted. “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

Since you’ll likely have some customer attrition, you should never stop doing push and pull marketing. A consistent marketing strategy replaces lost customers and promotes profitable business growth.

Push vs. pull marketing

Depending on your goal, you may want to push your offer to your prospects who aren’t seeking your product or service or 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.

When to use push marketing

As a marketer, your priority is ensuring prospects know about your goods or services. Push marketing is a great way to do this. A push marketing strategy might be best if you are a new company with minimal visibility or an established company with a new product offering. 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,” advised Chauhan. “Raising awareness is crucial, as without push marketing …  consumers wouldn’t [know] about your new product or services.”

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

Use push marketing in the following scenarios:

  • To build awareness and establish a customer base as a new company
  • When you want to attract a new type of customer 
  • To build brand awareness in the market
  • When you want to establish yourself in a new market
  • When launching a new product
  • To run promotions and unload inventory quickly

Businesses that sell simple, inexpensive or “impulse” products or services benefit more from push marketing. Examples include fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), online and brick-and-mortar retailers, seasonal products and trendy products.

When to use pull marketing

Today’s buyers increasingly use search to find information about services and products; they research, ask friends for suggestions and read reviews and ratings. Once a potential customer knows about your company and wants to learn more, the information must be readily available. 

Ensure your website is up to date and amasses good customer reviews by encouraging satisfied customers to write positive reviews. You should also consistently produce and publish helpful and engaging content on multiple channels, including social media.

Even if you’re just starting a business, begin laying the foundation for pull marketing by building your website and creating online communities on social media. 

Use pull marketing in the following scenarios:

  • When potential customers know what they’re looking for
  • For complex products for which potential customers typically research before purchasing
  • To inform and engage prospects once they’ve clicked on your push marketing
  • To nurture relationships with prospects interested in your product but who haven’t yet decided to buy
  • To strengthen and grow customer relationships

Comparing push and pull marketing

“Looking at push and pull marketing in direct comparison, we can see that pull marketing is more relationship-focused,” explained 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 that push marketing is more disruptive and pressures consumers to act fast. 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 unique selling points. In contrast, pull marketing seeks to build a deeper familiarity with the company and its offerings and brand recognition.
  • Channel: Push marketing leverages mass media channels like email, TV, radio and in-person meetings. In contrast, pull marketing gets more specific via SEO, PPC and social media marketing.
  • 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 must create product demand and develop the sales pipeline. Initially, push marketing spawns the demand or need, while pull marketing offers a way for users to satisfy that need.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.


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