Understanding Push Vs Pull Marketing

Picture of Lachlan Perry

Lachlan Perry

Lachlan is the Founding & Managing Director of Endpoint Digital. He has years of experience as an in-house senior SEO specialist and digital strategist, and has worked with many businesses across a diverse range of industry verticals. With a graduate's degree in Data Science, he is a data-driven expert that leverages statistical insights to craft personalised strategies.

Deciding what promotional strategy to use is a dilemma for any company looking to promote its online presence – be it big or small. 

Chances are, even if you’re not sure what push vs pull marketing is, you’ve unknowingly fought the battle of deciding which one to employ as a marketer. 

Push marketing refers to ‘pushing’ or promoting your content onto your future customers.

The pull strategy is fundamentally different, as it relies on the subtle enticement of your products to engage and win over potential customers. 

In the digital world, you rely on services such as SEO, Google Adwords as the powerhouse solutions to your marketing campaigns, but sometimes traditional marketing tactics need a home too. 

What is the difference between the push vs pull method, you might ask?

In this Endpoint Digital article, we’ll help you explore these two marketing styles to ensure you’re applying the most suitable one that attains your overall business goals.

Let’s Start With The Basics: Definition Time

The common misconception is that these two strategies are not that different from one another. 

The customer is the focal point of both push and pull marketing, but how you appeal to them differs from each tactic. 

What Is Push Marketing?

The term push marketing is a promotional strategy in which businesses ‘push’ their products or services on a specific audience, giving them the means to purchase the product by using direct marketing strategies.

What this means is that you’re directly pushing the idea of your products onto them, rather than enticing them through other means. When there is demand for a product, making use of the push strategy is a must. 

Essentially, you’re taking a dominant and powerful stance on your brand awareness and building brand loyalty.

It’s an adage to the days of cold-calling and door-to-door salespeople and has shown to be a great tactic when used correctly.

It’s important to note that push systems work best for a relevant audience if you want to maximise your overall conversions. 

Pushing a product onto people who do not meet your target audience will fail to leave a lasting impact and will not reap any rewards.

Examples of Push Marketing:

The most common examples of push marketing are traditional forms of advertising, such as the below.

  • Pamphlets
  • Radio commercials
  • TV commercials
  • Billboards
  • Product display in physical stores

What Is Pull Marketing?

The pull strategy is an informal approach used by businesses to generate consumer awareness of a brand or products and strengthen demand of said products.

People who are interested may be looking for a similar product, but it’s your job to entice them through other mediums and to consider you over other brands.

Channels such as SEO and search engines allow you to build connections with potential customers through content building. 

A cartoon of stick figures representing push vs pull marketing.

Examples of Pull Marketing:

Pull marketing strategies are more common forms of online advertising that many businesses make use of today.

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  • Blog Posts

These mediums are great ways to gain exposure, and they help build trust and loyalty with your target market.

If you plan on using the pull strategy, you need to do some target market planning to get the best possible results given you’re relying on customers to consider your product.

It differs from the push strategy because you’re not in their face, letting them know you exist – you need to be unique and different and use an approach that would best lead them to your product.

When you avoid being predictable and pushy, you avoid customers ‘turning the other cheek’ and heading in a different direction.

Summary Terms: Push vs Pull Strategy

To simplify the terms, the push strategy refers to ‘pushing’ your product or service on an audience with a high-level of interest in your business.

On the contrary, the pull strategy is used to entice customers to consider your product or service and build a connection with your brand for future consideration.

The important thing to note between pull marketing and push marketing is that although they target the consumer in a different way, their end goal is to funnel-in their target market effectively.

Help Me Understand – When Do I Use Them?

Deciding whether to use the pull or push strategy ultimately comes down to your overall business goals.

Before deciding on what promotional strategy to use, conduct some consumer research and ask yourself:

  • What do you want to achieve? 
  • Is there customer demand?
  • What are you selling?
  • Is my supply chain suitable for the product I want to sell?
  • If I was in their shoes, what would make me buy this product?
  • Should I be selling them the idea or the product?

Push marketing won’t apply to every business, just as the pull strategy won’t apply to every business either.

It’s all about a perfect balance to ensure you’re not being a pushy salesman, but also not delivering an underwhelming message to your potential customers.

It all starts with knowing your product and target audience and understanding the best way you can appeal to their needs.

Customer’s needs are no longer one-dimensional. 

They don’t want to be ‘sold’ to – they want the chance to understand your product before making an informed decision.

Push marketing is a great promotional strategy to use if:

  • Your company or product is extremely niche
  • You’re a start-up looking to get your feet off the ground

A real-life example would be a retailer who sells clothes made from economically sourced or raw material.

These products appeal to environmentalists and people with a general interest in this type of clothing. 

The issue with this is that no one knows who they are and what their product is about, so naturally, a push marketing strategy will go a long way.

Push marketing will ensure that they’re able to get their feet off the ground and bring awareness to their product – especially when it brings added benefits such as economical friendliness.

Take the PS5 hardware video as a prime example of a promotional strategy (push method).

Sony has a huge platform and in 2020, the gaming industry has never been more alive, especially with everyone now at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With its sleek and ergonomic design, the PS5 stands out aesthetically and attracts past, present and future gamers.

Sony focuses on the important aspects of the product that greatly outperform its predecessor, shining light on state-of-the-art SSD’s designed to stop long loading times when booting up games and boasting 16GB’s of powerful RAM that most modern computers don’t even match.

The beauty in appealing to something people want on a massive scale also ensures that people will promote that product for you. Whether it be by word of mouth, reviews, social media sharing or uploading to YouTube- if you manage to appeal to your customer demand in the right way, you can reap the rewards.

Pull marketing can be useful when:

  • Your customer is looking for something specific and knows what they want
  • Your brand speaks for itself 
  • You want to engage customers to stay and pay attention to consumer demand rather than have them purchase and go

It may also be referred to as the customer pull strategy, given you’re wanting to entice your already potential customers by appealing to their qualified interest in your product already.

When you’re using the pull strategy, you have a stronger ability to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand what they’re searching for specifically.

How Do They Work Together?

You’ve heard of push vs pull marketing strategies more than you may have thought, but it’s largely because they directly fall into other channels.

Pull marketing falls into digital marketing strategies such as SEO, where you create user-focused content that aims to engage and inform your audience what you offer.

Your tactic to appeal to these specific kinds of visitors is to cater yourself to their search query. Users know what they are looking for when they conduct a Google search, and so should you.

Your product might not be a ‘one size fits all’ product, such as TV screens, computer monitors or service-based jobs such as lawyers, hairdressers, and real estate agents and thus need to accommodate personal decisions. 

Push marketing isn’t as commonly used because people’s needs have changed, and it makes sense to take a backseat and let your users decide for themselves.

Social media ads and discount codes are still of great value, as they allow you to market yourself if your brand is not particularly known.

Understanding consumer demand and using their needs to spike interest in your products goes a long way in 2020.

A push vs pull marketing infographic that details the pro's and con's of each marketing strategy.

Are They Expensive Strategies To Use?

Considering that push and pull marketing strategies fall into other types of marketing channels, their costs can differ.

Push marketing will always use some form of display advertising, such as using logos and banners to entice users and other avenues such as cold-calling and targeted email (email marketing).

The pull marketing strategy lies in the criteria of consumer demand, so SEO is a major approach used for any digital marketing campaign.

SEO will be used to improve your organic search results and instigate interest amongst users looking for your specific product, but want to make an informed decision themselves.

The best SEO results are achieved through user-focused content, such as writing blog posts that continuously spike interest.

Just remember, good SEO companies will guarantee results – not rankings. 

Pay-per-click ads (PPC) also go hand-in-hand with SEO, as you want to promote your business for specific, keyphrases that relate your products or services.

This advertising channel aims to attract the most appropriate traffic to your website, and improve your conversion rate.

The most effective part of pull systems is building your brand identity and brand loyalty. 

If you think of cars, the most popular brands come to mind without needing to search for them.

You have luxury car brands like Lexus, Mercedes, and Porsche that are at the forefront of any car enthusiast or even the average joe. 

It always helps to get your feet off the ground with push marketing and build on your brand by using effective pull methods, so that you can be that universally thought of brand.

Push or Pull Strategy – Which Is More Effective?

To put it simply, there are negatives for both. Push marketing is more expensive, despite being great for new businesses, whilst pull marketing only works best when there is brand loyalty but has a more engaging and targeted approach.

Push marketing is slowly phasing out as an effective means of selling your brand, given that the sales tactics associated with the strategy are becoming slightly old-fashioned.

When it comes to deciding to use push or pull marketing, it all comes down to understanding user intent.

Cold-calling can come across as annoying, emails written for pure advertisement have declining open rates, and the technology boom of the last several decades has given consumers the power to make their own decisions and avoid being influenced by intrusive or pushy sales tactics.

Pull systems are proven to work because it’s a method that gives the consumer total control. 

The introduction of reviews, ratings, and testimonials influences a user’s decision making and consideration of your product. 

Long gone are the days of being dictated to, or business spread through word of mouth.

These marketing strategies are no longer just one-dimensional – it pays to understand what users are looking for in a product when they search.

Providing a user-focused strategy will ensure that you improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and convince them to purchase from you, for a long time to come.

A recent study undertaken by MentionMe revealed that 71% of people preferred pull marketing strategies rather than push tactics.

Over time, this strategy slowly phased out as an effective means of advertisement because people’s needs evolved.

Traditional media such as billboards, TV, radio and newspaper advertisements are no longer a high level of importance in this ubiquitous digital age.

A photo of 4 men pulling on a rope and a statistic that says most consumers prefer pull marketing over push tactics.

Keeping Those Customers Is Important

The overall approach in how you attain sales influences how you ensure these customers continue to come back.

When it comes to push marketing, you don’t have as much insight into what got them hooked in the first place in comparison to pull marketing.

This means that you need to get creative. 

Ask them what they enjoyed most about the product, and why it enticed them to purchase. 

When you’re using pull marketing, you have a greater range of tools to utilise when you want to find out this type of information.

Tools such as blog newsletters and feedback forms allow you to gather insight whether it be good or bad and should be avenues you pay great attention too.

Keep in mind that not every user is going to a timely buyer.

This means that if a prospect is looking for running shoes or clothes, they may not purchase them immediately.

Letting them know you exist goes a long way. 

Sending them an email with their cart allows them to complete the purchase at another point, as something might’ve come up and prevented them from completing the purchase.

This tends to work in your favour if you’re using a pull strategy, given you can provide all the relevant information they need and then allow them to decide without any aggressive sales tactics.

The unfortunate reality is that for some, there wasn’t more you could do. 

Customers are always going to go somewhere else, and that’s why it’s important to pay attention to areas you’re lacking in to ensure you minimise failure.

If you’re still confused about push and pull marketing, check out this video by Mark Wolters who gives some great insight.

The Wrap Up

The use of the push or pull strategy is always going to be a hotly debated topic.

The effectiveness of each method comes down to your overall business goals, your niche, what you offer, and what kind of results you’re looking for.

Push marketing is an extremely practical short-term based solution that will aim to provide immediate results.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you have pull marketing which will allow for greater user intent with less sales-based intrusion.

Irrespective of which strategy is best for your business, it’s important to note that push vs pull marketing works best with trial and error.

Good luck, and get selling! Or not – maybe let the users decide that one.

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