Push vs. Pull Marketing: Top Differences & How to Use Them

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Kayla Carmicheal
Kayla Carmicheal


I recently bought a new laptop. Before deciding which one was right for me, I read through a number of online reviews to ensure I was making 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.

Top Differences between Push vs. Pull Marketing and How to Use Them

To phrase the above scenario slightly differently, I was “pulled” into consider certain brands due to their laptop marketing. Then, I was "pushed” into selecting the right one for me by going to the store to read the marketing materials and see the laptops in person.

This is just one example of how push and pull marketing are at work both separately and together.

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In this blog post. we'll cover push marketing, pull marketing, push and pull marketing strategies, and examples of each.

What is push marketing?

Push marketing is a strategy focused on "pushing” products to a specific audience.

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.


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Push Marketing Strategy

To understand a push marketing strategy, let’s consider Suzie.

Suzie’s marketing company is ready for its big debut. But the local businesses she's trying to work with have no idea her company exists. This is a job for push marketing.

So, Suzie reaches out to businesses in her area via email marketing, puts ads in local shops, and creates a social media business page to expand her reach.

Because Suzie’s goal is to introduce her company to local businesses as she launches her new service, push marketing is an effective way to get the word out about what she does and what she offers.

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 tied to, such as a social media platform, or use landing pages to your advantage by including a CTA at the end.

What is pull marketing?

Now, let's talk about pull marketing.

For instance, if someone is looking for a new babysitter, they might visit Care.com. They can select a babysitter based on a list of preferences that are specifically shown to fit their needs.

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.

Pull Marketing Strategy

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) system, Luis wants his POS to be the one they choose.

Pull marketing channels are exactly what Luis needs to achieve this. To pull his target market, Luis starts a blog on his website, runs specialized and high-traffic social media campaigns, and focuses on differentiating his brand from his competitors.

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.

Now you may be wondering about the best ways to ensure you're selecting the right type of marketing for your business — to help with just that, lets more thoroughly compare the two strategies.

Is push or pull marketing more effective?

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.

There are a few cons 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

An effective way to make sure you're covering all bases with your marketing strategy is by implementing a push and pull marketing strategy — you can marry the best parts of both strategies in a way that's complementary to your business, audience, and goals.

Push and Pull Marketing Strategy

Push and pull marketing strategies can 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.

The way you incorporate both strategies at your company will depend on your unique push and pull goals — to help you determine what your push and pull strategy will look like, lets review some examples of push marketing followed by examples of pull marketing. Then, you'll have a stronger understanding of what your strategy will end up looking like.

Push Strategy Examples

1. Display Ads

Display ads appear in areas that are specifically dedicated to paid ads and may be formatted in a variety of ways, such as a banner ad. There are also display ads on social media platforms, such as Instagram, that you can create and share.

2. Billboards

Billboards are an effective way of building brand awareness and broadcasting your business, product, service, or campaign to as many people as possible. They're strategically placed in high-traffic areas to get as many eyes on them (and hopefully, members of your target audience).

3. Direct Marketing

Direct marketing and direct advertising are also forms of push marketing — this can happen in a showroom, at a trade show, or in a brick-and-mortar store. It might also entail someone at a grocery store, like Trader Joes, offering free samples to shoppers.

Pull Strategy Examples

1. Social Media Marketing

Disregarding social media paid ads, as mentioned in the push strategy section above, there are a number of ways you can use social media marketing as a form of pull marketing. This includes how-to videos, influencer content (e.g. an influencer sharing a demo on how they use your product), beautiful images and videos of your product, and co-marketing campaigns on social media.

2. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that allows you to get your content, web pages, and more in front of the people who are searching for relevant keywords, phrases, and terms.

When you optimize your web pages and other content for those search terms your target audience is actively looking for, your marketing materials and web pages will appear in front of them organically. This is a great way to naturally get in front of your target audience and buyer perosnas without feeling pushy while also increasing brand awareness.

3. Blogs

Blogging is an effective way of educating your target audience and providing them with the knowledge they need to make informed buying decisions, understand how to use and apply your product or service, or gain insight into changes in an industry, product updates, etc.

When you search engine optimize your blog content, it appears in front of your target audience organically on search engines like Google, automatically increasing the number of people who see and interact with your content as well as improving brand awareness and more.

Start Using Push and Pull Marketing

Start using push and pull marketing strategies to combine the power of outbound and inbound strategies and get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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