What is Push and Pull Marketing?

The term ‘Push and Pull Marketing’ is often bandied about in meetings and blogs, but what does it actually mean? 

And what roles do Push and Pull (or ‘Push Pull Marketing’) have to play in the success of your overall digital marketing strategy?

What is Push marketing?

Push marketing is a strategy focused on, as the name suggests, ‘pushing’ products to a specific audience.

The goal is to tell prospective customers – quite speculatively, in some cases – about your brand, product or service.

Push marketing – which is sometimes known as ‘direct marketing’ or ‘outbound marketing’ – requires a great deal of reach and is labelled as ‘interruptive’ because it’s designed to deliberately interrupt your day or thought in order to get your attention.

TV and radio advertising are classic examples of traditional Push marketing channels. These Push tactics have twin aims: one, to grab the listening or watching public’s interest; two, to make the listener or viewer take an action, such as researching your product online (as is becoming the norm) or going to the shops to buy it.

Radio jingles exist because they are memorable, while brands will hire creative agencies to create TV adverts that stand out from the crowd. TV advertising slots, in particular, are very expensive, and brands will try to outbid each other to secure primetime slots.

For instance, a 30-second TV ad during Super Bowl 2020 cost companies $5.6 million – that’s an eye-watering $186,666 per second. You’d better hope that such an investment will drive sales, brand awareness, share of voice and equity, but traditional marketing tactics like TV, print and radio advertising can be very difficult to measure.

What’s an example of traditional Push marketing strategy?

When you go shopping in a department store, it’s likely that you’ll become aware – consciously or subconsciously – of point of sale material (or branded signage) telling you about a particular product. This is Push marketing.

Brands generally have to pay the department store to display point of sale (POS) because signage or in-store advertising of this kind has traditionally been very effective as a means of alerting browsing shoppers to specific products that they might not otherwise have been aware of or interested in.

A classic example would be fragrance lines.

The fragrance brand will often offer sales the department store sales incentives to ‘push’ its products onto customers.

This approach can work especially well for new brands trying to gain a footing in the market or for established brands trying to push a new fragrance. This is Push marketing because the shoppers visiting the store are likely to be encountering the brand or new product for the first time.

Example of Push strategy

Social media is considered to be a Push channel, because it can help your company launch new products and services or promote existing ones.

Social media and other digital marketing activities are highly measurable, and therefore easy to evaluate and learn lessons from when it comes to tweaking or improving future Push campaigns.

Digital marketing has levelled the playing field. While TV and radio advertising require large (and sometimes huge!) marketing budgets, Push digital marketing activities like social media or pay-per-click (PPC) are very cost-effective and can be executed by companies of all sizes.

One great digital Push marketing strategy is to run a limited time offer for your product.

You could use social media to create urgency around the offer (“Don’t miss out!”) and link it to a website landing page with a little more detail and a clear Call to Action (CTA) such as ‘Speak to our friendly team now’.

Social commerce – whereby customers can buy a product from a brand directly within an app like WeChat – is becoming another powerful Push digital marketing channel.

What is Pull Marketing?

Pull marketing, as you’ll probably have deduced, takes the opposite approach to Push marketing.

The goal of Pull marketing is to get customers to come to you – hence the term ‘pull’. You’re looking to draw customers to your brand or product.

While Push marketing could be said to have short-term aims like persuading customers to make one-off purchases, the aim of Pull marketing is to create brand loyalty and keep customers coming back for more.

Businesses will generally use Pull marketing when the customer knows what they are looking for or what problem they need to solve, but needs pulling towards your solution as opposed to the solution offered by your competitors.

These customers don’t need pushing to make a purchase. If they see your brand and are looking for solutions like your, they’ll get back to you.

An example of a prospective Pull customer would be a Finance Director looking for a SaaS (Software as a Service) accounting solution for his company’s finance department.

What’s a traditional Pull marketing strategy?

Corporate Sponsorship is a classic Pull marketing strategy.
Land Rover, for instance, is keen to sponsor rugby union events because they know that rugby union fans generally fit into their target customer demographic – people with middle-to-upper-class-aspirations who can afford to buy a new or used Land Rover Discovery Sport or Range Rover Evoque.

Other Pull marketing strategies include exhibiting at conferences, conventions or trade fares.

It’s possible to pull customers away from your competitors at one of these events with a spectacular or particularly notable exhibition stand, which could then lead to great conversations with would-be customers that result in sales and the development of long-term commercial relationships.

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Example of Push strategy

Say someone is looking for a cupcake supplier for their event planning business.

They might visit a website containing listings of cupcake suppliers that other events businesses have used and endorsed.
But what if it’s not possible to stand out from the local competition on a listings website like that? How can you – as the owner of a cupcake business – stand out from the competition in the local area and draw in event planning customers?
Pull digital marketing channels are what you need.

For example, you may have a good-looking website but you haven’t followed through with SEO (search engine optimisation), which can make a big difference to your online performance and visibility.

The aim of SEO is to earn a high ranking in the search results page of a search engine like Google.

Today’s internet users won’t have the patience to trawl through pages and pages of cupcake supplier search results – they’ll just go for the first one or two that they see appear on the results page when they type ‘cupcake supplier near me’ (for instance) into Google.

So, how high your business ranks for the search term ‘cupcake supplier near me’ will be a huge factor in determining how much traffic your cupcake website will get – and therefore in terms of how many leads you’re able to generate.

Strategic SEO could be the rocket fuel you need to send your company racing up the rankings for a term like ‘cupcake supplier’ or ‘cupcake supplier near me’.

Moving away from the imagined cupcake example, SEO can – regardless of your business type or sector – be an absolute game-changer when it comes to increasing your company’s
visibility and discoverability online.

SEO is a therefore a really important traffic-driving Pull marketing tool to consider if your website:

1. Isn’t appearing on the search engines
2. Isn’t ranked in the first page or two of search results relevant to your business
3. Is new or unknown

Other Digital Pull Marketing Strategies

To add extra power to your Pull digital marketing strategy, you could focus on a strategic PPC localised campaign aligned to relevant keywords that will make your website and cupcake services more visible to your target market.

You could also start a blog on your website, run specialised and high-traffic social media campaigns, and focus on differentiating your brand.

Additionally, you could encourage your previous and regular customers to say nice things about your business on Google reviews and Yelp will also enhance your online (and localised) visibility, increase awareness and really build the reputation that you think will pull in event planning customers.

Pull digital marketing strategies typically take longer than Push marketing to drive results, but Pull strategies also generate long-term customers and growth in the way that Push strategies tend not to.

We’re living in a digital age in which people will spend hours researching products and looking for recommendations online, so Pull digital marketing strategies are hugely important for brands to stand out as ‘unique’ in potentially saturated markets.

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Push or Pull marketing? Which one is best?

In reality, companies need to combine Push and Pull if they are to enjoy successful digital marketing strategies.

And digital marketing, with its inherent measurability and cost-effectiveness, is a much better path to pursue than expensive traditional marketing methods that can be very hit-and-miss.
Successful digital marketers and brands use Push and Pull marketing strategies in complementary ways.

Almost all companies will always need to Push and reach out to prospects that may not be familiar with your offerings.

Push strategies are great for creating and qualifying leads. Once the leads become more familiar with your brand and offering, you can then Pull those prospects through the buying stage and promote your business in the way that best suits you and your brand’s tone of voice.

And that tone of voice piece is incredibly important. What’s yours? The vast majority of consumers say they are loyal to brands that are authentic and convey complete transparency. Brands that they can trust and are happy to engage with. And customer loyalty is hugely important, as it costs five times less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one.

So, in summary, although many businesses might possibly prefer to concentrate solely on brand enriching Pull digital content marketing strategies, they will realistically need to use Push digital marketing strategies too.

Get the very best out of Push and Pull digital marketing by partnering with strategic online marketing experts with the best insights into the way the digital marketing landscape operates. Drop Chetaru an email at info@chetaru.com to level up your digital marketing.

A no-nonsense digital marketing agency which develops websites, builds apps, creates content, boosts SEO and delivers a full range of digital services at a fraction of the cost of an internal marketing department.