What is a Pull and Push Strategy? And How Does it Benefit Marketing?

Matthew Fritschle

Matthew FritschleWriter for Aumcore

Friday, April 26, 2019

Successful marketing is all about utilizing a combination of different strategies to achieve the best results. Understanding the purpose of pull and push strategies and how they can get the right results is key to marketing success.

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The top digital marketing trends and predictions for 2019 are showing us that customers are becoming increasingly picky when it comes to who they give their money to.

Arguably, the very point of marketing is to do this by garnering attention toward your business and its products, and then using that awareness to get as many sales as possible. That’s to say, marketing is all about increasing brand awareness to pull your audience toward you, and then pairing that momentum with a push of your own that closes the sale.

At times, you may have to put more effort into pushing an audience to convert than attracting them in the first place; at others, the opposite holds true and you have to work twice as hard to get your voice heard. More importantly, no matter how much work you end up putting into each, the fact remains that you need a pull and push strategy of your own to maintain profitability.

What is a pull and push strategy?

Even though you may not have heard of it before today, a ‘pull and push strategy’ has been the go-to marketing strategy to move customers from awareness to purchase for centuries. Whilst a pull strategy pulls people toward you and turns them into potential customers, a push strategy pushes a product toward them so they can actually become customers.

Some opt to focus on one or the other, but those with more experience know that a balance must be struck between the two in which you devote more resources to each depending on your business’ current standing and goals.

For example, launching a new product as opposed to relying on an established one would necessitate a lot more push because you’d have to get your audience to acknowledge something new they haven’t heard about before. Likewise, because they first have to attract a crowd and pull them, any new business will need to devote more to both strategies than a business that’s been at it for years.

What is a pull strategy?

A pull strategy aims to establish a brand following and gather people toward your products and services. Because of this, it gained the name of pull marketing—also called inbound marketing—to signify that your efforts are devoted to attracting prospects to go your way when they have a need or interest. With this goal, pull marketing commonly makes use of advertising tactics like word-of-mouth buzz, promotions and referrals that all work exceptionally well at pulling customers in and, if the experience is good, building brand loyalty that also comes into play in their decision to keep coming back to you.

In this way, pull marketing encompasses all you do to get a customer to look your way and choose you over your competition for the present and future, therefore creating a positive relationship with your audience and a high ROI. Instead of pushing a particular product, you spend your time and efforts building your brand’s value and credibility so potential customers already want something from you before they’re even sure of what that is. This leads to a pull strategy being sort of like a ‘long game’ that some see as a disadvantage. Because you want to get people to come to you, you need to start thinking of how to do what from the very beginning when you’re narrowing on a target audience that will respond best to your marketing efforts. If you choose incorrectly, you may fail to attract the prospects you want.

The focus, then, is not only on creating awareness for your brand and its products, but also to increasing the visibility of their value to the point that people are coming to you without your direct prompting. This leads to pull marketing being a frequently used strategy when businesses have a product they already know their audience wants, but just needs to be pointed in the right direction. Nowadays, though pull marketing is still frequently used in traditional marketing, it’s an almost exclusively web-based method that aims to bring as many users to a particular landing page and take action.

Pull marketing examples

As can be expected, turning a brand and its products into household names isn’t a small endeavor; creating repeat customers requires multiple marketing tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media advertising, social media marketing, and so on.

For example, consider SEO. By optimizing your website and digital properties to rank higher on search engines for the keywords your audience is searching for, you’re making it more likely that you’ll be found when they look for someone like you. Once they do find you, you can let your website and its offerings do the rest while you collect information about them, like browsing and purchasing behavior, that can be used to further improve your strategies.

Within SEO, common practices like content syndication through articles, images and videos also serve as pull marketing tactics because they all serve to educate potential customers about what your brand can do for them.

An article, for example, can create a demand for your products and services by explaining that they’re the solution they’ve been looking for all along. And then there are banner advertisements that increase brand awareness by repeatedly exposing your brand to your users, which creates more buzz around it and makes it more likely they’ll think of you when the time to do so arrives.

What is a push strategy?

If pull marketing is a long-term strategy that aims to create brand loyalty and keep customers coming back for more, push marketing is a shorter strategy that’s more concerned with getting the immediate sale.

Instead of pulling people toward you, you’re pushing your products toward them so they find them appealing enough to make the purchase. As such, push marketing is also called outbound marketing, as it pushes your offerings directly to your users and encourages them to buy them. This is often seen as a disadvantage; without the ability to nurture a lead and guide them through the sales funnel, you have to make sure that your offerings and promotional material are so good that they get the sale right then and there.

Traditionally, push marketing strategies include point-of-sale tactics that push customers to buy once they're in-store, such as sales displays and free samples at grocery stores, recipes near products that include them as ingredients, and window displays at department stores that highlight how they can be used. Whether in-store, through print, online ads or email, the idea is to place and promote your products and services before prospects in their most appealing forms so you can create positive visibility.

Push marketing examples

You’ll often encounter push marketing strategies when businesses are launching new products or services and want to cut through the clutter of a crowded marketplace.

This can be done with billboards, direct mail, pamphlets, and radio or TV advertisements that highlight something and put it in the forefront.

In other instances, particularly digital ones, push marketing generally uses targeted advertising to attract potential buyers who may not know about your company. For example, advertising on Facebook and boosting a post so it can be viewed by those who don’t know you but may be looking for someone just like you.

Direct email offers also work well for push marketing, and work especially well when they’re personalized for each recipient by their likes and interests.

Final thoughts

Successful businesses and marketers rely on a combination of pull and push marketing that makes the most of the strength of each. At times, they see the need to get the immediate sale and build up a bottom line. At others, the importance of nurturing a lead and turning them into a lifetime customer takes precedence. The constant is that they’re always employing resources on both strategies at any given time, but the amount will differ based on need. 

Author: Matthew is a content writer for Aumcore, a digital marketing agency based in New York City that specializes in PPC services. He writes on a variety of topics that range from SEO and SEM strategies, to embarking in mobile app development.

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