Push Vs. Pull Marketing And Why You Need Both

We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

AspectPush MarketingPull Marketing
DefinitionA marketing strategy where businesses proactively push their products or services in front of potential customers.A marketing strategy where businesses create content or offerings that attract customers to seek out their products or services.
InitiativeThe business takes the initiative to reach out to the target audience and promote its offerings.The target audience takes the initiative to seek out information or products from the business.
ApproachInterruptive approach, where advertisements and promotions are placed in front of a wide audience, including those who may not be actively looking for the product.Inbound approach, where businesses aim to provide valuable content and solutions that naturally draw in interested prospects.
ControlBusinesses have more control over the timing, placement, and content of their marketing messages.Businesses have less control over when and how customers engage with their content or offerings.
ChannelsCommonly used channels include TV commercials, display ads, email marketing, and telemarketing.Commonly used channels include content marketing, SEO, social media, and influencer marketing.
Customer EngagementMay lead to lower engagement as some customers may find push marketing intrusive or irrelevant.Generally leads to higher engagement, as customers actively seek information or products they are interested in.
CostsCan be costlier due to the expenses associated with advertising and promotions.Can be cost-effective, as it involves creating valuable content that continues to attract customers over time.
Response TimeTypically yields faster responses and immediate sales, especially for impulse purchases.May have a longer sales cycle, as customers research and make decisions at their own pace.
ExamplesTV commercials, banner ads, cold calls, direct mail, and traditional advertising methods.Blog articles, social media content, search engine optimization (SEO), and content-driven marketing.
EffectivenessEffective for products with broad appeal or seasonal promotions, but may be less effective for niche markets.Effective for building brand authority, trust, and long-term customer relationships, especially for niche or specialized products.
ContextPush MarketingPull Marketing
RetailSending promotional emails to customers with discounts and offers to encourage immediate purchases.Creating informative and engaging blog posts and videos that attract consumers actively seeking product information and reviews.
AutomotiveRunning TV and radio advertisements highlighting the latest car models and financing options to create interest.Optimizing website content for search engines and leveraging social media to make it easier for customers to find and research cars.
TechnologyLaunching aggressive paid advertising campaigns to showcase new gadgets and tech products to a broad audience.Developing user-friendly, SEO-optimized product pages and FAQs on a website to help potential customers find and understand tech products.
Food IndustryDistributing flyers or brochures offering special deals and menu items to households in a specific geographic area.Establishing a strong social media presence and encouraging user-generated content, such as food photos and reviews, to attract diners.
E-commerceSending cart abandonment emails with discount codes to persuade shoppers to complete their purchases.Implementing a content marketing strategy with valuable blog posts, product guides, and email newsletters to attract online shoppers.
HealthcareRunning TV and radio advertisements promoting healthcare services and encouraging people to schedule appointments.Creating a comprehensive and informative healthcare website with articles, symptom checkers, and online appointment booking.
TourismPromoting travel packages through telemarketing and email campaigns to potential tourists.Utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing to provide destination guides and travel tips, attracting travelers actively planning trips.
Real EstateSending direct mail flyers to residents in a particular neighborhood showcasing available homes for sale or rent.Maintaining a professional real estate website with property listings, high-quality images, and virtual tours for interested buyers to explore.
Entertainment IndustryLaunching teaser trailers, posters, and press releases to generate buzz and anticipation for upcoming movies or events.Engaging in influencer marketing and creating engaging social media content to build a dedicated fan base eagerly awaiting entertainment offerings.
EducationDistributing brochures and pamphlets about educational institutions and programs at college fairs and events.Developing a strong online presence through educational content, webinars, and SEO-optimized website to attract students searching for educational opportunities.

Push marketing in a nutshell

Push marketing in the retail world stands for tactics aiming to bring products to customers.

This means a focus on enhancing the visibility of your offering so that consumers can decide to purchase it more easily.

For instance, in the manufacturing world, this might mean a better display on a shelf.

The critical element of a push strategy, therefore, is the product’s ability to reach consumers.

Examples of Push Marketing

In a way, push marketing generates demand with a top-down approach. The customer is not looking for your brand or your product.

Instead, you’re pushing it through them. This might imply a set of tactics that are interruptive in nature.

Things like a mass media campaign or an advertising campaign on social media, or any other tactic that makes the consumers see your brand while they’re doing something else.

Other examples of push campaigns where you get your message to consumers in an interruptive way are:

  • Direct selling.
  • Face to face.
  • Sales canvassing.
  • Point of sales displays.
  • Social media marketing.

Pull marketing in a nutshell

Pull main marketing aim is to have consumers see you when they are already looking for something similar to the product or service you offer.

Or they are looking for your brand.

The primary objective is to create loyalty toward a brand so those same people will get back without you having to push your product or service to them with interruptive strategies.

Examples of Pull Marketing

In a way, pull marketing generates demand at a bottom-up level.

Indeed, in a push marketing strategy, a brand interrupts a consumer by delivering a message independently from the consumer looking for it.

Pull marketing shows the product or brand when consumers are seeking it.

The advantage of a pull campaign is that consumers might recognize your brand and therefore ask for it.

This also helps the company build a better distribution strategy.

A pull marketing campaign might require substantial investments, yet it might be more cost-effective in the long run compared to push marketing as it might imply better loyalty and conversion.

Push and Pull marketing and why they both matter in the digital era

With digitalization, the difference between push and pull has become less important.

Indeed, what was defined as rules in the past have become blurred now.

For instance, when in the past, a company needed to spend millions in mass media campaigns to push their product to consumers just to build brand loyalty.

Nowadays, with targeted ads or with organic campaigns via search engines, it’s possible to reach a large number of people that are actually seeking a product or service.

Both push and pull strategies seek to generate demand.

Sometimes, a push strategy might be hard to distinguish from a pull strategy.

For instance, when Google closed the deal with AOL in its early years, that meant a short-term boost and a strong push strategy.

However, the association of the Google brand with AOL (at the time among the most recognized web companies) also created brand recognition.

This, in a way, is the B2B2C business model strategy in action.

This difference is harder in practice.

Brand and conversion are tied in the real world.

A more recognized brand might imply better conversion. Therefore, tapping into both push and pull is critical for any organization!

Push vs. pull marketing examples

To solidify the concept of push and pull marketing, let’s look at an example of each.

Push marketing


Have you ever wondered why spam is the term we use for unwanted emails that are sent en masse?

The name originates from a canned meat product created by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937.

The company, which claims there are 12.8 cans of SPAM eaten around the world every second, has used push marketing to promote itself over many decades.

Hormel created a buzz around SPAM’s launch by holding a public naming contest with a cash prize of $100.

To emphasize the versatility of canned meat, Hormel then created a recipe book based on fan submissions with over 50 different ways to incorporate the food into meals.

This versatility was again highlighted during the Second World War, with soldiers using grease from the cans to waterproof their boots and lubricate their weapons. Those stationed overseas also introduced the product to locals, which broadened its appeal.

In the boom years after the war had ended, the company employed a musical troupe of veterans known as the Hormel Girls.

The troupe would travel the United States performing songs that promoted the product and were even featured on three national radio networks.

Today, SPAM is as American as apple pie. Hormel positioned the brand as a patriotic food that reflected America’s ingenuity and versatility.

It also recognized that push marketing needed to complement its product which was simple, cheap, and not particularly exciting. 

In more recent years, Hormel has added to the brand experience with the Spamarama cooking festival which ran for 41 years.

Other promotional efforts include a SPAM-sponsored NASCAR vehicle and a Broadway music entitled Spamalot.

Pull marketing


Ferrari, like all luxury brands, employs pull marketing to draw consumers to its range of premium products.

The company could certainly sell cheaper vehicles and make millions in the process, but it attracts consumers to the brand by maintaining exclusivity and only producing top-end sports cars. 

Ferrari started as a racing stable that entered amateur drivers into various races driving Alfa Romeos.

While the company continued as a racing stable for almost twenty years, Ferrari was forced to manufacture and sell a vehicle that could be driven on public roads to continue to fund his passion.

In 1947, Ferrari sold just two vehicles, with this culture of restricting the number of vehicles sold existing in some form today.

This culture was referenced by current CEO Louis Camilleri, who believes that the company’s long wait period for a new car – which often exceeds twelve months – is a key indicator of the brand’s value, exclusivity, and ability to pull in customers.

The company further enhances its pull marketing strategy by refusing to sell vehicles to certain individuals – even if they have the money to purchase.

Ferrari only deals with customers that fit a certain profile and, in most cases, the customer must provide evidence that they’ve owned one of its cars in the past.

There is also the Ferrari Owners Club, consisting of current or previous owners who receive exclusive access to new model launches and other events.

All these initiatives increase brand appeal and create significant pricing power for the company across new and used models.

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