Push Vs. Pull Marketing And Why You Need Both

Let’s 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 be looking for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Push marketing in a nutshell

Push marketing in the retail world stands for tactics that aim at bringing products to customers. This means a focus in 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 ability of the product 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.

Rather you’re pushing it through them. This might imply a set of tactics which are interruptive in nature.

Things like a mass media campaign or an advertising campaign of social media or any other tactic that make 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 that 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 generate demand at a bottom-up level. Indeed, while 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 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 for a product or service.

Both push and pull strategies seek to generate demand.

In some cases, 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 strong push strategy.

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

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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