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.
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.
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.
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.
Why do push and pull need to walk hand in hand?!
In theory, we all like to think of ourselves as able only to build a business based on a pull strategy.
And while this might be true for some, for many others, a combination of push and pull it’s critical.
This is true, especially for companies that are starting up from scratch.
In that case, you need to look into ways to build the business in the short-term while also building a pull strategy in the longer term.
Let’s take the case of a software company starting from scratch with no clients.
How do you kick things off?
Of course, you might start leveraging things like blogging, providing free tools to users, newsletters, and more.
Yet, as you start, you don’t have any traction on these channels.
You must go out in the world and make sure people get to know you.
Thus, you start using, for instance, a paid strategy to drive some traffic back to your product landing pages.
While at the same time, you have a salesperson doing outreach to qualified prospects.
And in the meantime you built valuable content on your blog.
As you push to bring in the first customers, you can use some of these resources to build a valuable pull funnel, where people get to you from search engines or because they heard about you on social media.
In that way, you can start building a loyal audience made of customers, users, and more.
With a combination of push and pull, you can speed up the growth process, especially in the very early days.
The resources you need to get started with your business model:
- Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
- How to Write a One-Page Business Plan
- The Rise of the Subscription Economy
- How to Build a Great Business Plan According to Peter Thiel
- What Is The Most Profitable Business Model?
- The Era Of Paywalls: How To Build A Subscription Business For Your Media Outlet
- How To Create A Business Model
- What Is Business Model Innovation And Why It Matters
- What Is Blitzscaling And Why It Matters
- Snapshot: One Year Of “Business Model” Searches On Google In Review
- Business Model Vs Business Plan: When And How To Use Them
- The Five Key Factors That Lead To Successful Tech Startups
- Top 12 Business Ideas with Low Investment and High Profit
- Business Model Tools for Small Businesses and Startups
- How To Use A Freemium Business Model To Scale Up Your Business
Popular case studies from the blog:
- The Power of Google Business Model in a Nutshell
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