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Push Versus Pull: Choosing the Most Effective Marketing Strategy

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Published: January 13, 2015

Selecting the most effective strategy to engage and convert prospective customers is perhaps the most important decision you face in designing your company’s overall marketing program. The “push” strategy is the older and probably better known of the two basic marketing methods. This approach encompasses most of the traditional mass media advertising channels such as newspaper and magazine ads, radio and television commercials, direct mail and cold call telemarketing.

“Pull” marketing, on the other hand, is a more enlightened model that relies on consumer choice in actively seeking out information and products that will provide answers and solutions to everyday problems. A pull strategy focuses on maintaining a presence across a number of informational channels, primarily online, that consumers are likely to use to solve their problems. Typical pull channel strategies include ranking relevant content in the search engines, hosting webinars, and regular posting to social media networks.

How Does Push Marketing Work?

  • Push marketing begins with a definition of the target audience believed to be the most likely to purchase your products or services.
  • Advertising messages are created that will appeal to the target audience. Typical goals might include expanding brand awareness, increasing brand preference, or encouraging a trial purchase.
  • A combination of advertising channels that will most effectively reach the target audience is then selected, and may include print and broadcast media, outdoor billboards, and point-of-sale display.

Is Push Marketing Effective?
Yes and no. Push marketing is still widely used but its effectiveness has dropped sharply with the explosion of technology over the past few decades, especially the Internet. The problem is simply that consumers have been given the power to make their own choices about the type of information they receive, and they’re not about to go back to the old days of being dictated to.

The importance of television, radio, and newspaper media is dwindling – along the audience for the traditional advertising they carry – and these channels are being replaced by a multitude of online choices for news and entertainment. Today’s consumers can use the search engines to gather information, including reviews and testimonials, about products and companies when and where they choose. The real issue with push marketing is that it relies on advertising channels that are intrusive in nature and are no longer trusted by the typical consumer.

What About Pull Marketing?
Pull marketing is generally considered to be the more effective approach. Consumers are empowered to gather information on their own without having intrusive and aggressive advertisements pushed at them. This approach results in typically higher conversion rates simply because prospects who have sought out your company are more likely to buy from you than those who have not.

In essence, pull marketing encourages potential customers to pull in only those messages about products and companies that they are interested in hearing about. It delivers relevant content that engages the consumer, provides a value-driven user experience, and offers a high level of customer service and satisfaction. An effective pull strategy is focused on creating and maintaining brand awareness and visibility that ensures your brand will be remembered when the prospect is ready to buy.

Which Approach is Best for My Company?
Resources permitting, a combination of push and pull marketing is the optimal approach for many businesses. Research has shown that blending push and pull strategies can result in increased return on investment, in some cases by as much as 20 percent. A push strategy will help establish brand awareness among those consumers who may have never heard of you, while pull marketing will help you attract the attention of those prospects who are actively researching solutions.