There are two main types of promotional activities that are carried out by businesses to acquire customers, i.e. push marketing and pull marketing. In push marketing strategies, companies try to gain the attention of the consumers, usually by creating disruptions like advertisements. Their intention is to increase the awareness and interest of customers about their product or service. In pull marketing, more subtle techniques are used by companies to draw customers towards their products or services, for example content creation and engagement.

These two types of marketing strategies will be explained in detail in this article, and the differences between them will be clarified.

Definitions and explanations

Push marketing

Push marketing is generally considered as the traditional marketing model. It is the promotional strategy used by companies to put their message across to their targeted marketing, even when they do not show any interest in purchasing the product or getting to know more about it. Push marketing is most appropriate for the lesser-known products as it helps in creating awareness of the products. The product is directly offered to the customers through different channels to ensure that the customers are completely aware of the product while purchasing it. This kind of marketing is also referred to as ‘General Advertising’ or ‘Direct Response Marketing’.

Push marketing is generally carried out using one-way communication channels. An advertising message is developed and  pushed across to the potential market using mass-marketing channels like television, radio, or print media. For majority of the companies, the most widely used push marketing strategies are advertisements on television, newspapers and magazines where products are introduced or sale announcements are made. In addition, direct mails, emails or brochures are also used to make the customers aware of a product and/or service.

Push marketing requires a significant amount of reach that is why it is often considered as ‘interruptive’. For example, they often show up as advertisements on television during a very intriguing serial or movie, thus serving as an interruption.

Pull marketing

The key idea in pull marketing is to create a strategy through which customers come to you themselves. It is also referred to as inbound marketing and tries to make the product or service visible to the potential customers so that they acknowledge their interest in the product and reach the company to seek solutions. Pull marketing is carried out through the latest marketing channels such as websites, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), blogging and social media marketing.

In the present times, customers spend a lot of time searching for their needs over the internet and reading reviews of different products/services. Through pull marketing strategy, a business is able to attract customers towards its product by providing answers to their queries.

The objective of pull marketing is to generate consumer demand for the product. It is a strategy through which customers actively look for products of a certain company because of its reliability, quality, reputation and goodwill. Hence, pull strategy is essentially about creating a relationship with the brand and is quite effective at creating brand ambassadors.

Difference between push marketing and pull marketing

The main difference between push marketing and pull marketing is explained below:

1. Meaning

Push marketing is the strategy used by companies to put forward its message across to prospective customers. The company pushes its products to the customers with the aim of bringing about a purchase. Pull marketing is the opposite of push marketing, where the marketing efforts of the company are such that they compel prospective customers to seek them when interested in making a purchase.

2. Strategy

The strategy employed in push marketing involves coming up with ways of presenting the product/service to customers by using a certain kind of paid advertising, such as print media, TV/radio advertisements and direct mail or emails. In pull marketing, the strategy used aims to making it easier for prospective customers to seek the product. The company concentrates on creating awareness, enhancing brand visibility and creating a lead, specifically on the internet using content that can be easily searched by the customers.

3. Suitability

Push marketing is most suitable for a lesser known brands, and those with low brand loyalty. In contrast, pull strategy is suitable for those products that have high brand loyalty, where consumers are aware of the differences between the brands and have already decided on the brand they wish to purchase.

4. Communication

In push marketing, consumers do not demand communication of information regarding the brand, while in pull marketing, customers demand the company to communicate information regarding the product or brand.

5. Examples

Push marketing involves direct response marketing or general advertising, including television/radio advertisements, billboards, personnel selling, trade shows, etc. Pull marketing is carried out through more subtle techniques, such as content generation. Some examples of pull marketing strategies are search engine optimization, social networking, blogging, strategic placement of a product, etc.

Push marketing versus pull marketing – tabular comparison

A tabular comparison of push marketing and pull marketing is presented below.

Push marketing vs Pull marketing
The marketing technique used to put forward a company’s product to its customers The marketing technique used by companies to compel the customers to seek for the products
The ways through which a product can be presented to prospective customers Creating awareness, improving brand visibility and generating a lead
Products that are not very well known and have low brand loyalty Well known products that have already acquired high brand loyalty
Customers  do not ask for information regarding a product or service Customers demand information regarding a product or service
Television/radio advertisements, billboards, personnel selling Search engine optimization, blogging, social networking, strategic product placement

Conclusion – push marketing vs pull marketing

Marketers face the dilemma of determining which strategy is most appropriate for their products. The primary focus of companies is on making their target market aware of their products. A new company that has a low level of visibility, or a well-known company that has just launched a new product range which is not yet known to customers, needs to inform its prospective customers about this product. For this, push marketing strategy needs to be adopted. After the product has become known among the consumers and a need for the product has been identified, pull marketing strategies come into play. At this point, companies need to make sure that they offer information to customers when they are looking for it. This shows that the two strategies are very important and have to be adopted in accordance with the product/brand visibility and awareness.