Published August 14, 2006

Push Marketing Versus Pull Marketing

All marketing falls into two categories: push marketing and pull marketing. To marketers, it's as basic as breathing in and out. But that doesn't help the millions of would-be business owners who have left (or will be leaving) the corporate world to start their own businesses without the benefit of a marketing education. So consider this a quick marketing course:

If you think of your store as a doorway, and just on the other side of the doorway is your product. And reluctant to enter the doorway is the prospect. How do you get them to come in? With marketing. Think of marketing as a type of force on the prospect. You can choose to pull the prospect through the door or you can push them through the door.

What is pull marketing? Pull marketing is where you develop advertising and promotional strategies that are meant to entice the prospect to buy your product or service. Some classic examples are "half off!" or "bring in this coupon to save 25%" or "buy one get one free", etc.

With pull marketing, you are trying to create a sense of increased, time limited value so that the customer will come into your store to buy.

What is push marketing? Push marketing is where you develop advertising and promotional strategies geared toward your marketing and distribution channels to entice them in promoting your product. As consumers, you rarely see this type of marketing when it is directed to the distributors. It might include wholesale discounts, kickbacks, bonuses, and other types of support. It's all designed to have the retailer promote your product to the end users over a different product.

In recent years, I've seen a nearly exponential increase in the past decade - another type of push marketing is taking over. It's the referral and word of mouth marketing. When companies encourage happy customers to spread the word to their friends and families, that's a type of push marketing. Or, when companies make ads that are controversial, cheeky, or downright shocking, they create a little buzz - that's another type of push marketing.

Why you need both. Just one strategy will not give you as good of a return. I believe you need to balance both strategies to create a great marketing mix that powerfully entices customers to come through your door. Some customers react to one type or to the other. For example, the bargain hunters might react to the pull marketing tactics while the socially-aware buyers might respond to the push marketing. Or, if you have a product that requires a lot of convincing to buy, the "double barreled" approach will help to ensure that they can't resist your offer.

Here's how to build both into your business: When you are working on your annual marketing plan, make sure that you are scheduling marketing 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. But when you do, don't just stop at one effort: plan to do both push marketing and pull marketing throughout the entire year. Identify your marketing efforts as push marketing or pull marketing. Schedule them into your year at a glance calendar. Then, get out two colored markers and mark your push marketing in one color and your pull marketing in another color. You'll see that they overlap sometimes and other times where you are only actively doing one. Make sure that 365 days a year you are doing both!

Two types of marketing efforts through the year? It will be worth it!