What Is Push vs. Pull Marketing? (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The two most common strategies businesses consider when approaching the marketplace are push and pull marketing. These two methods offer different tactics, each with its own benefits and opportunities to allow brands to reach their demographics. Understanding the differences between these marketing styles is key to using them both in ways which serve the purpose of each campaign and result in sales and revenue improvements. In this article, we define push vs. pull marketing and their differences, offer examples of each, explain when to best use them, and relate these principles to inbound and outbound strategies.

Understanding push vs. pull marketing

The key differences between push vs. pull marketing relate to their approach to potential consumers. Each of these strategies has different approaches to the idea of connecting targeted demographics or the public with the marketing material or sales opportunities.

In the simplest form of their definitions, push marketing works by using an active approach to connecting individuals with a business' products, while pull marketing works when the consumer approaches the business to make a purchase. Each strategy achieves a different relationship with the company's consumers, and different rates of sales.

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What is push marketing?

Push marketing is a marketing strategy which focuses on bringing a brand's products or services to its target demographic. This strategy's primary goal is to reach potential consumers and provide them with access to the brand without needing them to look for the service or product. Typical push marketing tactics might include e-mail campaigns, social media, mailing printed marketing materials, and broadcast advertising.

Examples of push marketing

Below are some examples of the ways in which businesses use push marketing:

  • A local business sends out targeted e-mails to nearby residents offering a discount for new customers.

  • A retail establishment distributes fliers offering discounts to customers who buy a new product.

  • A milk brand offers incentives to convenience stores that sell its products and provides them with street signage to draw customers in.

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What is pull marketing?

Pull marketing uses the opposite approach to push marketing, and its goal is to pull potential customers to the brand or a company's products instead of pushing products or services to consumers. This tactic centres a marketer's attention on ways to bring customers to the brand or company instead of pursuing the consumer in the marketplace. Typically, this marketing strategy is applicable when customers already know what products they want or when a brand is already well-known to consumers.

Examples of pull marketing

Below are some examples of ways in which companies might use pull marketing:

  • A brand publishes articles online which educate potential consumers on how to choose the most suitable product for their needs, which leads to customers seeking their brand after reading about it online.

  • After years of consistent advertising, a business is now a household name that customers know to seek with minimal advertising required.

  • Word-of-mouth brings consumers to a retail outlet after several customers talk about their satisfactory experience.

When to choose push or pull marketing

Here are some common scenarios in which push or pull marketing best suits a business's marketing goals, and also when a combination of the two can benefit the company:

Push marketing

Here are some instances of when to use push marketing:

  • When promoting brands in a niche market

  • When seeking short-term sales gains

  • When launching a new service or product

  • When establishing new sales channels with distributors

  • When trying to grow brand awareness

Pull marketing

Here are some instances in which pull marketing can be effective for maintaining brand connectivity:

  • When trying to build long-term consumer relationships

  • When the target demographic already knows what products or services they need

  • When you're prioritizing the branding of the business

  • When consumers are already familiar with the brand

Combining push and pull marketing

Here are a few examples of instances where a combination of push and pull marketing may yield the best results:

  • When simultaneously trying to increase sales and brand awareness

  • When selling high-end products

  • When fostering existing client relationships while introducing new consumers

  • When marketing expensive products

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Key differences in using push vs. pull marketing

Because push marketing takes a more active approach to reach consumers, it's more effective for making faster sales. These speed-focused tactics may not build customer relationships that are as long-lasting or as effective for building brand loyalty. Pull marketing can be more successful in growing brand loyalty and longer customer relationships than push marketing. This is because this strategy approaches marketing by creating a brand that relates more closely to its target demographic, requiring research and time to attract its core customers.

What are inbound and outbound strategies?

Inbound and outbound marketing strategies are similar to push and pull marketing. Below are some examples of inbound and outbound marketing strategies to help you understand how these relate to push and pull marketing:

Inbound marketing strategies

Inbound marketing strategies are similar to pull marketing tactics. This type of marketing relies on a comparable strategy of disseminating information to attract consumers to a company's website, service, or product so that they can learn more about the brand. Some examples of inbound marketing include:

  • Infographics

  • Whitepapers

  • E-books

  • Targeted social media campaigns

  • Search engine optimized text on a website

  • Informational articles or blog posts

  • Informational videos

  • Webinars

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Outbound marketing strategies

Outbound marketing is similar to push marketing and is a strategy that involves a company bringing its brand, services, or products to the consumer. When a company uses outbound marketing, it actively pursues its demographics through advertising efforts. Here are some common outbound marketing strategies to help you understand how these methods relate to push marketing:

  • Pay-per-click advertising

  • Email campaigns

  • Direct mail

  • Cold calls

  • Paid advertising in radio, print, or TV ads

  • Tradeshows

Tips for using push and pull marketing

When implementing the best marketing strategy for a brand you market, there are several considerations to keep in mind when deciding on whether to employ push or pull marketing. Here are a few helpful tips you can use when planning your push, pull, or combination marketing strategies:

Consider mixing online and offline marketing strategies

When planning whether to focus your marketing efforts on push or pull strategies, it can be helpful to consider how both online and offline marketing can benefit your campaigns. Online advertising can have a further reach than some offline channels, while offline tactics can better target demographics geographically or be more memorable. Consider if your priority is to reach more consumers through push tactics, or to reinforce existing relationships through pull tactics.

Leverage retailer connections

When launching new products, it can be beneficial to leverage the connection you already have with existing retailers of your products. This is because you likely already have distribution channels in place and accounts set up for the retailer to purchase stock of the product. Importantly, there may already be a precedent with consumers to find the particular brand's product in these retail locations. This reinforces the pull marketing scenarios where consumers can access a brand's products in outlets with which they're already familiar.

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Inform customers of products or services

Because push strategies involve bringing information to consumers, these are commonly the most effective tactics for new or unknown brands. Through push strategies, new brands can inform customers about what the product or service is, what the brand represents, and indicate the position in the market the brand intends to hold. For instance, a new fashion brand can connect with new consumers through digital advertising, which explains that they're a street fashion brand, which creates comfortable and durable clothes in the entry-level price range. Pull tactics may not be as effective at sharing this information with new consumers.

Understand your demographic when strategizing

When deciding whether push or pull tactics may be the most effective for a brand you market, it's vital to consider who your target demographic is. Having an in-depth understanding of your target audience is essential for predicting the most effective communication channels and designing marketing strategies which work best with your core consumers. For instance, if your target audience isn't engaged with social media, then active push marketing using these channels may not be as effective as pull tactics, such as written articles.

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