Push versus Pull Marketing | Strategic Marketing

Push Versus Pull Marketing

Today you often hear the phrase “Push/Pull Marketing” used to describe how traditional media differs from newer, digital forms of media, but it is a phrase that’s been used by and amongst marketers and marketing executives for decades.  Push Marketing and Pull Marketing may be two sides of the same coin, but the opposite connotations that are usually applied to them often spur contentious debate amongst marketing professionals.

So what is “push” marketing?  Between the two, it is probably the easier approach to identify and describe.  It is most commonly described by marketing pros as the marketing firm using mass media to “push” the message of its product or brand out into the marketplace.  It employs the use of the obvious and traditional forms of mass media—television, radio, print, and outdoor—as well as online advertising such as display ads.  Simply stated, the purpose of this approach is to bring awareness of the product to the consumer.  Once embroiled in the push vs. pull debate, detractors of push marketing often label it a “shotgun” approach, or even a “poorly-aimed bazooka”.  The marketer has a target audience, but the question becomes whether or not it can effectively reach that audience when using mass media to push out an unsolicited message.  And if the answer is yes, can it be done cost-efficiently?

These questions have become daunting in the age of digital media.  Online marketing professionals en masse have declared that the rise of social media signifies the death of traditional push marketing.  But consider the curious case of the Dos Equis brand of beer.  Up until 2006, Dos Equis was thought of as just another Mexican brew—an also-ran next to Corona.  Then the brand introduced its new campaign—first on a regional level and then in ’09 on a national level—based around a character called “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”  Raise your hand if you haven’t seen the spots on television, heard them on the radio, or seen the ads in print.  The old-school methodology of push marketing pushed the brand out there into the consumer’s consciousness to the tune of doubled revenues from 2006 to 2011.

If “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign is a good example of successful modern push marketing, what defines “pull marketing”?  A good description comes from Debra Murphy of Masterful Marketing: pull marketing consists of “marketing activities that encourage your prospect to seek you out and find out whether you have something of value to offer them.  Pull marketing uses the law of attraction, incorporating all the components of your personal brand to attract and retain these people as your biggest fans.”  Shennandoah Diaz of Brass Knuckles Media describes pull as a “well-baited hook”.   That is a fair way of depicting pull marketing, but how is it executed?  The hook doesn’t bait itself, so to speak.  This is the nebulous world of pull marketing, where definitions of the approach are as varied as the opinions.

Pull essentially entails that the consumer is actively searching for a good or service and finds the marketer during the course of this search and brings its product into consideration.  But the consumer doesn’t find the marketer by mere divine intervention; the product, message, and brand has to be put into the marketplace in a way that can easily be found by the target audience.  Those of us over the age of 25 have each at some point used the oldest form of pull marketing—the Yellow Pages.  In the age before the search engine, if someone needed a good or service but didn’t know where to go or who to see to get it, he or she consulted the Yellow Pages.  Whether it was a simple listing or a display ad a full page in size, the Yellow Pages had an answer.  But the marketer’s ad didn’t magically appear in the book, it had to be bought, created, and placed in there under the appropriate heading.  It is the same with today’s modern equivalent—Google.  A marketer’s website, blog, or third-party site has to be designed, placed, and optimized to compete for space on the front page of a search for relevant keywords.  Like in the Yellow Pages, the consumer is on Google looking for something specific—a solution to a problem, and when the marketing company’s site or page appears, it has an opportunity to be taken into consideration immediately.  But think about how much greater of a chance the marketer has of successfully receiving that consumer if it used push marketing to favorably brand the solution in the consumer’s mind prior to him or her seeing the listings on Google.

Pull marketing today can be thought of as the consumer pulling the marketer into consideration.  Consequently, it should utilize social media, blogging, podcasting, and any other means of getting in direct contact with the consumer; however it can’t be done without considerable effort, and assistance from the social public at large.  Online reputation has a huge role to play in how successful a marketer will be in this kind of referral business, and having a push marketing campaign to set the tone and lay the foundation for the brand and its image can be invaluable.

Push and pull marketing are two sides of the same coin, not two coins of a different currency.  And with their knowledge of successful offline and online marketing techniques and strategies, Strategic Marketing can help you turn that one coin into many, many more.  Contact them today at (561) 688-8155.