To Push or Pull: It shouldn’t be a tug-of-war!

Over the course of the past few weeks, we have learned the importance of Integrated Marketing Communication and the difference between traditional media and social media.  Now, we explore push and pull marketing and how to add them successfully to the mix.

Websites have been around since the 90’s, since that time they have become a staple in every business marketing portfolio.  With websites being the company hub for information, marketers need effective ways to draw customers in and push messages out, ensuring that consumers stay interested in the product/service/brand of that company.

Push, outbound marketing, and pull, inbound marketing, have been strategies for reaching customers for decades.  Each strategy has its advantages and disadvantages.  Push marketing is pro-active. According to Push vs. Pull Marketing – Which Is Better?’ by Charlie Page, push marketing, “usually creates results faster than pull marketing.” Page explains “you choose how, when, and how often prospective customers see your selling message. Push Marketing states “the greatest advantage of push marketing is that it produces quick results and makes explicit statements to customers. It is less concerned with branding, and more concerned with creating an instant demand for a new product.” This type of strategy can be expensive, however. In this strategy, the company/brand is in charge of placing their message directly in front of the target audience.

If the money is available, this technique is great for start-ups looking to create demand for products.  The article, Pull Marketing vs. Push Marketing: Definition, Explanation & Benefits, explains that push marketing “excels in raising awareness for lesser-known products. Advertising on relevant industry websites with big banner ads, sponsored blogging, Social Media Ads, Display Marketing and TV advertising are all great channels… If you want to get your product known. Be aware though that it is not for the small or medium sized marketing budget. If you want to change the mind of consumers, then you better be great at producing viral content, have an amazing product or a lot of budget to spend on push marketing.”

Being the pro-active choice, push marketing creates fast results, and instant demand, it puts the power in the company’s hands, and raises awareness for lesser-known products.  The major disadvantage of push marketing is that it can be costly, according to The Push and Pull product distribution model, the push strategy may ”only produce temporary effects. Since the goal is not to create long-term customer relationships, push marketing strategies have to constantly make new pitches about the value of products. It keeps the customer at a distance, meaning they must constantly be reengaged.”

Pull marketing, offers a different strategy altogether.  In direct contrast to push marketing, pull marketing is more cost effective.   Pull Marketing vs. Push Marketing: Definition, Explanation & Benefits, states, “Today’s pull marketing can happen on so many different free platforms that have wielded unlimited possibilities for marketers.” Social media has opened a new door for marketers.  How to Implement a Pull Marketing Strategy, is a great article that gives a list of advantages of pull marketing:

  1. Pull marketing campaigns allows you to draw in leads and business with less effort, and at a lower cost than traditional marketing approaches.
  2. Pull marketing changes the emphasis of marketing activities from a continuous drive to a more compelling draw for your potential customers
  3. Pull marketing is increasing in value thanks to the rise of the internet, search marketing, and social media. More and more people are using the web and social networking to make decisions about the products or services they want to buy. Pull marketing directly taps into this.
  4. Pull marketing also taps into the growing number of social media communities by maximizing your impact via online ‘word of mouth’.
  5. Pull marketing techniques done effectively makes it easier to attract prospects and convert them into customers.

Just like with traditional media and social media, two integrated strategies are better than one.  In the article by Charlie Page, he claims that: almost all great marketing campaigns consist of both push and pull marketing. Understanding the benefits each strategy offers your business is key to understanding how to utilize them effectively.  The Battle between Push and Pull Marketing, states, that

“Any organization that is interested in sustained revenue and profitability growth over time should invest in both, but most companies are seduced by the immediate payback of push marketing and pursue only push marketing strategies. Meanwhile, pull marketing helps grow new potential customers (or accelerates their purchase readiness timeline), so it is equally important, in the long run. Smart companies, organizations that intend to succeed, in the long run, need to invest in both push and pull marketing strategies in order to keep their sales pipeline full both for now AND for the future. And if your company is focused on innovation, then the more disruptive that you try to be, the more important that having a pull component to your marketing strategy will become. Push or pull? The answer lies in… the balance.”

Social media has been a catalyst for many changes in marketing and communication.  The changes that have occurred due to the prevalence of use and success of social media has caused many people to abandon what they believe is the “old way.”  Don’t Kill Off Your Website — Use It As The Hub For Your Social Media Presence is an informative article on why that would be a mistake. In the above article, a client was asked if he thought he should abandon his website, “are you kidding, and turn my brand over to Facebook? I might as well be turning it over to an authoritarian sovereign state…” Just as in lecture, we must remember that we, as companies or brands, do not own our Facebook pages.

Social media platforms are “quixotic –  changing rules, rights, and value propositions at the drop of a hat…or an IPO. Who would want to plight his troth exclusively with them? Besides, there will always be a newer platform arising to knock out an older one…which will leave companies scrambling even more if they were to let social media company sites dominate their brand outreach.”

We can not deny the importance and the impact that social media has had on commerce and the way companies engage and interact with consumers.  It is a wonderful addition to that all important marketing portfolio. However, just like the article explains, incorporation of all relevant marketing outlets is essential.

“So, the real challenge is not shall we kill off our website, rather it is how should we coordinate all the many parts of our company’s social media presence? How can we choose which platforms to use? And then how can we leverage the special attributes of each platform to conduct business and build the totality of our brand presence on social media?”

There is no doubt that social media platforms, like Facebook, are vying to be the end all for business marketing. These platforms have significantly impacted our behavior, as you can see in R.I.P. 3 Ways Facebook is Killing Your Website.  A study by Lab 42 suggest that 50% of consumers think a brands Facebook page is more useful than a brand’s website, but as marketers we must promote integration above all else, to allow for the most complete and comprehensive marketing strategy.

Two companies that have leveraged websites/social/push & pull correctly:

1. Gymboree. Children’s Clothing.  Gymboree has a well-designed website.  Once you click on the URL, you are hit with a pop-up advertisement, offering you a discount for your email.  You can create an account.  Gymboree’s website gives you the option to sign up for MYGYMBOREE, which tailors search results to your pre-set preferences.  You can also signup for Gymboree rewards, which will send you rewards dollars for purchases made.  On their social site, everything links to their webpage… Their posts are engaging and encourage consumer participation.  Gymboree sends direct mail advertisements, coupons, and announcements of sales… All promoting web site or encourage to shop in stores.  Email blasts… Advertisements, announcement and reminders of coupons or Gymbucks.  Print ads and coupons in magazines, Parenting, etc.  Local stores call customers to remind them of events.  They have profiles on Instagram and Google + and use LinkedIn for employment opportunities. They are listed 5th on Google search of children’s clothing.


2. Redbox. Movie / Game Rentals.  Redbox has a well-designed website.  You can create an account.  Redbox advertises on billboards, television and print advertisements.  They are on Facebook.  The offer email signup for discount, coupons and free rentals.  They send SMS alerts for free rentals and coupons. They offer discounts on their Facebook page.  They send email blasts.  They are listed 2nd on Google search for movies on DVD.

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