Examples and Tips for using the Push and Pull Strategies
What is the Push and Pull model?
Push and pull strategies are promotional routes to market. Either by the product being pushed towards customers or your customers pulling the product through the retail chain towards them.
It was traditionally used in supply management by manufacturers, then adopted for marketers to help with their promotional strategies - here are the tactics associated with each:
How to use the Push and Pull model
There are many advantages and disadvantages of both models, as it depends on your business. For instance, manufacturers tend to use a push strategy for finding distributors to promote their products.
For example, Mars who manufacture chocolate bars, sell via distributors. It would impossible to manage requests to buy single bars of chocolate! They have a large product portfolio and sell ranges into their distributors.
For a service business, they often use pull strategies, for example, Intel, the computer chip company created 'Intel Inside' their brand ingredient programme by persuading manufacturers that their computers would have higher perceived value if they featured Intel in their own marketing, resulting in customers wanting to know if the PC they were buying included an Intel chip.
A good tip is to look at your competitors: What are they doing? Push or pull? Look at overseas competitors too as they may have introduced other ideas.
Pros and Cons of the Push and Pull Strategy
As would be expected, there are advantages and disadvantages to both push and pull strategies:
Advantages of the Push Strategy
- Useful for manufacturers seeking distributor for product promotion.
- Useful for those manufacturing or those selling low value items as a distribution who is likely to place bulk items.
- Creates product exposure in potentially large retail environments.
- Good way to test new products in the market.
Disadvantages of the Push Strategy
- The distributor may source alternative products (cheaper, faster delivery) once your product has established the market need.
- Distributors may not organise a formal contract, so no guarantee of regular orders.
- Distributors may demand financial contribution towards promotion.
- Distributors may demand lower prices to fit in with their promotional campaign.
- Distributors can establish dependence and then request price reductions
- Distributors can demand lengthy credit terms.
Advantages of the Pull Strategy
- Direct contact with customers.
- Instant payment as customers do not have credit facilities and pay online or in store at the checkout.
- Greater margins as no discount needed.
- Customers can generate ideas for new product development.
- Ideal for premium priced products.
Disadvantages of the Pull Strategy
- Greater administration required in-house to fulfil customers’ orders.
- Many smaller and one-off orders.
An example of the Push and Pull model
How does your business operate right now? If you only sell via retailers, you have a push strategy. If you sell to merchants like supermarkets or major retailers, the challenge is often when your product establishes sufficient demand; the merchant may wish to replace your product with its own alternative. If you only sell direct to customers, that’s a pull strategy.
As markets, the environment and customers change, it’s wise to consider both strategies. Thornton’s Chocolates operate both strategies in different ways.They have an own label option and sell to specific retailers and package their goods using the retailers’ own brand packaging and they sell direct to customers via high street stores, online and in other retailers.
An example of Push and Pull Strategy can be seen with a South African winery. Stormhoek wines went from selling 50,000 cases of wine a year in 2004 to 200,000 cases in 2006.
As a small business on a budget, they had a challenge competing for supermarket shelf space and needed customers talking about them, so the supermarkets would want to talk to them. They were looking at changing their traditional business model from a push to a pull strategy. Via a blog (gapingvoid) a bottle of wine was offered to 100 bloggers in the UK and Ireland. The bottle carried the message ’Maybe you will write about it. Maybe not. You never know.’ It was a successful campaign and many bloggers started writing about the wine, resulting in the orders from supermarkets.
What to watch for
To grow a business you may need both strategies. A push strategy gets a larger volume of products out to customers faster. A pull strategy can take longer and involve many smaller orders.
We haven’t been able to track down the original source! We’ve looked through The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s EBSCO database containing access to thousands of journals, articles and other publications dated back to 1902 and it’s not there. We can assume it was created before this time.
Recommended Guide: Essential Marketing Models
In our free, illustrated guide to 15 classic planning models diagrams we explain what they are and give examples of why and how to apply them in business.
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Why You Need Push Marketing and Pull Marketing
Every marketing tactic falls into one of two categories: Push or Pull. Does your organization employ one or the other? How about both? More on that later. First, let’s break down the two main marketing strategies.
What is Push Marketing?
Push Marketing is a form of advertising that sends communication to the user. Also known as direct response marketing or general advertising, it targets a specific audience with messages and offers. Email, direct mail, print and broadcast are prime examples of Push Marketing.
What is Pull Marketing?
Yes, you guessed it, Pull Marketing is the opposite of Push Marketing. This type of marketing “pulls” prospects and shoppers into your website or social page. Today’s buyer is an avid online researcher. He or she reads reviews, conducts keyword searches and asks online social friends for suggestions. Pull Marketing gives you an opportunity to attract the researcher wanting answers you provide. When a prospect finds an ebook, white paper or blog about a topic they want to know more about, Pull Marketing is at work.
Push Marketing and Pull Marketing differ in concept and application. Let’s explore the five main differences.
Push Marketing: This is also known as outbound marketing, since it pushes marketing out to prospects and customers. With Push Marketing you're finding the prospects and they're "raising their hand" when interested.
Pull Marketing: This is also known as inbound marketing. The term “inbound” means that your marketing efforts cause prospects to find you when they have an interest. They come to you for answers.
Push Marketing: A Push strategy is about devising ways to place a product or service offer before prospects. This approach usually involves some form of paid advertising: print, TV ads, radio spots and direct mail. However, email falls under Push Marketing as well.
Pull Marketing: Pull makes it easier for researchers to find you. The focus is on creating awareness and increasing brand visibility and generating a lead, particularly online with content that often resides on your website.
Push Marketing: This type of marketing typically starts offline, with a few exceptions. A direct mail postcard is an example of offline marketing. It often drives prospects and customers to a physical location, a website/landing page or to an inbound phone number. An email offer is another example of how Push Marketing drives responders to a store, website or landing page.
Pull Marketing: Pull is almost exclusively a web-based method. Online content you create is designed to take responders to a unique landing page to complete a form or place a call to an inbound number found on the landing page.
Push and Pull also differ in application. Let’s consider a few specific examples.
Example 1: Direct Response Print and SEO
Push: You run Direct Response Print offering a free trial for your product and the prospect either visits a landing page or calls to place an order.
Pull: You focus on Search Engine Optimization and use key words on your site that are relevant to your product or service. A shopper finds your site online and calls you and places an order.
Example 2: Direct Mail and Social
Push: You mail out a coupon offering a 20% discount with a limited-time offer. The customer goes online to purchase and uses the offer code they find on the postcard or they call you to purchase.
Pull: You post a 20% off coupon on your Facebook page. One of your customers shares it with a friend and they download the coupon on their phone and go to your website to buy.
Push Marketing: If done correctly, Push Marketing can work really well. Direct Mail to customers is a perfect example. If you use your customer data to create personal and relevant communication, it can make them feel very special. It also moves them to take action sooner than later!
Pull Marketing: Marketing is rewarding when prospects and customers come to you. (It just takes hard work. And it often takes more time to make this happen.) Pull Marketing generally enjoys a higher level of engagement because the prospect shows an interest and takes an action without you prompting them. However, Pull Marketing can fail if your content is not designed around the personas you want as customers. And because you often attract prospects in the early buying stage, it requires a longer-term conversion strategy. You guessed it, Push Marketing tactics like email, direct mail, outbound phone and face-to-face meetings will play a role.
Why You Need Both
Successful marketers rely on the strength of each approach and often use them together. You need Push to reach out to those who might not have heard of your service or company. A Push approach also is needed for communicating with your qualified leads, lapsed customers and existing customers to increase sales. You need Pull to attract those in the research or buying stage who are searching for your product or service and to promote your business as a thought leader.
When DMN3 works with clients, we always start with the end in mind to develop the best contact strategy. If a client needs leads fast, we will include some form of direct response -- especially if they have a database of prospects and customers. If they're trying to win back lapsed customers and have a database, we leverage that first with Push Marketing tactics. While we use inbound marketing in almost every campaign, it is not always a fast solution. And we try to manage clients' expectations about how quickly they might see results. Creating content and getting a customer's website ready to generate leads does take time and is dependent on ongoing content creation and unique landing pages using forms. These are just a few of the reasons you need an integrated approach to get the best ROI. Supercharge your marketing campaigns by making inbound and outbound work hand in hand.