Push and pull marketing are key elements of the promotional mix strategy, yet sometimes these terms leave marketers feeling puzzled. Marketing strategy expert and author, Terence Shimp, describes push-pull marketing as "physical metaphors characterizing the promotional activities manufactures undertake to encourage trade channel members to handle/ merchandise brands and persuade consumers to purchase them.”
If you're not too sure what’s meant by pull vs push marketing, or how these two methods work together, then you've come to the right place. Use this article to develop the foundations of your own push-pull technique!
A push marketing strategy, also called a push promotional strategy, is a technique used by manufacturers to “push” intermediaries (like wholesalers and resellers) to increase inventories of their brand versus competitor brands. Following this, wholesalers also often turn to push marketing in order to persuade retailers to sell the goods through a number of tactics including:
In general, companies use a push marketing strategy when launching a new product or operating in a niche market. While this strategy does have its benefits, it also has some drawbacks that must be considered before deciding if this is the best option for you. Let’s explore both sides of the coin so you can base your decision on a well-rounded view.
Pull marketing is the polar opposite of push marketing. So what is an example of market pull? Well, it involves stimulating demand for a product or service and persuading consumers to ask for the product in retail outlets. The goal of this type of promotional marketing strategy is to “pull” customers into store or have a product “pulled” off the shelves, so to speak. Rather than trying to sell to a wholesaler, the manufacturer instead uses a market pull promotional strategy to focus its promotion on the customer and motivates them to want it. They do that using tactics such as:
It’s also worth noting that a modern-day pull marketing strategy tends to use various pull media channels, from social media to pay per click, since the modern-day customer journey is fragmented. This means companies need to be present on the various channels that the audience are using to discover and research. Want to learn more about optimizing your customer journey strategy? Take a look at our ebook, “Demystifying the B2B Online Customer Journey”.
Now we understand the benefits and drawbacks of solely using a push or pull strategy, let’s take a look at the synergies between them.
There are a number of elements at play that influence decision-making around whether a marketer leans more on a pull or push marketing strategy, including goals/ objectives/ KPIs, the type of product/ service they offer (industrial or consumer?), type of buying situation and more. Having said that, blending elements of push-pull marketing together is where the sweet spot is at, after all, push and pull models naturally align. Here's an example of how push and pull marketing work together:
In order to boost sales of a newly launched product, a manufacturer decides to promote to the end consumer (pull). Knowing the importance of balancing promotion with intermediaries too, they decide to simultaneously offer trade discounts (push) in order to 'move' their products through distribution channels.
As marketing professionals, we need to create market demand (awareness) and then help develop the lead pipeline (sales). Initially push marketing helps generate the need and a pull marketing strategy offers a way for users to satisfy that need. Because of this, companies rarely exclusively use either approach at a given time, instead, they integrate push-pull marketing so they can benefit from the advantages and limit the drawbacks of each push and pull technique.
An integrated marketing communication strategy (ICM) refers to the process of creating a unified and seamless experience for customers. The model attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication, such as advertising, promotions, direct sales, public relations, social media, etc., so that all align in harmony as a unified force. While a push marketing strategy deals with resellers, the resellers ultimately interact with consumers on the brand's behalf, so it’s important that marketing professionals cultivate seamless experiences with both intermediaries and the end customer. This is when integrated push and pull marketing become paramount.
For integrated marketing communications to be successful, the marketer must ensure push and pull strategy messages communicated across all push and pull channels are aligned. As mentioned, when all channels work in synergy, it manifests a unified force – one not to be reckoned with! The most common disconnect between a push and pull strategy occurs between personal selling and other elements of the promotional mix, so pay close attention to breaking down the silos and creating sales enablement material that can support integrated communications. If sales and marketing are singing from different hymn sheets, it's easy for the message to become blurred and confusing for the consumer.
So there we have it, how to identify the difference between a push and pull strategy, why both models are needed if you’re to successfully balance the process of creating market demand and sales and how to integrate your push pull technique. If you’re in the process of launching a new product, consider the points given in this article before deciding on the best push-pull model and approach to take. We're always here for a chat, so if you'd like to learn more about creating a push pull model that works for your business, fill out the form below and we'll be in touch!