Push vs pull marketing strategies: When to use them

Ask any successful marketing agency or business owner the question “what’s the best way to grow your business?” and you’ll likely hear the answer we all dread when we want to discover important information that could help us: “it depends”.

As much as it can sound like an annoying answer, it’s true. The best way to grow your business is dependent on the size of your business, your own goals, your target market and the messaging/marketing strategies that resonate with these audiences.

push pull marketing strategiesSometimes it will be more beneficial to aggressively promote a particular product to a target audience; this is where you “push” a product or service in front of your existing customers or new prospects.

Other times you’ll need to focus on strategies that “pull” prospects towards your business, such as investing in SEO to bring more traffic to your site.

This article will explore what push and pull marketing strategies are, the differences between them, and when to use these for your business.

Let’s get started.

What is push marketing?

Push marketing, sometimes known as a push marketing strategy, is a marketing technique that involves a business actively taking its products to potential consumers.

A push marketing strategy will usually combine various active marketing and advertising techniques to get its products in front of its target audience.

Traditional examples of push marketing are methods like radio advertising, TV advertising, face to face sales, point of sale displays and trade show promotions. In addition, some push marketing strategies involved in digital marketing include display advertising and cold emailing.

When to use push marketing

Push marketing campaigns are beneficial when you have a specialised product or service to promote to a specific audience.

For example, let’s say a software company has just rolled out a new product that helps financial advisors get more leads through LinkedIn.

Suppose the company wants to promote this new product specifically to financial advisors to bring fast results. In that case, they could utilise push marketing strategies such as attending a physical or virtual trade show that financial advisors frequent to show them the product in real-time. Or cold-emailing specific financial advice firms to see if they would be interested in demoing the product.

Pros of push marketing

Push marketing strategies are helpful if you’re looking to get new leads, make quick sales or break into a new market.

On the other hand, if your goal is merely engagement or boosting brand awareness, then you’ll want to focus on marketing strategies such as SEO or social media marketing that have a more long term focus.

These techniques can be invaluable, particularly when you don’t have a large budget to work with or you haven’t built up a strong brand presence within a particular market.

You may also find that promoting a particular product into a new market could uncover demand that you were previously unaware of. If this happens and you can tap into this demand and double down on it, you could have found a new growth avenue for your business.

Cons of push marketing

While push marketing strategies can be great when you’re getting started in business or launching a new product, they aren’t always the best strategies if you’re looking for long term growth.

Take a cold email campaign as an example. You might be able to source 500 email addresses of the top decision-makers in the market you’re targeting, but what happens if these decision-makers aren’t interested in the product you’re selling? Or do you simply exhaust the list and run out of leads?

Successful push marketing depends on the immediate interest of the prospects you’re targeting. Also, as push marketing focuses on short-term sales, it can be difficult to build brand loyalty if you’re solely relying on this to grow your business.

What is pull marketing?

Pull marketing, commonly known as inbound marketing, is the opposite of push marketing and involves actively “pulling” prospects towards your products. Typical forms of pull marketing include:

  • SEO
  • Social media marketing
  • Blog and organic content
  • Media coverage
  • Word of mouth marketing and referrals

When should you use pull marketing?

Pull marketing strategies are beneficial when you aim to establish your brand and focus on prospects building a relationship with your brand rather than a single product. In addition, businesses use pull marketing for lead generation and provide lasting value to prospects and customers that translates to customer loyalty.

If we use the Financial Adviser example from earlier, if the software company wants to start building brand awareness in the new market they’re targeting, they could start investing in SEO and content marketing for their website and gradually improve their website ranking within search results.

By focusing on creating high-quality content, the software company can write articles on topics that their target audience (financial advisors) are interested in. If done correctly, this will increase their traffic and allow the company to drive their readers to an email list.

Over time they can continue to drip-feed their growing audience with valuable information and offers that convert some of their audience to customers. This enables them to build their brand authority among their other readers.

They could combine these strategies with a social media campaign on a platform such as LinkedIn, where lots of Financial Advisers are present. Here they could place ads encouraging Financial Advisers to start a free trial of their product or download a piece of content that helps their audience out somehow. These strategies work well to get the software companies’ brand name out there and bring in leads and customers in non-invasive ways.

Pros of pull marketing

Pull marketing approaches are great for establishing your brand authority within your target market and building customer trust and loyalty.

While push marketing campaigns focus on short term goals and quick wins, pull marketing strategies generally focus on the long term.

For example, when you invest in SEO to build organic traffic to your website, the prospects that land on your site and become customers are actively seeking out your product or solution or looking to solve a problem that your products solve. You’re not relying on drumming up interest in your product or service strictly through outbound means.

Cons of pull marketing

While pull marketing can generally be effective for any business, it’s not particularly useful if you need quick sales or cash flow for your business.

Additionally, investing in marketing strategies such as SEO and content marketing can be pretty expensive and can take a while to produce a positive ROI.

Also, potential customers landing on your website or seeking out your solutions may well be considering other products, so there’s no guarantee that visitors to your website or content will necessarily become your customer.


Most successful businesses will use a mixture of push and pull marketing at different times, depending on their goals, the size of their business and their preferred methods of growth. For example, a company may invest in SEO (a pull marketing strategy) while attending trade shows and carrying out cold email campaigns.

If you have the resources, use a mixture of both push and pull marketing methods. If you need quick results and quick sales, prioritise push marketing methods. If you’re looking to build your brand authority and build a deeper connection with your customers, focus on the longer term, pull marketing strategies that bring consistent long term results.