Push vs. Pull Marketing

Someone on LinkedIn last week asked the question about the difference between push vs. pull marketing. The definitions posted for push marketing by various marketing folk were pretty consistent.

Push marketing is when you use various activities to get your message in front of your ideal client. The marketer is in control of what the message is, how it is seen, when and where. 

Ok so that coincides with what I term traditional marketing activities. Doing things to make sure your target audience sees or hears your message.

However, I was a bit surprised at some of the answers when it came to pull marketing. First my definition of pull marketing:

Marketing activities that encourage your prospect to seek you out and find out whether you have something of value to offer them. Pull marketing activities build relationships and can include blogging, podcasting, article marketing and networking (both on and offline). 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.

But as I read the various definitions of pull marketing, I realized that social media has changed its definition, and probably for the better. Today, pull marketing is about developing relationships that attract your ideal client to you. It shows the value you offer to these prospects so that they naturally are attracted to your products and / or services.

Before social media, pull marketing was viewed quite differently. In an article from MoreBusiness.com dated August 2006, it states that:

Pull marketing is where you develop advertising and promotional strategies that are meant to entice the prospect to buy your product or service. Some classic examples are “half off!” or “bring in this coupon to save 25%” or “buy one get one free”, etc.

With pull marketing, you are trying to create a sense of increased, time limited value so that the customer will come into your store to buy.

And although that last statement may be true, I view this type of marketing as push as the promotional strategies are still controlled by the marketer, not the target market. Offers such as these should always be included in your marketing activities to draw people in. But they are not pull strategies in my mind.

True pull marketing is based on us being visible where your ideal client hangs out and becoming part of their communities. Greg Verdino says it well:

Pull is not about pulling consumers in; it’s about giving consumers a reason to pull us in.  Remember truism #1 – they’re in control; they (not we) decide where they go and what they experience.  We’ve lost the right to pull consumers anywhere (if we ever really had that right at all.)

Pull means that we to go to them, join their communities, give them reasons to voluntarily draw us into their personal media experiences.  We’re not interrupting them.  They’re opting into us. 

To get your ideal client to discover you, develop a marketing plan that combines a strong personal brand and word of mouth marketing tactics (both online and offline) to increase your exposure as an expert in your discipline. This will help you attract them to you and make them your true fans.

Posted in Social Media Marketing.


  1. This was an awesome read – very informative. Currently shopping for a possible partner to aid us with content social media marketing, and this article put things in perspective for me. thanks and more success to LYFE
    Digital Marketing Updates

  2. can someone help me with this question….what differentiate strategies to reach consumers from business to business customers

  3. Great comments on Pull Marketing. If they choose to interact with us what is the most important information to capture about them when they come to you so that you can reach out and have a meaningful discussion?

    • Lesley, great question. I believe that will depend on the business. For me I want to know about the small business owner’s business, what challenges they face and why they are struggling with marketing. For a toy company, you may want to find out about their children, their ages and what type of interests they have. Understand your target market and you will be able to develop a conversation that centers around them.

  4. I share in all of the above sentiments especially laurents’. I identify with them within a developing worlds context where we ( suppliers ) sometimes create products for consumers without getting them to personally articulate their needs.

  5. Laurent – my view exactly. Find them, listent to them, and engage when/where it’s relevant and you add value – well stated. People who get it do just that. Thanks for the comment.

    Mike – Thanks! Creating demand for your expertise and making someone feel comfortable with you to want to work with you is what personal branding is all about. Nothing is better than having clients find me ;) Those are usually your ideal clients.

  6. If you want them to discover you, discover them. If you want them to listen to you, listen to them ;-).Then engage when/where it’s relevant and you add value. To them!…it may mean, on the net at least, joining 100s or more places where they hand on the net.

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