While there are a vast array of methods available to market your products, they all break down into push and pull strategies. Each strategy has its own benefits, and while there may be stages in your product cycle where one strategy is more useful than the other, it’s important to take a balanced approach to your overall marketing mix.
The Difference Between Push and Pull Strategies
Push strategies involve making your target market aware of your product by positioning it in front of them. Pull strategies build demand for your product, so your target market seeks out the product themselves. Both strategies have the same end-goal of increasing your product sales, but go about it in opposite ways.
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Push Strategies in Action
A push strategy can be as simple as negotiating with a retailer to include your product on its shelves, as that pushes the product out in front of potential customers. Other options for push strategies include setting up your product in a showroom or renting a booth at a trade show so retailers see your product and want to stock it.
Push strategies tend to work particularly well when your brand has already built a strong relationship with customers. If customers like your products and trust in the quality of those products, often simply putting your product in front of them is enough to make the sales.
Pull Strategies in Action
With pull strategies, it’s all about making the customer come to you. Common types of pull strategies include advertising and promoting your product through mass media, offering discounts and other promotions, and getting your current customers to refer other customers through good word of mouth.
Pull strategies are an excellent way to build your brand or get people interested in your new product. By showing off what your product can do, you can get your target market to look for your product on their own.
Social media is a valuable tool for pull marketing. It may not be easy to make your product go viral, but even a small social media following can spread the word about your product and help you create a sizable buzz.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Push and Pull Strategies
Both types of marketing strategies have their own benefits and weak points.
Push strategies are a great way to sell your products as quickly as possible by making them highly visible to your target market. If you need to sell out a product supply right away, push strategies are the way to go.
The main problem with push marketing is that it only focuses on making the quick sale, not on building any sort of relationship with the customer. While customers may buy out your product inventory if you push it to them, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will become repeat customers. Every time you release a new product, you will have to go through the same process to push it in front of your target market.
Pull strategies, on the other hand, often build very strong relationships between manufacturers and customers. When you create demand for your product, customers get to know your company better. If they like what they see, they are more likely to return in the future. With the right pull strategy, you can create demand for your product before you release it, which also allows you to set a higher price since you know customers are going to want your product.
The downside of pull marketing is that it doesn’t provide the fast results of push marketing, so if you need to sell out the rest of your inventory, a push strategy is a better choice. Successful pull strategies also require quite a bit of market research to find out what customers want and how you create demand among your target market.
Real-World Examples of Push Strategies
Video game conventions, such as E3, are high-profile examples of push strategies. Sony, Nintendo, and many other large video game companies rent booths at these conventions and hire a large number of brand ambassadors. These ambassadors then push all the company’s latest product offerings, whether that’s a cutting-edge video game system or the latest game in a popular series, to the attendees of the convention. Since it’s a video game convention, the companies know that they’re pushing their products to their target market of video game fans.
Impulse buys are another common form of push marketing. The checkout lanes in grocery stores and other shops are excellent examples. These lanes almost always have an extensive selection of small, inexpensive items, such as candy and gum in grocery stores. A major part of push marketing is pushing products to your customers when the time is right. For these last second impulse buys, customers see a small, enticing product right before they make their purchase, so the timing is perfect.
Real-World Examples of Pull Strategies
When it comes to creating demand for new products, Apple has ranked near the top for a long time. The release of the first iPhone shows how powerful pull marketing can be. Steve Jobs showed off Apple’s new flagship product at a press conference, and by providing a small taste of what the product could do, customers were already hooked. When the iPhone came out, Apple didn’t need to push it in front of anyone, because people were already clamoring to buy it.
Tickle Me Elmo may be a fun children’s toy, but the amount of work that went into creating demand for the product demonstrates how important market research is in pull marketing. Tyco created the popular toy, which was actually just a redesigned version of another early-90s talking toy. The company started by figuring out which Sesame Street character was the most popular with kids and would be the best choice. Then, Tyco set up advertising deals with toy magazines and daytime television shows to get kids talking about the upcoming Tickle Me Elmo doll. By the time the holiday season came around, parents everywhere were searching far and wide for these simple dolls.
Combining Push and Pull Strategies
For the best results, you should develop strong push and pull marketing strategies, and use them to complement each other.
When you’re developing a product, the market research you do for pull marketing is invaluable in building a product that generates intense demand. Closer to the product launch date, pull strategies will draw customers to your product and may even enable you to set higher prices, confident that customers will pay them. You can’t pull in everyone, though, and that’s where push strategies can be an effective way to put your product in front of other customers who may not see it otherwise.
The demand created through pull marketing is a great way to build your brand, but push marketing helps you maintain your brand. Pushing your new products to customers who are already familiar with your company, including qualified leads and existing customers, can boost your sales and strengthen those customer relationships.
The right marketing mix gets the most sales possible out of your product. Utilize both push and pull marketing strategies so your next product reaches its full potential.