The Push and Pull of the Market — Which Way Do You Go?

Marketers used to worry about whether they should use a push or pull strategy to promote their product. But today’s small business marketers know the question isn’t which one should I pick — it’s how can I use both? Here’s a quick description of the push and pull approach with examples of how a small business might use each.

Pushing It Out

The push approach is all about taking your product to the customer so they will buy from you. This might be used with a new product. Since consumers aren’t familiar enough to ask for it, you’re pushing it out to them.

Say you market the best homemade pies in the city. You could sell pies at the local farmer’s market, or you might work through a grocery store, which sells the pies for you. You might negotiate with the grocer to display your pies prominently in their store. Your advertising might tell customers that your pies are available in their store.

Pulling It In

The pull approach gets potential customers so excited about your product that they will seek it out. In other words, you’re pulling them in to buy. This strategy might be used if you want to build your brand and to encourage repeat purchases.

For example, a lawn care business might stimulate demand with word-of-mouth advertising using social media sites like Facebook. Their website might include photos of their work along with ratings by current customers. They could give cash incentives to existing customers who refer another person.

Putting It Together

The idea is to push and pull where possible. For example, our pie maker could tweet a message (pull) that she is giving free samples today at the local grocery store (push). When they get to the store, the grocer has the pies displayed at the end of the aisle near the checkout stand (push). With each purchase, the pie maker gives a coupon for 10 percent off their next purchase (pull).

Small business owners know they’ll have to reach out and sell to some customers, but others will come to them, if they can pique the customer’s interest. Knowing how to use a push and pull strategy helps them do both.

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