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Small business strategy guide: Push vs. pull marketing

Updated on October 30, 2012

When it comes to marketing for your small business, you know the basics. You need to have a website that people can visit to get information about what your small business, you need to get your name out there in the industry and you need to have some sort of a marketing plan in place. But as soon as people around you start throwing around the jargon associated with the practice of marketing, your eyes kind of glaze over and you figure that they're covering ground that you haven't reached yet.

But the thing about learning marketing is that it requires you to learn this jargon. You may be glad to find out that it's a relatively easy language to learn. The practices behind the fancy names are generally easy to enact once you understand their definitions and can grasp the basics of how they work. So, make it a habit to start incorporating that marketing jargon into your daily vocabulary.

Let's start with the phrase: "push vs. pull marketing". Perhaps you've heard the phrase before; it's commonly tossed around when the subject of marketing comes up. But what does it mean and how does it apply to your small business? Basically, it defines the two different approaches to marketing that you might use in your small business. The difference between them is based on who the target of your marketing efforts is.

On the one hand, there is "push marketing", in which the target of your marketing efforts is any one of the people in line before the end consumer of your product or service. Alternatively, there is "pull marketing", in which you direct your marketing efforts directly towards that end consumer. Did I lose you?

Hang on a second. Think of yourself as standing above the group of people who may purchase your product or service. Those people are made up of the consumers who will use your product, as well as those middlemen, such as retail stores, which will purchase the item to re-sell to your end consumer. Think of it as a pyramid, with you at the top, the middlemen in, well, the middle, and the end consumer beneath them forming the base of the pyramid. In "push marketing", you push your product down on to the reseller and they in turn push it on to the next level, the end consumer. In "pull marketing", you direct your efforts to the end consumer who will then "pull" the product back up.

Okay, so you get it, but what does this have to do with marketing for your small business? Well, any good marketing strategy incorporates all of the different tactics possible within the budget available. You should be looking at incorporating both "push marketing" and "pull marketing" into your small business marketing plan. Consider the pros and cons of each of them so that you can make decisions about how much time and energy to devote to both types of marketing. You'll need different approaches to your advertising for each of the two kinds of marketing.

See, learning this language isn't that difficult at all. To learn more about push-pull marketing and the strategies for each of them, visit the following links:


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Thank you so much Elliott M! Your little Basketball story helped heaps!

  • kristielorette profile image


    7 years ago from Miami, FL

    Fabienne Fredrickson is the Client Attraction Mentor and she talks a lot about pull marketing. In fact, it is one of the foundations of her teachings. She's a great resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs just starting out. She gives away a free CD that has a lot of information on this topic:

  • bizplanner profile image


    8 years ago

    Seth Godin's "permission marketing" is also a great guide on "pull" strategies. Engaging your end user and building trust with them will generate demand for your products or services.

  • FindYourSearch profile image


    8 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    Thanks for that excellent explanation of push/pull marketing, and for the useful links you added to fill it out. Nice job!

  • erajesh profile image


    8 years ago from Chennai, India

    Thanks for breaking down the jargon nice content.

  • profile image

    Frank Crandell 

    9 years ago

    Nice breakdown of what push-pull marketing is. This is very helpful to new business owners may not understand the term's meaning.

  • intelligentplan profile image


    9 years ago from Cambridge. UK

    Great content, thanks for sharing.

  • jbgnet profile image


    9 years ago

    Thanks for the hub. I am always reading up on marketing, and pulling customers in - I really enjoyed your post.


  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Great article, thanks. Would you mind if we add some of your ideas to our article on push / pull marketing strategies here:

    Many thanks!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Hey Kathryn,

    Nice hub. I always relate push v. pull marketing to when I was about 13 years old and desperately wanted a UNC basketball jersey. Growing up outside of a huge hockey town in a hockey country basketball wasn't given a top priority by sports apparel stores. But there were hockey jerseys galore. I persisted though and continued to ask the managers and employees at stores like Foot Locker and Champs when they would be getting these jerseys in.

    In pull marketing, you energize the base and force retailers (typically) to buy a product so they can satisfy a demand they can see is present. Demand comes first and then supply.

    In push marketing, companies force their products onto shelves by targeting retailers and other steps in the chain. Hit the stores with supply and worry about demand later.

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    This helps, thanks!

  • ahndunk profile image


    10 years ago

    great information about marketing, thanks for share it


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