Push vs. Pull. By me
No, this is not about marriage, but it does sound like a child's game and at times I think it is. It's one of
the most basic principles of marketing and relates to how you get the end user to buy your product. No,
it's not just advertising. Well, it is in a sense it is. It's deciding who you advertise to, the end user or the
Some things just go together like cookies & milk, peaches & cream, red wine & beef...well, red wine &
anything... and push & pull, and something don't...Bush & the environment.
Push: A push campaign is when you push a product through the channel to the ultimate end user.
Pull: A pull campaign is when you market to the end user to pull your product through the channel.
The product and budget typically dictate which is the best type of effort to use. And more often then not
we end up using a mix of the two. Each has their pros and cons.
A pull campaign is the most effective, but also is by far the most costly. By going direct to the end user
you are in complete control of the message. Most of the advertising we see on TV is pull. It's selling the
emotional aspect of the product or service to you, the consumer. The reason it is more costly is because
of the reach of the communication vehicles being used. In English, because more people are seeing the
message they get to charge more for displaying it (people and money). We've all heard about a 30-
second Super Bowl spot selling for $XXXmillion dollars. That's because of the large number of viewers
watching. The Super Bowl has become a series of great commercials interrupted by poor football. When
done well, choosing the right vehicle and the right audience can spell success for the advertiser. When
Apple did its 1984 Macintosh ad they spent $400,000 to create it (in 1984) and it ran once, during the
Super Bowl. It put Apple on the map. It didn't hurt that the commercial was picked up by every news
program and station in the country. Garden Burger has a similar story. Of course, if it doesn't make that
major impact, you've just flushed millions down the drain. Think of all the dot coms who ran their spots
last year and are no longer around today. Unfortunately I do everytime I hear from my broker.
A push campaign can be far less expansive. That again is because you are buying trade media that has a
much smaller circulation = costs less. And there are lotsa trade publications. I had one client once tell me
there were only 5 publications for his industry, yet we came up with 112. But neither of these campaigns
options are limited to just advertising, they apply to all tactics. When the primary channel for software
was the retail stores, our typical challenge was getting the mind share of the front line salesperson, or the
store manager, or the product buyer at the distributor. Any of these target audiences would qualify a
campaign as a push. If we could get the front line salesperson to recommend our client's product, sales
would go up.
Every large company uses both. Auto manufacturers run their ads in the major consumer publications and
on all the radio and television stations (Pull), but they also have campaigns and incentives for the dealers
and the front line sales person (Push). My insurance agent has taken more trips in the last year then I can
count, all tied to selling new or different products the home company wants to push. Even the smallest
company (well, maybe not the smallest) should be employing both Push and Pull strategies in their
There's a local well known high tech company (no, not Microsoft, you know there are others) that asked
us to launch the latest version of their product. Its two new features were speed sync and remote access.
They had only $100,000 (that automatically says Push) to do a national rollout. When we did our
research we found that the 80/20 rule applied, so we focused our efforts on the 20% of their channel that
produced 80% of their revenue. All we wanted was to gain the mind share of the front line salesperson.
The product had a low price point, so financial incentives were out. What we did was to send the stores a
box (a big box) and in the box were a remote control, pit passes, and a poster showing someone racing
down the street, with a date and time also written in. On the day identified a sales person walked into the
store, before it opened, carrying two big checkered flagged shopping bags. In the bags were two remote
controlled race cars, racing gloves, T-shirts, etc. They'd then set up a race course using small orange
cones and everyone on the store's staff raced each other. Needless to say there was a lot of laughing and
everyone won something; best driver, worst driver etc. Sales of the product immediately increased 30%
and sustained a 20% increase over the next year. Classic push; the company generated tens of millions of
dollars from the increased revenue.
So it is a tug-o-war and it is a game but you have to do a little pushing and pulling to win.
The rule of 27: 3 Exposures = 1 Impression, 9 Impressions = a Buy, so 3X9=27.