Hello, Nick Ponte here!

I’m a small business owner in Hawaii who loves to help the businesses around me survive and thrive. This is especially true in light of all the events of the past couple of years, forcing many businesses like mine to embrace the digital marketplace in a new way.

Today we’re diving deep into two of the main types of marketing: push vs. pull, as well as the ideal times to use them.

If you’re a Hawaiian business trying to roll with the punches amid the pandemic, or even regain some lost ground, you’ve probably wondered about marketing strategy. What are the overall strategies to use, and when?

The stakes have never been higher. Most of us have had to get by with far less revenue than we had in 2018 and 2019. Some of us even had to let some employees go or temporarily close our doors. Times have been tough. If we want to bounce back, and even grow past where we sat pre-pandemic, we have to do our homework. We should also start as basic as possible, which is why I want to talk about the push/pull dichotomy before going deeper.

I’m going to break down what each category is, the kind of campaigns that fall within it, and when Hawaiian businesses should use them. Please note that neither strategy is straight-up better than the other; rather each has its strengths for certain situations and may fit better into the context of your current business. You should always use a combination of both, but during certain seasons, you should emphasize one over the other.

Also Read: How Hawaii Businesses Can Take Advantage of the “Summer Surge”

Push Marketing: We Come to You

Push Marketing happens when the business or marketing agent goes toward the customer. You find them—wherever they are—and try to speak an advertising message that appeals to them.

This closely relates to outbound prospecting as opposed to inbound. In outbound, you’re calling, emailing, or putting flyers in the hands of prospective customers.

In this paradigm, you try to put your offer in front of as many people in your target market. The more specific your ideal buyer is the better because you can tailor your messaging to meet them where they’re at.

Take, for example, paid Facebook ads. These are classic examples of push marketing. The goal is to put your offer in the news feed of someone likely to buy your product or service. Facebook gives you plenty of options to target your ad to a specific demographic, including age, geography, and interests.

One of the difficulties of push marketing comes from the multitude of ways you can use it. Radio ads, billboards, flyers, pay-per-click ads, email campaigns, and free samples are all push marketing. How do we know what to choose?

Personally, I like to think about the sort of ad that will bring the greatest return on investment. If I invest $1 into the ad, it should bring me $2 of revenue, at least. That way, the ad is actually worth it. Typically, well-managed pay-per-click ad campaigns can do this. If you’re curious, I’d start here.

When To Emphasize Push Marketing:

  • You have the budget to afford a campaign, and you’re confident it will provide a good return.
  • You have good information about the target demographic you’re trying to reach.
  • You’re still working on building up your reputation, clientele, and positive reviews.

Also Read: Designing a Website That Produces Results

Pull Marketing: You Come to Us

As you may expect, pull marketing takes the opposite approach to push marketing. In this case, the customer is coming to you, whether “you” means a physical store, social media page, showroom, or website.

This is kind of like inbound prospecting. Potential customers are more likely to be “warm leads” when they initiate the relationship instead of you. It shows they already want something that you may be able to provide.

The goal here? Make sure your reputation precedes you. You need to have good reviews and strong word-of-mouth buzzing around. Your energy goes into being found by as many people as possible, and then into making sure people like what they see when they get to you.

A classic example of pull marketing in the digital age is your website. Don’t discount how powerful your site can be for driving sales… or for scaring them away. You get to choose your setup, layout, look/feel, and copy. You want to make sure every element comes together for customers to book a visit with you, or hop into your e-commerce store.

The inherent difficulty of pull advertising? You have to have pull. If nobody is attracted to your business then it won’t make a difference what your website, store, and social look like. 

It takes time to build up the kind of reputation you need, but when you do, pull marketing can be even more powerful than push. Especially because it’s more cost-effective in the long run.

When To Emphasize Pull Marketing:

  • Your reputation precedes you.
  • You know how to make an attractive website and run your social media… or at least, you can pay someone who does.
  • You know what separates your business from the competition (a unique value proposition).

Now that we’ve gone over some of the differences, which one should your business emphasize in this season?

If you want to learn more or want help with your business’ marketing, SEO, or website, reach out to us today!

Further Reading: How Hawaii Businesses Boost Revenue Through Content Marketing


Photos Courtesy of Campaign Creators, Windows, and Melanie Pongratz

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