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Push Marketing or Pull Marketing – Which Is Best?

Recently, while waiting for an appointment, I picked up a magazine and read what fashion designers tell us are the trends for spring 2015.  Then I picked up another magazine only to read other styles will be the trends.  So, what is it?  Layered, laced up, Boho, or that 70s look?  And then there’s the trending color.  Will it be yellow, burgundy, black and white, or psychedelic colors?  Whatever the latest fleeting fashion will be, one thing’s for sure…I should have kept my clothes from trends past.

But wait a minute, hold the credit cards!  How do we know these will be ‘the trends’?  A trend is something that’s happening in the present or happened in the past, not something that’s predicted to happen or someone hopes will happen in the future.

What the fashion industry is doing is creating a need we consumers didn’t even know we had.  “Oh, I HAVE to have those shoes!  Everybody will be wearing them!”

Fashion moguls employ a strategy they’ve perfected over many years.  It’s called push marketing: convincing consumers they need or must have a product or service they didn’t know they needed or wanted.

Do we NEED many of the apps, gadgets, and clothes we have today?  No, but savvy companies with a lot of money to spend on marketing, advertising and promotion have convinced us we do.

Push marketing isn’t a bad thing.  Not at all.  How else would we learn of new products and services, even ones we really DO need?  Push marketing also is used to raise awareness of existing products and services not well known by consumers.

Push marketing equates to “Go Big!”  Introducing a new or unknown product or service to the masses isn’t for the faint of wallet.  Push marketing requires utilizing many of these communication channels: sales promotion, product publicity, social media, online, electronic and print advertising, direct marketing, outdoor advertising, sampling, public relations and sponsorships.

Pull marketing, on the other hand, is making a product or service known to consumers who are looking to buy that particular service or avail themselves of a specific service.  A manufacturer, for instance, promotes its product as being better than a similar one from another company.  A retailer advertises a product at a lower price than the store on the next block.  A carpet cleaning company promotes its service in a targeted neighborhood with a door hanger.

Pull marketing is sustainable with a small- to medium-sized budget.  It entails a more targeted approach than ‘big splash’ push marketing and involves one or more of the communication channels used for push marketing.  What marketing strategy that’s used depends on business’s product or service, the desired outcome and target market, as well as the budget.  Some marketing tactics business owners may be able to do themselves, while others are better left to the pros.

Business owners who have the time, desire, creativity and personality, or staff availability, can save themselves money by hitting the social media outlets, blogs, or even street corners with their own creative marketing.  We’ve all heard the stories of people and products who’ve become famous because of their YouTube video, a story that went viral on social media, or quirky antic that made it onto the evening TV news.

A word of caution, however.  If your antics backfire, you’ll then need to spend the money to hire a public relations professional to clean up your image, or a lawyer to get you out of trouble!

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